AFSCME Council 31 is the Illinois state-level council of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) government worker union, the largest union for government workers other than teachers in the United States and the largest member union of the AFL-CIO labor federation.
Council 31 has spent millions on state politics as well as a large amount of money in the 2008 federal election. All of the money Council 31’s PAC spent in 2008 assisted the Democratic Party.   
AFSCME Council 31 is the Illinois state-level council of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) government worker union. AFSCME launched a recruitment drive with state employees in 1974 and 1975, leading to the organizing of approximately 40,000 workers and the formation of Council 31 in Illinois. 
The national AFSCME is the largest union for government workers other than teachers in the United States and is the largest member union of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation. AFSCME engages heavily in political activity, is a major player on the left-wing of the Democratic Party, and supports left-of-center approaches to issues regarding healthcare, social justice, and corporate spending. 
AFSCME Council 31 spent a total of $101,652 during the 2008 election cycle. According to its profile on Open Secrets, Council 31 spent $71,101 for the Democratic Party and $30,591 against the Republican Party. 
According to Council 31’s independent expenditures, which are identified as expenditures for a communication that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a candidate, the organization spent $30,591 opposing the election of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and spent $55,466 supporting the election of Barack Obama. 
The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI), a non-profit that focuses on the areas of education policy, pension policy, and state budget issues, reported that AFSCME Council 31’s PAC spent approximately $6.8 million on political funding from 2013 until 2017. Filings with the Illinois State Board of Elections also reveal that nearly $2.8 million of that amount was spent on election committees of current state lawmakers. 
IPI notes that filings with the U.S. Department of Labor show that Council 31 spent an average of approximately $41 million per year from 2013 to 2017, however; $8.2 million of the union’s total expenditure was used for “representational activities,” which are used to represent members in contract negotiations. According to its 2017 filing, Council 31 spent nearly $1.9 million on “overhead” for union officers and employees along with another $1 million of “administration” expenses. In total, AFSCME Council 31 spent over $4.7 million in union employee benefits. Council 31 also spent an average of $1.5 million on “political activities and lobbying.” 
AFSCME Council 31 used even less of its revenue to represent its members in 2018, as it spent 17% on “representational activities.” IPI notes that, according to filings with the U.S. Department of Labor, Council 31 spent a total of $46,233,155 in 2018 with only $8,022,637 spent on “representational activities.” 
Janus v. AFSCME Council 31
AFSCME Council 31, which represents government workers in the state of Illinois, was the named respondent in a case before the Supreme Court concerning the constitutionality of mandatory “agency fees” paid by non-members of the union forced to submit to union representation in the public sector. 
On June 27, 2018, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mark Janus, an Illinois child support specialist, against Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. The decision, which overturned the precedent created in the 1977 Supreme Court case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, is considered a landmark case in U.S. labor law and First Amendment free speech rights. 
The ruling bars government-sector labor unions like AFSCME from forcibly collecting fees paid as a condition of employment from non-members. Under the reversed Abood precedent, government worker unions were able to collect agency fees in non-right-to-work states from employees who opted out of union membership. 
Before the court ruling, AFSCME Council 31 received dues and fees from 65,042 workers across the state in 2017. The number of workers that paid fees to the union in 2018 dropped to 57,000. Council 31’s membership numbers also dropped in 2018, when a net 995 workers left the union.