Texas AFT FAQs

 

About Texas AFT

What is Texas AFT?

Texas AFT is a statewide union that exists to serve its members and local unions. Texas AFT currently has more than 65,000 members statewide, either through local unions or our Associate Membership Program.

When you join a local union, you automatically become a member in the statewide organization, Texas AFT, and our national organization, the American Federation of Teachers. Likewise, when you join the Associate Membership Program (AMP) for districts not covered by one of our local unions, you also become part of the Texas AFT and AFT family.

Texas AFT provides lobbyists at the Texas Legislature, the Texas Education Agency, the Teacher Retirement System and other education-related state bodies. Campaigns for statewide pay raises, state-paid health insurance, and our successful initiative to pass the Safe Schools Act are examples of the advocacy activities of Texas AFT members and its team of registered lobbyists.

What does my local union do?

Texas AFT believes the local union is the key to promoting the interests of educational employees. Local school boards hire and fire, create work rules, decide local pay raises and implement initiatives that help or hurt employees on campuses. Texas AFT members have the greatest power over school boards if we’re organized to make our voices heard at the board level and at the ballot box during school board elections.

Members of local unions elect a president and a secretary-treasurer at state conventions in odd-numbered years, and the state organization is governed by an executive board made up of locally elected presidents. These local presidents provide ongoing policy direction to Texas AFT officers.

Are unions illegal in Texas?

No.

The state of Texas has many private and public sector employee unions. We are a union.

Texas’ status as a “right-to-work” state means union membership isn’t compulsory — not illegal.

That said, Texas is one of only a handful of states that denies collective bargaining to public employees. So our employment contracts generally are dictated to us by our local school boards. We believe local educational employees should have the right to negotiate a written contract with the local school board.

Until we can change this discriminatory law, we strive at the local level to enter into “elected consultation” arrangements with local school boards to do what is possible now to protect and promote the interests of educational employees.

We have won elected consultation in Corpus Christi, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin and South San Antonio, allowing us to serve as the single, strong voice for educational employees in local policy-making.

Does AFT have a local union in all 1,140 Texas school districts?

Not yet. But we do have members in some 890 school districts in Texas through our Associate Membership Program (AMP).

How does a local union form?

Always, we’re on the alert for members in districts without a local union who are willing to make the commitment and assume the leadership necessary for one to survive and thrive.

We know that for educational employees to have the best representation possible, a local union is essential. A major responsibility of Texas AFT field staff is to support members wanting to lead local unions, taking charge of operating largely independent and autonomous units in their particular school districts. This support system lets local leaders progress at their own pace until they’re ready to assume the responsibilities and privileges of managing their own local union.

Membership

What are some of the benefits of membership in Texas AFT?

Of course, we provide the important occupational liability insurance for our members. But your Texas AFT membership is about more than covering your bases. It’s about giving you the tools you need to succeed in your professional life, and building our collective power as educators.

Check out our member benefits page for the full breakdown of what your Texas AFT membership means.

Can the union help me be a better teacher or school employee?

Yes. Texas AFT and many of our local unions provide professional development classes throughout the year. The nonprofit Bridges Professional Development Institute offers virtual and in-person instruction on educators, technology trainings and other professional topics. Your Texas AFT membership also gives you access to resources like Share My Lesson, an educator-curated database of lesson plans.

How do I join Texas AFT?

When you join a local union or the Associate Membership Program, you automatically become a member Texas AFT and the American Federation of Teachers.

How much does Texas AFT membership cost?

Your dues depend on the type of membership. Associate Members — without a local union — pay as low as $9.59 per month.

Dues are higher for members of local unions, because the bulk of those dues goes directly toward supporting that local operation. The amount will vary based on the decisions of local union members.

Can the union use my dues money for contributions to political campaigns?

No. Texas law forbids the use of union dues money to contribute to candidates for public office. Your membership in the union is sought after and welcome regardless of your political views or your affiliation with any political party.

Texas AFT and some local unions have political action committees (PACs) to which you can contribute voluntarily. Our union’s democratically elected governing board periodically reviews the records of candidates for public office and makes endorsements and contributions from these political funds to support candidates who have supported public education and public education employees.

If you want to help us elect better bosses at the ballot box, you can make a small monthly contribution to our political fund today.

How do I know that the Texas AFT local is the best organization to join?

Though we may not be the cheapest organization for educators, we believe we provide the most value. When looking at options, we ask you to take the long view of what’s best for public education and for you as an employee.

If you believe it’s important to have strong representation at the national, state and local levels, then the Texas Classroom Teachers Association (TCTA) and the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE), with state-only membership platforms, don’t measure up.

If you believe it’s difficult or even impossible for an organization to represent both administrators and non-administrators at the same time, then membership in ATPE is not an option. ATPE accepts principals, superintendents and other administrators—the very same people with whom you may have a conflict — as members. Would you hire a lawyer to defend you who was also employed by the prosecution?

If you believe it takes a campus team to educate a child — and that team includes all non-supervisory personnel on your campus including the bus driver, the cafeteria worker, the custodian, and other support personnel — then the TCTA isn’t for you; those employees aren’t accepted as members.

If you believe that even members in areas too small, too remote or without available strong local leadership deserve some opportunity to join a union at a dues amount they can justify, then you’ll appreciate our Associate Membership Program. The Texas State Teachers Association (the state affiliate of the National Education Association) doesn’t offer this approach.

If you believe passionately in public education as the very bedrock of democracy, believe that democracy deserves to be extended into the workplace to include collective bargaining for all educational employees, and that you get what you pay for, then you will be at home with membership in Texas AFT.

How will I know I’m a member?

You will receive a membership packet of information about benefits within a month of joining. If you don’t hear from us, please call your local or state affiliate (1-800-222-3827), and we will make sure your contact information is up-to-date and these resources are on their way to you.