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Where does a teacher’s dues check go?

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maingraphicEvery two weeks, $49.89 is taken out of New York City teachers’ paychecks as union dues. Other jobs have different dues amounts, ranging from $24.95 for paraprofessionals to $51.08 for psychologists and social workers, but dues for the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) are a flat fee determined by position, not salary. Of course, the UFT doesn’t spend all of its money every year, or immediately, but since member dues and fees are spent on all facets of the union’s operation, it’s reasonable to track dues to spending. If we did that for the union’s total spending for the 2011-12 year ($166,528,712), this is how a teacher’s (then-lower, $49.39) dues payment would have been divided up:

(scroll below graphic for more details)

Dues to AFT, NYSUT, and AFL-CIO: UFT spokesperson estimated the breakdown as $26 million to NYSUT (50%, so $7.54 of check), $20 million to AFT (or $5.80), and $4 million to AFL-CIO ($1.16).

General overhead: These costs include $3,291,946 for electricity, rent, and cleaning services for the union’s conjoined buildings, 50-52 Broadway, and mundane expenses like $115,884 for coffee, sugar, and water and $227,963 to AT&T. Other expeditures: $60,065 on AMC movie tickets for resell to members, $190,000 to consulting firm Bill Lynch Associates.

Representational activities: Most of this money is spent on the “bread and butter work” of the union—legal fees for representing union members with grievances and other issues. It also includes money spent on TV and newspaper ads, like the nearly $1.7 million the union spent on TV ads last January and February and $30,000 for ads in the NY Post opposing the city’s teacher evaluation plans. Other spending: $306,500 in dues for the AFL-CIO’s NYC Central Labor Council, and $10,440 spent on buses to the Feb. 9 Panel for Educational Policy meeting, where officials voted to begin phasing out 22 city schools.

Loan making: This comes mostly from two major loans: a $9.9 million loan that reflects a refinancing of the UFT’s building, and $11.7 million for the UFT charter school.

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Benefits for members: This includes money for the UFT Welfare Fund, pensions, death benefits for paraprofessionals, and other retiree benefits. Biggest costs: $5,799,201 for pensions and $2,971,252 for health insurance provider Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Union administration: This includes hotel bills like $798,254 spent at the Hilton Rye Town for chapter leader weekends and other trainings and $462,297 spent at the Hilton in Chicago for conferences, plus $567,152 for electricity, rent, and cleaning services for the union’s conjoined buildings, 50-52 Broadway. Other, perhaps less administrative costs, include $8,765 on UFT tote bags.

Lobbying and political activities: This is money the union spends supporting efforts like Lobby Day (with associated bills for buses, parking, hotels, and buttons), plus catering for phone bank volunteers, buses to rallies across the city, and postage for mailings ($85,790 to one company for mailers and campaign literature). This doesn’t include donations to politicians, which are funded by COPE.

Taxes: No details.

Contributions, gifts and grants: This is money the union gives to nonprofits, charities and other organizations—not politicians. Some of the biggest winners were Planned Parenthood of NYC ($125,000 donation), civil rights organization National Action Network ($50,800), New York City Parents Union ($24,000), and West Indian America Day (a $50,000 sponsorship).

Loan repayment: This comes almost exclusively from a $1.2 million loan repaid the UFT Educational Foundation.

Other purchases: Those purchases are mostly furniture ($210,955), computers ($56,376), property improvements ($401,690), and cars ($68,909).

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[…] the rank-and-file — is the kind of coverage education reporters should be providing. Yet the breakdown of the AFT local’s spending provided by the two outlets in the series doesn’t give a […]

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