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Now here’s a surprise
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Under new rules - fought vigorously by unions - unions must now disclose that on which they spend their member's dues.

This, according to unions, is a bad thing. Or it was. As you'll see below, they now say they're all for it.

What they're finding out is that their members may find what they've been spending those dues on to be a bad thing. Take the NEA as an example:
The NEA is spending the mandatory dues paid by members who are told their money will be used to gain better wages, benefits and working conditions. According to the latest filing, member dues accounted for $295 million of the NEA's $341 million in total receipts last year. But the union spent $25 million of that on "political activities and lobbying" and another $65.5 million on "contributions, gifts and grants" that seemed designed to further those hyper-liberal political goals.
Almost 23% (65.5 million) went to other organizations which may or may not be supported by the membership and apparently have little if anything to do witht he primary mission of the union. Don't get me wrong, this is no worse than the government spending taxpayer's money in the same way.

The only difference, in reality, is the government has all the guns and gets to make the rules while the rest of us get to do what we're told.

But I digress. The point here is this should have been transparant to the membership long before 2006.
If we told you that an organization gave away more than $65 million last year to Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Amnesty International, AIDS Walk Washington and dozens of other such advocacy groups, you'd probably assume we were describing a liberal philanthropy. In fact, those expenditures have all turned up on the financial disclosure report of the National Education Association, the country's largest teachers union.


The NEA gave $15,000 to the Human Rights Campaign, which lobbies for "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights." The National Women's Law Center, whose Web site currently features a "pocket guide" to opposing Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito, received $5,000. And something called the Fund to Protect Social Security got $400,000, presumably to defeat personal investment accounts.
Rainbow PUSH, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Amnesty International and AIDS Walk Washington have what to do with protecting the wages, benefits and working conditions of the nation's teachers?

And while the amounts noted in the 2nd paragraph aren't huge (other than the $400,000 to oppose SS reform), the organizations listed also have little if anything to do with the bettering the life of teachers.

But in all cases, they certainly point to an agenda.

Now whether or not you agree with the agenda, the point is that it isn't the job (unless the membership paying the dues agrees it is) of a union to be engaged in furthering any sort of agenda except that which directly benefits its members, or at least, that's the given reason for their exitence.

I've always been of the opinion that any organization which demands dues of its members should have complete transparency as to how the dues are spent. Any member at any time should have the right to demand to see the books.

But strangely, it's taken a government regulation to make that so, and that irritates me to death. If you want to keep government out of procedings, then do what's right. After all, don't unions claim that if management simply treated their workers properly there'd be no reason for unions?

It makes me wonder how in the world these unions resisted something I'm sure their membership demanded some time ago, you know, to know that on which their dues were being spent.

Of course now the unions are saying they were for it before they were against it:
Union officials claim that they favored such transparency all along, but the truth is they fought the new rules hard in both Congress and the courts. Originally, the AFL-CIO said detailed disclosures were too expensive, citing compliance costs in excess of $1 billion. The final bill turned out to be $54,000, or half of what the unions spent on litigation fighting the new requirements. When Secretary Chao refused to back down, the unions took her to court, and lost.
And they've now lost the ability to pursue political agendas in the dark. I'm wondering how this will play out with the memberships of the various unions now that they can check and see where the leadership is spending their dues?
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Previous Comments to this Post 

One word:


Written By: Bithead
Hahahahaha! I wonder if this would/will roll-over on the almighty CA Teacher’s Union? Looking forward to the fall-out!
Written By: -keith in mtn. view
URL: http://
I wouldn’t get to awful excited. This just confirms what we already knew.
Thier members knew about the agenda as well so not much will change. A few extra members will demand that thier dues be spent on work related projects only so the union will just use thier dues to pay for those work related projects for themselves and a few others then transfer those who don’t mind the agendas dues fully into the same old junk.

In other words, just change the numbers around in the book keeping and shazam! same -ol-same-ol.
Written By: SkyWatch
URL: http://
"Thier members knew about the agenda as well so not much will change"

I don’t think so. The membership is unaware of the spending magnitude and the specific causes, but especially the NEA salary levels. My wife was a former (forced) member of the NEA and I read their crappy newsletter. None of this was ever mentioned - it was always about the glory of education and how hard the NEA was fighting to perserve it and the livlihood of teachers. There will be fallout. It is about to be widely realized that the emperor has no clothes.

Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
In other words, just change the numbers around in the book keeping and shazam! same -ol-same-ol.

I agree with Unknown. The "same-ol-same-ol" was 2005 and doin’ it in the dark. While it may have been long suspected, now it’s known. Let’s see how the membership reacts.
Written By: McQ
How can they react, even assuming they know about these abuses ? The workers can’t unload the union. the unions are now in place in these workplaces by government edict and nothing short of an act of god is going to remove them.

More importantly how will the union leaders act?
My supposition is that the lacked exactly the same way they did in the case of the Beck ruling; They’ll ignore it.

...and the same old same old will continue, right after this word from the Democratic National Committee...
Written By: Bithead
I don’t think a lot of workers think about what is happening with their dues. They have no control so they are lethargic about the whole issue. The information may irk them when they see the actual numbers. However, I doubt it will motivate them very much. Most unions are intractible mandetory organizations. Leadership selection for these unions is often a nebulous process even to its membership. In short unions are often accountable to their membership.
Written By: John
URL: http://
Errr... Should read.
In short, unions are often not accountable to their membership.
Written By: John
URL: http://
Not to pounce on you John but, rather to extend your point; I’d like you or anyone else for that matter, to tell me one last time the union membership got any accountability of the union leadership.

Written By: Bithead
"How can they react, even assuming they know about these abuses ? The workers can’t unload the union."

They can if they get their respective states to adopt right-to-work laws. Around 19 states have them. They can also revolt and refuse to pay their dues in large numbers (although I know in MN it is mandated that the dues are withdrawn out of their paychecks. Nice system.)

Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
I know for a fact that OEA and NEA membership is mandatory for Oklahoma teachers.

My mom, being a conservative, uses the OEA and NEA’s newsletters as negative advice: They promote a candidate or bill, she votes against, and vice versa.
Written By: Dave
URL: http://
(Chuckle) Good for her. Thing is, she’s forced to give money to the Union who then uses her money against her politics.

Written By: Bithead

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