September 24, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Demi Dowdy (919) 834-2099 Demi.Dowdy@NCCivitas.org
Impending audit will determine whether teachers union continues receiving state benefits
RALEIGH—On Friday, September 18, the Civitas Institute sent letters to the North Carolina State Auditor, the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE), and the superintendent of the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) inquiring as to whether the NCAE legally qualifies to continue receiving its state-administered “dues checkoff” benefit.
Under North Carolina law, the NCAE must maintain a membership level of at least 40,000 in order to qualify for the dues checkoff benefit. The value of the checkoff is shown by the way the NCAE has fought in court for this benefit in recent years.
The State Auditor is required to publish an annual audit of these numbers but has yet to do so this year. Officials with the auditor’s office have told Civitas the results will likely be published in the coming weeks.
“The Civitas Institute exists to hold government actors accountable, whether through investigation, policy analysis, or legal action,” Civitas President Francis De Luca said. “We are closely monitoring the situation – from the impending audit to the responses of school systems withholding NCAE dues – to ensure that all state actors comply with their statutory duties.”
2015 is the first year when the NCAE’s membership level will undergo a state audit. However, the exact nature of this audit and its effect are still somewhat unclear.
“It seems that the audit language was added to the statute in 2014 to give teeth to the 40,000-member requirement,” Civitas Institute Center for Law and Freedom (CLF) Staff Attorney Elliot Engstrom said. “However, as this is the first year since the audit requirement was enacted, it’s unclear exactly how the audit is being performed. Therefore, we’re very interested to see the audit results and methodology.”
The audit comes on the heels of some experts questioning whether the NCAE’s membership numbers are still above the threshold.
“In recent years, we’ve seen a downward trend in teachers union membership both nationally and at the state level,” Civitas Institute Senior Policy Analyst Bob Luebke said. “It is well within the realm of possibility that the NCAE is now below 40,000 members.”
Currently, the dues checkoff benefit is only provided to two state organizations – the NCAE and the State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC).
The Civitas Institute is a North Carolina-based nonprofit corporation organized for the purpose of conducting research, sponsoring education activities, and upholding the constitutional and legal rights of North Carolinians. In 2015, Civitas founded the Center for Law and Freedom, a public interest law firm that represents North Carolinians in administrative agency actions, constitutional litigation, and transparency lawsuits. Learn more at http://www.nccivitas.org.