Analysis: NEA Lost Almost 33,000 Working Members in 2019. Here’s the State-by-State Breakdown

National Education Association headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Wikimedia Commons)

Mike Antonucci’s Union Report appears most Wednesdays; see the full archive.

A full year after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus ruling, the National Education Association saw a decline of 32,773 members from the public school workforce, according to the union’s financial reports.

While we have known about the overall decline for months, these numbers break down the losses and gains made by NEA’s individual state affiliates.

The union reported 2,593,443 members working in the nation’s public schools, with an additional 375,000 retired and student members. The 2019 losses represent a drop of 1.2 percent from 2018. NEA is at about the same membership level as it was in 2014, even though an additional 171,000 local school district employees were hired between 2014 and 2019.

All told, 36 NEA affiliates had fewer members in 2019. Thirty are smaller than they were in 2014.

I culled the figures from the NEA Secretary-Treasurer/Independent Auditors 2020 Financial Reports and constructed a table, which provides both the active and total membership for each state affiliate. Along with the numbers are the one-year and five-year changes in those figures.

NEAMembership2018 19 (Text)

I need to note some circumstances for individual state affiliates and highlight other interesting figures:

  • The California Teachers Association’s loss of almost 24,000 members is mostly due to the disaffiliation of the 19,000-member California Faculty Association last year.
  • The increase of 4,900 members in Montana is mostly due to the teachers union’s merger with the Montana Public Employees Association. The new union is called the Montana Federation of Public Employees.
  • The overall membership picture would look even worse had it not been for the gain of 5,000 members in the state of New York.
  • The largest percentage membership increase was in Mississippi. Colorado and Idaho also saw significant gains.
  • Neighboring Louisiana was at the extreme opposite end of the spectrum, losing more than 12 percent of its active membership last year. Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and South Carolina also had very bad membership years.
  • The effect of the #RedForEd movement on union membership continues to be mixed. NEA membership in Arizona and Colorado benefited greatly from increased teacher activism. But membership in Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma and West Virginia fell.
  • The same goes for the effect of the Janus ruling, which banned the public-sector union practice of charging agency fees to nonmembers. A full year after the decision was handed down, the former agency fee states of Delaware, Hawaii, New York and Rhode Island had membership gains. Alaska, Oregon and Vermont saw substantial losses. Other states were moderately down.
  • The picture over the past five years underlines some serious areas of concern for NEA. Twelve state affiliates (Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and the Utah School Employees Association) have had membership losses of 14 percent or more since 2014. None of those affiliates were affected by the Janus ruling, indicating that the gap between NEA’s haves and have-nots is still growing.

COVID-19 job losses will undoubtedly add to NEA’s woes. Next week, I’ll examine the membership and budget prognostications of the union and some key state affiliates.

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