For all of the National Education Association’s efforts to ally itself with the Occupy Wall Street crowd and play to progressive groups, it’s payroll has stronger resemblance to that of the Wall Street firms it decries.
Four hundred thirty-seven staffers were paid at least $100,000 a year according to the union’s 2010-2011 LM-2 filing with the U.S. Department of Labor; that’s four more six-figure salaries than the previous fiscal year. Certainly this includes union president Dennis Van Roekel’s $460,060 (a 16 percent increase over the previous year) and Vice President Lily Eskelson’s $371,904 check (a 14 percent increase). But it also includes Bill Thompson, the union’s director of financial and membership services, who earned $236,262 last fiscal year, the union’s senior policy adviser, Peter Arum (who collected $205,193), and Maria Felipe, a confidential associate who was paid $108,663 for her work. The NEA’s executive director, John Stocks, picked up $273,146 during the 2010-2011 fiscal year, while Alice O’Brien, who succeeded Bob Chanin as the union’s general counsel, collected $236,327 from union coffers. The union’s top labor outreach guy, Michael Edwards, picked up $258,309 for his work.
All together, the NEA spent $78 million on payroll, barely budging over the previous year, and another $57 million a year on benefits (a slight increase). That, by the way, is 20 percent of the union’s $399 million in revenue. The $72 million it spent last fiscal year on overhead is five percent more than the union spent last year, despite a decline in membership. The union’s payments into its retiree plan declined by 2 percent (to $25.2 million) over 2009-2010. But employee healthcare costs increased by four percent (to $7.1 million) in that time.
As for other political activities? The NEA poured $479,151 into its NEA Advocacy super-PAC at the end of its 2010-2011 fiscal year; that’s on top of the $4.9 million in poured into the fund during the last months of 2010 to fund successful efforts to help Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and Washington’s Patty Murray keep their seats, and unsuccessful campaigns against eventual winners Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania and Rand Paul in Kentucky. Expect the union to pour more dollars into the super-PAC next year.