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AFSCME: Where do your union dues go?


The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) represents over 1.2 million workers throughout the country. Since 2020, AFSCME has lost over 100,000 members. As a labor union that represents both public and private sector employees, AFSCME files a Form LM-2 financial disclosure with the United States Department of Labor. An examination of the union’s finances can help explain why the union is losing so many members.

AFSCME’s revenue reached $191 million during the 2021-2022 reporting period, an increase of $7 million compared to the previous year. The union collected $177 million of this revenue from member dues, about $5 million more than last year.

This revenue increase was a result of increased dues, which went from a minimum of $19.65 per month to a minimum of $20.15 per month. Since 2020, AFSCME minimum membership dues have increased by 85 cents per month. The maximum dues of 2% of an employee’s salary has remained consistent.

With only 13% of spending going towards membership representation, it is no wonder why AFSCME has lost over 100,000 members since 2020. With increasing dues and decreasing membership, AFSCME decided to double down, with over 75% of spending going to left-wing politics, running the union, and purchasing investments. If these spending trends continue, AFSCME can expect to lose more members.

AFSCME Political Spending

Using its members’ regular dues, AFSCME spent over $60 million on political activities and lobbying, compared to only $34 million on membership representation. Over 99% of this went to left-of-center political organizations. The union also spent $3.6 million on contributions, gifts, and grants, some of which went to progressive groups. Here are some big-ticket examples of AFSCME’s political spending in 2022:

AFSCME Financial Health

Despite all this political spending, AFSCME is in a good financial position, holding over $359 million in assets and only $93 million in liabilities. Since 2021, the union’s net financial position has improved by over $19 million. This trend may not continue though, as AFSCME spent almost $64 million more than it brought in last year.

Of the union’s $255 million in expenditures, nearly $73 million went toward operating the union. Spending on union overhead, operating expenses, and union employee salaries and benefits was more than twice the amount of spending on membership representation. Top earners include AFSCME President Lee Saunders ($384,155) and Secretary-Treasurer Elissa McBride ($313,261).

AFSCME spent an additional $61 million to purchase investments and fixed assets, most of which went toward U.S. Treasury bills.