Our Union

Affiliating with AFSCME

Join AFSCME for a stronger voice

Public services employees like us work hard to make our communities safer, healthier and stronger, and we deserve respect for our service. That includes a voice on the job. You already know the power of joining together with your co-workers to make improvements at work. By joining with the working and retired members of AFSCME, your voice will be stronger than ever.

The AFSCME Difference

If you are looking for the best partnership for your members, AFSCME's size, make-up and history make us the only choice for affiliation. In a time when public employee unions and collective bargaining rights are under extreme attack, it only makes sense to pull our resources together and have each other's backs. AFSCME members are proud of the work we do and believe that all workers engaged in public service deserve fair wages, good benefits and a secure retirement, as well as a voice on the job. It doesn’t matter whether the boss is a politician, a government bureaucrat or a CEO of a private company — public services matter!

That’s what makes AFSCME strong. We’re effective at fighting for each other, for our families, for higher standards at our jobs and for the resources we need to serve our communities.

Why Partner with AFSCME?

Autonomous local unions. AFSCME has 3,400 local unions and 58 councils and affiliates in 46 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Every local writes its own constitution, designs its own structure, elects its own officers and sets its own dues. In fact, much of our growth historically has been through affiliating independent associations who wanted to build power for their members by joining a strong national union. Every association has a unique history and internal culture. Our structure allows us to respect and retain that while accessing the resources of a 1.6 million-member organization for support.

We know public services. AFSCME's 1.6 million members work in every area of public services. We draw on common experiences when we are challenged with legal, worksite, bargaining or legislative problems and find solutions together. We also pool resources to elevate staff, research, training and other activities when one of us needs support.

A rich history. Our union has a history of fighting together for workers and the services we provide - and we have a history of winning against tough odds.

We were born in 1932 out of an association of state employees in Wisconsin - an association they managed to build before public sector workers even had the right to form a union. From there, they joined up with other public employees across the country to build the strongest federation of public employees in American history.

We have fought for and won collective bargaining rights, pensions and gender pay equity. From the 1968 Sanitation Workers' Strike in Memphis, Tennessee to the Working People's Day of Action this past February, we will continue to demand respect and recognition for all public service workers.

What’s at Stake?

People working in public service are under attack. In legislatures and the courts, big corporations, millionaires and billionaires are attacking the freedom of working people, especially those of us in public service, to join together and speak with one voice.

AFSCME members know how to fight back and are ready to win in the workplace. And we know that we will be even stronger with you. In places like Ohio, we’ve beaten laws that would strip us of our freedoms. At the Supreme Court, we’re fighting to protect our voice. And in hundreds of thousands of one-on-one conversations with our members, we’re ensuring that we keep our union strong no matter what attacks come our way. By joining us, associations will have access to the strength, resources and staff necessary to do the same.

The billionaires and big corporations attack our freedom because they know we are stronger together. They know unions make life better and raise the standards for all working people. That’s why joining with your fellow public service workers in AFSCME to fight for a better life is so important.

Quote from Reggie Gilliard

We Never Quit

People in public service don’t do our jobs to get rich. We work hard every day because we care about our communities. Public service is a calling, and AFSCME members never quit on the people we serve.

Learn more about the Never Quit spirit of AFSCME members and how AFSCME works.

Who Has Joined AFSCME?

Thousands of workers in public service across the country have realized their voices are stronger when they join with AFSCME. For example, in 2016, thousands of members of Public Employee Union (PEU) Local 1 in California voted to affiliate with AFSCME. PEU Local 1 members in California work for cities, counties, community colleges, school districts, libraries, courts, Head Start and special districts that provide clean water and other services. “We do the same work; we share the same issues,” said Lynda Middleton, a Head Start teacher in Contra Costa County for 21 years. “It makes sense that we stand together in the same union.”

Members of new AFSCME affiliates still run their own unions – you won’t be giving up your autonomy by joining AFSCME. But you will gain the strength that comes when 1.6 million members have your back!

Quote from Brandon Fifer

Joining AFSCME Through the Years

Hundreds of thousands of independent association members have voted to affiliate with AFSCME. Here’s some of the history of how they’ve helped grow AFSCME even stronger.

  • 1970s: More than 60 independent associations affiliate with AFSCME, including HGEA and UPW in Hawaii.
  • 1978: CSEA's 250,000 members vote to affiliate with AFSCME, pushing us over the million-member mark.
  • 1980s: NUHHCE, OCSEA, OAPSE, and ASEA all join AFSCME.
  • 1990s: Local 1902 and UDW affiliate with AFSCME.
  • 2000s-present: PSEA, AMEA, PEU and dozens of other independent unions join AFSCME so we can be stronger together.

AFSCME Member Resources

Joining AFSCME means benefits and discounts not available to individuals or smaller organizations. The AFSCME Advantage programs offer many money-saving benefits for working and retiree members. Members have access and discounts to benefits that are essential to your everyday living.

Popular benefits include:

Jennifer Bach's Quote