Labor Union

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

AFSCME logo (link)


Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2016):

Revenue: $161,912,610
Expenses: $152,655,675
Assets: $146,261,708


1932 in Wisconsin


Lee Saunders

Former Presidents:

Gerald McEntee

Jerry Wurf

Contact InfluenceWatch with suggested edits or tips for additional profiles.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is the largest union for government workers other than teachers in the United States. Founded in 1932 in Wisconsin, a state that was for decades a stronghold of organized labor, AFSCME represents over 1.3 million government workers and over 188,000 retirees.1

ASFCME 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 and is a major player on the left wing of the Democratic Party. Its agenda today includes support for a government-controlled single-payer healthcare system, support for increased taxes and an expanded welfare state, opposition to entitlement and pension reforms, and support for granting legal status to illegal immigrants.2 AFSCME makes substantial contributions to and works with Planned Parenthood,3 the Alliance for Justice,4 the American Constitution Society,5 the Center for American Progress,6 the Service Employees International Union (SEIU),7 and other left-of-center organizations.

AFSCME’s president since 2012 is Lee Saunders, who is only the fourth president in the union’s 85-year history. Saunders is closely aligned with the organized Left, and is a member of the Democracy Alliance board of directors and the Democratic National Committee.


AFSCME was organized in the early 1930s, during the period when modern American labor laws—most notably the private-sector National Labor Relations Act—began to take shape. The union received a charter from the then-American Federation of Labor (a forerunner organization to the modern AFL-CIO) in 1936.8 Arnold Zander, a former government civil service examiner, would serve as the union’s first president until 1964.9

Initially, AFSCME did not engage in monopoly bargaining under exclusive representation in the public sector. Policymakers such as generally pro-labor-union Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt expressed the view that “the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.”10

Public Sector Collective Bargaining

In the late 1950s, policymakers’ hostility to government worker monopoly bargaining began to ease. In 1958, New York City Mayor Robert Wagner (D) issued an order granting government worker unions collective bargaining privileges; Wisconsin became the first state to recognize government unions the following year.11 Wisconsin’s decision came after lobbying by AFSCME.12

Jerry Wurf Era

In 1964, Jerry Wurf, a career union official and the president of the New York City-based AFSCME District Council 37, was elected president of AFSCME, ousting 28-year incumbent Arnold Zander in a bruising internal battle. He would serve until his death in 1981.13

Wurf led an effort to obtain protection—known as the Taylor Law—against firing for striking government workers in New York. Wurf also made the union much more aggressive in its political activity, raising funds for Democratic candidates including U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) and President Jimmy Carter.14

A proud left-winger, Wurf also ended a Central Intelligence Agency-supported AFSCME program that organized labor opposition to foreign Marxist regimes.15 Wurf is credited with positioning AFSCME in opposition to the Cold War-era AFL-CIO’s support for American anti-Communist foreign policies.16

By 1970, AFSCME had negotiated 1,000 collective bargaining agreements, roughly doubling the total in place when Wurf took office.17 Wurf gained a reputation as a combative and militant union leader; he is said to have told Baltimore firefighters to “let Baltimore burn” if the city did not agree to union contract demands.18

Under Wurf, AFSCME membership grew substantially; the union reached 1,000,000 members in 1978 after it merged with the Civil Service Employees Association of New York (CSEA).19  AFSCME lobbied heavily for a federal law establishing mandatory collective bargaining of state and local government employees; no such law passed after the Supreme Court began to restrict the application of federal labor laws to state governments.20

Toward the end of his life, Wurf and AFSCME led opposition to the economic liberalization and fiscal responsibility policies of the Ronald Reagan administration.21

McEntee Era

After Jerry Wurf’s death in 1981, AFSCME elected Gerald McEntee as its next president. By the early 1990s, McEntee’s AFSMCE had emerged as a major force on the political Left, leading opposition to the fiscal policies of Republicans in Congress.22

In 1995, McEntee put his union behind the Service Employees International Union-led coalition that supported the takeover of the AFL-CIO by the union federation’s left wing under then-SEIU president John Sweeney.23 McEntee became Sweeney’s leading strategist after Sweeney won the AFL-CIO’s presidency.24

McEntee was credited by AFL-CIO political director Steve Rosenthal as “the main mover and shaker in rebuilding labor’s political clout” for orchestrating the AFL-CIO’s $36 million campaign to support the re-election of Bill Clinton and the election of Democrats to the U.S. Congress in 1996.25 AFSCME was shaken by the corruption scandals surrounding Clinton’s re-election campaign’s relations with labor. McEntee appeared to break the rules regarding contributions from labor contractors to the later-vacated Clinton-supported re-election of International Brotherhood of Teamsters President Ron Carey.26

