Labor Union

California School Employees Association

CSEA-AFL-CIO logo (link)
Website:

www.csea.com

Location:

SAN JOSE, CA

Tax ID:

94-1301733

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(5)

Budget (2018):

Revenue: $81,679,907
Expenses: $53,562,077
Assets: $71,970,116

Formation:

August 1927

Executive Director:

Keith Pace

The California School Employee Association is the largest union of classified employees in the nation, representing more than 220,000 public school staff in California who do not hold teaching credentials, such as bus drivers, custodians, and kitchen workers. [1] [2] CSEA belongs to both the AFL-CIO and the California Labor Federation. [3]

Formed in Oakland, California, in 1927, the CSEA joins the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers as an influential force in state politics. [4] [5] Longtime lobbyist and former CSEA executive director David Low drove much of the union’s influence, in part through simultaneous positions as chairman of the powerful union coalition Californians for Retirement Safety and consultant for Blue Shield of California, whose health insurance contracts covered many public workers represented by Low. [6]

History

The California School Employees Association (CSEA) was formed in 1927 in Oakland, California. [7] The idea to organize began with Bill Schwartz, a part-time school custodian and Lawrence Twoaxe, president of the Oakland School Custodians Association who wanted public school districts to provide a pension plan for custodians; they received advice to organize a government workers’ union from Earl Warren, then the Alameda County District Attorney who later became governor of California and Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. [8]

The CSEA’s first political initiative was in 1928 when it backed a bill allowing school districts to provide benefits for school employees who were not teachers or administrators. [9] The law was struck down a couple years later and it took two decades to reinstate full retirement benefits to its members. [10]

The CSEA joined the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest federation of unions, in 2001, and then in 2004 it joined the California Labor Federation, an organization of more than 1,200 affiliate unions. [11] The CSEA, along with the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers, are considered an influential force in state politics. [12]

IRS tax documents list representation, training, collective bargaining, and political/legislative advocacy as the CSEA’s primary activities. [13]

Finances

The California School Employees Association received its IRS tax exemption as a 501(c)(5) nonprofit corporation on July 1, 1984. The union’s fiscal year runs from June 1 through May 31. Tax documents show that in the tax year ending May 31, 2019, CSEA reported total revenues of $82,504,631; total expenses of $52,901,203; and total assets of $99,534,861. [14]

The primary revenue source for the CSEA is membership dues, accounting for $79,786,827, or 96.7%, of total revenue in fiscal year 2018-2019. [15] According to tax documents from the same tax reporting period, the union included among its liabilities an accrued pension cost of $32,004,119. [16]

As of 2020, membership dues were calculated at 1.5% of active members’ monthly salaries and capped at $47.25 per month or $472.50 per year. [17]

CSEA’s expenses consist primarily of salaries and benefits, which accounted for $37,531,070, or 70.5%, of its total expenditures in the 2018-2019 tax year. [18] Its highest paid employee during the same tax year was then-executive director, David Low, whose total compensation was $444,776. [19]

Association expenditures also include political campaign and lobbying activities, with $1,679,046 spent in the most recently filed tax year; $1,080,696 of which went to Political Action for Classified Employees of CSEA Political Action Committee (PACE of CSEA PAC), and $598,350 given to PACE of CSEA Local, State, Federal Candidates. [20] The CSEA also owns a townhome where the union president lives. [21]

Corporate Structure

According to the most recently available IRS 990 tax forms, the California School Employees Association employed 303 people in 2018 and is governed by a board of trustees made up of 14 voting members. [22] Organizationally, CSEA consists of ten statewide geographic areas, each of which are subdivided into 100 regions. [23] The CSEA President as of 2019 was Ben Valdepena. [24]

The CSEA represents 230,000 classified employees in 750 local chapters who work in California public schools and community colleges. [25] [26] Classified school employees provide support services to schools, such as security, property maintenance, transportation, and clerical work. [27] CSEA holds an annual conference at which chapter delegates decide resolutions and policies. [28]

