IEA continues wasteful union spending

Paul Kersey

Labor law expert, occasional smart-aleck, defender of the free society.

Paul Kersey
/ Labor
October 10, 2014

IEA continues wasteful union spending

The Illinois Education Association, or IEA, has gotten even more wasteful, according to new LM-2 spending reports filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. IEA has a history of being a very wasteful union. In my review of union spending, I went through IEA operations spending – money that went into representation, politics and lobbying,...

The Illinois Education Association, or IEA, has gotten even more wasteful, according to new LM-2 spending reports filed with the U.S. Department of Labor.

IEA has a history of being a very wasteful union. In my review of union spending, I went through IEA operations spending – money that went into representation, politics and lobbying, contributions, overhead, and administration. In 2012-13, IEA was a particularly inefficient union, with $9.6 million going into representation out of total operational spending of $34.6 million. That amounts to less than 28 cents out of every dollar going into the union’s basic representation role. (By comparison, a well-run nonprofit should spend about two-thirds of its money on its core programs.)

In 2013-14, IEA somehow managed to be even more inefficient. Overall spending on operations went up to $35.4 million, but spending on representing teachers dropped to $9.4 million. That means less than 27 cents out of every dollar went into looking out for teachers’ interests in the workplace.

Here are a few other findings in the new report:

1. Union work is still pretty lucrative

There are a lot of people making good money in teachers unions – in 2012-13 there were 97 members of the IEA’s staff earning more than $100,000 per year. That number actually went up a bit, to 102, in 2013-14. All of these salaries were paid for by union dues collected from public school teachers, few of whom earned six-figures themselves. Unions may try to present themselves as scrappy underdogs defending the little guy. In reality union officials are often highly-paid operatives themselves.

2. Union dues aren’t cheap, and they aren’t getting cheaper

In 2012-13 the IEA raked in $44.9 million in dues and agency fees from 133,158 members, for an average of $336.92 in union dues for a typical Illinois teacher. In 2013-14 the union had a few more members, 133,603 to be exact, but took $1.5 million more in dues. Dues per member went up to $346.63 – almost $10 in just the last year. IEA members were also required to pay dues to the IEA’s parent, the National Education Association, as well as a local union. The total union dues for IEA members can easily exceed $700 per year.

3. Unions are a big business

There’s a reason why the Illinois Education Association is one of the state’s most powerful lobbying groups. State law allows them to use the collective bargaining process to gain leverage over public schools. And because all but a handful of public school teachers are required to pay union dues or fees as a condition of keeping their jobs, teachers unions have a steady stream of money. They don’t really need that money to represent teachers, but they can spend it to build influence at the state level. And while the state struggles economically, the union is getting wealthier. It all adds up to one more reason why forced unionism just isn’t fair.

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