AFSCME’s powerful District Council 37 in New York City was also rocked by allegations of corruption in the late 1990s; the DC37 executive director resigned along with two aides after the aides admitted rigging a contract vote and one local union president was ousted after claiming excessive expenses.27

During the Presidency of George W. Bush, McEntee and AFSCME continued to advance the interests of the Democratic Party’s left wing, even supporting the insurgent 2004 Presidential candidacy of Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.28 AFSCME loudly opposed President Bush’s attempts to reform Social Security and healthcare.29 30

In the 2008 Democratic Presidential primaries, AFSCME supported then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.). After Clinton was defeated by then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois), AFSCME and McEntee (who was also serving as chair of the AFL-CIO’s political committee) endorsed Obama’s campaign in the general election.31

In 2009 and 2010, AFSCME played a key role in designing, supporting, and defending the Obama administration’s $800 billion stimulus package.32 The organization also campaigned to raise public support for the passage of healthcare legislation that would become Obamacare.33 AFSCME’s director of healthcare policy said the union had played ““an important role in the passage” of the Obamacare legislation.34

After the 2010 midterm elections—in which the union spent a reported $90 million to support almost exclusively Democratic candidates—AFSCME suffered reversals in state-level policy. Wisconsin passed legislation limiting the scope of collective bargaining and removing union privileges to have governments collect union dues and to exist without reauthorization indefinitely; AFSCME led the unsuccessful opposition.35 In late 2011, McEntee announced his retirement.36 In his final months in office, McEntee received a salary of more than $1 million and about $100,000 in additional compensation, more than twice what he was paid 2011.37

Rise of Lee Saunders

In June 2012, the union elected its current president, Lee Saunders. Saunders had previously served under McEntee as AFSCME’s number-two officer, the international secretary-treasurer and was McEntee’s chosen successor.38 Saunders’s rival for the union presidency, Civil Service Employees Association of New York (AFSCME Local 1000) president Danny Donohue, challenged McEntee’s and Saunders’s emphasis on political spending at the expense of member organizing.39

Through the 2012 campaign, AFSCME directed its political operation to support President Obama’s re-election, vowing to spend $100 million to re-elect the President and his allies.40 The union would again back Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primaries, with Saunders appointed to the Democratic National Committee’s platform committee.41


AFSCME claims “approximately 3,400 local unions and 58 councils and affiliates in 46 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.”42 The union reported 1,299,644 members in 2017.43

AFSCME Council 31, which represents government workers in the state of Illinois, is 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.44 AFSCME and its local unions have defended the privilege; as of 2017, AFSCME reported 112,233 employees were subject to such fees under AFSCME contracts.45

Political Activity

AFSCME is a powerful force in left-wing American politics. The union’s support is coveted by Democrats planning to run for public office at all levels, and AFSCME’s lobbying and advocacy efforts support liberal activists nationwide. The potential payoffs are lucrative for AFSCME: Former AFSCME DC 37 boss Victor Gotbaum immortalized the dynamic in 1975 when he bragged, “We have the ability, in a sense, to elect our own boss.”46 In 2016, AFSCME national headquarters reported spending $20 million more on its politics and lobbying activities than on representational activities.47

2019 House Democrats Issues Conference

Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME, participated in a discussion titled “Standing up for America’s Working People” at the 2019 House Democrats Issues Conference. He was joined by Mary Kay Henry, president of Service Employees International Union; and Sara Nelson, president of Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. 48

Political Contributions

2010 Midterm Election

AFSCME’s political spending surged in advance of the 2010 midterm elections, rising from $19 million over the 1998 cycle to approximately $100 million for the 2010 cycle.49 Larry Scanlon, AFSCME’s director of political action during the 2010 cycle, noted that “We’re the big dog” in political giving. Scanlon was also explicit about AFSCME’s interest in seeing increased government employment (and implicitly, government spending); he told the Wall Street Journal “The more members coming in, the more dues coming in, the more money we have for politics.”50 The union’s increase in independent political spending was able to be funded by mandatory dues rather than ostensibly elective political contributions after the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC.51

