State teachers' union decline continues, new report finds
April 6, 2017
By Chris Rochester | MacIver News Service
[Madison, Wis...] Wisconsin's largest teachers' union suffered a decline in revenue of more than $3 million between 2014 and 2015, the largest decline in the country, according to a new study by the Education Intelligence Agency.
The Wisconsin Education Association Council's (WEAC) revenue in 2014-15 was $3,373,510 less than in 2013-14. Only the Indiana State Teachers Association came close in lost revenue, suffering a year-over-year decline of slightly less than than $3 million.
Late last year, WEAC put its 51,000-square-foot headquarters up for sale with an asking price of $6.9 million.
WEAC also lost 5,239 members during the same period, the third largest decline among state teachers' unions. Only the Alabama Education Association and the Michigan Education Association lost more members, the study found. The Alabama union lost 9,766 members and Michigan's lost 6,290.
The Alabama Education Association is on the brink of bankruptcy after backing a series of failed liberal candidates for state office. Indiana also imposed limits on collective bargaining for teachers in 2011, and Michigan enacted Right-To-Work legislation in 2012.
Last year, the MacIver Institute reported that WEAC lost 5,100 active members in the year prior, a 12.3 percent drop from 2014. Before the passage of Act 10, WEAC had almost 100,000 members. Today, the union stands at just 36,074 active members.
The new EIA report includes overall membership declines, while last year's report included active members.
The trend of declining teachers' union fortunes continues at the national level. Twenty-five state unions reported declines in revenue from 2014 to 2015, and 22 saw a decline in active membership. Last year, nearly 9,000 members left the National Education Council, the national umbrella teachers' union. Since 2011, the organization's active membership across the country has dropped by almost 10 percent.
Gov. Scott Walker's signature law, known as Act 10, allowed Wisconsin's public employees the freedom to decide whether or not they want to join a union and pay dues. In 2015, Wisconsin became the twenty-fifth state to enact a Right to Work law, extended that freedom to all workers.
Public unions must now also hold annual recertification votes. In order to become recertified, a majority of union members must vote yes. As the MacIver News Service previously reported, 100 fewer unions chose to seek recertification in 2014.