Statement on 2018 AFT Convention

Commonwealth Foundation VP and COO Nathan Benefield issued the following statement regarding the American Federation of Teachers convention taking place in Pittsburgh this weekend. The convention’s keynote speakers on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were three politicians each considered likely to bid for the 2020 Democrat Party Presidential nomination.

“The striking political focus of events like this only serve to reinforce the fact that the Supreme Court got it right in Janus v. AFSCME by ruling that government unions are political organizations and workers shouldn’t be forced to fund them. That fact is rendered undeniable when the three keynote speakers at a national union’s convention are three potential Presidential candidates from only one party.”

“While most teachers think of their union in its role for negotiating salaries and benefits, the American Federation of Teachers is a massive political organization. Last year alone, the AFT national headquarters spent $40 million from union dues on political activities and lobbying. On top of that, they gave out millions in gifts to other political organizations, including the Clinton Foundation, Center for American Progress, Emily’s List, National Council of La Raza, and NARAL.”

“Because of Janus, government workers have the freedom to stop paying a union if they so choose for the first time. The more Randi Weingarten and AFT engage in one-sided political rhetoric, the more they will drive teachers who disagree with them to exercise that right. We truly hope that as time goes on this change will make government union leaders focus less on the partisan politics that they’ve so passionately embraced and more on serving their members. Teachers deserve a locally-focused organization that provides them a strong voice with their employer, not a national conglomerate that serves as a platform for party politics.”

Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact Michael Torres 850-619-2737 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.