A few days ago, LA School Report ran a story about a 2016 dues increase for United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) members. While unions occasionally raise dues, more recently to make up for revenues lost through their members deciding to cease their dues payments, this increase went into effect two years before the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Janus v. AFSCME doing away with mandatory union dues or fees.
In 2015, Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of UTLA, sounded a call to arms for his dues-payers. Warning of impending financial doom, Pearl told his members that without a 33 percent increase, UTLA would be “bankrupt or dramatically weakened” in the years to come.
What he didn’t tell intended victims was that UTLA already had nearly $8 million in the bank and the union’s net worth was sitting at $28.5 million.
This is poverty?
With this information suppressed, UTLA members grudgingly agreed to a 33 percent dues increase. And how did the union spend its windfall?
Unsurprisingly, UTLA leaders awarded themselves a lavish pay raise and stashed the balance in the bank. By 2018, the number of UTLA staffers making more than $100,000 per year nearly doubled from 12 to 23. Another $1.4 million went directly to increasing staff salaries, while UTLA’s bank account increased to $11.6 million, an increase of nearly 47 percent.
Thankfully for the union’s leaders, they didn’t need their members’ permission to raise dues anymore. Once they decide that UTLA members need to be paying more, they don’t have to lie to them again.
Typically, honesty is the best policy. Though to be fair, “We want to pay ourselves more” probably doesn’t sound as good as “bankrupt or dramatically weakened.”