‘Which Union Should I Join?’

Every year when school starts, we see and hear the same question from educators and staff: “Which organization should I join?”

There are a number of educator organizations across Texas, and we know it may be confusing on which one you should join. All offer similar (critical) benefits like $8 million liability insurance, and the statewide organizations agree on a great number of public education issues. 

So what’s the difference? And why join Texas AFT? Here’s our pitch and our promise to you.

Our Proudly ‘Aggressive’ Union of School Employees

It is easy to get overwhelmed by the problems for public education in Texas or by the losses we experience. But to do so gives those who threaten our public schools even more power. 

The fight is important, and it must continue. In districts across Texas, at the state Capitol, and in Washington, D.C., our union and its members do just that: fight for your right to thrive

Don’t think we can make a difference? Ask the legislators who started forwarding their calls this spring to other numbers to get a break from our members’ relentless advocacy against vouchers and attacks on their schools — and for the respect they (and their students) deserve.

We didn’t win everything we wanted or deserved in this legislative session. But lawmakers knew we were there. And they know we’ll be there again in a special session.

Yes, Our Union

Let’s be clear: Even in Texas, all public school employees are entitled to join a union. Furthermore, yes, Texas AFT is a union.

Frequently, people claim, “there are no unions in Texas” or “teachers unions aren’t allowed in Texas.” As supporting evidence, they usually argue that Texas has banned collective bargaining for most public employees (true), as well as striking (true).

While those two rights are hallmarks of labor unions — and our legislative agenda always includes fighting for them — they are not what “make” a union. You can ask the AFL-CIO, with whom we are affiliated, or the IRS: we’re a union, not an association, and it matters. 

Know Your Rights: Joining a Union

You have a right to join a union. Our guide helps you understand that designation and what “right to work” really means. Get the guide.

What We Offer

Of course, we offer high-quality liability insurance and legal defense, as well as discounts and perks, for our members. But those aren’t the benefits we pride ourselves on. When you join a union, you should expect more than insurance, so we provide: 

  • Local Support: With more than 30 local unions and an Associate Membership Program with more local offices than any other Texas organization statewide, we are on the ground with you.
  • State Advocacy: If we want to keep teachers and staff in our public schools, it’s time for the Legislature to fully fund our schools so they can thrive. Our team is at the Capitol to make them listen — to you.
  • National Backing: Texas AFT and its local unions stand alongside 1.7 million AFT members across the country. Our affiliation with the AFL-CIO means the backing of working people nationwide.

What Our Members Say

This is not the union. It is our union — Texas teachers, paras, support staff, higher ed employees, and retirees. So we’ll let our members tell you why they joined:  

“After 28 years in education, things have gotten so bad that I just needed extra support. It seems there is an assumption that teachers won’t know the law and can be told to do ‘whatever.’ It’s so nice to have experts that can verify, advise, and help us through the murky waters that have become education.”

— Tyler ISD member

“I wanted more representation and avenues to my leaders in Austin. Teachers need aggressive representation and AFT seems to offer it.”

— Bowie ISD member

“For unparalleled support: academia, legal, and nationwide alliance from like-minded educators.”

— Katy ISD member

Our Vision for the Future

We are aggressive in fighting back against attacks on public schools, and those who work and learn in them. But we are equally committed to fighting forward, to a Texas in which public education doesn’t just survive but thrive.

Thriving public schools are fully funded, fully staffed, and fully safe. Texas can afford that. In a joint report with Every Texan, we did the math and proved it. Read the report.

We can win that future, but only if we work together. The best way to do that is for this state’s 650,000 public school employees to join a shared fight: our fight.

Two Texas A-F-T members hug each other.

Join Our Fight: If you’re a Texas school employee (K-12 or higher ed!), we invite you to join our union & our fight to thrive. Join online today.