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NYSUT ignores critical financial problems

The New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) held its annual representative assembly last month and claimed the union was in sound and strong financial footing, despite reports showing the union is in poor financial health.

In his remarks to the assembly, NYSUT secretary-treasurer J. Philippe Abraham claimed NYSUT is “strong.” Abraham asserted to union members, “Your union is strong, both financially and operationally! Your union’s continued financial strength means you can count on us to be here for you whenever you need us.”

His recent statement was similar to his 2022 remarks to the union’s assembly, when he said that NYSUT is a fiscally strong union.

But Abraham’s statement contradicts the financial reality facing NYSUT: New York’s largest government union is deep in debt.

According to AFFT’s “Where Do Your Dues Go?” – a research series that analyzes the tax filings of public-sector unions, NYSUT “remains in the red by nearly $180 million.” The financial problem is mostly caused by union employee pension obligations, which account for about 96 percent of the union’s $394 million of pension liabilities.

NYSUT spends more than it takes in, as demonstrated by its $38 million-dollar deficit in 2022 and a $11 million dollar deficit in 2020-21.

Perhaps to improve their financial situation, NYSUT voted to increase membership dues during this year’s representative assembly.

According to NYSUT’s blog about the assembly’s activities, union official Florence McCue said, “We’ve gone a long time without raising dues and now it’s time.” McCue said that although NYSUT avoided increasing dues for the past seven years, “now it’s time” to raise dues again.

NYSUT appears to be raising membership dues by incremental amounts in the coming years, based on the proposed constitutional amendment. The final amendment which was passed by the assembly is not yet publicly available.

In the next four years, NYSUT will raise dues by about $2 a month for teachers earning above $26,250 a year for a monthly dues total of $30.75 for union members on a 10-month payroll schedule and $25.63 for union members on a 12-month payroll schedule.

Considering NYSUT claims to have over 140,000 teachers as union members, a $2-per-month dues increase could boost NYSUT dues revenue by $3,360,000 per year and $13,440,000 over four years.

Spencer Irvine

Spencer Irvine is Senior Writer & Researcher at Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector employees offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Spencer previously worked in state government, in communications for a non-profit advocacy organization, and held various administrative and communications roles at a media analysis organization. He has a master’s degree in public administration from George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Brigham Young University. He lives in Arizona with his wife, is an avid history buff and enjoys touring historic sites.