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AFSCME: Where do your union dues go? 2018-19

1. The big picture

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) represents state and local government employees, with District Council 13 representing over 50,000 Pennsylvania workers.

Based upon AFSCME 13’s financial reporting,1 22% of the union’s spending went to the “representational activities” most directly related to labor representation, such as collective bargaining negotiations, handling grievances and arbitration proceedings. About 49% of AFSCME 13’s overall spending simply went to running the union: salaries; union employee health and retirement benefits; general overhead (including expenses such as security guards); multiple union leadership conferences; and purchase of investments and fixed assets (the last includes land, buildings and cars).

2. Dues money pays for politics

Government workers should know the Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2018 simply means that non-union workers no longer have to pay fair share fees to the workplace union as a condition of employment. However, for employees who remain AFSCME 13 members, Janus changes nothing about how union dues are spent: they can still be used for political purposes.

In 2018-19, AFSCME 13 spent nearly $580,000 on “political activities and lobbying.” This includes a variety of “soft” political activities, such as get-out-the-vote drives, election mailers, lobbying of legislators and public marketing campaigns. These must be itemized and reported annually to the U.S. Department of Labor on an “LM-2” financial report. (We’ve provided the latest one, released in September 2019, below).

So how were some of your dues spent on politics?

All told, AFSCME 13 since 2010 has spent almost $8.7 million on “political activities and lobbying.”  Most government employers collect this political money directly from workers’ paychecks via payroll, at taxpayer expense.

3. Who is getting your dues money?

The dues paid to the national parent union AFSCME – $2.8 million collected and transmitted by AFSCME 13, and which every member must pay – supported a variety of political and ideological advocacy groups and causes around the country. Contributions to political organizations totaled at least $14 million in 2019, according to AFSCME’s financial report, but millions more were also logged as “contributions, gifts and grants” to those groups.

Here are just a few big-ticket examples of the progressive and partisan causes your AFSCME dues funded in 2019.2

4. Your dues rise every year

According to the most recent form LM-2, covering July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019, AFSCME 13 collected $26.7 million in dues from government workers. During this time, they gained membership and increased dues revenue by $1.7 million. This is largely because of an increase in government union employment and annual increases in salary, of which 1.5% is taken for dues. This offsets the loss of fee payers, which was reported in the previous LM-2 filing, covering July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018 (after the Janus decision).

Download this report here.


[1] Form LM-2 Labor Organization Annual Report, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 13, U.S. Department of Labor File Number 071-060, Year 2018-2019.

[2] Form LM-2 Labor Organization Annual Report, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, U.S. Department of Labor File Number 000-289, Year 2019.


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