Follow the Money: Teachers' Union Dues Pays for Political Activities

A recently filed report with the U.S. Department of Labor shows that the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) (the second-largest teachers’ union) spent $42 million on political lobbying activities in 2014-2015. This represents a 45 percent increase in spending over the previous years’ report.

A prime example of where the teachers’ union priorities exist is where their contributions are made. Specifically, in 2014- 2015, contributions were made to the following organizations:

- $250,000 to the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation

- $250,000 to the Clinton Global Initiative

- Since 2013, the AFT has poured $1.2 million into these two Clinton organizations

- Both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers have endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. And, a high ranking NEA official just left that post to begin working full time on the “Hillary for President” campaign.

It is interesting to note that this past Sunday, the president of AFT, Randi Weingarten announced while speaking at a Clinton Global initiative summit, that the AFT would provide a “gift” of “$100 million in funding for an early childhood education initiative”. Furthermore, the “Institute for Women’s Policy Research” received $47,500 from the AFT.This organization regularly spins out reports calling for better training and higher pay for preschool teachers – presumably preschool teachers who belong to their union. You will recall that in the recently completed legislative session, one of Governor Dayton’s top legislative proposals was to mandate statewide pre-school for all Minnesota 4-year old children.

This would enact one of the union’s primary goals of forcibly unionizing preschool teachers throughout the state and leave Minnesota school districts with a massive new unfunded mandate.

Other political special interest groups receiving massive chunks of teacher dues include:

- $60,000 to the national Democracy Alliance. Their secretive Minnesota chapter is better known as the “Alliance for a Better Minnesota.” (A fellow traveler recently wrote, “the first rule about membership in Democracy Alliance is that you don’t say you’re part of it.”

- $60,000 from AFT to a new organization called the State Innovation Exchange or SIX. This new organization is aimed at providing progressive legislation for Democrats and progressive state legislators

- $27,000 to the, ahem, progressive magazine The Nation and $10,000 to Dissent, a magazine so liberal that it “occasionally makes The Nation seem downright conservative.”$220,000 to the “Atlas Project”, an organization that provides “election data to various progressive groups”

- $60,000 to The Center for Popular Democracy, and another $100,000 to their political action fund that actively fights against school choice and charter schools

- $300,000 to The Economic Policy Institute, a D.C.-based 501(c)(3) organization whose board of directors includes leaders from the following unions: AFSCME, SEIU, AFT, NEA, AFL-CIO, United Steelworkers, UAW, United Food and Commercial Workers, and one member of Congress: Representative Keith Ellison.

Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the salaries of the AFT leadership. In 2014-2015, the AFT’s top three leaders and their salaries:

- President Randi Weingarten: $497,118

- Secretary-Treasurer Loretta Johnson: $356,292 and,

- Mary Cathryn Ricker, the former Saint Paul Federation of Teachers boss who now serves as vice-president of the AFT: $295,275

You can learn a lot about an organization and their goals when you see where they devote their resources. Or, in the case of the nation’s second largest teachers’ union, where they send the dues forcibly collected from the paychecks of hundreds of thousands of public school teachers all across America – teachers who have to join the union as a condition of employment.


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