Teacher union compensation

Anger over executive compensation hasn’t been limited to bailed-out banks and large corporations. The local teacher union has waged its own class-warfare campaign over the past few years, arguing that Clark County School District administrators have unjustifiably high salaries at a time when classroom educators are being asked to give up pay raises.

As it turns out, the leaders of the union are part of a problem they’re quick to condemn. The Review-Journal’s Trevon Milliard reported Sunday that administrators with the Clark County Education Association have been raking in big bucks themselves.

According to IRS reports from 2009, the most recent year available, the union paid more than one-third of its $4.1 million budget toward the salaries of nine leaders, with the lowest-paid official making almost $140,000. John Jasonek, the union’s executive director at the time, was paid almost $209,000, but received about $424,000 in compensation from two affiliated organizations, pushing his total pay past $632,000.

That figure dwarfs Superintendent Dwight Jones’ annual compensation of about $358,000. Mr. Jasonek’s total pay tripled between 2003 and 2009.

Those salaries are even more shocking when measured against the compensation provided to union leaders at the nation’s other large school districts. The average union pays 3 to 7 percent of its budget on administrative compensation.

The union’s hypocrisy is not limited to the issue of executive pay. The union routinely dissects school district budgets, reviewing and criticizing most every expense to bolster its annual arguments for higher teacher pay. But it is much less willing to have its own finances scrutinized. The Clark County Education Association refused to provide the Review-Journal with current salary information or any other financial documents.

The union is a private, nonprofit organization. As such, it enjoys wide latitude in setting its executive salaries. In that regard, unions aren’t much different from publicly traded companies, which have boards of directors determine executive compensation. Investors who don’t approve of those salaries can either take their concerns to the board or sell their stock; teachers who don’t find value in the union’s services don’t have to pay dues, because Nevada is a right-to-work state.

But the union and its members no longer have any credibility in arguing that school administrators are overpaid. If they want to make a case for better teacher salaries, they’ll have to find a different scapegoat.

Is the union’s leadership overpaid? That’s for teachers to decide. If they weren’t aware that their union leaders are among the valley’s highest earners, they are now.

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