NEA Budget Cuts Don’t Include Executives’ Salaries

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

We reported exclusively in May that the National Education Association planned to cut $50 million from its budget, anticipating that it would lose 300,000 members in the wake of a Supreme Court decision ruling agency fees unconstitutional.

NEA’s national headquarters took in $385 million last year, and its proposed two-year budget will affect virtually every aspect of operations. Vacant staff positions will go unfilled, leading to a reduction of 16 percent of spending on compensation. No layoffs are planned.

Spending on travel will be cut 4 percent. Publication costs cut 27 percent. Office expenses cut 15 percent. And so on.

Even the national union’s largest and most important expense, cash grants to its state and local affiliates, will be cut by 9 percent.

But one line item in the budget will actually increase: salaries for the union’s executive officers.

The base salary for NEA president Lily Eskelsen García will increase to $293,434. NEA’s vice president and secretary-treasurer will each receive $257,954. Additionally, all three executive officers receive cash allowances equal to 40 percent of their base salary — at least $103,182 each — to cover benefits and living expenses.

NEA and its affiliates had money problems before the Supreme Court ruling. Their ability to adapt to a new environment depends less on their political and organizing skills and more on their willingness to reform themselves financially. They are not off to a good start.

NEA barely headed off a staff strike last month. State affiliates will have similar labor problems when they try to cut costs. All public-sector unions will have to re-evaluate how much they spend on themselves in order to devote the necessary resources to their remaining members, who now have the option of taking their business elsewhere.

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