MN teachers’ union funneled nearly $4 million into state elections

Education Minnesota’s Political Action Committee (PAC) spent nearly $4 million this year leading up to the statewide general elections, according to its 2022 Campaign Finance & Public Disclosure report through Oct. 24. More than $1.1 million of that was spent during the final five weeks of the report.

It is no secret the teacher union’s political clout has a long history of supporting almost exclusively, with rare exceptions, one political party and its affiliates. The 2022 races were no different. Over $2.5 million alone went directly to the DFL House and Senate Caucuses and the Minnesota DFL State Central Committee, making Education Minnesota a key player in the DFL’s electoral victory.

And teachers’ union dues made this possible. Each year, Education Minnesota automatically sends $25 from member dues to its PAC. If member teachers want to protect their constitutional right to not fund the union’s PAC, they must request the refund every single year. The Education Minnesota union card does not give educators the right to opt-out of the deductions once and for all. Education Minnesota’s year-end report will reveal roughly how many educators requested that refund.

Aside from the the direct PAC contribution, teacher union dues do fund politics in other ways. In fact, the National Education Association — of which Minnesota teacher union members pay dues to — spent two times as much on politics compared to spending on representational activities, according to the union’s most recent federal LM-2 filing.

Education Minnesota is expected to lobby legislative leaders and Gov. Tim Walz for billions more in education spending to “fully fund” the system. As of a couple weeks ago, the union is still working on what exactly that magic number will need to be.