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Stranger Than Fiction: Teacher Union Bosses Make 10x Yearly Teacher Salary
posted by: Alix | July 16, 2012, 07:21 PM   

In a difficult financial climate where states and school districts are struggling to buy supplies and fund educational programs, it might come as a shock to hard-working teachers to find out that union leaders are raking in astronomical salaries on par with that of the average corporate CEO. According to several reports, NEA and AFT leaders–both nationally and statewide–are pulling in nearly half a million dollars apiece each year.

According to FOX news, AFT President Randi Weingarten's pay jumped to $407,323 between 2010 and 2011, while her counterpart at the NEA, Dennis Van Roekel, got a raise to $362,644. Factoring in stipends and other personal expenses, both Weingarten Van Roekel took in nearly $500,000 apiece in 2011 alone.

Shockingly, high salaries aren't just unique to national union leaders. In Nevada, where teachers have a history of modest pay and are now dealing with massive layoffs, union leadership absorbs over one third of the union's annual budget in salaries. According to IRS fillings, nine executives earned between $139,785 and $208,683 for a total of $1.5 million. In Alabama, where the average teacher salary is below the national $44,000 a year average, NEA affiliate President Paul Hubbert made nearly $500,000 in 2009 alone. To put that in perspective, he receives more than the President of the United States' annual salary of $400,000 and 11 times more than the average teacher.

The numbers are shocking and teachers everywhere should take notice. In an interview with Fox News, AAE Executive Director Gary Beckner illustrated the hypocrisy. "In terms of salaries, union executives rake in nearly 10 times the average household income and far more than any teacher," Beckner stressed. "Are teachers or anyone in the private sector experiencing those increases in times of financial hardship?"

Teachers across the country who are struggling to pay bills are clearly upset with the disparity between teachers and those who claim to represent them. "The unions want us to be seen as laborers and not professionals," claimed Kristi LaCroix, a Wisconsin teacher and AAE member. "The union bigwigs are well-insulated from the paycheck-to-paycheck lives of most schoolteachers," added Tracie Happel, also a teacher in Wisconsin and AAE member. "It's always about the union. It's never about the teachers or students."

Interestingly, these increases in salary are coming as the unions are struggling with a mass exodus of members nationwide. At the 2012 NEA Convention, NEA Secretary-Treasurer Becky Pringle predicted an even more challenging time in the years ahead, calling budget numbers "devastating." Projected losses total 287,000 active teachers and 21,000 additional personnel over the 2010-14 school years. The numbers amount to a $65 million budget reduction over that same time period, undoubtedly leading to staff reductions and declining political power. Only time will tell if salaries for executives will face similar declines.

What do you think about the annual salaries of state and national union bosses?
Comment below.

Comments (1)Add Comment
Regional Director of Arkansas State Teachers Association
written by Ronnie, Bentonville, July 19, 2012

I am hoping that all of American teachers find out about the exhorbitant pay of the union leaders, and that they find out about AAE and its state chapters as a way to get the protection they need without all the politics.

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