Russ Moore takes a look, on GoLocalProv, at some of the big-money salaries of Rhode Island labor organizers. In total, there are 42 making above $100,000. About a third of them appear to be from teacher unions:
According to a GoLocalProv review of the records, the highest paid union official in Rhode Island is the National Education Association’s Executive Director Robert Walsh Jr., who made $214,024 from September of 2013 until August of last year. The second highest earning union leader according to the most recent reports was also a teacher’s union official, Robert Casey, who earned 184,667 from July of 2013 up to June 30 of last year. Casey, however is a field representative from the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (which represents most of the state’s urban teachers, whereas the NEA represents, for the most part, the suburban and rural districts).
Overall, there were 14 union officials from the NEA-RI and the RI-AFT who made more than $100,000 during their last reporting period—easily the most represented group on the list.
As I point out in the article, when it comes to the public sector (or private-sector unions that work mainly for the government), the unions spend a lot of time trying to craft laws that give their members negotiating advantages as well as budgets that send a lot of money their way and even more laws that lock in money that’s there. In Rhode Island, for example, school districts that find themselves with large surpluses can’t decide to give the money to the municipality or back to taxpayers. (Who’d even think of such a thing?)
That sort of system creates an idle pool of money that labor organizations can soak up.
Moore quotes URI Labor Relations professor D. Scott Molloy explaining that labor organizers represent large numbers of people and negotiate large sums of money. He suggests this means they deserve high salaries, but I’d argue it points to the inefficient problems of the union system.
Add up all of the salaries on both sides of the negotiating table (don’t forget the lawyers), and you’re talking a lot of money taken off the top of whatever activity the organization undertakes that has to go just to coming to an agreement. The private sector shows, I’d say, that each employee is actually better positioned to negotiate for him or her self, leaving all that money to be put back toward the employees or growing the company, which helps them, too.