The Michigan Education Association’s former leader had a salary that rivaled—and even beat—her peers in other states, even though her union had far fewer members. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports:

The highest-paid state teacher union president was Richard Iannuzzi of the New York State United Teachers. He made $269,788 in 2011. Former MEA President Iris Salters made $235,447 in 2011. The New York state teachers union has 592,256 members, more than three times the membership of the 153,938 member MEA. …

The California Teachers Association had 325,000 members and Executive Director Carolyn Doggett’s $221,612 salary was the highest for that state as of 2009 — the latest year salary information was made public. In comparison, in 2009 Salters' base pay was $280,598.

Worse, as teachers were facing pay freezes and cuts, the unions were handing out big raises to their bosses, according to Michigan Capitol Confidential:

Michigan public school teachers who are facing pay freezes and pay cuts might be surprised to know that the dues they pay that go to their national unions helped give the national presidents raises of 19 percent and 22 percent in 2011.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten had her base salary increase from $342,552 in 2010 to $407,323 in 2011 while National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel's base salary jumped from $298,387 in 2010 to $362,644. The salary information was taken from the unions most recent LM-2 reports.

Van Roekel's total compensation went from $397,721 to $460,060 from 2010 to 2011, while Weingarten’s total compensation jumped from $428,284 in 2010 to $493,859 in 2011.

Those raises came as both unions lost membership. …

"I find the amounts of money they are getting astronomical and largely unwarranted," said Susan Westlake, a former secretary who worked for the Fraser Public Schools before retiring in 1985. "But they don't have anything to do with education any longer. That's what bothers me. How can they fight for someone's rights who are in the classroom educating when they don't have any relationship to that environment anymore? They are working literally as politicians. If their constituency wants to pay them that type of money, I think they are crazy."

Apparently a lot of educators agree with Westlake, which explains why teachers union membership is way down.