If Your Union Head is in the 1% Where Does That Leave You?

There was an article on Bloomberg News revealing that lots of top labor leaders are in the top 1% of income earners.

The top ten US labor leaders took home an average salary and other compensation averaging $394,925. The Department of Labor says the an income higher than $343,927 puts you in the top 1%.

So I took a quick look at my own union, the American Federation of Teachers via the Labor Department website.

There you can see the LM-2 reports that unions have to file each year. It shows that AFT President Randy Weingarten takes in salary and other compensation equal to $493,859 Vice-President Loretta Johnson gets $369,408 Secretary-Treasurer Cortese: $365,014.

Dennis Van Roekel, President of the NEA took in $460,000. (James Hoffa, President of the Teamsters Unions, took in $368,000.)

So tell me, do these 1% union officials really understand what it’s like in the classroom? Do they understand what it’s like seeing miserable pay increases all going down the whole to pay for medical benefits? Do they understand the stress of teaching to the test and giving practice test after practice test in hopes the kids will do well on the high stakes test? They know, but only abstractly.

Oh yeah, some of them used to be in the classroom, but that was years and years ago.

Top union officials who have rich peoples salaries, private offices and staff who work for them, who go on to work for foundations, NGO’s or the Democratic Party inevitably “get the bigger view”. They “understand” the problems of administration and the appreciate the views of billionaires have made their boodle and now are gracious enough to share their immense wisdom and a bit of their loot. It’s not a matter of personal corruption of union officials, but the near inevitable change when people change working conditions and class.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Unions could be run so that officers would be paid no more than one and a half or twice what an average worker made. They would be expected to go back into the ranks every few years.

Hopefully there will be a radical challenge to Weingarten and company this year and if they’re interested in making a real change the insurgents will pledge to reduce top salaries 50 or 75%.

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