Ohio Education Association Pay Skyrockets Despite Shrinking Membership

The average pay of Ohio Education Association (OEA) employees increased by 25 percent between 2003 and 2012 while the union’s membership shrank by nearly 7 percent. During the same period, annual OEA dues charged to teachers increased by 25 percent.

OEA had 131,089 members at the time of the union’s 2003 report to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). At the end of OEA’s 2012 fiscal year, membership had dropped almost 9,000 to 122,104.

Nonetheless, the average pay of OEA employees and officers – with the exception of board members, who receive no salary – jumped from $80,155 in 2003 to $100,553 in 2012 based on DOL data.

OEA membership and average pay

“Regular dues” reported to DOL were $99 higher in 2012 than in 2003, increasing from $402 to $501. Repeated dues hikes helped cover the average $20,398 increase in the amount OEA paid its staff as the union lost members.

Average OEA pay even increased concurrent with the union’s largest single-year decline in membership. Between 2011 and 2012, OEA membership decreased from 126,953 to 122,104, a loss of 4,849 members. Meanwhile, the average OEA employee’s pay increased by $1,482.

Likewise, the largest single-year increase in average pay concurred with a decline in membership. Between 2006 and 2007, average OEA pay increased by $5,532 as membership shrank by 383.

For all annual figures, refer to source data for the above chart in PDF format.

OEA’s increasing average pay cannot be explained by a reduction in the number of employees: excluding the union’s board of directors, 222 names appear in OEA pay records for 2003 and 229 names appear in OEA pay records for 2012.

Union president Patricia Frost-Brooks was paid $267,916 in fiscal year 2012, and from September 1, 2011 to August 31, 2012, two dozen other OEA employees and officers were paid more than $150,000 in mandatory union dues.

The decline in OEA membership over the past decade came despite a massive union bailout from Washington. Rather than trim compensation to reflect what taxpayers could afford after the housing market crash near the end of President George W. Bush’s second term, many Ohio school districts looked to Governor Ted Strickland, who went hat in hand to the federal government.

Through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), President Obama’s “stimulus” spending bill, the U.S. Department of Education allotted $3.3 billion in federal funds to Ohio schools. Education spending amounted to more than a third of the $8.6 billion ARRA shoveled into Ohio.

A search at Recovery.gov shows the Cleveland Municipal School District was awarded over $195 million in “stimulus” funding. Columbus City Schools received nearly $140 million, and the Cincinnati City School District was awarded $100 million.

For Ohio’s public schools, ARRA delayed a course correction necessitated by years of spending increases tailored to please OEA. As ARRA funds dried up, school budgets were cut, and teachers were laid off, Patricia Frost-Brooks demanded that taxpayers fork over even more money.

It remains to be seen how much further OEA membership can decline before the union’s calls for “shared sacrifice” are reflected in what Frost-Brooks pays herself and the union’s other employees.

Nationally, the union membership rate dropped to 11.3 percent in 2012 from 11.8 percent in 2011, according to DOL’s annual report on union membership released January 23.

“Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (35.9 percent) more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.6 percent),” the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. With a union membership rate of 35.4 percent, education was the country’s most heavily unionized occupation despite a rate decrease from 36.8 percent in 2011.

For OEA and other state affiliates of the National Education Association, demonizing taxpayers remains a highly profitable business.

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