The modern New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) is a taxpayer-funded political machine. Political organizing infuses the organization from top to bottom.
At the top, the NJEA Executive Office is now run by political operators: three quarters of the Executive Office are political organizers. Almost all of the headquarters staff are engaged in some form of political activity. Even the human resources manager and the professional development staff have political roles to play.
Along with the transformation of the NJEA headquarters, the NJEA has adopted a new operating model. No longer is the focus on services for its members. The new focus is an “organizing model” where members should see their union as an opportunity to politically organize.
These political pros and their new operating model view the NJEA’s vast network of local affiliates as political organizing opportunities. Seemingly non-political local activities as health and safety, professional development and research have political organizing specialists tied to them. Vast amounts of the NJEA’s resources are dedicated to organizing and mobilizing the NJEA’s statewide army of political foot soldiers who lobby legislators, attend political rallies and help run NJEA-endorsed candidates’ election campaigns. For its teacher-members, political action is an obligation.
But even with these overt changes, there is a great deal of opacity, so that the public is largely unaware of this reality. Seemingly non-political personnel have political roles; non-political activities are at root political; and millions of dollars are spent on political action that are neither clearly labeled as such nor transparently accounted for. Of particular note, the NJEA has allocated $2.5 million to New Direction New Jersey, the controversial group supporting Governor Murphy’s agenda, but this surreptitious funding has not been disclosed to the public or its own members.
Yet these same members send over 80 percent of their dues to the NJEA to be spent on political action – and very generously on the political pros who run them. The most recent tax records reveal that the NJEA leadership has six one-percenters who make an average of ten times what a teacher makes, led by the top political pro, the executive director, at $1.2 million.
Do teachers know that their $928 in annual dues are covertly funding a shadowy political group? Or making the NJEA’s top political pro a multimillionaire?
Do taxpayers know that their property tax dollars are being funneled directly to a special interest political machine to be used for its interests and not theirs?
It’s time to shine a light on these facts. Read the full report, NJEA: New Jersey’s Political Machine