Dennis Van Roekel is going out in style in his final year as president of the National Education Association.
Van Roekel received a $123,000 raise in 2014, boosting his annual salary to $429,509 and his total compensation to $541,632, according to documents the union recently filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. The NEA’s membership dropped 40,700 members in 2014. falling to 2.96 million and dipping below the 3-million mark for the first time in nine years.
The Michigan Education Association is this state's NEA affiliate. Its members paid $7 million in dues to the national union in 2013, according to MEA documents.
The average teacher salary in the state of Michigan was $62,530 in 2013, according to the Michigan Department of Education.
“Teachers need to be paid more for the important work they do, so teachers need skilled advocates in the current political climate,” said John Ellsworth, a MEA member at a teacher in the Grand Ledge Public Schools. “Good pay is required for skilled advocates – or at least that's how I'm told it works in the private sector – so why shouldn't he be paid well or get a big raise? I continue to hope that our society will begin to appropriately value teachers and public education making skilled advocates unnecessary, but until my hope is realized, the children and the future require well-paid advocates.”
Jack McHugh, legislative analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said if the union didn’t get its revenue from coerced dues, then it wouldn’t be anyone else’s business how much its managers get paid.
“In Michigan, there's good news for many school employees, that dues payment is no longer a condition of employment,” McHugh said, referring to the right-to-work law that was passed in 2012. “For thousands of others, it’s coming as current contracts expire.”
Even after right-to-work is fully phased-in for Michigan school employees, the NEA will still be able to collect mandatory dues from school employees in many other states where right-to-work is not the law.
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