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NEA Membership Continues to Drop, But More Slowly

By guest blogger Liana Heitin


The number of National Education Association members continues to decline, though by a smaller increment than it has gone down in recent years. 

NEA officials said that the union lost about 16,000 members in 2013-14, bringing its total membership down—for the first time in eight years—to just under 3 million. (According to its labor filings, NEA lost 64,000 members in 2012-13 and about 100,000 in 2011-12.)

NEA first crossed the 3 million-member mark back in 2006, when its New York chapter merged with the New York State Union of Teachers, then an AFT affliate. 

At the July 2 budget hearing, NEA Secretary-Treasurer Becky Pringle said: "At the national level, we have had a slow recovery back from the pre-recession time of 2008. It's been much slower at the state and local level. Districts are continuing to lay off folks."

The number of full-time equivalents (FTE), which combines part-time employees rather than counting live bodies, for 2013-14 was 2,450,000. For 2014-15, the union projects the number of FTEs will stay very close to the same. However, for 2015-16, NEA expects to lose about 25,000 FTEs, including 20,000 teachers.

The total revenue proposed for 2014-15 is nearly $355 million. The NEA expects that to decline by about $700,000 for 2015-16.

In discussing the many challenges facing the union over the next few years, Ms. Pringle pointed to two recent legal cases—the Vergara lawsuit, which found that California teacher-tenure laws violated students' rights, and the Supreme Court's Harris v. Quinn, which found that home health-care workers cannot be required to contribute union bargaining fees—that she said "have a chance to significantly change our union."

Those cases "set us up for a lot of work ahead to make sure we protect the rights of our members and protect our rights to collect dues and do what we need to do as a union."

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