Unpacking AFT's Early LM-2 Christmas Present

‘Tis the season my friends. No, no, not for head-spinning shifts in store decorations (is anyone else freaked out by the jumbled Hallowthanksgivemas décor in some places?) or falling leaves or the first justifiable excuse to wear a frumpy sweater to work. ‘Tis the season for U.S. Department of Labor LM-2 filings for national unions.

I know what you’re thinking. Why, Eddie, would I want to dig through an enormous federal form outlining the inner workings of a union? Well, because you never know what you might find in there! About this time last year, the Independence Institute uncovered the fact that despite Jeffco recall proponent’s vehement denials of union involvement (since completely abandoned in favor of overt bragging), the National Education Association dumped $150,000 into recall front group Jeffco United. Where’d that revelation come from? You guessed it, NEA’s 2015 LM-2. You see, LM-2s are like early Christmas presents—you never know what you might find.

I’m not the only one who relishes ripping off the wrapping paper every year. The folks over at Union Watch also spend a lot of time unpacking the forms when they’re filed. I can only imagine their glee when they dug into the American Federation of Teachers’ 2016 filing.

Sadly, there’s nothing terribly exciting to report when it comes to Colorado. AFT doesn’t have much of a presence in our state, so most of the donations went to various local unions, accounts, or vendors. There was a $25,000 donation to the University of Colorado for the its school of education and what looks to be CU Boulder’s National Education Policy Center, but it’s no surprise those folks are taking union money. It’s been that way for a long time, and, to their credit, they make little effort to hide it.

But the lack of juicy Colorado-specific tidbits doesn’t mean AFT’s 2016 LM-2 has nothing interesting to say. Check out these tasty informational morsels:

  • AFT has about 1.5 million members nationwide.
  • AFT spent more than $300 million last year. Almost $29 million of that went toward political activities and lobbying. Another $77 million went toward “representational activities,” a category that often includes other work that one might consider politically motivated advocacy efforts.
  • AFT President Randi Weingarten made $397,763 last year. But remember, she’s all about the little guy.

The report also shows that—hold on to your hats—AFT overwhelmingly spends money on progressive, left-leaning candidates, organizations, and causes. Shocking, I know. From the Union Watch article linked above:

… there are no gifts to any group that is remotely conservative. Nope. Even though the teachers themselves are anything but a leftist monolith, practically none of the union’s money flows in a rightward direction. In fact, in all elections since 1989, AFT has given $76,446,797 to Democrats and liberals and just $363,000 to Republicans and conservatives. In other words, less than one half of one percent of the union’s political spending goes to the right. (And in those cases it’s usually supporting the more left-leaning of two Republicans running against each other.)

Sound familiar? We see a similar pattern in union spending right here in Colorado—though CEA probably won’t dump half a million dollars into the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative like AFT did last year. Kind of makes you wonder how much those vaunted “seats at the table” Mrs. Clinton promised to the teachers unions cost, doesn’t it?

I’m sure there are tons of other fun facts buried down in AFT’s latest LM-2. Feel free to check it out yourself if you’re so inclined. You can find the LM-2 by using this Department of Labor search page. We’ll have to wait a while longer for NEA’s filing, but rest assured we’ll take a good, close look at it when it is made available.

See you next time!