Freedom Foundation

11,000 teachers defect from NEA in Nevada

The National Education Association (NEA) lost 11,000 members in April in what may be a harbinger of things to come.

Nevada’s Clark County has been dissatisfied with the NEA, and the leadership of this large local led members to vote to disaffiliate from the NEA. The recognized collective bargaining agency is not the state or national union, but always the local union—in this case the Clark County Education Association.

By an 88 percent majority, Nevada teachers voted themselves lower dues without losing any of their bargaining power. NEA, meanwhile, lost $2 million in dues revenue.

Many teachers resent the union’s “Unified Dues Structure” which allows a number of affiliated labor organizations to get a piece of their paycheck. Nationwide, the NEA takes money from roughly 3 million educators. That’s $370 million sent off to people in Washington, D.C. who will probably never set foot in the workplaces of those who have to pay.

The financial enterprise of the National Education Association is stunning. These dues-collectors are well-paid, and 383 of them receive more than $100,000 in compensation.

Enormous sums are spent on politics and given away to various causes favored by the union executives. Politics and lobbying received $53.3 million of NEA’s dues-payers dollars. Far-left causes also receive giant windfalls from educator wages.

Beneficiaries include a host of Leftist activist groups with missions ranging from fighting for open borders to minimum wage increases to advocacy to get rural voters to vote for Democrats. Mostly their investments are about winning elections for Leftist candidates.

To date, those who disapprove of these expenditures in forced-payment states have to donate funds to charity as religious objectors or secure a refund for the political expenditures. Some districts have voted out the entire NEA system and voted in a local only union as Glenwood teachers in Washington did recently.

Clark County, Nevada teachers have followed the lead of local union leaders in Hawaii, Tennessee, Indiana and Florida by simply disconnecting the local union from the national affiliate.

Janus v. AFSCME case may accelerate union disaffiliations.

If the U.S. Supreme Court rules with workers in the pending Janus v. AFSCME case, union payment will become optional. Local union presidents will have to consider whether the cost and disfavor of the NEA is going to motivate teachers to quit the union altogether under the “all or nothing” rules of the unified dues scheme.

An effective local union leadership team may find the NEA a financial liability. It may be able to keep more members by ditching the NEA with its extreme agenda and excessive cost. By dropping the NEA and the state affiliate, a local could lower overall dues but still increase local dues and workplace effectiveness.

In a world where members have to be earned rather than milked, those who care about successfully serving members will consider these formerly unthinkable options. The Clark County Education Association is just a few months ahead of the game.

Ironically, the NEA is now having to create an entity to compete with its former Clark County local for members. Competition has a way of improving services and reducing costs, so perhaps the Janusruling will actually strengthen the workplace services for public employees.