NEA Union Membership Plummets

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A total of 44 NEA state affiliates lost members since 2008-09, including 22 with double-digit percentage losses

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Recent union membership statistics spell trouble for the National Education Association.

Overall NEA membership was about 2.7 million in 2011-12, which represented a loss of about 6.9 percent since 2008-09, according to media reports.

But union finances will only take a moderate hit, since NEA leaders decided to raise individual members dues by $3 per year to make up for the loss in revenue.

Reasons given for the decline include teacher layoffs throughout the nation and new laws that allow teachers to walk away from union membership more easily in some states.

Dissatisfaction among members with NEA service, and the union’s increasing participation in Democratic Party politics are common reasons for members to resign.

The scope of the membership loss is easiest to appreciate at the state level.

The membership totals of active and inactive members for each state NEA affiliate were recently compiled by Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency.

Active members are employed teachers, professionals and education support workers. Total membership numbers includes retirees, students, substitutes and all others.

The data shows that from 2009 through 2012, 44 state affiliates lost active members, with 22 experiencing losses of double digit percentages.

The state affiliates that faced the biggest drop in numbers as measured by percentage were Arizona, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

Only six affiliates had more active members in 2012 than in 2009.

Arizona and Wisconsin – A closer Look

The active membership number in Arizona decreased by a whopping 43.1 percent since 2008-09. The total membership for Arizona has fallen by approximately 30 percent since 2010 – 2011, leaving the state union a mere shadow of its former self.

The decline is so great that the Arizona Education Association’s income fell from $7.5 million to $5.4 million in a single year, according to the Arizona Daily. The union is only budgeting for $5.3 million in dues revenue over the next year, the news report said.

One of the largest school districts in the state, Tucson Unified, now has so few teachers in their local union that the district is not legally obligated to participate in collective bargaining, although it continues to voluntarily do so.

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