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PFT: Where do your union dues go?

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) represents over 13,000 faculty and staff in the School District of Philadelphia. The PFT is associated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which represents nearly 1.7 million members nationwide. As a nonprofit organization, the PFT must file a Form 990 financial disclosure with the IRS. This filing reveals that the union does little to support its membership.

Salaries, benefits, and other personnel costs for the PFT’s 25 employees accounted for approximately 38% of total expenses in 2021. The union’s top earning employee, Mario DeClerico, made $139,476 in 2021. The average salary for a Philadelphia public school teacher is $60,259. In 2021, three PFT employees earned more than double the average teacher’s salary.

Outside of compensation and benefits for its employees, the PFT spent about $975,000 on rent, office supplies, legal fees, and other expenses needed to operate the union. In total, the PFT spent $4.2 million on running the union during the 2021 reporting period. Notably, the union did not spend any money on “benefits paid to or for members.” However, the PFT did transfer $3.7 million to affiliated unions in 2021, about 42% of what the union took in from membership dues. While not disclosed in the Form 990, most of this $3.7 million likely went to the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Pennsylvania and AFT national.

In 2021, the PFT brought in $9.6 million in revenue, with 93% of this coming from membership dues. In 2019 and 2020, membership dues accounted 99% of the PFT’s revenue. In 2021, the union brought in about $630,000 from rent. The union’s revenue increased by about $1.6 million from 2019 to 2021. Despite increasing revenues, the PFT’s expenditures increased only $500,000 from 2019 to 2021. As such, the union’s net financial position improved significantly over the three-year span. In 2019, the PFT was nearly $1 million in the red; today the union holds nearly $375,000 more assets than liabilities.

The PFT did not report any spending on politics or lobbying on its Form 990. Despite this, the union’s website shows the union’s legislative platform and features press releases that address political developments in Pennsylvania. On the Form 990, the PFT noted that it operates a political action committee (PAC). The union’s PAC, the PFT Committee to Support Public Education, spends heavily to support Democrats in Philadelphia. From 2019 to 2021, the PFT’s PAC gave $543,200 to Democratic candidates for mayor, city council, and the state legislature. During the same period, the union’s PAC gave a mere $1,000 to Republican candidates.

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers members also pay dues to the American Federation of Teachers. For more information on how those dues are spent, see the link below.