2012 General Election

During the 2011-2012 cycle, AFSCME was the 12th-largest contributor to Super PACs tracked by the left-leaning Center for Public Integrity.52 According to the left-of-center Center for Responsive Politics, AFSCME was the 11th-largest contributor to federal candidates and committees, contributing approximately $13.5 million almost exclusively to Democrats and liberal committees.53

2016 General Election

Also see For Our Future (PAC)

In the 2016 presidential election, AFSCME was closely aligned with the Hillary Clinton campaign, with union president Lee Saunders serving as a Clinton superdelegate to the Democratic National Convention.54 AFSCME funded a super PAC, For Our Future, alongside a number of national labor unions and environmentalist billionaire mega-donor Tom Steyer. Observers speculated that For Our Future was a stalking horse for a potential labor-backed Steyer bid for California governor. In 2018, Steyer declined to run.55

In 2017, Saunders was elected a member-at-large of the Democratic National Committee on a slate supporting former Labor Secretary Tom Perez’s successful bid to chair the organization.56

Support for Liberal Nonprofits

A number of left-of-center nonprofit and advocacy organizations receive funding from AFSCME.

In 2017, AFSCME reported making contributions to the Campaign for Accountability litigation group, the liberal think tank Center for American Progress; the Fiscal Policy Institute, a state-level advocacy group in New York; left-wing advocacy group Progressive Congress; the liberal pass-through entity Sixteen Thirty Fund; the AFL-CIO membership organization and advocacy group for non-union employees Working America; liberal judicial policy groups American Constitution Society and Alliance for Justice; the left-wing fiscal policy groups Center for Tax Justice and Center for Economic and Policy Research; union support groups Jobs with Justice and Good Jobs First; the National Employment Law Project; the Partnership for Working Families; and left-of-center magazine American Prospect.57

Perhaps most strangely, AFSCME contributed $500,000 to a nonprofit associated with Hollywood director Martin Scorsese to develop a pro-union and pro-left-wing film curriculum for K-12 schools.58

AFSCME has in recent years made a number of contributions to exceptionally controversial left-wing organizations. After neo-Nazi riots in Virginia in 2017, AFSCME announced its intention to fund the Southern Poverty Law Center, a left-wing group which has been criticized for conflating mainstream conservatives with racist extremists.59 In 2014, AFSCME provided $400,000 to Planned Parenthood Action Fund, a 501(c)(4) advocacy group associated with the pro-abortion group Planned Parenthood.60

AFSCME has made substantial contributions to MSNBC pundit and controversial civil rights agitator Al Sharpton’s National Action Network; in 2017, those contributions totaled $50,000.61 Critics have suggested AFSCME and other unions used contributions to National Action Network to secure commentary segments on Sharpton’s MSNBC show; AFSCME president Saunders sits on the National Action Network board as of 2016.62

AFSCME is intimately involved in the liberal funding network Democracy Alliance. Saunders sits on the Democracy Alliance board of directors.63 AFSCME contributed $145,000 to the Democracy Alliance in 2017.64 AFSCME is also involved in the related state-level liberal funding network Committee on States, for which the union is an “institutional partner.”65 AFSCME also provided $25,000 in funding for Committee on States in 2017.66

Policy Programs

AFSCME is a leading defender of traditional defined-benefit government worker pension plans. Critics note that government worker pensions have strained state budgets, leading AFSCME to demand tax hikes to cover government benefits for government workers.67

The union has opposed a number of state-level pension reform efforts, including those advanced by the union’s traditional Democratic allies.68 The union responded to a report by the outgoing administration of Gov. Ted Kulongowski (D-Oregon) which called for government workers to make concessions on pay and pensions to stabilize state finances, AFSCME responded with an advertising campaign condemning it.69 AFSCME also attacked a pension reform in Rhode Island led by then-State Treasurer Gina Raimondo (D), publishing a report smearing Raimondo and suing to overturn the reform law.70 Longtime union ally Michael Madigan, a Democrat and the Speaker of the Illinois State House, was also condemned by AFSCME for attempting to make minor changes to the state worker pension system,71 which has been credited with nearly bankrupting the state.72

Like the vast majority of labor unions, AFSCME militantly defends its privilege to collect mandatory fees from non-members forced to accept union representation against efforts to adopt right-to-work policies. The practice of mandatory fees was challenged in a 2018 Supreme Court case; the respondent union was the Illinois state-level council of AFSCME, District Council 31.73

AFSCME has criticized ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft in favor of the incumbent taxi industry.74 AFSCME has sought to unionize taxi drivers; a number of Chicago taxi drivers formed Cab Drivers United (AFSCME Local 2500) to lobby on behalf of taxis against a free market in hire vehicles.75


