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CEA spends majority of dues on running the union, not members

The Connecticut Education Association (CEA) describes itself as a “member organization championing for students, teachers, and public schools.” A closer look at the union’s finances reveal that this is not the case. Rather, the CEA siphons dues money from its membership to support its bloated staff.

Unlike most unions, the CEA does not file an annual LM-2 report since it does not represent any private sector employees. Rather, the CEA files a Form 990, the standard financial reporting document that nonprofit organizations send to the IRS. While not as detailed as an LM-2 report, the Form 990 still provides valuable insight into the CEA’s finances.

The CEA’s 2019 (latest available) shows that the union spent 4 out of 5 dollars collected from members to run the union. The union spent lavishly on travel, office supplies, and conferences while its liabilities increased by $10 million. Of the union’s 81 employees, 45 of them made over $100,000. Seven employees made over $300,000 in 2019. Attorney Melanie Kolek was the top earner, bringing in over $330,000. Salaries were not the only large expense though; 23 percent of the union’s expenditures went to pension accruals and contributions. Combined, 70 percent of the union’s expenditures went to salaries and pension benefits alone.

The CEA states that its primary objective is to support local unions. The union only contributed $215,000 to locals, about 1 percent of all expenditures. This means that members are paying dues into the union and seeing little to no return on investment.

While not as politically involved as some other unions, the CEA still spent on politics. In 2019, the CEA’s Political Action Committee (PAC) spent $12,000 on state legislature elections. $9,000 went to Democratic committees, while $3,000 went to Republican committees. CEA members also pay about $200 in annual dues to the National Education Association (NEA), which spends about 19 percent of its budget on political activities and lobbying. Most of this spending is directed towards left-wing causes and organizations. For example, the union gave nearly $16 million to its own Super PAC and almost $7 million to the State Engagement Fund, a progressive advocacy organization. In total, the NEA spent $66 million in politics last year.