It may be a challenging time to be a teacher, but it's apparently a great time to work for the Minnesota teachers' union. According to a report filed with the U.S. Department of Labor, 49 Education Minnesota staffers and three elected officers were paid more than $100,000 in fiscal year 2011.

In fact, 30 of those staff members (and all three officers) have higher salaries than the state Education Commissioner. The compensation details were included in the union's Labor Organization Annual Report ("Form LM-2"), a legally required filing for any union with more than $250,000 in annual receipts.

Among those collecting $100,000+ are the union's chief lobbyist, public affairs and communications personnel, and more than 20 field staff. At the top of the pay scale is Education Minnesota president Tom Dooher, collecting a salary of $168,530 (his total pay, including other disbursements, is $190,942).

Large pay differentials between union officials and those they represent are nothing new. The national teachers' unions have come under fire recently for using compulsory union dues to give union leaders extravagant compensation packages.

Meanwhile, few if any of the union's rank-and-file members will ever see comparable pay. According to the National Education Association, of which Education Minnesota is an affiliate, Minnesota's public school teachers are paid an average salary of $53,680. And of course, a chunk of each teacher's salary goes straight to Education Minnesota, which helps the union pay for... well, we already covered that.

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