PA Teachers’ Union Buys Peanuts and Cracker Jacks with Members’ Dues

PA Teachers’ Union Buys Peanuts and Cracker Jacks with Members’ Dues

PA Teachers’ Union Buys Peanuts and Cracker Jacks with Members’ Dues

I’m as big a fan of America’s pastime as anybody, but I’d still feel guilty about taking $11,800 from teachers’ paychecks to go see a game.

Apparently, that moral dilemma wasn’t shared by leaders of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) who, while attending the national union’s representative assembly last year in Texas, spent $7,729 of their members’ dues money on Houston Astros’ tickets and another $4,071 on what were presumably in-game expenses.

The ballgame fare is one of many questionable expenditures outlined in the PSEA’s latest LM-2 report filed with the U.S. Department of Labor.

All told, PSEA officials spent $152,751 of their members’ dues sending their delegates to Houston —a trip that included catering, a four-diamond hotel and, of course, taking them out to the old ballgame.

While PSEA officials probably didn’t mastermind the Astros’ now-infamous sign-stealing scandal, their game night junket was nonetheless funded by hardworking school employees back in Pennsylvania who might feel equally cheated by the unethical use of their pay.

And PSEA’s questionable spending didn’t stop there.

In 2019, more than 26 percent of the dues paid by Pennsylvania teachers went directly to the National Education Association (NEA) headquarters in Washington, D.C., to help support its massive nationwide political agenda. On top of that, PSEA spent an additional $4 million of its own members’ dues on political activity (including an extra $209,000 send to the NEA) and a whopping $2.3 million on airfare, hotels, travel and food.

Given how union leaders spend their money, it’s no wonder more than 7,000 Pennsylvania teachers and school employees have decided to leave the PSEA’s ranks since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME (2018).

The union tallied 7,289 fewer financial supporters in 2019 than it did the year before — and while that’s a significant drop, there’s likely much more to come.

At a time when perhaps they need it most, the Foundation’s most recent outreach informed school employees across Pennsylvania of the PSEA’s wasteful spending habits and informed them of their right to keep their hard-earned money.

As we’ve shown on the West Coast, the typical response from public employees speaks for itself.

Still, it won’t be without resistance from union leaders. Although the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus recognized that public employees have the right to choose for themselves whether to pay union dues or fees, PSEA is one of many government unions around the country that employs a narrow “opt-out window” to keep deducting dues from school employees’ paychecks as long as possible.

Specifically, the PSEA’s most recent membership application restricts their ability to opt out to September of each year.

For the PSEA officials who rely on their “members” to keep funding their big-league fantasies, however, such tactics often backfire – serving only as another glaring example of why so many choose to leave.

It’s a lesson many union leaders don’t seem to want to learn. But as long the Freedom Foundation is working in Pennsylvania to ensure every public employee is informed of their constitutional rights under Janus, it’s a lesson that will continue to hit home.

Research & Government Affairs Associate
Ben Straka serves as a Research and Government Affairs Associate for the Freedom Foundation, where his responsibilities include an array of policy research and reform efforts aimed at supporting the organization’s mission through legislative advocacy and public policy expertise. His work has been published in various local news outlets throughout the Pacific Northwest and the country, and he has appeared as a guest on radio programs such as The Lars Larson Show, among others. He has regularly testified before the Oregon State Legislature on matters of labor policy and government transparency, has advised local government leaders on labor relations, and has represented employees in administrative proceedings under the state’s collective bargaining laws. Ben first joined the Freedom Foundation in 2016, and holds additional professional experience in the fields of real estate development and construction. He is a native of Eugene, Ore. and a graduate of Corban University, where he studied political science and business. He lives in Oregon with his wife.