Thursday, January 12, 2012

North Carolina's General Assembly Tells Teacher's Union to Collect Their Own Damn Dues

Last week North Carolina’s House republicans overrode Governor Bev Perdue’s veto on SB 727, which ends the practice of the state collecting union dues for the teachers association by means of payroll deductions. Two democrats joined them as well. This “midnight” override caused a big stink amongst the statist. Many of them called the act unconstitutional. But not a one of them will admit that the North Carolina Association of Educators is an advocacy group for the Democratic Party. Only one organization has called this front group for what it is, and that is the Civitas Institute.

The reaction from NCAE members was swift. On the day the legislation was approved, NCAE President Sheri Strickland issued a statement, “The Association believes the passage of this legislation – an override of Governor Perdue’s veto — to be a retaliatory action against NCAE for standing up for public school students and educators. The message from the legislature is clear – if you stand against cuts to public education, we will teach you a lesson.”

NCAE has constructed this theme of Republican retribution for NCAE’s criticism of the majority party’s education policies. That explanation ignores relevant facts:

Dues check off was ended because the practice aided the radical policies of groups like the National Education Association (the parent group of NCAE) not the interests of children.

NCAE portrays itself as having members from both political parties and as supportive of both Republican and Democratic candidates. A look at NCAE’s contributions to political campaigns, however, reveals 99 percent of NCAE political contributions went to Democrats.

If NCAE is truly concerned about teacher salaries and securing more classroom funding, why has NCAE executive compensation increased 24 percent from 2006-2009 while, over the same time period, the salary of the average teacher in North Carolina only increased 12 percent?

The NCAE is no different than any other union. The bosses live high on the hog, while their members slave away; and many times their union’s advocacy is counter to the principles of their more conservative members. Again, Civitas addresses this issue as well:

NCAE is classified as a 501(c) 6 tax exempt organization. Among other things the designation allows for lobbying and contributions to political campaigns. NCAE joins hands with its parent organization National Education Association (NEA) to influence political campaigns. The NCAE Constitution requires NCAE members to be members of NEA, the largest teachers union in the nation.8 Membership in NEA requires even more membership dues. This fall teachers will pay an average of $237 to NCAE and $178 to NEA for annual dues.9

NCAE frequently criticizes the influence of powerful corporate interests in American politics. However the fact is NEA and its local affiliates like NCAE represent the largest political influence on American politics. Let’s look at the numbers:

In 2008, NEA spent $56.3 million on political campaign contributions.

NEA is largest political campaign spender in American politics. NEA’s contributions are larger than Wal-Mart, Microsoft, and Exxon combined

In 2009 NCAE made $710,716 in nondeductible lobbying and political expenditures11
2010 Contributions:

NCAE contributed $172,950 to candidates. Democrats received $170,650 in contributions (98.6 percent); Republicans received $2,300 in contributions (1.3 percent).

2008 Contributions

NEA and NCAE contributed $1.8 million to help Bev Perdue win the 2008 Governor’s race.
NEA spent another $1.7 million on campaign ads for Bev Perdue.

Such giving patterns would lead one to conclude all teachers are liberal. Are they?

A 2005 survey of NEA member political attitudes found NEA members “are slightly more conservative (50%) than liberal (43%) in political philosophy.”12

2009 Education Next –PEPG National Survey of public school teachers found 37 percent of public school teachers somewhat or completely support the formation of charter schools. When told President Obama supports charter schools, the figure increases to 43 percent

When told President Obama supports merit pay, 31 percent of public school teachers express support for such proposals

Why should North Carolinians provide a free service as dues collectors for an organization that is openly hostile to the majority of its citizens? Why can’t they collect their own damn money? The General Assembly addressed those questions in their “midnight" override.


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