Teacher Union Local Hauled-in more than $139 million, Spent Lavishly on Staff

New York’s forced dues have been very good to teacher union bosses according to a report release by the Education Intelligence Agency.  And, New York teachers aren’t the only ones paying for extravagant union boss salaries and benefits:

Top 36 Teacher Union Locals Took In $337.7 Million. For the first time ever, the Education Intelligence Agency has compiled in one table the finances of the highest-earning teacher union local affiliates in the nation.

Using Internal Revenue Service data from the 2009-10 school year, the table, posted on the EIA web site, contains revenue information and employee compensation figures for each K-12 teacher union local affiliate that accumulated more than $2 million in total revenue that year. The 36 affiliates that met the threshold received $337.7 million in total revenue.

Topping the list was the United Federation of Teachers in New York City with more than $139 million – a 1 percent increase over 2008-09. UFT also had the highest employee compensation expenditures – a 12.8 percent increase to $47 million.

United Teachers Los Angeles ranked a distance second with more than $44.4 million in revenue, while the Chicago Teachers Union ranked third with almost $30.1 million.

The top 15 locals were all either American Federation of Teacher affiliates or merged NEA/AFT affiliates, highlighting the difference in structures of the two organizations. NEA’s state affiliates are the primary source of funds and services while in AFT the locals rule the roost. The highest-earning “NEA only” local was the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association at $4.3 million.

Of the 36 locals listed, 27 saw boosts in revenue over the previous year, but some experienced financial difficulties. The Detroit and Cleveland locals were forced to use dues revenue to cover investment losses.

Nevertheless, 24 locals increased employee compensation – 8 of those by double-digits. Spending on staff spiked most sharply at the Broward Teachers Union. The 35.8 percent increase in employee compensation should have raised more red flags than it did, and possibly avoided the outcome of an AFT administratorship.

The financial information for 2009-10 also seemed to issue early warnings to other affiliates experiencing internal problems today. The Clark County Education Association spent more on employee compensation than it received in local dues, and the San Diego Education Association was in the same boat.

For the most part, a local affiliate’s dollars are separate and in addition to the amounts received by national and state union affiliates, but in a few cases it can get pretty tangled. The United Teachers of Dade, for example, actually operates on about a $5.3 million budget, and still owes AFT and the Florida Education Association some $6 million stemming from the Pat Tornillo scandal.

A final word concerning the “number of employees” column: The IRS requires the unions to count as an employee every person to whom they issued a W-2 form that year. This rule results in some squirrelly numbers. UFT didn’t really have 991 full-time employees, nor did Orange County, Anchorage and Cincinnati really have zero. But absent better information, this is what we have to work with.