Analysis: California Teachers Union expects to lose 4,000 members and gain $2.3 million


Headquarters of the California Teachers Association in Burlingame, California. (UnionHalls via Twitter)

It has been the best of times and the worst of times for the California Teachers Association.

When the COVID crisis hit, the union received a slew of protections from the governor and legislature, including a ban on layoffs and funding based on pre-COVID enrollment levels. Most districts have kept schools closed until the fall of 2021, in accordance with union wishes. Federal relief funds and a stock market boom led to huge revenue increases. The latest state budget proposal includes a record $128.3 billion for K-12 education. That’s almost the entire Texas state budget.

But it wasn’t all cake and beer for the union. His plan to overturn Proposition 13, the state’s landmark property tax cap law, was defeated at the ballot box in November 2020. The union has lost more than 35,000 members since its peak in 2018. equals all members of Colorado. Educational association.

The California union thinks the bleeding will continue. Its 2022-23 budget assumes a loss of nearly 4,000 additional active members from March 2022 levels. And there are even more worries on the horizon.

In her preamble to the budget, obtained exclusively by The 74 and LA School Report, Secretary-Treasurer Leslie Littman singles out one.

“Another growing concern is enrollment in California public schools,” she wrote. “Student numbers have been steadily declining for years, which studies attribute to the state’s excessive cost of living, declining birth rates and migration patterns. But the pandemic has exacerbated the decline as parental frustration with remote learning has intensified. Some studies predict a 9% decline in public school enrollment in California over the next 10 years.

Falling birth rates are one thing and should have come as no surprise to either the union or the California school districts. The other reasons Littman lists are largely the result of state policies.

It would take several books to explain why California has an excessive cost of living, but I’ll name just one that’s on everyone’s mind: gas prices. The state has the highest gas tax in the country and it is indexed to inflation. A 2021 study showed Californians paid $1.18 per gallon in taxes and fees.

Littman’s mention of “migration patterns” is an obscure way of referring to the growing number of people who simply leave. In 2021, 277,000 more people left California than moved in. Most of the leavers belong to the middle class and the wealthy. California has, by far, the highest marginal personal income tax rates in the country.

And we don’t need to dwell on parents’ frustration with distance learning, even though some California teachers union leaders seemed oblivious.

But the membership losses will not translate into financial hardship for the union’s three leaders and 415 employees. State contributions are indexed to increases in the average salary of state teachers. Each member will pay the state union $768 in 2022-23, an increase of $15. Despite projected member losses, the union will actually raise an additional $2.3 million next year, for a total of $214 million tax-free.

If you examine the 69-page budget, you will find that there are few changes in most line items compared to 2021-2022, but there are exceptions. The salaries of the three executives will increase by a combined $75,000, and the amount budgeted for their benefits will increase by an additional $75,000.

You will also note the salary scales for the various unionized employees on page 60. Managers’ salaries range from $206,000 to $264,000. The minimum wage for a professional employee is just under $95,000. No full-time union employee earns less than $56,448.

For those whose world is union headquarters and state capitol, things are rolling along happily. Meanwhile, in the real world, teachers and Californians vote with their feet. Eventually, these two worlds will collide.


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