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More Powerful Than Campaign Cash? See Teachers’ Unions Volunteering Stats

By Alyson Klein — November 08, 2016 1 min read
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Teachers’ unions are known for giving millions in campaign cash to the candidates they endorse. But they actually may have a more powerful tool in their arsenal: shoe leather, said Patrick McGuinn, a political science professor at Drew University.

So how many teachers and retired educators decided to pound pavement for the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers this election season on behalf of Hillary Clinton—the Democratic nominee endorsed by both unions—and other candidates?

Here are some quick numbers:

The National Education Association reported about 64,418 volunteers. That’s seven times higher than back in 2012.

The union has gotten better at figuring out which of its members are likely to engage in get-out-the-vote efforts. But the uptick could also be due to enthusiasm for Clinton and worries about her GOP opponent, Donald


NEA is also reporting 144,941 volunteering shifts, 885,652 doors knocked on, and more than 3.3 million voter outreach calls made.

The American Federation of Teachers reported 97,000 volunteering shifts, including more than 80,000 in the general election. Union members made 1.6 million in Cleveland alone.

And the Through for Our Future Political Action committee, which both teachers’ unions belong to along with other unions and left-leaning groups, reported more than 9 million attempted get-out-the-vote conversations, and more than 2 million actual conversations.

Photo: National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García, left, and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten in Philadelphia during the Democratic National Convention in July. (Andrew Ujifusa/Education Week)

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