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Investigation Into Teacher Union Expense Reports Reveals Excessive Spending Patterns

investigation Into Teacher Union Expense Reports Reveals Excessive Spending Patterns

An investigation conducted by The Seventy Four into the expense reports of some of the nation’s largest teacher unions has found that member dues are being used to fund luxury hotel stays, limo services and exotic trips.

The Seventy Four analyzed expense reports for the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the United Federation of Teachers to find what it considers to be excessive spending on luxury services.

"A cursory scan of the line items on the union’s annual financial filings shows that the American Federation of Teachers spent more than $1.3 million on luxury hotels, more than $300,000 on foreign travel and an eye-popping $59,368 on car services between 2011 and 2014,” The Seventy Four report said.

For teachers who have an average salary $56,000 a year, finding out that their union fees are funding luxury travel is another blow to the battle against mandatory union dues.

Although some of the travel costs can be defended by the unions’ humanitarian efforts overseas, the Seventy Four noted many of the expenses come from luxury resorts at home, with the AFT spending more "than $43,700 at the Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. between July 2012 and June 2013, records show.”

For the UFT, the Seventy Four found that for every member’s dues, the "UFT in 2014 spent at least 67 cents on car services, 55 cents on the Hilton retirement lunch and $1.19 on entertainment tickets.”

A UFT spokesperson defended these costs, saying it defends the money it spends on its members and retirees.

The Seventy Four pointed out that more research needs to be done into the unions’ expenses before definitive conclusions are drawn, but did note that unions of similar sizes did not have similarly alarming spending patterns.

"Not every large and influential union spends in the same way as the nation’s largest teachers union. The powerful 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, which represents more than 350,000 members, reported some car service expenses in 2014 but spent very little on fancy hotels or tickets to shows and sports games,” the report said.

Some experts in the report argue that because union fees are mandatory dues, spending from this point forward should be examined closely because members do not have a choice as to where they go.

Read the full report and take our poll to weigh-in.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

12/1/2015

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