Members are encouraged to vote for these state and local leaders presented by the union. Another way they seek to influence state government is through their Political Action Committee called Political Action Committee for Education (PACE). Pace contributions are given separately from union dues. This money is used for lobbying and election contributions. PSEA spent nearly $1,000,000 on lobbying salaries and efforts for FY 2006-2007.
Democratic candidates are the main recipients of PSEA member and PACE contributions. Many of these candidates favor increased funding for public schools, blocking voucher programs that would send public money to private schools and merit pay for teachers. These initiatives have been identified as some of the most troubling issues for teachers and PSEA members in Pennsylvania. Traditionally, Democratic candidates have been able to count on PSEA as an ally in most elections in districts where education is an issue.
Republicans in Pennsylvania have usually been in opposition to PSEA in every way. The whole concept of unionized public sector employees upsets many Republicans. They often point out the fact that some school districts require all members to pay a portion of dues even if they do not join the PSEA. These sorts of ideological and structural differences between the PSEA and Republican Party have traditionally kept them on opposite sides of legislation that seeks to weaken unions or change rules.
The effects of the PSEA on state elections is debatable, especially in a weak economy. Pennsylvania has experienced a record number of teacher furloughs since the economic downturn began in 2008. The localized structure of public education in Pennsylvania weakens the effectiveness of PSEA at the state level as well. Pennsylvania is divided into 501 independent local school districts. Each one of these districts has a school board that oversees local expenses and ...Show more