Union clout goes beyond bargaining

Teachers’ unions wield enormous clout even in states without collective bargaining, writes RiShawn Biddle in The American Spectator.

Ending forced labor negotiations can weaken the influence of teachers unions. But through the sheer force of campaign war chests, armies of rank-and-file teachers, and strong alliances with other defenders of traditional public education, the NEA and its sister union, the American Federation of Teachers, still retain more than enough influence . . .

Reformers hope abolishing collective bargaining would let them “move toward private sector-style performance management and to ditch degree- and seniority-based pay scales, which have long ago been proven ineffective in improving student achievement,” Biddle writes.

But the NEA and AFT would continue to be major campaign donors, giving them “tremendous clout in state legislatures.”

Teachers’ unions also have the power through donations and campaign workers to elect pro-union school board members. Retired teachers and school administrators — and sometimes those working in neighboring districts — often win election.

School district administrators in Wisconsin fear labor-management relationships will suffer if the unions lose collective bargaining rights, reports Ed Week.

Update: Shrewd collective bargainers, Milwaukee teachers get 74.2 cents in benefits for every $1 in pay, triple the average for private-sector workers, writes Robert Costrell in the Wall Street Journal.  The average teacher earns $56,500 in pay and costs the district another $44,000 in health and pension benefits. Like many other Wisconsin school districts, Milwaukee agreed to buy health insurance from a high-priced company created by the teachers’ union.

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  1. And this brings us to the second cause of our states’ and nation’s budget issues…the influence of special interests on the political process. Candidates should be equally funded and provided equal access to the public by taxes… and any personal or donated monies should be disallowed.

  2. Michael E. Lopez says:


    First… there are substantial First Amendment issues involved with such a proposal, with none of them weighing in its favor. If I want to purchase 100,000 printing presses and pay to have them run 24/7 for three months producing election prop, I get to do that. If I want to pay someone else to do it, I get to do that, too. If I want to pay the candidate’s campaign to do that, now it’s supposed to be a problem?

    Second, there are no “special” interests. There are only interests. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. We don’t have government to give us a utopian collective, we have government to keep us from killing each other when our interests conflict. Governments are mechanisms for negotiating interests between parties.

  3. Second, there are no “special” interests. There are only interests.

    The heck there aren’t.  Teachers, defense contractors and banksters are all special interests; they have interests different from, and often in opposition to, the nation as a whole.

  4. Michael E. Lopez says:

    And pray tell how one determines what the interests of the “nation as a whole” are if not through the tumult of politics?

  5. georgelarson says:


    As an individual citizen, I want to pay the least possible taxes for the most services I can receive. I have an interest in the operations and finances of government. I would like to think I am special.

  6. tedjohnson says:

    How dare educators be “shrewd” negotiators?

  7. SuperSub:

    How do you decide which candidates get funding? What threshold do you use? You can’t just fund every single person that wants to throw their hat in on a whim at tax payer expense, right? So you have to have some kind of hoop/hurdle. Right now, either someone can raise enough from people who support him/her to be viable, or they can’t. What selection process would you use? And while I understand that it’s a fact of our form of government that we as tax payers may end up funding some things that we disagree with, I’ll be damned if I’ll see my tax payers fund a campaign for, say, David Duke. Your suggestion is not just unconstitutional, it’s impractical.

  8. “my tax payers” should be “my tax dollars.” I do not have my own personal tax payers. Hehe.

  9. Tsiroth-
    The candidates that are able to get on the ballot get funding.
    Funny how you state your support for free speech but then state that certain candidates who disagree with you wouldn’t deserve equal treatment (not that I support Duke in any way myself).

    Michale L-
    On this issue I actually agree with our President… that the unrestricted flow of funds to candidates skews the elections. Arguably, this is largely due to our society’s lazy negligence when it comes to elections, voting for the candidate whose name we recognize on the ballot or our determined political party.
    There are plenty of limits on free speech when it interferes with the common good. I’d say limit campaign spending to equally distributed funds, remove the influence of any political parties from the election process (no D, R, or any other indicators of political affiliation on the ballots), and randomize the order of names on the ballots to remove any advantages to incumbents.