United Negro College Fund

In 2014, AFSCME announced it would stop supporting the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) after the UNCF took a donation from the libertarian philanthropists Charles and David Koch and a UNCF official spoke at a summit hosted by the Kochs.76 The National Action Network, the controversial advocacy group founded by MSNBC host Al Sharpton on whose board AFSCME president Lee Saunders sits, praised AFSCME’s move;77 other commentators, including some from African American community publications, called for the union to restore its support.78

Extremist Candidates

The union and its regional councils have supported extremist candidates, perhaps most prominently then-New York City Councilor (now New York State Assemblyman) Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn). AFSCME and the Civil Service Employees Association of New York, an AFSCME local union, backed Barron in an unsuccessful Congressional bid in 2012 despite his record of associations with anti-Semitic groups and numerous extremist anti-Israel statements.79

Fraud and Abuse Allegations

In the late 1990s, District Council 37 officers were suspended by the national union after a financial scandal which then-AFSCME national president McEntee called an “apparent fraud and abuse.” The president of DC 37’s second-largest local union and three of his subordinates allegedly ran up $910,000 of unauthorized credit card charges and made $1 million in other unexplained payments.80

Janus v. AFSCME Council 31

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 public sector labor unions like AFSCME from forcibly collecting “agency fees” (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.81


Lee Saunders

Lee Saunders has served as president of AFSCME since 2012. He has worked for or served as an officer of AFSCME since 1978, when he took a position as a labor economist with the union.82 Immediately prior to his election as president, he served as the AFSCME international secretary-treasurer, the union’s number two officer.83 Due to his connection to AFSCME, Saunders serves as an at-large member of the Democratic National Committee84 and on a number of left-wing boards, including the boards of the Democracy Alliance, the National Action Network, and the Economic Policy Institute.85

Elissa McBride

Elissa McBride serves as the AFSCME secretary-treasurer. She, like Saunders, is a career union official86 and the former president of United Association for Labor Education.87 She is a former Youth Section organizer for the far-left Democratic Socialists of America88 and is married to AFL-CIO policy director Damon Silvers.89

Paul Robert Booth

Paul Robert Booth, a former strategist for AFSCME and left-wing activist, died on January 17, 2018. Booth served as chief assistant to AFSCME union president Gerald W. McEntee, and as executive assistant to Lee Saunders, McEntee’s successor. In these positions, Booth worked to ally the organization with Democratic politicians and expand welfare programs. Booth is credited with organizing a coalition in Baltimore, Maryland, the efforts of which successfully pressured the enactment of the nation’s first minimum wage law.90


