Membership for teachers union declines

Membership for the local teachers union has dropped by 800 people, reducing its numbers to 62 percent of Clark County public school teachers.

At least 50 percent of teachers must be members for the union to negotiate on their behalf with the Clark County School District.

Clark County Education Association membership has been declining for years, from more than 13,000 teachers in 2007 to 10,590 now, according to conservative think tank Nevada Policy Research Institute, which obtained the numbers from the school district.

The union must report its membership to the district so it can deduct the $768 in annual dues from each teacher's paycheck.

The institute's findings come on the heels of its campaign this spring and summer to make teachers aware of the short window to drop their memberships from July 1 to July 15.

Institute spokesman Victor Joecks has said the organization isn't advocating teachers drop their union memberships. It is just publicizing the option of dropping, which the union makes as difficult as possible, he said.

The institute also posted a form drop letter on its website and made pre-stamped envelopes available to teachers interested in leaving the union.

"Just like they can join at any time, they should be able to leave at any time," Joecks said shortly after speaking at Thursday's School Board meeting.

He recommended that the district again try to expand the window for membership withdrawals.

In arbitration last year, the cash-strapped school district sought a longer window for union drops with teacher pay freezes. But the arbitrator upheld the union's proposal, which included pay raises and keeping the short summer window for drops.

To pay for teachers' raises, Superintendent Dwight Jones cut the number of teachers in the nation's fifth-largest school district from about 18,000 to 17,000 positions, largely through attrition and retirements.

The cut seems to account for about half of the lost union memberships.

The other half came from teachers who filled out the paperwork to stop payroll deductions, Joecks said.

Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at or 702-383-0279.