News Story

With Far Fewer Members, MEA Executives Among the Highest Paid In the Nation

In the world of state teachers union executive compensation, the Michigan Education Association has among the highest-paid executives in the nation.

Using union reports filed with the U.S. Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service, Michigan Capitol Confidential looked at the base salary of many of the other state teachers unions leaders.

The latest salary information available was through 2011. The highest-paid state teacher union president was Richard Iannuzzi of the New York State United Teachers. He made $269,788 in 2011. Former MEA President Iris Salters made $235,447 in 2011.

The New York state teachers union has 592,256 members, more than three times the membership of the 153,938 member MEA.

Doug Pratt, MEA spokesman, didn’t return emails seeking comment.

Salters’ salary in 2011 was about $48,000 higher than Pennsylvania Education Association President James Testerman’s $187,392 annual pay. Pennsylvania Education Association Vice President Michael Crossey made $210,213 as its highest-paid employee. Pennsylvania’s teachers union had 192,032 members, about 38,000 more than Michigan.

Florida’s teachers union had about 12,000 fewer members than Michigan. Florida Education Association Manager Alfreda Davis made $227,997 in 2011.

Ohio Education Association President Patricia Frost Brooks made $125,825 in 2011 and oversaw 126,953 members. But Ohio Education Association Executive Director Larry Wicks made $182,944 as the union’s highest-paid employee.

"She (Salters) deserved every penny," said Leon Drolet, chairman of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance. "She has done the absolute best at exploiting the taxpayers and children to maximize extraordinary generous benefits for her members. If the standard of judgment is how much they took away from the taxpayers and children and given to some of the most excessive benefits in the country, she was probably underpaid."

Since Salters left office, Steven Cook took over as MEA president. Cook made $196,594 in 2011 as the MEA’s vice president. That was more than the state presidents in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Minnesota and Ohio.

The American Federation of Teachers-Michigan President David Hecker made $131,123 in 2011. The AFT has 35,000 members in Michigan.

The California Teachers Association had 325,000 members and Executive Director Carolyn Doggett’s $221,612 salary was the highest for that state as of 2009 — the latest year salary information was made public. In comparison, in 2009 Salters' base pay was $280,598.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.