  1. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Annual Report of a Labor Organization (Form LM-2), 2016, Schedule 13
  2. “Issues/Legislation.” AFSCME: Issues. Accessed September 05, 2017.
  3. “Are Your Union Dues Funding Planned Parenthood?” Family Policy Institute of Washington. September 9, 2015. Accessed September 17, 2017.
  4. “Alliance for Justice.” Finances. Accessed September 10, 2017.
  5. AFSCME’s Kerry Korpi Speaks with ACS blog. Performed by Kerry Korpi. August 25, 2011. Accessed October 6, 2017.
  6. “RELEASE: AFSCME—CAP Report on LGBT Discrimination in the Public Sector.” August 30, 2012. Accessed October 7, 2017.
  7. “AFSCME and SEIU: Unstoppable Unions That Never Quit.” AFSCME. Accessed October 10, 2017.
  8. “American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.” Encyclopædia Britannica. February 26, 2008. Accessed April 26, 2018.
  9. “ARNOLD S. ZANDER, LABOR CHIEF, DIES.” The New York Times. July 21, 1975. Accessed April 26, 2018.
  10. Quoted in Moreno, Paul. “The History of Public Sector Unionism.” Hillsdale College. 2011. Accessed April 26, 2018.
  11. Watson, Michael. “Government Unions after Wisconsin.” Capital Research Center. July 25, 2017. Accessed April 26, 2018.
  12. Moreno, Paul. “How Public Unions Became So Powerful.” The Wall Street Journal. September 11, 2012. Accessed April 26, 2018.
  13. McFadden, Robert D. “JERRY WURF, LEADER OF FEDERATION OF MUNICIPAL WORKERS, DIES AT 62.” The New York Times. December 11, 1981. Accessed April 26, 2018.
  14. McFadden, Robert D. “JERRY WURF, LEADER OF FEDERATION OF MUNICIPAL WORKERS, DIES AT 62.” The New York Times. December 11, 1981. Accessed April 26, 2018.
  15. “ARNOLD S. ZANDER, LABOR CHIEF, DIES.” The New York Times. July 21, 1975. Accessed April 26, 2018.
  16. Meyerson, Harold. “McEntee, Head of AFSCME, to Retire.” The American Prospect. November 3, 2011. Accessed April 26, 2018.
  17. DiSalvo, Daniel. “The Trouble with Public Sector Unions.” National Affairs. Fall 2010. Accessed April 26, 2018.
  18. Moreno, Paul. “How Public Unions Became So Powerful.” The Wall Street Journal. September 11, 2012. Accessed April 27, 2018.
  19. McFadden, Robert D. “JERRY WURF, LEADER OF FEDERATION OF MUNICIPAL WORKERS, DIES AT 62.” The New York Times. December 11, 1981. Accessed April 26, 2018.
  20. Moreno, Paul. “The History of Public Sector Unionism.” Hillsdale College. 2011. Accessed April 26, 2018.
  21. McFadden, Robert D. “JERRY WURF, LEADER OF FEDERATION OF MUNICIPAL WORKERS, DIES AT 62.” The New York Times. December 11, 1981. Accessed April 26, 2018.
  22. Greenhouse, Steven. “Countering the Siege.” The New York Times. April 12, 2011. Accessed May 14, 2018.
  23. Labash, Matt. “JOHN SWEENEY AND THE STATE OF HIS UNION.” The Weekly Standard. October 20, 1996. Accessed May 14, 2018.
  24. Shlaes, Amity. “Labor’s Return.” Commentary Magazine. October 01, 1996. Accessed May 14, 2018.
  25. Quoted in Greenhouse, Steven. “Countering the Siege.” The New York Times. April 12, 2011. Accessed May 14, 2018.
  26. Lewis, Charles. “Cloud of Corruption around Democrats’ Union Patron.” Center for Public Integrity. May 19, 2014. Accessed May 14, 2018.
  27. Lewis, Charles. “Cloud of Corruption around Democrats’ Union Patron.” Center for Public Integrity. May 19, 2014. Accessed May 14, 2018.
  28. Curry, Tom. “Labor’s McEntee Powers Dean.” December 17, 2003. Accessed May 14, 2018.
  29. “Unionists launch drive to win White House.” People’s World. May 23, 2003. Accessed October 16, 2017.
  30. “Statement by AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee on President Bush’s State of the Union address.” AFSCME. January 31, 2006. Accessed September 22, 2017.
  31. MacGillis, Alec. “Obama Meets With Labor Leaders.” The Washington Post. June 19, 2008. Accessed May 14, 2018.
  32. Montgomery, Lori. “Obama Team Assembling $850 Billion Stimulus.” The Washington Post. December 19, 2008. Accessed October 15, 2017.
  33. Ciaramella, C.J. “Road Rules: Union Edition.” The Weekly Standard. August 31, 2009. Accessed May 14, 2018.
