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NEA members – do you know where do your dues go?

Recent documents show the National Education Association (NEA) continues to spend more on progressive politics than on representing its members. According to the union’s latest filing with the Department of Labor, the union spent twice as much money on politics as it did on serving its members last year.

Even as the union spent much of 2020 and 2021 sounding alarms about the Covid-19 pandemic, they still managed to prioritize politics over member support. This is especially evident in the union’s engagement in the 2020 presidential election.

The NEA spent a total of $374 million during the 2020-2021 fiscal year,18% of which went to political activities. A meager 9% of the union’s spending was on “representational activities,” or money that is spent directly to support its members. Another 32% went to “contributions, gifts, and grants,” spending that is also often political in nature.

Political spending by the union increased by 32% from the year before, from $51 million up to $66 million. This amount does not include money the union collected specifically for its political action committee (PAC), or political spending listed in other categories.

The NEA donates members’ dues to a long list of progressive political organizations that support Democratic candidates and causes. For example, the NEA gave $1 million last year to Future Forward USA Action, a liberal super PAC that supported Joe Biden’s campaign for president. The NEA did not list this donation under political spending, but rather under “contributions, gifts, and grants.”

Another $8.7 million of dues money was given to political organizations organized under Democracy Alliance, called “the country’s most powerful liberal donor club” by Politico. Democracy Alliance’s chairman is John Stocks, a former NEA executive director, who is still listed on the NEA’s LM-2 as an employee with a $334,219 a year salary.

The NEA funded several organizations under the Democracy Alliance umbrella including: 

  • $6.7 million to the State Engagement Fund;
  • $513,000 to Catalist;
  • $425,000 to Democracy Alliance;
  • $325,000 to the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center;
  • $260,300 to America Votes;
  • $200,000 to Economic Policy Institute;
  • $100,000 to Center for American Progress;
  • $75,000 to State Innovation Exchange;
  • $50,000 to ProgressNow Colorado;
  • $30,000 to the American Constitution Society; and,
  • $10,000 to Community Change Action.

Of the NEA’s 510 employees, 50 received salaries over $200,000, while the average salary was $134,000. Top salaries went to NEA President Becky Pringle, who earned $431,317, and Executive Director Kimberly Anderson who earned $406,951.

During the 2020-2021 school year, the NEA collected $377 million in dues from school employees, about $2 million higher than last year, despite having 65,416 fewer members. This is due in part to higher dues, which have gone up $4 since last year.

Suzanne Bates

Suzanne Bates is Senior Writer and Researcher with Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector workers offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Prior to joining Americans for Fair Treatment in 2020, Suzanne worked as a journalist for the Associated Press, as Policy Director with the Yankee Institute, as a contributor for The Hartford Courant, and as a regular commentator for WNPR’s The Wheelhouse.