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October 25, 2020

How Membership Dues are Spent at the Florida Education Association (FEA)

by Anne Paddock

The Florida Education Association (FEA) is a labor union representing about 150,000 teachers and education employees in Florida. Based in Tallahassee, Florida, FEA is the largest union (measured by members) in the State of Florida and is affiliated with the AFL-CIO and the national labor unions: American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association  (NEA), which means that membership in a local union (there are about 100) in Florida ensures membership in the FEA, AFT, and NEA.  However, Florida is a right-to-work state so public education employees are not required to join a union.

It is also important to note the FEA has 6 related non-profit organizations that include political action committees (527’s), social welfare funds (501 (c) (4)), a foundation (501 (c) (3), and a title holding corporation (501 (c) (2)). See Schedule R, Part II of the Form 990 (link at the end of the post) for more information.

Membership dues vary but appear to be about $200 annually (based on membership dues reported ($29 million) divided by members (150,000).

Governed by 15 voting members, 12 of whom are independent, the FEA has three leadership groups within the organization:

  • Delegate Assembly:  locally elected delegates responsible for organization policy
  • Governance Board:  162 members that includes local presidents and other members to ensure equitable representation by membership size and ethnicity, who meet quarterly to address issues in pubic education
  • Executive Cabinet:  15 members elected by the Governance Board, the Executive Cabinet meets monthly with officers and FEA managers to ensure adequate representation

In 2018, FEA reported total revenue of $33 million (compared to $31 million the prior year), of which $29 million (94%) were membership dues.  The remaining $4 million came primarily from contributions, gifts, and grants.

So, how is revenue (primarily membership dues) spent at the FEA?  According to the Form 990 (2018) submitted to the IRS, revenue was primarily spent on compensation for the 84 employees, service unit support/restructure, travel and conferences, and legal fees.

The $29 million in expenses were specifically categorized as follows:

  • $13 million (39% of revenue):  Compensation
  • $ 7 million (21% of revenue):  Service Unit Support/Restructure
  • $ 3 million (9% of revenue):  Travel and Conferences
  • $ 3 million (9% of revenue):  Fees for Services (primarily legal)
  • $ 2 million (6% of revenue):  Advocacy and National Affiliate Programs
  • $ 1 million (3% of revenue):  Office-Related Expenses

Compensation is the largest expense and used 39% of total revenue to compensate the 84 employees who received an average compensation of $155,000.  The second largest expense ($7 million or 21% of revenue) was for service unit support/restructure which refers to the service units (39 by geographic area) that are further broken down into about 100 local offices. Travel and Conferences used up 9% of revenue, as did Fees for Services which were primarily legal fees.

The NEA used 87% of revenue or $29 out of the $33 million to cover expenses. The unspent revenue – $3 million – was added to the general fund, which had a $8 million balance at year-end (note: there was a $6 adjustment to post retirement benefits which also greatly contributed to the improvement in the general fund from the previous year when the organization had a negative $1 million balance).

Using the above information, every $100 in revenue was spent as follows:

 $100:  Revenue

-$ 39:  Compensation

-$  9:  Travel and Conferences

-$  3:  Office-Related Expenses

-$ 51:  Subtotal: Compensation, Travel and Conferences, and Office-Related Expenses

 $ 49:  Revenue Remaining

-$ 21:  Service Unit Support/Restructure

-$  9:  Fees for Services (primarily legal)

-$  6:  Advocacy and National Affiliate Programs

-$ 36: Subtotal:  Service Unit Support/Restructure, Fees for Services, and Advocacy/Affiliate Programs

-$ 87:  Total Expenses

 $ 13:  Remaining Revenue:  To General Fund

As illustrated above, about half of all revenue was used to compensate staff, pay for travel and conferences, and cover Office-Related Expenses.  $36 out of every $100 was used primarily for direct member services. $13 out of every $100 in revenue collected was not spent and used to increase the general fund.

To read the IRS Form 990 (2017 for the year ending June 30, 2018), click here.

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