NEA Membership Falls to 2005 Levels
posted at 4:19 pm on February 27, 2012 by Mike Antonucci
Today President Obama urged the members of the National Governors Association to spend more on education and, according to the Associated Press, “Specifically he called for more teachers in the classroom.” And while he may have sound education arguments for doing so, it is also true that his earliest 2012 campaign endorser, the National Education Association, needs the reinforcements.
Last week we noted the unprecedented staff reductions NEA is preparing to make in light of stubborn budget deficits. Now we see some of the membership numbers prompting the corrective measures. The latest figures show total membership below 3,079,000 members, but even that paints a happier picture than the fiscal reality.
Membership levels are at their lowest since the 2005-06 school year – the year before the NEA affiliate in New York merged with the AFT-affiliated New York State United Teachers. The merger “added” more than 350,000 members to NEA’s ranks, but no additional funds. With roughly the same number of members in 2005, NEA was able to sustain a $300 million budget. Now its budget is more than $375 million.
The union is down more than 76,000 active working members compared with this time last year. Some losses in active membership are mitigated by increases in retired members. Retired members certainly add to NEA’s strength, but they pay only $25 annually in dues, as opposed to $178 by active working teachers. Trading active teachers for retirees keeps total membership numbers up, but greatly reduces the union’s bottom line.
By my estimate, NEA has lost 157,000 members after hitting its high-water mark in 2009. I have no current figures for state affiliates, except for Michigan, which is now below 116,000 active members – a loss of about 13,500 working employees since 2009.