Over the years, I have occasionally heard individuals question whether they get their money’s worth. Here is a breakdown of your dues and a very brief explanation of what your dues are used for at each level. (Union dues are not used for contributions to political campaigns at any level).
Of the $854.00, $185 of that goes to the NEA. The NEA fights for you at the national level. The last two presidents have enacted sweeping education reform laws and the NEA actively works at the federal level, lobbying the U.S. Congress and the federal Department of Education on behalf of its members. (Note that the U.S. Department of Education did not even exist until 1979 and many maintain that the Constitution leaves the management of education to the states)
$489.00 goes to the CEA. This makes sense. Most education law and implementation happens at the state level. Also, your pension is paid by the state. CEA headquarters is right across the street from the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. CEA has been very successful at protecting your pension (remember the “Keep the Promise” campaign) and lobbying the state legislature on your behalf. Much of the sweeping education reform act proposed by Governor Malloy in 2012 was greatly modified by the time it emerged from the legislature thanks to the vociferous activism of the CEA. Part of this money also pays for you to have a lawyer on retainer. (Your uniserv rep). Your uniserv rep, Sara Pomponi, is always there when you need her and is a key player in negotiations. Having a uniserv rep should also give you peace of mind in this litigious environment (if, for example, you are named in a DCF investigation, your uniserv rep is just a phone call away)
$180 of that $854 goes to the WHEA. This money pays for office space, a variety of events, officer stipends, half day release time for the president, secretarial staff, and other expenses related to such things as negotiations and member training during the summer. (CEA Summer Leadership is open to any member).
Overall, this $854.00 is money well spent. Connecticut salaries, pensions and benefits are some of the highest in the nation and West Hartford salaries (especially once you arrive at top step) compare favorably to surrounding districts. CEA and WHEA have very good working relationships with policy makers and administrators, and disagreements are often worked out through discussion because of this relationship. Your teacher contract is 70 pages long and reflects a great deal of work and compromise over the last 50 years between your union and your employer. A teacher contract in a non unionized state such as Texas is likely to be about 3 pages long and simply states what you are obligated to do in order to be hired and stay employed.
A recent study (2012) by the Fordham Institute compares the strength of teacher unions across this country and ranks Connecticut’s CEA as the 17th strongest of the 51 compared. Here is the link:
There are also a number of online rankings of teacher salaries by state and Connecticut always places quite high in those rankings.
I hope this was helpful.