John Ransom

While the rest of us were celebrating the 4th of July with BBQs and parades and recitations of the Declaration of Independence, teachers’ union “delegates” from the far left were giving Obama the thumbs up. Not coincidentally they also voted to levy a $10 tax on union teachers nationally to help support “messaging” in front of his reelection bid.

And the messaging will largely consist of another call to “crisis” in education because the union goose has stopped laying golden eggs.  

“The Representative Assembly recommended that NEA members vote to re-elect President Barack Obama in the 2012 election” wrote Will Potter of the National Education Association. “They also voted for a $10 annual dues increase that will be dedicated to funding NEA's Crisis Fund, a program designed to put money back into the states for pro-public education outreach.”

3.2 million teachers will pay the tax – out of your tax dollars- which is expected to double the amount of money normally put into the “crisis fund.”

Maybe teachers instead should look at why they need an annual “crisis fund” in the first place?     

It’s just the latest example of far-left union reps fleecing hard-working teachers by aligning themselves against teachers’, kids’ and parents’ interests, in a quest for power, money and greed.

As former NEA president Bob Chase said “[The NEA has] used our power to block uncomfortable changes, to protect the narrow interest of its members, and not to advance the interests of students and school.”    

Yesterday Mike Shedlock detailed how unions were fleecing teachers, schools districts, parents and kids -see How Union Busting Helps Kids (and Everyone Else) In WI- by charging outrageous premiums for teacher health benefits through a union-controlled slush fund called the WEA Trust. The trust was created by the Wisconsin Education Association Council, an affiliate of the NEA, to be the health insurer for union-controlled school districts.

“WEA Trust has grown very fat on public school dollars, with a net worth of $316 million and a team of 12 administrators all receiving compensation packages worth six figures per year,” according to a report prepared by  the Education Action Group and the MacIver Institute.

They estimated that Wisconsin schools could save from $68 million to $143 million if districts were allowed to have open-bidding for teachers’ health benefits.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker passed and signed legislation curtailing collective bargaining by teachers’ unions in part to allow competitive bidding by school districts for health benefits for teachers because schools that were mandated under contract to use WEA Trust had on average the most expensive premiums in the state.

“Applying that average over a full year, a school would pay $1,440 more to cover a single employee under WEA Trust coverage, and $2,388 more for a family under WEA Trust coverage.” Said the report from the Education Action Group and the MacIver Institute. “If you applied those differences to a school with 300 covered employees (assuming 2/3 family coverage and 1/3 single coverage), a district would pay $477,600 more for family coverage and $144,000 more for single coverage.”

But now that the legislation has survived all the legal challenges and has taken effect, the WEA Trust is refusing to release federal money funded under Obamacare for benefits to teachers in school districts that changed to other providers says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Under Obamacare provisions passed in June 2010, “the federal government set aside $5 billion in financial assistance to employers and unions to help reduce the total cost of the plan or the costs paid by retirees,” writes jsonline.com.

But districts that rejected the high premium charged by the unions now forfeit the benefit of those dollars say the WEA Trust. Instead, they stay with the union.

“WEA Trust followed federal rules that apply to the early retiree insurance program,” WEA Trust spokesman Steve Lyons told jsonline.com.

"Federal law prohibits the dollars to go with school districts that leave the plan," Lyons said. "It's not school district money. It belongs to plan participants."

So if districts leave the union system, then the Obamacare money stays with the union plan.

Welcome to the next education crisis in America, kids.

And the message will be brought to you for only $10 per teacher.   


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John Ransom

John Ransom is the Finance Editor for Townhall Finance.