It’s no SECRET AFT isn’t scared to pay in order to play. The organization 2014-2015 was filed hours ago detailing where every red cent was spent for this past fiscal year. American Federation of Teachers spent big on preserving its declining influence over education policy. The nation’s second-largest teachers’ union spent $42 million on political lobbying activities and contributions to what should be like-minded groups; this doesn’t include politically-driven spending that can often find its way under so-called “representational activities”. This is a 45 percent increase over influence-spending levels in 2013-2014.
AFT gave big to the charities controlled by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton. It handed over $250,000 to the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation and another $250,000 to the Clinton Global Initiative, which is the other non-explicitly political wing of the Clinton family’s always-political efforts. Altogether, the two Clinton charities received $500,000 in 2014-2015, an 11 percent increase over the $450,000 given to them in the previous year.
Center for Popular Democracy, on whose board Weingarten sits, picked up $60,000 from AFT while its action fund received another $100,000; the group has done more than its duty for the union (and its goal of opposing school choice) by teaming up with In The Public Interest to publish a series of reports demanding “accountability” for public charter schools. In The Public Interest, by the way, picked up $50,000 from AFT for doing the union’s bidding. AFT gave $25,000 to Netroots Nation, another longstanding beneficiary of its largesse. It gave $27,000 to The Nation, which has become a prime venue for pieces that favor the AFT’s views on systemic reform; and handed $10,000 to Dissent, the progressive magazine that occasionally makes The Nation seem downright conservative.
Another key group AFT is funding is the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, which has been worked actively on pay equity and other issues. This includes its Early Care and Education project, which has issued a steady stream of reports calling for preschool teachers to be better-paid; this dovetails nicely with AFT’s twin goals of regaining dominance in education policy and becoming the dominant union in the early childhood education space. The union gave $47,500 to IWPR in 2014-2015. AFT also poured $60,000 into Jobs with Justice and its education fund; gave $20,000 to Policy Matters Ohio; and handed out $50,000 to Public Policy and Education Fund of New York. United Students Against Sweatshops, which has actively opposed reform outfits such as Students For Education Reform and Teach for America on behalf of AFT, picked up $50,000 from the union last year. Americans United for Change picked up $90,000 from AFT in 2014-2015.
Now let’s talk salary!!!!
The AFT president pulled down $497,118 in 2014-2015, 10.8 percent less than in the previous year, while Secretary-Treasurer Loretta Johnson was paid $356,292, or slightly more than in the previous period. Mary Cathryn Ricker, the former Saint Paul Federation of Teachers boss who succeeded Francine Lawrence as executive vice president, was paid $295,275, more than the zero dollars she earned as an AFT vice president in 2013-2014. Altogether, the AFT’s big three pulled down $1.1 million last fiscal year, 15 percent less than in the previous period.
The union’s mandarins also did well. Michelle Ringuette, the former Service Employees International Union staffer who is now Weingarten’s top assistant, made $232,865 in 2014-2015, while Michael Powell, who serves as Weingarten’s mouthpiece, earned $247,254. Kristor Cowan, the AFT’s chief lobbyist, earned $185,015, while Kombiz Lavasany, another operative who oversees Weingarten’s money manager enemies’ list, earned $176,080. Altogether, 229 staffers made more than $100,000 a year, 10 more than last year.