  34. Melchior, Jillian Kay. “Leviathan Eats Its Tail.” National Review. August 12, 2013. Accessed May 14, 2018.
  35. Greenhouse, Steven. “Countering the Siege.” The New York Times. April 12, 2011. Accessed May 14, 2018.
  36. Greenhouse, Steven. “Gerald W. McEntee, Head of Afscme, to Step Down.” The New York Times. November 03, 2011. Accessed May 14, 2018.
  37. “American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees Gerald McEntee, Intl President.” Union Facts. Accessed October 5, 2017.
  38. Elk, Mike. “Saunders Wins AFSCME Presidential Election, But Big Questions Remain.” Thousands of Garment Factory Workers Across Cambodia Are Fainting on the Job. June 22, 2012. Accessed May 14, 2018.
  39. Cohen, Rick. “AFSCME Union Divided on Election Spending.” Nonprofit Quarterly. June 14, 2013. Accessed May 16, 2018.
  40. “Expectedly, AFSCME Endorses Obama, Vows to Spend $100 Million on 2012 Election.” RedState. December 6, 2011. Accessed October 20, 2017.
  41. Scheiber, Noam. “A Power Broker Who Wants Labor at the Table, Not on the Menu.” The New York Times. July 29, 2016. Accessed May 14, 2018.
  42. “About AFSCME.” AFSCME. Accessed April 27, 2018.
  43. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Annual Report of a Labor Organization (Form LM-2), 2017, Schedule 13
  44. McMorris, Bill. “Labor’s Last Stand.” Washington Free Beacon. January 13, 2018. Accessed May 14, 2018.
  45. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Annual Report of a Labor Organization (Form LM-2), 2017, Schedule 13
  46. Quoted in DiSalvo, Daniel. “The Trouble with Public Sector Unions.” National Affairs. Fall 2010. Accessed May 15, 2018.
  47. McMorris, Bill. “Government Workers Union Spent $20 Million More on Politics than Representing Members.” Washington Free Beacon. June 02, 2017. Accessed May 15, 2018.
  48. ”2019 Issues Conference (Brochure).” House Democrats. Accessed April 11, 2019. Available:
  49. Lowry, Rich. “The Party of AFSCME.” National Review. October 25, 2010. Accessed May 15, 2018.
  50. Quoted in Mullins, Brody, and John D. McKinnon. “Campaign’s Big Spender.” The Wall Street Journal. October 22, 2010. Accessed May 15, 2018.
  51. Rubin, Jennifer. “Forget the Chamber, Look at AFSCME.” Commentary Magazine. October 22, 2010. Accessed May 15, 2018.
  52. O’Brien, Reity. “Donor Profile: AFSCME.” Center for Public Integrity, May 19, 2014, Accessed May 15, 2018
  53. Center for Responsive Politics. “Top Organization Contributors—2012.” March 25, 2013. Accessed May 15, 2018.
  54. “Lee Saunders.” Ballotpedia. Accessed May 16, 2018.
  55. Marinucci, Carla, and Anna Palmer. “Tom Steyer’s Shadow Campaign.” Politico. October 17, 2016. Accessed May 16, 2018.
  56. Epstein, Jennifer. “Democrats Plan to Name Lobbyists, Operatives Superdelegates.” October 18, 2017. Accessed May 16, 2018.
  57. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Annual Report of a Labor Organization (Form LM-2), 2017, Schedules 16 and 17
  58. Watson, Michael. “AFSCME Funds Hollywood School Curriculum.” Capital Research Center. May 1, 2018. Accessed May 16, 2018.
  59. Goodman, Ted. “Big Labor Donates to SPLC Following Charlottesville.” The Daily Signal. August 22, 2017. Accessed May 16, 2018.
  60. McMorris, Bill. “Unions Send Dues Money to Planned Parenthood.” Washington Free Beacon. August 03, 2015. Accessed May 16, 2018.
  61. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Annual Report of a Labor Organization (Form LM-2), 2017, Schedule 17
  62. Melchior, Jillian Kay. “Unions Donate to Sharpton’s Nonprofit and Win Airtime on Sharpton’s MSNBC Show. Hmmm.” National Review. May 04, 2015. Accessed May 16, 2018.
  63. “Lee Saunders.” Democracy Alliance. Accessed May 16, 2018.
  64. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Annual Report of a Labor Organization (Form LM-2), 2017, Schedule 16
  65. Hart, Jason. “Wealthy Leftists Help Unions Bankroll ‘progressive’ Groups.” November 19, 2014. Accessed May 16, 2018.
