GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Michigan Education Association President Iris Salters received total compensation of nearly $300,000 in the latest year on record — a $6,000 increase from the previous year — and Executive Director Luigi Battaglieri received nearly $272,000, according to a report in The Grand Rapids Press.
Critics said the compensation shows that the union is out of touch with the average Michigan teacher, whose salary is around $56,000, but a union spokesman told The Press that the amounts are in line with what other executive leaders receive.
The salary figures were taken from a U.S. Labor Department filing, and reported by the Education Action Group of Muskegon, The Press reported. MEA members pay 1.5 percent of their salaries as dues, capped at $620 a year, The Press reported.
"This is further proof that the union leadership continues to be out of touch with its rank-and-file, dues-paying members," EAG Vice President Kyle Olson said in a release, The Press reported.
“Our people are leading a huge, multi-million dollar operation, one of the largest unions in the state, and are compensated accordingly,” Doug Pratt, the MEA's public affairs director, told The Press.
The filing also shows that MEA membership dropped by 1,500 in 2009-2010 and that its “net assets” worsened from a deficit of $124 million to a deficit of $132 million. Pratt told The Press that the deficit reflects money owed to future retirees.
The Grand Rapids Press, “Watchdog group says MEA executive earning nearly $300,000 is out of touch with teachers,” Dec. 8, 2010
Michigan Education Association, “Union Spending in Michigan: A Review of Union Financial Disclosure Reports,” Aug. 28, 2008