Political Activity

Lobbying and Elections

In addition to direct lobbying expenditures to influence legislation and elections, the CSEA is a primary funder of three associated political action committees (PACs): Political Action for Classified Employees of CSEA Political Action Committee (PACE of CSEA PAC); PACE of CSEA Local, State, Federal Candidates; and PACE of CSEA – Issues. [29] [30] The PACs collect money from individual member contributions either directly or through a fundraising arm called the CSEA Victory Club. [31] In guidelines distributed to local chapters, the CSEA instructs local chapters to encourage regular contributions to the Victory Club through paycheck deductions to support labor-friendly candidates and fight legislative efforts to cut education spending.

From January 1, 2000, through December 31, 2009, CSEA’s political spending totaled nearly $32 million, $17 million to influence California voters and $12 million to lobby public officials. [32] During the 2018 election cycle, PACE of CSEA gave $250,000 to the Citizens Supporting Newsom PAC and $410,000 to the California Democratic Party. [33] CSEA’s three PACs put forth $3.7 million in political spending during the 2020 election cycle. [34]

Janus Ruling

The 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees ruled that government worker labor organizations are inherently political and cannot compel workers to support them through “fair share” fees from workers they represent even those not wishing to join a union. [35]

Fair share fees had cost workers between 70% and 99% the rate of full union membership dues. [36] Anticipating a Supreme Court loss and potentially significant revenue loss of these fair share fees, the CSEA coordinated a membership drive that increased membership to 92% of the employees it represents. [37]

Also, in advance of a Supreme Court loss, the CSEA lobbied for new state laws to circumvent further restrictions on union dues collection practices and help unions hold on to members. [38] [39]

COVID-19

In February 2021, the CSEA joined the California Teachers Association, California Federation of Teachers, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and Council 57 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) in releasing a set of school reopening conditions deemed too demanding for any reopenings for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. [40]

People

David Low

David Low was CSEA’s executive director from 2011 to February 2019. [41] In that role, Low was also the executive director of the California School Employees Association Retiree Premium Trust which is the union’s nonprofit funder of retiree medical and life insurance premiums. [42] Low’s combined salary and benefits from both positions totaled $444,776 according to the union’s most recent tax filings. [43]

Low began working at the CSEA in 1981 where his union functions included collective bargaining an arbitration. [44] [45] Low also was the chairman of the Californians for Heathcare and Retirement Safety (also known as Californians for Retirement Security), a powerful union coalition that includes the CSEA, Service Employees International Union, California Teachers Association, as well as unions representing firefighters, police and other state workers which covers 1.5 million state workers and retirees. [46] Considered to have significant clout as leader of CSEA, a 2011 Los Angeles Times report revealed Low was also a consultant for Blue Shield of California, which, by securing lucrative health insurance contracts for many of the same government workers Low represented, appeared problematic:

“This raises red flags about conflicts of interest and self-dealing,” said Jessica Levinson, a Loyola Law School professor who studies public corruption. “It really starts to feel offensive when the public money at stake is so huge.” [47]

Other Leadership

Keith Pace has been the executive director of the California School Employees Association since December 2018, when David Low retired. [48] Credited with bringing 32 years of progressive experience within CSEA, Pace is the first former classified employee and CSEA member to assume the association’s top position. [49]

Benjamin (Ben) Valdepena is the president of the CSEA board of directors. [50] He worked as a school custodian for 38 years. [51]

