Founded in Chicago in 1916, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is the second largest teacher’s labor union in America, the largest being the National Education Association (NEA).
Members’ dues underwrite much of AFT’s political activities.
Since 1980, AFT and the NEA have contributed nearly $57.4 million to federal campaigns, an amount that is about 30% higher than any single corporation or other union. About 95% of political donations from teachers unions have gone to Democrats:
- In 2008, AFT donated $1,997,375.00 to the presidential campaign of Barack Obama, and $1,784,808.59 to the campaign of Hillary Clinton.
- The AFT endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race — Hillary and AFT president Randi Weingarten are longtime friends. Some AFT members felt the endorsement did not reflect the wishes of rank-and-file AFT members because they supported socialist Bernie Sanders.
According to Department of Labor filings, Weingarten, 61, earned nearly $560,000 in total compensation during the 2013-2014 school year.
On June 27, 2018, in a landmark but narrow 5:4 decision in Janus v. AFSCME, the Supreme Court ruled that public sector union dues violate the First Amendment by compelling nonmembers to “subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern”. Unions will, subsequently, need to gain the affirmative consent of individual teachers before enrolling them in the AFT and NEA.
The Supreme Court’s Janus ruling led directly to the cancellation of membership by a substantial portion of teachers in the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
Sean Higgins reports for Washington Examiner, Oct. 9, 2019, on the effects of the Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME ruling in the year since:
- AFT lost 76,000 members and $18 million in dues revenue.
- AFT membership declined 4% to 1.7 million members, and would have declined even more if AFT had not made a grassroots outreach to build up its membership by adding 8,000 full-time teachers and 8,000 retiree members.
- In a recent Labor Department filing, AFT reported having lost some 82,000 “agency fee” payers — from more than 85,000 the previous year to just 3,000. Agency fee payers are people who are not members of a union but are covered by a collective bargaining contract which requires them to pay a union a regular fee. The Supreme Court’s Janus ruling, however, means agency fee payers no longer are required to pay a fee to the AFT. The remaining agency fee payers are all at private-sector schools, because the Janus ruling doesn’t cover private-sector employment.
Conservatives must remember this when you find yourself unhappy with President Trump:
The narrow majority of five justices are Alito, Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, and Gorsuch.
The landmark Janus v. AFSCME ruling and the American Federation of Teachers’ loss of members and $18 million in revenue were made possible entirely because of President Trump’s nomination and the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch, who replaced the late Justice Antonin Scalia, joined the four justices (Alito, Roberts, Kennedy and Thomas) in the majority ruling.