Sunlight has repeatedly documented (here and here) how New Jersey teachers pay the highest dues in the nation to the NJEA and its national parent, the NEA. Combined dues are now running about $1,400-$1,500 per year, depending on the district. The data shows that the NJEA takes a whopping 70% of total dues ($999) — the highest percentage in the nation — while the NEA commandeers about 15%. So 85% of teacher dues go up to the NJEA and NEA, while only about 12% funds the local association, which does most of the representational work.
Sunlight has also documented (here) how the NJEA has used members’ dues for lavish compensation for NJEA leadership, including the jaw-dropping $2.5 million good-bye kiss for departing executive director Ed Richardson in 2019. Overall, the top ten NJEA leadership were paid $7.7 million in 2019, on average about 10x the salary of a New Jersey teacher. And this doesn’t even include the very generous and over-funded pensions NJEA leadership provide for themselves, as compared with the modest and grossly underfunded pensions that teachers receive.
But that’s not all. Thanks to the invaluable Education Intelligence Agency, we now know that the $202 in dues siphoned off by the NEA funds some pretty fat compensation packages at NEA headquarters in Washington, DC. All told, the NEA took in an astounding $375 million in member dues for 2021-22 school year.
Per EIA, here’s the break-down:
- In 2022, NEA’s base payroll for the 3 officers and 526 employees was more than $69.2 million. That’s an average annual paycheck for an NEA employee of $131,646. More than three-quarters of NEA employees made six-figure salaries, and 42 of them earned more than $200,000.
- NEA President Becky Pringle was paid $426,100 and Executive Director Kim Anderson $419,772.
- The union also allocated $43 million for employee pensions, health insurance and retiree health care.” That’s another $81,285 per employee, which means total annual compensation for the average employee was $212,931 and was over $500,000 for Pringle and Anderson.
As EIA pithily describes it: “Working for the working class has propelled most NEA staffers into the highest income levels.” [Emphasis added.]
Just like the NJEA leadership.
So the data shows that each New Jersey teacher is sending $1,201 a year to the NJEA and NEA, whose leadership sees fit to use that money to compensate themselves exceptionally well. For all their talk about taking care of their members, the facts show that NJEA and NEA leadership are taking care of themselves. What a raw deal for teachers, who have little choice or say in the matter.