References

  1. Staff, Capitol Weekly. “Capitol Weekly’s Top 100 – 2018.” Capitol Weekly, August 20, 2018. https://capitolweekly.net/capitol-weeklys-top-100-2018/. ^
  2. Fensterwald, John. “School Districts Balk at California’s New Covid Worker Safety Regulations.” EdSource, December 19, 2020. https://edsource.org/2020/school-districts-balk-at-californias-new-covid-worker-safety-regulations/645386. ^
  3. “California School Employees Association.” Ballotpedia. Accessed February 16, 2021. https://ballotpedia.org/California_School_Employees_Association. ^
  4. Stebbins, Samuel. “States With The Strongest And Weakest Unions.” 247 Wall St. 24/7 Wall St., March 13, 2021. https://247wallst.com/special-report/2021/03/13/states-with-the-strongest-and-weakest-unions-6/10/. ^
  5. “California School Employees Association.” Ballotpedia. Accessed February 16, 2021. https://ballotpedia.org/California_School_Employees_Association. ^
  6. Vara, Vauhini. “Unions Oppose Pension Changes in California Talks.” The Wall Street Journal. March 9, 2011. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703662804576189200016227420. ^
  7. “California School Employees Association.” Ballotpedia. Accessed February 16, 2021. https://ballotpedia.org/California_School_Employees_Association. ^
  8. “About Chapter 262 – Our Story.” CSEA Chapter 262 – Mt. San Antonio College. Accessed March 13, 2021. https://www.csea262.org/our-story. ^
  9. “California School Employees Association.” Ballotpedia. Accessed February 16, 2021. https://ballotpedia.org/California_School_Employees_Association. ^
  10. Peeples, Julian. “A Legacy of Solidarity.” Focus Magazine, 2017. https://issuu.com/cseapubs/docs/focus_issuu_march_april_2017_lr. ^
  11. “California School Employees Association.” Ballotpedia. Accessed February 16, 2021. https://ballotpedia.org/California_School_Employees_Association. ^
  12. Stebbins, Samuel. “States With The Strongest And Weakest Unions.” 247 Wall St. 24/7 Wall St., March 13, 2021. https://247wallst.com/special-report/2021/03/13/states-with-the-strongest-and-weakest-unions-6/10/. ^
  13. “California School Employees Association- Form 990 Full Filing for Period Ending May 2019, Part III – Nonprofit Explorer.” ProPublica, May 9, 2013. Accessed February 16, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/941301733/202010499349300136/full. ^
  14. “California School Employees Association- Form 990 Full Filing for Period Ending May 2019, Part I – Nonprofit Explorer.” ProPublica, May 9, 2013. Accessed February 16, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/941301733/202010499349300136/full. ^
  15. “California School Employees Association- Form 990 Full Filing for Period Ending May 2019, Part VIII – Nonprofit Explorer.” ProPublica, May 9, 2013. Accessed February 16, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/941301733/202010499349300136/full. ^
  16. “California School Employees Association- Form 990 Full Filing for Period Ending May 2019, Schedule D, Part X – Nonprofit Explorer.” ProPublica, May 9, 2013. Accessed February 16, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/941301733/202010499349300136/full. ^
  17. Cano, Ricardo, and Ana B. Ibarra. “Behind the ‘Wild West’ of School Reopenings.” CalMatters, September 4, 2020. https://calmatters.org/education/2020/09/california-school-reopening/. ^
  18. “California School Employees Association- Form 990 Full Filing for Period Ending May 2019, Part I – Nonprofit Explorer.” ProPublica, May 9, 2013. Accessed February 16, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/941301733/202010499349300136/full. ^
  19. “California School Employees Association- Form 990 Full Filing for Period Ending May 2019, Part VII. Section A – Nonprofit Explorer.” ProPublica, May 9, 2013. Accessed February 16, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/941301733/202010499349300136/full. ^
  20. “California School Employees Association- Form 990 Full Filing for Period Ending May 2019, Schedule C, Part I- Nonprofit Explorer.” ProPublica, May 9, 2013. Accessed February 16, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/941301733/202010499349300136/full. ^
