The Union Strikes Itself

Jul 10, 2024 at 12:47 pm by JC Bowman

Educators are often confronted with challenging situations, mainly due to the influence of national teacher unions, which weaken parental and taxpayer support. This year, the National Education Association and its affiliates held their annual meeting in Philadelphia to discuss their political strategy and ideological agenda. Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, has been widely mocked for a "totally unhinged" speech resembling a scene from "The Office."

Some parents have raised concerns about the impact of the NEA's political agenda on their children's education. Many NEA affiliate organizations downplay the national connection, while their dues money fills the national coffers. Parents must understand that most teachers reject the national union agenda. Speeches like the one delivered by Becky Pringle do more harm than good for educators.  

The meeting was thrown into disarray when the NEA Staff Organization (NEASO) organized a strike, claiming the union had strayed from its core values during bargaining negotiations. NEASO stands as one of the three bargaining units at NEA. The walkout directly impacted employees in the union's communications, conference, facilities management, and the Center for Professional Excellence, explicitly focusing on teacher quality. This disruption led to the cancellation of the voting on union business items on their agenda. The strike also resulted in the cancellation of President Biden's scheduled speech at the meeting.

Educators who disagree with the NEA's agenda should quit funding union activities with their dues if they find their agenda abhorrent. During the 2023 school year, NEA funneled “a whopping $176 million of dues revenue” directly to the pockets of political candidates and ideological causes. Educators should no longer be complicit in support of the NEA.

The National Education Association (NEA) is the largest labor union in the United States, representing over 2.8 million teachers. NEA's latest financial filing shows it spent $10 million more on politics and lobbying than representing its members. This increased political spending has resulted in a loss of members for NEA.

The union lost 14,205 members in the most recent reporting period and 51,987 members since 2021. NEA has increased its dues by $2 per member to offset these losses. NEA's net assets have decreased by $29.2 million since 2021. NEA earned $529.5 million in revenue during the 2022–23 period, primarily from membership dues and the sale of investments. NEA's expenditures in 2022–23 amounted to $519.3 million, with the largest category being "contributions, gifts, and grants." Employee salaries, including NEA President Becky Pringle, comprise a significant portion of the union's operating expenses. Political activities and lobbying accounted for a more substantial portion of expenditures.

Although not anti-union, Professional Educators of Tennessee believe new realities require new thinking, pragmatic solutions, and fresh ideas. Otherwise, we fear that the voices of teachers will not be heard, and the experiences of teachers will not be considered. Together, we can navigate the ever-evolving educational landscape that necessitates a fresh perspective, practical solutions, and innovative ideas.

More importantly, engaging in aggressive political partisanship and promoting a wide-ranging social agenda on issues unrelated to education often do not reflect the diverse political views of educators. We also believe educators should remain part of a professional organization, which is why our organization exists. Our dues will never be utilized as political campaign contributions or to support social issues unrelated to education.

We understand the importance of ensuring teachers' voices are heard and recognized. By fostering an environment that encourages novel thinking, we aim to prevent the experiences of educators from being overshadowed or disregarded. We are dedicated to our students and committed to providing the best education possible for children while advocating for educators.


 JC Bowman is the executive director of Professional Educators of Tennessee.