Teachers union dues rise along with pay

The Los Angeles Unified School District this month agreed to a 10 percent raise for teachers, creating a deficit for the district that would reach $559 million by 2016-17, according to a projection by the district.5500255288_74b6e7fc97_z

It was reportedly the first raise in eight years for the rank and file, and the negotiations were handled by United Teachers Los Angeles.

According to an L.A. Times story on the payout:

The tentative three-year deal would cost $875.3 million for all employees, about $285.6 million more than the district’s original offer, according to a memo from Supt. Ramon C. Cortines to board members. Included in the increased amount is an additional $31.6 million for other employee groups, such as administrators, whose contracts entitle them to more money if other bargaining units negotiate better deals than their own.

Teachers unions in Los Angeles and around the state have battled for raises over the past year.

In San Diego, teachers seek a 10 percent wage increase over two years. In San Francisco, teachers obtained a 12 percent raise over three years. And teachers in a San Jose high school district got a 5 percent raise earlier this year.

Many of these teachers are members of either the California Federation of Teachers, the state affiliate of the national American Federation of Teachers; or the California Teachers Association, a chapter of the National Education Association. Together, the two represent 445,000 members.

The CFT files an annual financial disclosure with the U.S. Department of Labor. An analysis of the CFT’s annual labor department filings shows that yearly dues have increased 33 percent since 2005 – about the last time the L.A. teachers got a raise – from $361 annually to $482 last year. Dues have not increased since 2011.

Meanwhile, membership has increased from 51,712 active members in 2005 to 55,647 last year.

Among other findings in the analysis, which was done by accessing reports through this Department of Labor portal:

  • The salary of the secretary/treasurer has increased 40 percent, from the $116,786 received by Michael Nye in 2005 to the $163,812 paid to Jeffrey Freitas last year.
  • Pay to the president of CFT dropped from the $121,170 paid to Mary Bergan in 2005 to the $84,274 paid to Joshua Pechthalt last year.
  • The federation added a salary to the upper ranks: $80,000 to Jim Mahler, head of the Community College Council.
  • Overall, total officer disbursements rose 60 percent between 2005 and 2014, from $333,126 to $536,604.
  • Employee disbursements, including political organizing, went from $3.6 million in 2005 to $4.9 million in 2014, an increase of 36 percent.
  • Loans payable at the end of 2014 were zero compared to $3.2 million in outstanding loans in 2005.
  • In 2005, the federation paid $62,000 to Sacramento PR ace Stephen Hopcraft. While Hopcraft’s website says he is still working for the federation, no payments to him were reported for last year. Instead, it reported spending $113,000 with Senders Communication Group in Canoga Park.
  • For in-house lobbying at the statehouse, the CFT paid $248,781 in 2013-14. In 2005-06, it paid $329,260.
  • The federation now has an unfunded pension liability of $5.1 million compared to zero in 2005. Total liabilities are now $30.1 million compared to $6 million in 2005. The growth has been driven by new accounting rules that require broader reporting of liabilities coupled with a steady creep in unfunded pension benefits.

The data shows a strong performance for the union in a state that has maintained its organized labor base while the rest of the country has seen an explosion of successful right-to-work legislation – Michigan and Wisconsin notably – and an increase in non-union workplaces.

Union membership in the U.S. has dropped from 24 percent of workers in 1973 to 11.1 percent in 2014, according to unionstats.com.

Membership in the public sector, though, has remained in the 30-something-percent range since the late ‘70s, settling at 35.7 percent last year.

In California, membership has remained above the national average since 2004, with 17.5 percent of workers represented by a union last year compared with 18 percent in 2004. The state ranked fifth in the U.S. for overall representation behind Hawaii, New York, Alaska and Washington.

Steve Miller can be reached at 517-775-9952 and [email protected]. His website is www.Avalanche50.com

Photo of school bus by flickr user Kevin42135, used via a Creative Commons license



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