  21. “California School Employees Association- Form 990 Full Filing for Period Ending May 2016, Part III – Nonprofit Explorer.” ProPublica, May 9, 2013. Accessed March 14, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/941301733/202010499349300136/full. ^
  22. “California School Employees Association- Form 990 Full Filing for Period Ending May 2019, Part I – Nonprofit Explorer.” ProPublica, May 9, 2013. Accessed February 16, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/941301733/202010499349300136/full. ^
  23. What is CSEA? Palo Verde College. Accessed March 20, 2021. https://www.paloverde.edu/faculty-staff/csea/what-is.aspx. ^
  24. “California School Employees Association- Form 990 Full Filing for Period Ending May 2019, Part VII. Section A – Nonprofit Explorer.” ProPublica, May 9, 2013. Accessed February 16, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/941301733/202010499349300136/full. ^
  25. “California School Employees Association.” Ballotpedia. Accessed February 16, 2021. https://ballotpedia.org/California_School_Employees_Association. ^
  26. What is CSEA? Palo Verde College. Accessed March 20, 2021. https://www.paloverde.edu/faculty-staff/csea/what-is.aspx. ^
  27. “California School Employees Association.” Ballotpedia. Accessed February 16, 2021. https://ballotpedia.org/California_School_Employees_Association. ^
  28. What is CSEA? Palo Verde College. Accessed March 20, 2021. https://www.paloverde.edu/faculty-staff/csea/what-is.aspx. ^
  29. “California School Employees Association- Form 990 Full Filing for Period Ending May 2019, Schedule C, Part I- Nonprofit Explorer.” ProPublica, May 9, 2013. Accessed February 16, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/941301733/202010499349300136/full. ^
  30. “Big Money Talks: The 15 Special Interests That Spent $1 Billion to Shape California Government.” Sacramento: California Fair Political Practices Commission, March 2010. https://www.fppc.ca.gov/content/dam/fppc/documents/Education-External-Division/Big_Money_Talks.pdf. ^
  31. Holt, Allyson. “CSEA Victory Club.” Placentia Yorba Linda California School Employees Association, March 6, 2009. https://pylcsea.com/2009/03/06/csea-victory-club/. ^
  32. “Big Money Talks: The 15 Special Interests That Spent $1 Billion to Shape California Government.” Sacramento: California Fair Political Practices Commission, March 2010. https://www.fppc.ca.gov/content/dam/fppc/documents/Education-External-Division/Big_Money_Talks.pdf. ^
  33. Antonucci, Mike. “Antonucci: California School Unions Are Ramping up Campaign Spending.” LA School Report. The 74, May 22, 2018. http://laschoolreport.com/antonucci-california-school-unions-are-ramping-up-campaign-spending/. ^
  34. “Search Results For ‘California School Employees Association.’” California Secretary of State – Cal-Access. California Secretary of State. Accessed March 23, 2021. https://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/Misc/filerSearch.aspx?SEARCH=california%2Bschool%2Bemployees%2Bassociation. ^
  35. Ashton, Adam. “After Court Loss, California Unions Still Have Big Money for Politics. It Might Not Be Enough.” The Sacramento Bee, October 31, 2018. https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/the-state-worker/article220859565.html. ^
  36. Ashton, Adam. “Now They Have a Choice. Will California Teachers and Cops Stay in Their Unions?” The Sacramento Bee, June 30, 2018. https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/the-state-worker/article232923292.html. ^
  37. Ashton, Adam. “After Court Loss, California Unions Still Have Big Money for Politics. It Might Not Be Enough.” The Sacramento Bee, October 31, 2018. https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/the-state-worker/article220859565.html. ^
  38. Rosenhall, Laurel. “San Diego Metro Magazine.” SD METRO, February 28, 2018. https://www.sandiegometro.com/2018/02/daily-business-report-feb-28-2018/. ^
