Gene Franks, a recently retired school maintenance supervisor in Pennsylvania, advocates for people to learn more about where their union membership dues go and who is managing union affairs.
He was dissatisfied with how unions treated members like him and said union membership was “not a good experience at all” and that union meetings “were poorly run with emphasis on donations to political candidates.” He also felt that members’ questions were rarely answered.
“I felt the leadership was incompetent and didn’t have answers to simple questions,” Gene noted. “I was treated poorly like every other member,” he explained. “The union is for the union, not members.”
Gene joined AFFT to be with “like-minded people [who] don’t believe the union is representing their views on spending and politics.” Gene said, “I don’t see any value in donating money to dues and receiving nothing in return.”
As a member of AFFT, Gene listed several benefits that he enjoys, such as membership support, assistance in leaving his union, receiving “good information” about current events and related topics, newsletters, and appreciation gifts.
If people ask for advice about unions, Gene suggests that people do their own research to figure out whether the union is locally run or is run by a national or international union. “Unless your union is local and controls your pension or benefits, it’s not worth paying dues,” Gene stated. He also recommended that people investigate whether their union covers retirement or healthcare benefits, which may not be clear when the union recruits new members.
His counsel to those who are on –the fence about joining or leaving a union is that the individual has a choice. Gene said, “You don’t have to join the union, and don’t let people tell you any different.”