Allocation of Teacher Union Dues by State

By Reiss Becker
June 25, 2019

First and foremost, teachers’ unions are passionate advocates for their members interests, fighting tirelessly for their wages, benefits, and working conditions. Or so the theory goes. But much like communism, unions in theory and unions in practice are very different things. In reality, teachers’ unions do not primarily spend their members’ dues on representation– they spend it on politicians. Not just any politicians too, in the 2016 election cycle over 93% of union campaign spending went to Democrats.

Listed below are the breakdown of dues spending by teachers’ unions in the top five states ranked by population of unionized public sector employees. The breakdown demonstrates that vast sums of money are not used for local organizing purposes but instead are funneled up to state and national level affiliates to lobby politicians and fund campaigns. To quote Joe Biden, a union favorite, “show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value.” 

Washington

On average, unionized teachers in Washington annually pay $1,060 in dues. Of that, $425 stays with the local union, $443 dollars goes to the Federal Way Education Association (despite being called “federal,” this is Washington’s state-level education association) and $192 dollars goes to the National Education Association.

California 

On average, unionized teachers in California annually pay $1,072 in dues. Of that, $229 stays with the local union, $656 goes to the CTA and $187 goes to the NEA.

Illinois

On average, unionized teachers in Illinois annually pay $672 in dues. Of that, $69 stays with the local union, $372 goes to the Illinois Federation of Teachers and $231 goes to the American Federation of Teachers. 

Pennsylvania 

On average, unionized teachers in Pennsylvania annually pay around $800 in dues. Of that, only around 10% stays with the local union, while $532 goes to the Pennsylvania State Education Association and $192 goes to the National Education Association.

New York 

On average, unionized teachers in New York annually pay $1,197 in dues. Of that, $462 stays with the local union, $183 dollars goes to the New York State United Teachers and $552 dollars goes to the American Federation of Teachers and the AFL-CIO. 

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Reiss Becker is a student at Duke University. He is a research intern for the California Policy Center.

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