Michigan Union Bosses Hate School Choice

When Governor Rick Snyder (R) and Republicans in Michigan’s state legislature implemented reforms to the state’s broken public school system last year, the Michigan Education Association (MEA) cried foul. The tone of MEA “leaders” trying to bolster their Middle Class credentials should sound familiar to anyone from Wisconsin or Ohio:

[MEA President Iris] Salters joined about 1,000 union members protesting at the state Capitol on Tuesday, saying the bill is “again a way to say to labor, you don’t count. It’s a way to say to employees, get back. I believe it’s just like being in the slave days.”

Why such desperate race-baiting against reforms that would modestly limit public union power? MEA bosses, following the example of higher-ups at the National Education Association, extract a tidy living from their members’ pockets.

Michigan Average Annual Pay compared to Michigan Education Association

Michigan occupational averages are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. MEA staff and officer pay comes from the Department of Labor. While the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers estimate average annual wages in Michigan at $43,280, average pay for MEA staff and officers is $96,373.

Crazy, isn’t it, how angry public unions get about reforms that would threaten their monopoly? MEA bosses must truly care about their underpaid, unappreciated members!

MEA President Iris Salters, quoted above comparing school choice and merit pay to slavery, took $283,280 from Michigan teachers’ paychecks last fiscal year. MEA Public Affairs Director Doug Pratt defended her logic and her threat of an illegal strike:

“MEA will not stand silent while Michigan’s public schools and middle class are under attack,” Pratt said.

“These votes are our way of increasing the awareness and action among our members statewide to stand in defense of our jobs, our rights, and the futures of our students and communities. Should lawmakers fail to end these attack on the people of Michigan, we will not shy away from taking action to stop them.”

Emphasis mine. To be honest, the more I learn about NEA affiliates across the country, the less I worry about my time wasted fighting for Ohio’s union reform bill. Union bosses everywhere seem to be reenacting the same idiotic melodrama!

Meanwhile, 148 of 334 MEA staff and officers are paid six figures. Counting Ms. Salters, the top of the payroll includes 6 people who take more than $200,000 a year from Michigan teachers:

  • LUIGI BATTAGLIERI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: $267,367
  • ARTHUR PRZYBYLOWICZ, GENERAL COUNSEL: $238,475
  • STEVEN COOK, VICE PRESIDENT: $228,799
  • THOMAS FERRIS, SOUTHERN ZONE DIRECTOR: $207,525
  • GRETCHEN DZIADOSZ, AED UNISERV: $200,869

Public Affairs Director Pratt, standing athwart education reform yelling “STUDENTS,” took $174,879 from Michigan teachers last year.

How did Michigan taxpayers survive before the Michigan Education Association?

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Union Bosses Against School Choice

The National Education Association (NEA) and its state affiliates push an agenda that benefits union bosses at taxpayer expense. In America’s 28 forced-unionism states, teachers in NEA-organized schools who opt not to join must still pay dues, creating a huge pot of money for NEA to spend portraying teachers as victims and union bosses as their only friends.

NEA calls its political action committee “The NEA Fund for Children & Public Education.” Subtle, right? But NEA doesn’t stop at spending tens of millions on Progressives who will shovel money at public education without demanding reform for broken tenure and compensation policies. The nonpartisan materials on NEA’s member-funded website include, to sample a few recent items:

Given the union’s claim to stand for Middle Class workers, a casual observer might expect the salaries of NEA officers and staff to resemble the average working stiff’s. That casual observer would be very, very wrong.

U.S. Hourly Wage Percentiles, Full-time private industry vs. NEA

Based on the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, 90% of full-time private industry workers in America are paid $39.81/hour or less. Assuming a 40-hour week, NEA officers and staff are paid an average of $55.23/hour.

Average annual pay for NEA officers and staff is $114,882, using figures from the union’s most recent filing to the U.S. Department of Labor. NEA bosses preach collectivism while collecting hefty paychecks from members who they insist are underpaid!

You may want to put down any liquids before looking at specifics:

  • John Wilson, Executive Director: $492,484
  • Dennis Van Roekel, President: $460,060
  • Lily Eskelsen, Vice President: $371,904
  • John Yrchik, Executive Director: $328,617
  • Becky Pringle, Secretary/Treasurer: $325,384

Last year, 44 NEA staff and officers were paid more than $200,000. Out of just over 700 officers and staff, 446 were paid six figures. Review the numbers from the Department of Labor.

If an NEA member ever berates you about the shortcomings of school choice legislation, cut them some slack! Only an Obama strawman says free markets are perfect, but Obama strawmen are the only counterpoints offered in NEA materials. Wait for a pause in the union script, share this info, and ask why forcing kids to attend a school where teachers are forced to fund NEA beats messy individualism!

The National Education Association and its affiliates throughout the country will lie about who they are, reward themselves richly with member dues, and attack anyone who points out the appalling truth. Don’t let selfish NEA posturing dissuade you from fighting for what’s right.

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