Teacher union leaders palavering about evil corporations and the rich is a modern-day version of The Emperor’s New Clothes.
The teachers unions really need to get some new talking points. Granted, straw men and hyperbole are common in political discourse, but union verbiage needs a serious makeover – the old model is giving hypocrisy a bad name.
In a simply awful piece, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten railed against Donald Trump’s new health plan in the Huffington Post last month. Forget her distortion of facts; the title alone is LOL funny: “GOP Rewards The Rich, Rips Off The Rest Of Us.” We are led to believe that ol’ Randi is just-plain-folks, but the union boss hauled in $472,197 last year. Just a tad over minimum wage. According to analysts at DQYDJ.com, $300,000 in pre-tax income is the entry point to the One Percent Club. (H/T Mike Antonucci.)
(To the above, I could add that most corporate heads make their money legitimately by selling products that the public willingly purchases. In many states, however, unions force workers to pay dues while the leaders line their own pockets. But I won’t go there….)
By the way, Weingarten is hardly the only fat-cat teacher union leader. National Education Association president Lily Eskelsen García bagged $317,826 last year, and NEA executive director John Stocks had to scrape by on $355,721. At the California Democratic Party Convention in 2017, California Teachers Association president Eric Heins ranted and raved about evil billionaires, of course, never mentioning his one-percenter $318,000 total compensation package. As Antonucci points out, union leaders appear to define rich as “anyone who makes more money than I do.”
Then we have the unionista obsession with “corporate” bogeymen. The Janus v AFSCME case, if successful, would free public employees in 22 states from having to pay any money to a union as a condition of employment. Minimizing the merits of the lawsuit, the NEA simply paints the case as a plot by evil “corporate interests” to weaken unions. In Heins’ aforementioned speech, he claimed that schools are “the centers of our communities, not corporate profit centers.”
But no one is more willing to invoke the “c” word than United Teachers of Los Angeles boss Alex Caputo-Pearl. The UTLA honcho is on a mission to kill Prop 13 protections for corporations. In a state more accurately called “Taxifornia,” Prop 13 limits increases in property tax for business and individuals. His union has released a barrage of propaganda in attempts to close the “Corporate Property Tax Loophole” and “level the playing field.”
Funny how Caputo-Pearl and other union leaders neglect to point out that teachers unions are de facto corporations. But all the money they take – willingly or not – from teachers is tax-free. Yup, no teachers union – or any union for that matter – pays a penny in taxes.
If you haven’t had your hypocrisy quota for the day, here’s one more example. At the same time the teachers unions trash corporations, they have oodles of spare cash (that’s what a special interest tax-exemption can do for you). And one of the places they park their lucre is with, well, corporations. Great big corporations. As Mike Antonucci wrote last month, they sink a lot of money into mutual funds, which invest in the biggest corporations in the country, including “AT&T, Verizon, Target, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, IBM, Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Comcast, Coca-Cola, Philip Morris, Microsoft, Boeing, JP Morgan Chase, Berkshire Hathaway, and Aramark. In fact, NEA invests in 9 of the 10 richest corporations in the United States.”
So the union leaders scream about the rich, yet many are one-percenters. They bloviate about corporations, yet they support the biggest ones with their profits…er, untaxed money.
In short, any child can see that the emperor is buck naked.
Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.