PUBLIC-sector Union Fallacy II | Capitalizing on Ignorance

Union Lap Dogs

“Before making a donation to any organization, be sure to review how it spends its money.”

~ By: Larry Walker, Jr. ~

The American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO of Madison, Wisconsin (AFT-WISC) is a tax exempt organization which is primarily funded by union dues paid by its mostly state and local government employee members. In the fiscal year ended June 30, 2009, AFT-WISC took in 91.5% of its revenue or a total of $3,358,143 from membership dues. On its latest Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, while all of the revenue reported was identified as having been related to its exempt purpose, none of its expenditures were reported as such. So just how much of this money was actually used to improve the lives of its members?

According to page 10 of its latest Form 990 tax return, none of the $3,808,451 of expenditures was related to its exempt purpose. In fact, AFT-WISC spent $2,369,114, or 70.5% of member’s dues, on salaries, pensions, other benefits and payroll taxes for its 44 employees. Furthermore, due to reckless management, AFT-WISC posted a net loss of $(137,113) for fiscal year 2009. Union dues will therefore most likely increase in the near future.

In fiscal year 2009, AFT-WISC paid its president, Bryan Kennedy, total compensation of $164,781. The only problem with this is that he was only paid $56,913 in fiscal year 2008, leaving some to wonder what would justify a 190% pay raise in a year when the organization suffered a net loss. While Mr. Kennedy celebrated a $107,868 pay hike, AFT-WISC members were left bloodied by a $(137,113) net loss.

Aside from compensating its own employees, AFT-WISC squandered a total of $535,021 on political campaigns and lobbying activities. Among these activities, $20,000 was contributed to Progressive Wisconsin; $237,021 was spent on mailings containing information about legislative and electoral issues, and get out the vote events such as town hall meetings and phone banks; and the remaining $278,000 was sent to other organizations.

It appears that the difference between this particular union and a political party is very slim. Other than communicating a tiny bit of information to the public about issues affecting its members, AFT-WISC’s main accomplishments appear to be: (1) an ability to collect money from its members, (2) to compensate its own employees, (3) to support progressive organizations, (4) and to persuade people to vote for the candidates of its choosing. AFT-WISC, like most other public-sector employee unions, functions more like a political party than an association dedicated to the needs and concerns of its members. Teachers and public employees are free to join the political party of their choosing, and to direct their money to whomever they choose. So why do they need a middle-man? Public employees should be ashamed. Substituting a middle-man to make political choices for them is the antithesis of freedom and democracy.

Perhaps instead of jumping through hoops whenever the union bell tolls, teachers and other public servants should pay more attention to where their union dues are going. Then and only then will the rest of society believe you are more than just feeble lap dogs. As for the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO of Madison, Wisconsin… it’s “Not Just No, But HELL NO!”


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