Ghost Teachers Unnecessary Tax Burden

Ghost Teachers Unnecessary Tax Burden

By Leo Knepper

The Commonwealth Foundation undertook the monumental task of acquiring and analyzing teachers’ union contracts from 499 school districts. Their main findings were shocking, but not surprising. Two of items that caught our attention were the prevalence of release time provisions and the “generosity” of healthcare benefits.

Ghost Teachers Unnecessary Tax BurdenRelease time or “ghost teacher” provisions force taxpayers to foot the bill for union activities. Roughly 20 percent of contracts across the state allow for a full release. These teachers don’t set foot in the classroom at all. Instead, they are on the district payroll and can collect a variety of benefits while they work for the union. One of the most expensive benefits that ghost teachers had received, until recently, was a taxpayer funded pension.

On the issue of health insurance benefits, in 99 districts taxpayers foot the entire bill. The workers covered under the teachers’ union contracts don’t pay anything for their premiums. In instances where teachers are required to pay toward their premium costs, they pay far less than the Pennsylvania average of $3,598 per person.

A full summary of the Commonwealth Foundation’s findings can be found on their website; the district-by-district contract details can be found here.

Mr. Knepper is executive director of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.

Ghost Teachers Unnecessary Tax Burden

Ghost Teachers Lose, Taxpayers Win

Ghost Teachers Lose, Taxpayers Win

By Leo Knepper

It is fairly common and legal in Pennsylvania for teachers to engage in union activity while continuing to collect their teaching salary. The practice, officially known as “release time”, is written into union contracts all over the commonwealth. In addition to receiving a taxpayer-funded salary, these ghost teachers were also accruing time in the Pennsylvania School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS). In other words, some union officials who had not set foot in a classroom for years were increasing the value of their pension at taxpayers’ expense. That arrangement may finally be coming to an end. Ghost Teachers Lose, Taxpayers Win

In late June, PSERS revoked the pension credit accumulated by a ghost teacher in Allentown. Furthermore, PSERS ruled that the past two union heads had accrued more than $1 million in pension benefits illegally. An article published by Watchdog.org details PSERS findings:

“PSERS concluded, ‘an active member is permitted to receive retirement credit while working for a collective bargaining organization provided: (1) at least half the members of the organization are members of PSERS; (2) the employer approves the leave; (3) the collective bargaining organization reimburses the employer for the member’s salary and benefits; (4) the member works full-time; and (5) the employer reports only the salary the member would have earned as a school employee.'”

PSERS’s ruling is great news for taxpayers. Teachers who are working exclusively for the union have no business being paid by taxpayers or collecting a taxpayer funded pension. The union is appealing the decision; we will let you know what ultimately happens.

Ghost Teachers Lose, Taxpayers Win

Ghost Teachers Cost Millions

Ghost Teachers Cost Millions By Leo Knepper

The Fairness Center filed another lawsuit, Feb. 24, on behalf of taxpayers against ghost teachers. Officially known as “release time,” ghost teachers are being paid by taxpayers to conduct union business. The most recent lawsuit addresses the Allentown School District where the union president has collected more than $1.3 million in salary and benefits since the year 2000. When you add in the state portion of her pension, the cost goes up even further. According to a news report on the lawsuit, teachers’ union presidents haven’t had to step foot in a classroom since 1990. Ghost Teachers Cost Millions

The cost to the Allentown School District, while substantial, pales in comparison to the $1.7 million ghost teachers collected from the Philadelphia School District in 2014. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers also enjoys a rent-free office provided by the school district. An article published by Watchdog.org details some of the political work undertaken by union bosses at taxpayer expense:

“Hillary Linardopoulos, who has not taught in a classroom since 2009, ‘coordinates much of our political activism and legislative involvement,’ according to an op-ed penned by union members that endorses its current leadership team going into an upcoming internal election. Since leaving the classroom, her taxpayer-funded salary has almost doubled to $91,156.”

Legislation to eliminate ghost teachers was introduced last August. The General Assembly should shift the cost of union operatives from taxpayers to the unions. Furthermore, given the blatantly political nature of the work, there is no excuse for forcing taxpayers to subsidize the activity.

Leo Knepper is executive director Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.

