The American Federation of Teachers has approved a dues increase aimed at stepping up recruitment and political organizing.
The initial hike of almost 6 percent, endorsed by delegates at their biennial convention here last month, will put some two dozen new organizers on the 1.3 million-member AFT’s payroll and add about $1 million to a fund for responding to state ballot initiatives.
With the change, local unions will pay $13.95 a month per member to the national organization, starting next month, and $14.70, starting in September 2007.
Throughout the July 20-23 gathering, which drew some 3,500 delegates, AFT leaders stressed that increased clout at the bargaining table and in the political arena is won by growth—in numbers and in member participation.
President Edward J. McElroy, who was elected unopposed to his second two-year term, said the union had made a net gain of 35,000 members in the past two years. The local in Puerto Rico severed its ties with the AFT, costing the national organization some 50,000 members. Another 5,000 came off the rolls with job losses in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, union officials said.
In other business, the delegates approved a resolution calling for full funding of and numerous changes to the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The changes would include eased accountability standards for students with disabilities and those whose first language is not English, application of the “highly qualified” standard to teachers providing “supplemental services” to students, and more monitoring of the quality of state tests used to judge student and school progress.
A version of this article appeared in the August 09, 2006 edition of Education Week