  39. Ashton, Adam. “Now They Have a Choice. Will California Teachers and Cops Stay in Their Unions?” The Sacramento Bee, June 30, 2018. https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/the-state-worker/article232923292.html. ^
  40. Miller, Terry. “Parents Demand Schools Reopen but Is It Safe?” Monrovia Weekly, February 18, 2021. https://www.monroviaweekly.com/news/parents-demand-schools-reopen-but-is-it-safe/. ^
  41. “California School Employees Association- Form 990 Full Filing for Period Ending May 2019, Part VII. Section A – Nonprofit Explorer.” ProPublica, May 9, 2013. Accessed February 16, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/941301733/202010499349300136/full. ^
  42. “CALIFORNIA SCHOOL EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION RETIREE PREMIUM TR – Form 990-O for Period Ending May 2012, Part VII – Nonprofit Explorer.” ProPublica, May 9, 2013. Accessed March 25, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/776175956/2013_11_EO%2F77-6175956_990O_201205. ^
  43. “California School Employees Association- Form 990 Full Filing for Period Ending May 2019, Part VII. Section A – Nonprofit Explorer.” ProPublica, May 9, 2013. Accessed February 16, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/941301733/202010499349300136/full. ^
  44. “Board of Directors.” APIs MOBILIZE. Accessed March 25, 2021. https://www.apismobilize.org/board-of-directors.html. ^
  45. Staff, Capitol Weekly. “Capitol Weekly’s Top 100 – 2018.” Capitol Weekly, August 20, 2018. https://capitolweekly.net/capitol-weeklys-top-100-2018/. ^
  46. Vara, Vauhini. “Unions Oppose Pension Changes in California Talks.” The Wall Street Journal. March 9, 2011. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703662804576189200016227420. ^
  47. Terhune, Chad. “Blue Shield’s Union Ties Raise Concerns about Conflicts.” Los Angeles Times, October 9, 2012. https://www.latimes.com/business/la-xpm-2012-oct-09-la-fi-blue-shield-influence-20121009-story.html. ^
  48. “California School Employees Association- Form 990 Full Filing for Period Ending May 2019, Part VII. Section A – Nonprofit Explorer.” ProPublica, May 9, 2013. Accessed February 16, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/941301733/202010499349300136/full. ^
  49. Valdepena, Ben. “Focus Magazine.” Issuu. CSEA, 2019. https://issuu.com/cseapubs/docs/focus_issuu_march_april_2019. ^
  50. “California School Employees Association- Form 990 Full Filing for Period Ending May 2019, Part VII. Section A – Nonprofit Explorer.” ProPublica, May 9, 2013. Accessed February 16, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/941301733/202010499349300136/full. ^
  51. Cano, Ricardo, and Ana B. Ibarra. “Behind the ‘Wild West’ of School Reopenings.” CalMatters, September 4, 2020. https://calmatters.org/education/2020/09/california-school-reopening/. ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Clyde Rivers
    Representative
  2. Loretta Johnson
    Representative
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: May - April
  • Tax Exemption Received: July 1, 1984

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2018 May Form 990 $81,679,907 $53,562,077 $71,970,116 $20,655,707 Y $325,157 $80,347,501 $215,584 $1,111,698 PDF
    2017 May Form 990 $71,490,760 $60,395,067 $52,481,284 $39,285,704 Y $170,915 $70,012,432 $192,345 $2,427,686 PDF
    2016 May Form 990 $69,189,024 $58,127,839 $45,900,554 $69,343,632 Y $534,616 $67,582,459 $177,331 $2,240,910 PDF
    2015 May Form 990 $0 $55,335,895 $40,166,271 $78,709,828 Y $0 $0 $0 $2,245,143 PDF
    2014 May Form 990 $62,140,708 $56,009,865 $37,176,834 $62,669,354 Y $425,231 $60,605,387 $176,659 $2,832,145 PDF
    2013 May Form 990 $61,260,374 $64,083,703 $33,701,201 $65,927,557 Y $752,551 $59,685,916 $199,116 $2,488,934 PDF
    2012 May Form 990 $61,047,777 $54,038,771 $31,466,414 $88,870,382 Y $491,422 $59,871,016 $186,845 $1,729,995 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    California School Employees Association

    2045 LUNDY AVE
    SAN JOSE, CA 95131-1825