Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Where your dues are going: Political campaigns

A new study from Mike Antonucci shows just where union dues are going: To fight against school reforms that will improve the quality of education for our nation’s children. Perhaps unsurprisingly, more money was spent per-teacher in Oregon ($357) and Colorado ($174) than anywhere else. I say unsurprisingly since there were a raft of reforms in both of these states that the higher ups in unions were committed to fighting (television time doesn’t come cheap, you know). More than $19 million in union dues were spent in just those two states by the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers to influence the political process.

Antonucci also lists some of the front groups that labor unions use to spread their messages. They donate money to left-leaning nonprofits like Media Matters, Americans United for Change, Center for American Progress, and other organizations dedicated to keep unions in power and in control of our nation’s schools.

Anyone who doubts the efficacy of these campaigns should read Antonucci’s take on South Dakota’s proposition 10:

In the smaller states, NEA’s political reach is perhaps best illustrated by the campaign against Measure 10 in South Dakota, a state not normally considered a union stronghold. The November 2008 initiative would have banned the use of tax money for campaigns or lobbying and restricted political contributions by government contractors.

NEA contributed $1.1 million to air TV ads against the measure. That amount of money goes a long way in a media market so small. NEA’s state affiliate, the South Dakota Education Association, has only 5,600 active members and could never have appropriated such a sum on its own. It would have required an additional assessment of almost $200 per member. Measure 10 was defeated, prompting its committee chairman to say, “We’ll be able to prepare accordingly next time knowing that the real opposition to ethics reform in South Dakota is NEA union officials back east.”

Campaigns like these are where union dues are going. You should really read Antonucci’s whole piece to see just how deep the problem runs.

Photo courtesy Cayusa.

Categories: Center for Union FactsTeachers Unions