Teacher Union Power Is Still In Full Bloom

Published December 20, 2023
on strike union

While a fifth of all teachers have left their union, more than two-thirds are still full dues payers.

As a result of the Janus decision in 2018, no teacher or any public employee has to pay a penny to a union as a condition of employment. The good news is that since then, 20% of workers in non-right-to-work states have dropped out of their unions, according to a report from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The not-so-good news is that 70% of teachers nationwide are still willingly paying union dues, a great deal of which goes to politics, specifically to progressive candidates and causes.

The California Teachers Association has the honor of being the biggest political-spending teachers’ union in the country. A recent report reveals that between 1999 and 2020, the 300,000+ member union spent an astonishing $222,940,629 on politics – about $6 million was spent on the federal level, while almost $217 million stayed in the state – with 98.2% of all spending going to Democrats. The top advocacy issues for CTA include regulating charter schools, immigration reform, social justice, and a slew of almost exclusively left-wing causes.

Interestingly, the National Education Association, the largest union in the country with over 3,000,000 members, spent less than CTA, with “only” $86 million on state and $105 million on national candidates and causes – 98.7% of which went to Democrats. The NEA’s pet causes include gun control, universal healthcare, and a panoply of LGBT gobbledygook.

The other national teachers union, the American Federation of Teachers, is even more politically lopsided than the NEA – pouring out almost $63 million at the federal level and over $24 million at the state level. A whopping 99.9% of their political outlay went to Democrats, and a minuscule .1% to Republicans.

It is with no sense of irony that NEA boss Becky Pringle asserts that the creeping influence of politics in classrooms is a threat to education. “All of the politicians and pundits who are trying to politicize our school, demonize teachers, which is new, who are not focused on what our kids need or what our parents say they want for their kids.”

It’s worth noting that it’s not just teachers’ unions that are big lefty spenders. According to a new report from the Commonwealth Foundation. the four largest government unions, the NEA, AFT, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) spent $708.8 million on politics during the 2021–22 election cycle, with 95.7% of PAC contributions go to Democratic candidates and organizations.

On the other hand, representational activities, the spending category most closely linked to membership support, only accounted for $554 million, or less than 20% of total expenditures.

One of the teachers’ unions’ time-honored tactics is the strike. The NEA insists that “strikes work.” Well, maybe they do for the strikers, but for children, their parents, and taxpayers, they can be devastating. Most recently, teachers in Portland – one of the nation’s shutdown leaders during the time of COVID hysteria – decided to take most of the month of November and spend it on the picket lines.

Teachers weren’t actually starving before the strike, making $87,000 for 192 days of work. And while they were locking children out of school, they didn’t somberly march with picket signs. Instead, they partied!