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FEA: Where Do Your Union Dues Go?

A LOOK AT Florida Education Association SPENDING 2019 – 2021

The Florida Education Association (FEA) represents teachers throughout the state of Florida. The union is made up of 139,476 members. As a union that represents public and private sector employees, FEA files a LM-2 financial disclosure form with the United States Department of Labor. So, what does this filing reveal about the union?

From 2019 to 2021, FEA’s revenue steadily increased. After bringing in $73.6 million in 2019, the union saw a bump in revenue, collecting $75.8 million in 2020. In 2021, the most recent reporting year, the union brought in $76 million. In this span, membership dues accounted for around 36 percent of the union’s revenue. Dues revenue was at a high of $28 million in 2021. Outside of membership dues, the FEA brings in most of its revenue from affiliates only to transmit the money back to affiliates. These transfers account for over half of the FEA’s revenue and expenditures.

While revenue has steadily increased, expenditures have done the same. Expenditures jumped from $68.1 million in 2019 to $71.1 million in 2021. Revenue exceeded expenditures in all three years. The union’s net position is currently $13.5 million, indicating that the union is in a strong financial position. Retirement benefits are the union’s biggest liability, making up $37.9 million of the union’s $40 million in liabilities. Former union president Fedrick Ingram saw his pay decrease by over $200,000 from 2019, going from $343,579 to $129,775 in 2021.

Going deeper into the union’s expenditures, monies paid to affiliated unions was consistently the highest expense for the union. Per capita tax accounted for between 50 and 55 percent of expenses in each year from 2019 to 2021. The FEA is uniquely affiliated with both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.

FEA’s second highest expense was contributions, gifts, and grants, accounting for about 10 percent of expenditures each year. Most of this money went to affiliates for “service unit grants and rebates.” The second highest expense was general overhead, which goes towards expenses like IT

support, insurance, and financial services. Representational activities accounted for between 6 and 8 percent of spending each year. FEA also spent 8 to 12 percent on purchasing investments and fixed assets and between 6 and 9 percent on union employee benefits.

FEA Political Funding

Spending on political activities and lobbying remained relatively steady over the past three years. In 2021, the union spent $5.3 million on political activities and lobbying. About $800,000 of this went to employees and officers as compensation for their political activity and lobbying efforts. Other expenditures went to public affairs advertising ($2.7 million), the union’s “Fund Our Future” project ($672,715), and to outside firms for lobbying ($119,993) including $50,000 to Florida Pastors for Children for state legislative issue advocacy. The union also gave $567,000 to the FEA Advocacy Fund, the FEA’s political arm.

The FEA Advocacy Fund is the FEA’s Political Action Committee (PAC). As a PAC, the FEA Advocacy Fund can make direct contributions to political candidates. In the 2022 election cycle, the FEA Advocacy Fund gave a combined $852,000 to Florida 2020, Together We Stand, and Building the Bay PC. These three PACs gave heavily to the Florida

Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (FDLCC). The FEA Advocacy fund also gave a direct $75,000 contribution to the FDLCC. Additionally, the union’s PAC gave $100,000 to Democrat Charlie Crist’s campaign and $85,000 to the Florida Democratic Party. The FEA’s PAC didn’t give exclusively to Democrats though. The PAC contributed $69,500 to the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee and $32,500 to Conservatives for a Better Florida.In total, the FEA Advocacy Fund contributed just over $2.1 million to candidates and committees in the 2022 election cycle.

Aside from direct contributions, the FEA also endorses candidates for public office. The union made endorsements for 62 state legislature races, endorsing 57 Democrats and 5 Republicans. FEA also endorsed Charlie Crist for Governor of Florida.