Hale shared their confusion about the claims concerning teachers' benefits.
"Our health plan is in no way a Cadillac plan. In the last 10 years, we've suffered cutback after cutback," she said.
The report also ranks West Virginia's unions as the fourth-most-involved in politics and as having the sixth-highest perceived influence in the country.
"In the past 10 years, West Virginia's teacher unions were more involved in state politics than their counterparts in nearly every other state," the report says.
Teachers unions play a significant financial role in political campaigns, with donations accounting for 1.6 percent of all contributions to candidates for state office, according to the report.
The report also claims that more than 15 percent of West Virginia's delegates to the Democratic and Republican national conventions identified as teachers union members.
Survey respondents ranked the unions as one of the two most influential entities shaping education policy, behind only the West Virginia Board of Education.
"Our teachers clearly understand what the issues are and they make very passionate pleas to their legislatures in terms of what they want to see and what they think is beneficial to students. They are great lobbyists," said WVEA spokeswoman Kym Randolph. "Fordham is a very conservative group with an anti-union agenda.
"Stakeholders agree that teacher unions are effective in protecting dollars for education even in times of cutbacks, and in warding off education reform proposals with which they disagree," the report states. "While they report that policies proposed by the governor during the latest legislative session were only somewhat aligned with teacher union priorities, those that were enacted were mostly aligned with union priorities."
Those accolades are something the state's unions are proud to see in the report.
"I make no apologies for getting involved in politics. We don't have any collective bargaining contracts in West Virginia, so in order to have input in our education policies, we have to go to the state Legislature because it's the Legislature who [enacts] the laws that control almost all of what's done in the classroom," Hale said.
"We're very proud of our involvement in politics. We feel like we have to have a voice in the decisions that are made," Lee said. "I'm very proud we're recognized for having the strength and input in West Virginia. Who better to have input in public education than the people who deal with children each and every day in the classroom?"
Despite concern with some of the claims, union leaders are pleased to have their strengths recognized.
"I'm very pleased because we are a member-driver organization and our members control everything we do. I'm happy to see we are viewed as a powerful force in West Virginia education. Some of it just doesn't make sense, but I'm glad someone else has recognized it's the WVEA who has stood strong," Lee said.
"I agree with a lot of it, but some is not accurate. I'm happy about the rankings that recognize our political involvement and that speaks to our membership," Hale said. "What better people to have on the front lines of education than the teachers?"Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.