  66. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Annual Report of a Labor Organization (Form LM-2), 2017, Schedule 16
  67. See among others Lentino, Chris. “AFSCME Pressuring Cook County Commissioners to Raise Sales, Alcohol, Parking and Cigarette Taxes.” Illinois Policy. July 23, 2017. Accessed May 17, 2018. ; Hart, Jason. “AFSCME Bosses Call for $559 Billion in Tax Hikes, New Spending.” Media Trackers. December 16, 2013. Accessed May 17, 2018. ; Sherk, James. “The New Face of the Union Movement: Government Employees.” The Heritage Foundation. September 1, 2010. Accessed May 17, 2018.
  68. Martin, Timothy W., and Kris Maher. “States’ Pension Woes Split Democrats and Union Allies.” The Wall Street Journal. December 30, 2015. Accessed May 16, 2018.
  69. Mapes, Jeff. “AFSCME Launches Campaign against Union Critics.” December 03, 2010. Accessed May 16, 2018.
  70. Clark, Anna. “This Woman Has a Solution to America’s Pension Problem.” Next City. September 1, 2014. Accessed May 17, 2018.
  71. O’Connor, John. “Speaker Madigan Wants Limits on Pension Increases.” NBC Chicago. April 13, 2012. Accessed May 17, 2018.
  72. Droze, Rachel. “State Pensions Could Be in Jeopardy If Illinois Goes Bankrupt.” WICS. June 20, 2017. Accessed May 17, 2018.
  73. McMorris, Bill. “Labor’s Last Stand.” Washington Free Beacon. January 13, 2018. Accessed May 17, 2018.
  74. “Cab Drivers United/AFSCME Local 2500 Statement on Uber and Lyft’s Price Gouging.” Chicago Dispatcher. August 15, 2017. Accessed October 24, 2017.
  75. Garcia, Evan. “Chicago’s Taxi Industry Is In Crisis: Can It Be Saved?” Chicago Tonight | WTTW. June 13, 2017. Accessed May 17, 2018.
  76. Sullivan, Sean. “Major union cuts ties with United Negro College Fund over Koch connection.” The Washington Post. July 10, 2014. Accessed May 17, 2018.
  77. Tuttle, Ian. “Sharpton Nonprofit Rebukes United Negro College Fund over Koch Money.” National Review. July 25, 2014. Accessed May 17, 2018.
  78. See Editorial. “Union Wrong to End UNCF Support.” The Philadelphia Tribune. July 15, 2014. Accessed May 17, 2018. ; Beatty, Robert. “What We Think: AFSCME Must Restore UNCF Funding.” South Florida Times. July 21, 2014. Accessed May 17, 2018. ; Goff, Keli. “If AFSCME Breaks With Black Colleges Over Koch Money, It’s Not Being Principled, It’s Grandstanding.” The Root. July 17, 2014. Accessed May 17, 2018.
  79. Goodman, Alana. “Unions Back Israel-Bashing NY Democrat.” Commentary Magazine. June 12, 2012. Accessed May 17, 2018.
  80. Haberman, Maggie. “HILL ALLY IS SUSPENDED IN NEW DC 37 $CANDAL.” New York Post. March 04, 1999. Accessed May 17, 2018.
  82. “Lee Saunders.” AFSCME. Accessed May 17, 2018.
  83. Scheiber, Noam. “A Power Broker Who Wants Labor at the Table, Not on the Menu.” The New York Times. July 29, 2016. Accessed May 17, 2018.
  84. Epstein, Jennifer. “Democrats Plan to Name Lobbyists, Operatives Superdelegates.” October 18, 2017. Accessed May 17, 2018.
  85. Economic Policy Institute, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2016, Part VII
  86. “Elissa McBride.” Social Transformation Project. Accessed May 17, 2018.
  87. “Elissa McBride Is New Secretary Treasurer of AFSCME.” United Association for Labor Education (UALE) – Home. March 2017. Accessed May 17, 2018.
  88. Vellela, Tony. New Voices: Student Activism in the ’80s and ’90s. Boston, Massachusetts: South End Press, 1988. Accessed May 17, 2018., page 233
  89. DePillis, Lydia. “Can Damon Silvers save Organized Labor?” The Washington Post. November 18, 2013. Accessed May 17, 2018.
  90. Smith, Harrison. “Paul Booth, Labor Leader and Antiwar Activist, Dies at 74.” The Washington Post. January 19, 2018. Accessed June 20, 2018.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Laura Reyes
  2. Brian Weeks
    Political Director
  3. Lawrence Mishel
    Former Economist
  4. Blaine Rummel
    Director of Communications
  5. Naomi Walker
    Former Assistant to the President
  6. Jane Carter
    Labor Economist
  7. Kevin Mack
    Former Direct Mail Consultant
  8. Harry Reid
    91 Lifetime Score Recipient

