Despite previous assurances that Arizona teachers would be returning to work this morning, a decision yesterday evening resulted in the teachers taking yet another day off from work. The state is still hammering out the details of this year’s budget, but they’ve already assured the teachers union that generous pay increases and bumped up funding for education programs are on the way. But it seems that the schools will mostly remain closed until the budget is passed and signed. (AZ Central)
Arizona’s historic #RedForEd teacher walkout will stretch to a sixth school day, as Arizona Educators United organizers urged teachers to return to the Capitol Thursday amid unresolved budget discussions.
At least 40 Arizona school districts, accounting for hundreds of thousands of students, will remain closed Thursday in what proved to be a chaotic Wednesday for many of those schools.
The AEU organizers and Arizona Education Association, the state’s teachers’ union, had said Tuesday night that teachers would return to work Thursday if the Legislature passed a budget by then.
The government is offering up a 10% pay increase for next year (which is half of what the union demanded) along with $400 million for school building and maintenance budgets. It’s not what was being requested, but that’s still not too shabby. It seems as if they’ve found enough common ground to open the schools back up, but the union isn’t ready to go back to work yet.
Most of the statements being handed down from the union have been delivered by Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association (AEA). He’s obviously upset about the deplorable pay rates for teachers and he’s certainly got a point in that regard. Arizona teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation, so many of them are no doubt struggling to keep their family budgets afloat.
But do you know who’s not doing so badly in the personal finance area? Joe Thomas. He’s not scraping by on a teacher’s salary but is instead paid by the union. And that turns out to be a pretty lucrative gig. Thomas received more than $400K in compensation from 2011 through 2016 according to the union’s publicly published finance records. Good work if you can get it.
Those same records bring into question precisely what these underpaid teachers are getting in exchange for all of the union dues they pay to the AEA. They take in plenty of money, but that union doesn’t appear to be spending very much of it on working to get better compensation and benefits for their members. In fact, almost three-quarters of their revenue goes directly into salaries and other compensation for their officers like Joe, along with operating expenses. (Click on image for full-size chart.)
If you’re spending up to 70% of your budget on compensation for your union officials, how much of your resources can you possibly be putting into supporting and defending your union members? While the teachers remain out on strike demanding more cash from the taxpayers (and an increase is certainly not an unreasonable demand), perhaps they could use some of their free time to talk to Joe about exactly where their dues money is going.