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October 17, 2020

How Membership Dues are Spent at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)

by Anne Paddock

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is the second largest teacher’s union (although membership is not limited to teachers) with 1.7 million members (after the National Education Association) in 3,000 local affiliates in the USA. A non-profit, tax-exempt 501 (c) (5), AFT is based in Washington, DC and is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO.

The most recent Form 990 (2017 for the year ending June 30, 2018) reports the following information about the AFT:

Total revenue was $229 million (up from $201 million the year year before) with most revenue coming from membership dues ($200 million) that start at about $70 annually for an associate membership  at the national level. However, there are various types of membership with most members joining a local, regional, or statewide affiliate of the AFT (membership requests are typically handled at the affiliate level).

Expenses were $190 million (excluding $1.6 million in depreciation) categorized as follows:

  • $61 million (27% of revenue):  Compensation
  • $21 million (9% of revenue):  Organizing
  • $18 million (8% of revenue):  Solidarity Funds
  • $17 million (7% of revenue):  Assistance to Affiliates
  • $17 million (7% of revenue):  Other Expenses
  • $14 million (6% of revenue):  Fees for Services (primarily legal and other services)
  • $13 million (6% of revenue):  Contributions
  • $11 million (5% of revenue):  Office-Related Expenses
  • $11 million (5% of revenue):  Payments to Affiliates
  • $ 7 million (3% of revenue):  Travel and Conferences*

* Includes first class travel. AFT paid for first class travel for officers and vice presidents when the scheduled flight time is two hours or longer.

As illustrated above, compensation is AFT’s largest expense. 398 employees received $61 million in compensation which equates to an average compensation of $153,300.  However, only 178 employees (45% of employees) received more than $100,000 in compensation.  The most highly compensated employee was the President, Randy Weingarten who was compensated $582,498.

Using the above information, every $100 in revenue was spent as follows:

$100:  Revenue

-$ 27:  Compensation

-$  7:  Other Expenses

-$  5:  Office-Related Expenses

-$  3:  Travel and Conferences

-$ 42:  Subtotal: Compensation, Office, T&C, and Other Expenses

 $ 58:  Revenue Remaining

-$  9:  Organizing

-$  8:  Solidarity Funds

-$  7:  Assistance to Affiliates

-$  6:  Fees for Services

-$  6:  Contributions

-$  5:  Payments to Affiliates 

-$ 41: Subtotal:  Organizing, Solidariy, Assistance, Contributions, and Payments

$  17:  Revenue Remaining:  To General Fund

As illustrated above, AFT spent $42 out of every $100 in revenue on staff and organization expenses and $41 out of every $100 on expenses that are primarily focused outside the organization (organizing, solidarity, assistance, fees, contributions, and payments).

Because the organization did not spend as much ($190 million) as they collected ($229 million), they were able to increase the general fund to $44 million (from $8 million at the beginning of the year).

The bottom line is that about 40% of membership dues support the organization (i.e. compensation, office, etc), 40% is used for “outside” services (i.e. payments to affiliates, contributions, fees, assistance, etc).

To read the IRS Form 990 (2017 for the year ending June 30, 2018), click here.

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