Unions have long used membership dues to fund partisan political activities without members’ input or explicit consent. I had a conversation recently with an AFFT member who described their experience with a union that was too political. At our member’s request, we are withholding their name.
This member expressed to me concerns that their union consistently refuses to communicate openly with its members about how the union spends their dues. “The union picks and chooses political candidates or campaigns to support,” the member told me, “but does not ask members for feedback or advice.”
It is important to note that while this AFFT member shares similar political views to the union’s preferred candidates, they still believe the decision to donate to candidates or campaigns should be up to the individual and not the union. Instead, it is the belief of the AFFT member I spoke with that the union should focus on taking care of union workers and refrain from spending dues on politics.
During our conversation, this AFFT member also shared with me that while the union publicly expresses support for various underserved communities, such as the LGBTQ+ community, they will still ostracize and exclude union members who identify as part of those communities behind the scenes. From what I’ve been hearing, rank-and-file union members are not treated with the same tolerance and acceptance that the union leaders are claiming to have for all people.
While I was saddened and enraged to hear about this AFFT member’s experience with the union, it gave me a moment to reflect on our work at AFFT.
Unlike unions, AFFT is not in the business of picking winners or losers in politics or within our own membership. AFFT is a community for union workers who have been wronged or misrepresented by their union and for those who want to hold unions accountable. We do not discriminate against those with different political or religious views. We do not offer one-size-fits-all solutions, but take the time to get to know our members and provide personalized support in a timely manner, regardless of their personal beliefs.
Ultimately, AFFT provides the support and inclusion that unions should be providing their members.