Donor Organizations

  1. Public Citizen (Non-profit)

Donation Recipients

  1. A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) (Non-profit)
  2. Alliance for Justice (AFJ) (Non-profit)
  3. Alliance For Justice Action Campaign (AFJAC) (Non-profit)
  4. Alliance for Retired Americans (Non-profit)
  5. America Votes (Non-profit)
  6. America Votes Action Fund (Political Party/527)
  7. American Bridge 21st Century (AB PAC) (Political Party/527)
  8. American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (Non-profit)
  9. American Family Voices (Non-profit)
  10. American Prospect (Non-profit)
  11. Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) (Non-profit)
  12. Americans for Democratic Action Education Fund (Non-profit)
  13. Americans for Financial Reform (Non-profit)
  14. Americans United for Change (AUFC) (Non-profit)
  15. Analyst Institute (For-profit)
  16. Ballot Initiative Strategy Center (Non-profit)
  17. Campaign for Accountability (Non-profit)
  18. Campaign Money Watch (Political Party/527)
  19. Center for American Progress (CAP) (Non-profit)
  20. Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAP Action) (Non-profit)
  21. Center for Economic and Policy Research (Non-profit)
  22. Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) (Non-profit)
  23. Citizens for Tax Justice (Non-profit)
  24. Coalition on Human Needs (Non-profit)
  25. Congressional Black Caucus Institute (Non-profit)
  26. Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (Non-profit)
  27. Democracy Alliance (DA) (Other Group)
  28. Democratic Governors Association (DGA) (Political Party/527)
  29. Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) (Political Party/527)
  30. Demos (Non-profit)
  31. Economic Opportunity Institute (Non-profit)
  32. Economic Policy Institute (EPI) (Non-profit)
  33. EPI Policy Center (Non-profit)
  34. Fair Elections Center (Non-profit)
  35. Fair Fight PAC (Political Party/527)
  36. Families USA Foundation (Non-profit)
  37. Fiscal Policy Institute (Non-profit)
  38. For Our Future (PAC) (Political Party/527)
  39. For Our Future Action Fund (Political Party/527)
  40. Good Jobs First (Non-profit)
  41. Greater Wisconsin Committee (Political Party/527)
  42. House Majority PAC (Political Party/527)
  43. In the Public Interest (Other Group)
  44. In These Times (Non-profit)
  45. Jobs With Justice (JWJ) (Non-profit)
  46. Keystone Research Center (KRC) (Non-profit)
  47. Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR) (Non-profit)
  48. League of Conservation Voters (LCV) (Non-profit)
  49. Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (Non-profit)
  50. MoveOn Civic Action ( (Non-profit)
  51. Political Action (Political Party/527)
  52. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) (Non-profit)
  53. National Action Network (NAN) (Non-profit)
  54. National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) (Political Party/527)
  55. National Democratic Training Committee (NDTC) (Political Party/527)
  56. National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) (Non-profit)
  57. National Employment Law Project (NELP) (Non-profit)
  58. National Partnership for Women and Families (NPWF) (Non-profit)
  59. National Public Pension Coalition (Non-profit)
  60. National Women’s Law Center Action Fund (Non-profit)
  61. New Mexico Voices for Children (Non-profit)
  62. North Star Policy Institute (Non-profit)
  63. Accountable Northwest (Non-profit)
  64. Partnership for Working Families (Non-profit)
  65. Peggy Browning Fund (Non-profit)
  66. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) (Non-profit)
  67. Policy Matters Ohio (Non-profit)
  68. Priorities USA Action (Non-profit)
  69. Progress Michigan (Non-profit)
  70. ProgressNow (Non-profit)
  71. Public Citizen (Non-profit)
  72. Repairers of the Breach (Non-profit)
  73. Roosevelt Institute (Non-profit)
  74. Run for Something (RFS) (Political Party/527)
  75. Senate Majority PAC (Political Party/527)
  76. Service Employees International Union (SEIU) (Labor Union)
  77. Sixteen Thirty Fund (1630 Fund) (Non-profit)
  78. SourceWatch (Other Group)
  79. State Innovation Exchange (SIX) (Non-profit)
  80. Texas Freedom Network (Non-profit)
  81. Texas Future Project (For-profit)
  82. USAction (Non-profit)
  83. Voter Registration Project (Non-profit)
  84. Western Organization of Resource Councils (Non-profit)
  85. Women’s Congressional Policy Institute (formerly Women’s Policy Inc.) (Non-profit)
  86. Working America (Labor Union)
  87. Working for Us PAC (Political Party/527)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: August 1, 1957

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2016 Dec Form 990 $161,912,610 $152,655,675 $146,261,708 $101,311,060 N $0 $154,213,597 $616,882 $3,514,284
    2015 Dec Form 990 $168,251,797 $140,489,972 $135,000,127 $97,251,210 N $0 $163,741,345 $277,821 $3,250,777 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $145,260,764 $159,739,199 $95,845,800 $93,197,627 N $0 $138,451,171 $180,976 $3,246,659 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $171,114,284 $149,583,075 $116,234,300 $89,481,899 N $0 $164,806,891 $172,954 $3,076,804 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $160,249,211 $176,072,015 $84,908,390 $84,415,051 N $0 $150,554,762 $270,578 $4,770,002 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

    1625 L ST NW
    WASHINGTON, DC 20036-5665