Teachers union expects to lose 300k members if high court overturns fees
© Getty

The National Education Association's (NEA) budget committee estimates the union could lose as many as 300,000 members if the Supreme Court rules against agency fees later this spring.

According to NEA estimates obtained by the74million.org, the NEA expects a loss of 307,000 members over the next two years if the Supreme Court rules in favor of a challenge to agency fees, which allows unions to charge nonmembers for representing them. Twenty-two states allow unions to collect dues in this manner.


Agency fees are considered to be a strong link to union membership and growth, and the NEA reported the most growth last year among affiliates in states where the fees are legal, according to the74million.org.

Leaders of the NEA, the nation's largest teachers union, will meet in Minneapolis in July to discuss the organization's budget, the website reports, and are expected to introduce a plan to cut the union's expenditures by $50 million over two years.

The organization has also already eliminated 41 staff positions at the national level, according to the report.

Union officials told the The Hill in a phone call that the staff reductions and conservative budget outlook was not based solely on the expected outcome of the Supreme Court's decision in the case, and was instead part of the union's commitment to identifying spending priorities and advocacy targets amid a barrage of attacks from right-wing interests.

In particular, NEA representatives pointed to recent protests against low teacher pay and per-student spending in Arizona, which the NEA reports led to a growth of 1,700 new members for the union in a matter of days.

Along with other successful strikes in West Virginia and other states, the Arizona strike ended with Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signing into law a bill that raises certified teacher pay 20 percent by 2020, and provides $100 million for support staff, including classroom aides and janitors.

The NEA, which represents 3,018,492 active public school employees and retirees, released its annual report on public school funding and teacher pay in April, which found that the average teacher's salary has fallen by 4 percent since 2008 when adjusted for inflation.

That report also found that average spending per student during the fall semester fell 2.3 percent over the same time period.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the union fees in February. A ruling is expected before the end of the court's term in June.