Brandon Dutcher | August 31, 2016

OCPA President Questions Teacher Union’s Effectiveness

Brandon Dutcher

By Brandon Dutcher

In a recent a press release issued by the Democratic caucus of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, Mid-Del schoolteacher Alicia Blair was quoted as saying: “I owe $30,000 in student loans and take home less than $2,000 a month. My check would be about $2,200, but after taxes and retirement are withheld, $200 is taken out for my daughter’s insurance and $56 goes to my NEA dues.”

In other words, this teacher is paying several hundred dollars annually in union dues. The question is: Why?

Perhaps like most teachers she wants the liability insurance, but she likely doesn’t realize how inexpensive it really is. (When I checked 15 years ago, the policy cost the union no more than $4.29 per teacher. It's doubtless gone up since then, but it's still a tiny fraction of union dues.)

Or, perhaps she's expecting the OEA—whose president’s total annual compensation is $153,408—to do what unions do: secure pay raises for their members. But as OCPA president Jonathan Small recently reminded News9, the union isn’t exactly excelling on that front: - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

The OEA’s inability to secure pay hikes from the legislature could help to explain why the organization has lost 20 percent of its active members over the last five years. But I’m not sure this ineffectiveness should come as a surprise. After all, this is the organization that sued the legislature in 2006. It’s the organization that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2010 telling Oklahomans how greedy and deceptive legislators are. (You may recall the SQ 744 television commercials which said "some really greedy people"—the "highest-paid in the region," no less—are desperately trying to "protect their perks and privileges." But not to worry, even though the "politicians are trying to deceive you," the good guys in the white hats were there to “take on the Oklahoma legislature.”)

Hostility is not always the best fundraising posture.

Unionized teachers wanting to boost their pay by hundreds of dollars annually can obviously take one easy step to do so right now. Beyond that, they should demand to know why an education system with $8.7 billion in total revenue last year, the most in state history, can’t seem to raise teacher pay.

Brandon Dutcher Senior Vice President

Brandon Dutcher

Senior Vice President

Brandon Dutcher is OCPA’s senior vice president. Originally an OCPA board member, he joined the staff in 1995. Dutcher received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Oklahoma. He received a master’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in public policy from Regent University. Dutcher is listed in the Heritage Foundation Guide to Public Policy Experts, and is editor of the book Oklahoma Policy Blueprint, which was praised by Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman as “thorough, well-informed, and highly sophisticated.” His award-winning articles have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, WORLD magazine,,, The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, and 200 newspapers throughout Oklahoma and the U.S. He and his wife, Susie, have six children and live in Edmond.

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