Figures released at this summer’s annual conventions of the nation’s two largest teacher unions, the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), show membership increasing only slightly over the previous year.
NEA: Large Gains Mask Large Losses
The NEA picked up only 9,262 new active members in 2002-03–an increase of less than 0.4 percent. That performance is even worse than it looks, because the gains from only three states–California, Pennsylvania, and Illinois–account for 10,689 new active members. That means all other NEA state affiliates combined for a net loss in 2002-03.
|Table 1: Top 10 States for Gains/Losses
of NEA Members
|Rank||State||2002-03 Members||% Change from 2001-02||Gain/Loss|
|Source: Education Intelligence Agency|
Table 1 shows the top 10 and bottom 10 states ranked by NEA membership change from school year 2001-02 to 2002-03. The table also shows the official NEA active membership numbers for state affiliates for 2002-03, along with the percentage increase or decrease in membership from 2001-02. The numbers do not include 244,000 NEA student, substitute, and retired members. Those members do contribute support and resources to NEA, but it is the working classroom teachers and education support personnel that constitute the organization’s strength and account for almost all of its revenue.
An additional factor not reflected in these numbers is that the bulk of the active membership growth is in the education support categories, whose members pay less in dues than classroom teachers. Budget figures show full-time teachers make up 77 percent of NEA’s membership, but contribute 90 percent of its revenue. Without growth in the teacher sector, NEA will face budgetary problems even if Education Support Personnel (ESP) growth improves.
Though NEA budgeted for no membership growth, a $3 per member dues increase will boost revenue by an estimated $7.2 million in 2004-05. Of that amount, almost $4.9 million is earmarked for increases in NEA staff salaries and benefits.
NEA delegates voted to extend the current $5 dues assessment for the Ballot Measure/Legislative Crises Fund and Media Fund until 2010 and also to increase the amount by $1 per year until it hits $10. Delegates also voted to sunset the assessment in 2010.
Non-Teachers Boost AFT Membership
AFT touted its “impressive” membership growth of 42,209 members in the past two years, and these numbers are comparable to NEA’s total growth over the same period. But once AFT’s numbers are disaggregated, it’s clear the smaller union is in the same boat as NEA when it comes to active full-time membership.
The union appears to have picked up only 6,700 new teachers in the past two years, but added 7,800 paraprofessionals (what NEA calls ESPs), 6,000 higher education employees, 4,200 health care workers, and 800 public-sector employees. That totals 25,500. It is unclear whether the other 16,709 are all new retired members or whether they include other categories.
In 2002, the Education Intelligence Agency reported the number of “votes” various state affiliates and locals have. Those figures are close to the same as the number of full-time equivalent members, though it would be hazardous to equate them. It also accounts for the merged states, where members pay dues to both NEA and AFT. What the “votes” numbers are good for, however, is a comparison of 2002 to today.
|Table 2: Top 10 States for Gains/Losses
of AFT Members (“Votes”)
|Rank||State||2004 Votes||% Change from 2002||Gain/Loss|
|Note: Because of unseated delegates, Florida and Washington DC were excluded from the ranking.
Source: Education Intelligence Agency
Table 2 shows the top 10 and bottom 10 AFT state affiliates ranked by the change in votes from 2002 to 2004. The table also shows the votes for 2004, along with the percentage increase or decrease in votes from 2002.
AFT delegates approved a 40-cents-per-month dues increase to $12.75 ($153.00 annually) and another 45 cents increase to $13.20 for 2005-06 ($158.40 annually).
Mike Antonucci ([email protected]) is director of the Education Intelligence Agency, which conducts public education research, analysis, and investigations. He also publishes a weekly Communiqué on teacher union activities, in which most of this information first appeared.