Politics is big business, and teachers union leaders know it. During the last fiscal year the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) spent more than $27 million worth of members’ dues on political activities and groups. As Watchdog.org’s Jason Hart reports:
Based on Political Activities and Lobbying spending plus payments to political organizations listed elsewhere in the union’s annual report, AFT poured more than $27 million in member dues into political activism during the 2014 fiscal year ending June 30.
Additionally, compensation for AFT bosses who travel the country demanding bigger government is frequently treated as general overhead. Only 2 percent of the $557,875 AFT paid President Randi Weingarten was reported as Political Activities and Lobbying in 2014.
“This is business as usual,” Association of American Educators communications director Alexandra Freeze told Watchdog.org in a phone interview. “Teachers unions are some of the biggest contributors to partisan politics in the country, and that’s coming out of teacher dues, it’s coming out of tax funds.”
“The members we welcome are certainly sick of being political pawns in that game and are not interested in funding partisan causes or candidacies, and they’re not interested in being told how to vote,” Freeze added. …
“Teachers believe that they are spending money on professional development and liability insurance; they don’t realize that a lot of this money is going to staff overhead and partisan politics,” Freeze told Watchdog.org.
Hart provided some eye-popping union contributions paid for with hard-earned money from dues-paying members, including some $450,000 combined to the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative, along with dozens of five-figure contributions to organizations such as:
- $80,000 to National Public Pension Coalition, a lobbying group dedicated to fighting public pension reform
- $75,000 to Human Rights Campaign, an activist group “working for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights”
- $25,000 to BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of labor unions and environmentalist groups
People should be free to donate as much and to whom they wish. But no one should be forced to pay membership dues that by-and-large support political activities that they may not agree with. It’s no wonder that a growing number of educators are joining organizations such as the AAE that focuses on the teaching profession, and not the narrow politics embraced by union leadership.