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NEA State Affiliates “Financially Distressed”
posted by: Alix | February 07, 2012, 04:41 PM   

In the wake of last year's labor battles in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio, 2012 is shaping up to mark a new era in curtailed teacher union power. While it might seem difficult to believe that the National Education Association and its state affiliates, at their peak a $1.5 billion annual powerhouse, could be suffering from money troubles, new evidence suggests deep trouble for the NEA and state affiliates.

According to their own employees, the National Staff Organization (NSO), the umbrella group for the staff unions that represent employees who work for NEA's state affiliates, the NEA is indeed experiencing some major financial shortfalls. Every year, NSO holds its Winter Advocacy Retreat - also known as "W.A.R. College" - where employees learn and strategize about current issues involving the union, both internal and external. This year's conference wrapped up last Saturday in sunny Miami, Florida.

In a report to members, intercepted by union watchdog group, the Education Intelligence Agency, NSO divulged just how bad things have gotten for NEA affiliates.

Unlike the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the NEA has state affiliates in every state in America, despite varied and often turbulent political climates. Fifteen of those states are considered to be in financial jeopardy due to deep membership losses, leaving their very survival in question. Shockingly, due to financial constraints, 41 state executives are on NEA's payroll instead of being paid by their state. Further, Indiana and South Carolina remain under an NEA trusteeship, meaning they are nearly entirely controlled by the NEA's national office.

In raw numbers, membership losses and the grim finances of some states mean an estimated $12 million shortfall this year for the NEA and a projected $27 million shortfall in 2013 alone. As a result, the union is seeking to reduce 88 staff positions, and forced others into retirement.

In examining these numbers, it is important to realize that these figures represent a reality for the NEA like never seen before. Not only are these organizations not used to taking pay cuts or laying off staff, many state affiliates have for years survived under high budgets, bloated staffs, and relative administrative autonomy. In adjusting to this new climate, some affiliates may have to dissolve completely, or fall under the NEA's national control.

Still, despite the new climate the education reform organization, the Education Action Group, has learned that following the NSO's advocacy retreat, NEA staff members set sail for a luxurious Caribbean cruise. Incredibly, these numbers have yet to change attitudes about where to spend union dues, money that is being directly collected from teachers across the country that are facing layoffs, decreased pay and increased insurance co-pays.

What do you think this new climate will change the NEA's priorities?
Comment below.

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