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The AFSCME Difference

With people in public service and our freedom to bargain together under attack, it’s vital for us to stand together more than ever. For independent associations looking for a strong partnership for the future, AFSCME is clearly the best choice. With members who share their devotion to making their communities safer and stronger, AFSCME has the history and the resources to help independent associations face their challenges head-on.

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.

Julie Martin

"We joined with AFSCME because we saw the power in numbers. By working together with AFSCME, we voted in new school board members who support workers and who understand the important contributions we make to our school district."

Julie Martin Nutrition Services manager, Kentucky, AFSCME Local 40

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 large organization for support.

We know public services. AFSCME 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.

Reggie Gilliard

"Custodians are the front line of defense for any school, and now with AFSCME New Jersey we can move forward and become stronger than we were before."

Reggie Gilliard Head Custodian, Dunn Middle School, Trenton, NJ

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. When the Supreme Court sided with corporate special interests in the Janus vs. AFSCME case, workers spoke out more strongly than ever that we need to protect our right to stand together in strong unions. 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.

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 affiliates run our own unions – you won’t be giving up your autonomy by joining AFSCME. But you will gain the strength that comes when we have your back!

Brandon Fifer

"We wanted to strengthen our union, improve our operations, and better engage with our membership ... but those tasks seemed insurmountable. We saw what AFSCME has been doing to help locals like us across the country and decided that we wanted to be a part of that movement. AFSCME has helped our local strategize, organize, and make results materialize. AFSCME has helped us build a better union."

Brandon Fifer Alaska, Anchorage Municipal Employees Association (AMEA)

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:

  • AFSCME FREE College: Move forward in your career with a new 100 percent free online associate degree from Eastern Gateway Community College. Available to AFSCME members and their families.
  • Scholarships: Take advantage of several that are available. Take the time to learn about them and apply.
  • AFSCME Advantage Credit Card: Pay no annual fee and become eligible for job-loss benefits.
  • Accidental Death Insurance: Get up to $20,000 of accidental death insurance at no cost.
  • AT&T Wireless: Save 15 percent on individual and family plans.
  • Auto Insurance: Save hundreds of dollars, add homeowners insurance and save even more.
  • Credit Counseling: Get a FREE consumer credit counseling session and get back on the road to financial recovery.
  • Legal Service: Get attorney references and a half-hour of no-cost consultation.
  • Mortgage Program: Receive a gift card ranging from $300 to $750 after closing.