AFT Dues Increases Will Support Legal Defense Funds
AFT delegates have approved dues increases, and a good portion of them will be put towards the union's defense efforts.
Overall, dues will increase by 45 cents per month this year and 55 cents per month next year, for a total monthly dues bill of $18.78 for each member by September 2015.
Of that, here are the special set-asides:
- A 55-cent-a-month set-aside for a Militancy/Defense fund in 2014, which will increase to $1.10 in September 2015.
- A 70-cent increase to a "locals in crisis" fund in 2014, which will increase to 90 cents in September 2015.
- A 30-cent increase to support AFT's Solidarity Fund in 2014, which will increase to 40 cents in September 2015.
If, like me, you're confused about the distinctions in these funds, here's a primer. The militancy/defense fund provides legal assistance; everything from due-process hearings to cases like Vergara v. California. The locals in crisis fund can support places like Douglas County, Colo., where the local recently lost bargaining power. It consists of staff expenses, communication, community work, direct assistance, and a variety of other things. AFT has apparently tapped this fund to help places like Pittsburgh, where the union and district disagreed about teacher evaluation. (This is as good a reminder as any that when you take on any AFT local, you're really taking on the whole kit 'n' caboodle.)
The Solidarity Fund, which was established in 2010, was initially for supporting ballot intiatives. Now, AFT officials tell me, it's become the avenue for legislative and political mobilization as well.
Also, as I reported recently, AFT has a number of other subsidiary organizations to support political work. Its Committee on Public Education funds candidates directly, while its Solidarity Fund 527 supports independent expenditures and issue-based ads.