Ghost Teachers Cost Millions

Teacher Strike Record Looms?

By Leo Knepper

The school year is less than a month old, but there are already two districts where teachers are on strike. There also are at least two more districts were teachers have indicated they’d walk out by mid-October. Teachers from Shamokin and Line Mountain Areas are out of the classroom. In both cases, the teachers’ unions are demanding more.Teacher Strike Record Looms? The new school year is less than a month old, but there are already two districts where teachers are on strike. Teacher Strike Record Looms? Teacher Strike Record Looms? Teacher Strike Record Looms?

The PSEA negotiator at both school districts is Mark McDade, who makes over $100,000 per year. The situation was neatly summed up in a letter from the Line Mountain School Board:

“It is apparent, by the Association’s last proposal, that the Association has no desire to settle these negotiations . . . Based on McDade’s leadership of 5 other local Teachers’ Unions toward strikes, regardless of how much they are being offered, it is obvious they just want more!”

In Shamokin Area, the School Board offered teachers $9,000 in salary increases over the next three three school years. The Line Mountain School Board was even more generous. Some teachers there would have seen their salaries increase by over $17,000 by 2020. Higher salaries also mean higher pensions. A multi-billion dollar funding shortfall in the pension system means taxpayers all over the state will be picking up those costs.

Pennsylvania is one of only 13 states where teachers may hold students’ education hostage to extract a higher salary and better benefits than the taxpayers who are covering the tab. We also lead the nation in teachers’ strikes. It would appear we are on track to keep that title.

Mr. Knepper is executive director of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.

Teacher Strike Record Looms?

Teacher Sues PSEA

Teacher Sues PSEALinda Misja is suing the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) one of the most powerful and cynical political organizations in the state.

Ms. Misja is a highly regarded French teacher at Bellefonte Area High School who has opted out of the school’s bargaining unit but is still required by state law to pay a “fair share” fee which is automatically deducted from her paycheck. The union is only allowed to use this money for collective bargaining and representational activities of the union. They are not allowed to use fair share fees for  non-union matters.

Ms. Misja, however, points out that the PSEA has taken stands on matters unrelated to collective bargaining and representation — especially with regard to its support for unrestricted abortion. SShe doesn’t want to contribute anything to it because of that.

State law allows for religious objectors to donate money equivalent to the fair share fee to a non-religious charity.

Ms. Misja tried that. She sought to use her fee — about $2,000 — to help fund  a charity that cares for teenage mothers in a pro-life environment. No can do, says the union. That would be “too religious.” She could only give to a group that provides the option for abortion.

So Ms. Misja offered to give the money to a non-profit group that teaches gun safety, which certainly put the PSEA on the spot. Oppose it, and it reveals to the world that they are naked hypocrites and that its agenda has nothing to do with fairness but everything to do with advancing leftism.

They opposed it. They said it was too political as the group had a connection to the National Rifle Association.

So Ms. Misja is taking them to court and we hope and pray that she wins big.

And we hope and pray that people wake up an realize how wrong automatic deductions of all workers dues are as they are invariable used to increase the wealth of leaders and support political agendas not in the workers’ best interest.

Teacher sues PSEA hat tip Matt Brouillette of Commonwealth Foundation.

Teacher Sues PSEA

 

Factory Tours Mean Richer Teachers

A bill designed to make it easier for public school teachers to get more money has moved through State House committee and is now before the full body. Factory Tours Mean Richer Teachers -- House Bill 1816 would allow teachers, guidance counselors and other school administrators to receive  education credits if they visit certain manufacturing facilities for in-person tours and orientation programs, reports State Rep. Jim Cox (R-129).  Education credits allow teachers to advance a step in the pay scale so it looks like they may soon be able to tour Yeungling Brewery and get a permanent raise.

House Bill 1816 would allow teachers, guidance counselors and other school administrators to receive  education credits if they visit certain manufacturing facilities for in-person tours and orientation programs, reports State Rep. Jim Cox (R-129).  Education credits allow teachers to advance a step in the pay scale so it looks like they may soon be able to tour Yeungling Brewery and get a permanent raise.

The only bright side would be the taxpayer would not have pay the teacher’s college tuition bill which would be the usual route to this raise.

Factory Tours Mean Richer Teachers