Lack of Transparency About Relationship with the AFT

Brief Overview

  • Students in Cornell’s graduate student union (CGSU-AFT) found that the AFT controlling and intrusive
  • Similarity in campaign tactics between GET-UP and CGSU suggest AFT is at the helm
  • GET-UP has not released their contract with the AFT
  • A significant amount of money would leave Penn and go to the AFT every year
  • AFT spends a large amount of their budget on lobbying, which caused four union members to sue the parent union

In-depth Overview

Students in Cornell’s graduate student union (CGSU-AFT) have recently published a website outlining serious problems in regards to how the AFT influences their campaign, including a lack of autonomy when it comes to recruitment, management of member information and fiscal stringency. Given that GET-UP is also affiliated with AFT, we find CGSU’s concerns about the AFT  worrying.

Many of the complaints raised by CGSU members mirror GET-UP’s tactics:

The similarity between CGSU’s experience with the AFT and GET-UP’s campaign indicates that the AFT is exerting a significant amount of control. Based on the contract published by CGSU, we have reason to believe there is a similar contractual relationship between GET-UP and AFT-PA. We are therefore calling on GET-UP to release their contract with the AFT.

Based on the per capita fee payments, we also know that a significant portion of dues collected by GET-UP will go to AFT-PA, AFT national and AFL-CIO.  Using Cornell as an example we could see a significant amount of our money leaving Penn annually in the form of AFT dues. 

Part of our GET-UP/AFT/AFL-CIO union dues would go to support the union’s political views, the practice of which was upheld in the Citizens United Supreme Court case in 2010. One of the large unions that GET-UP is partnering with, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), has donated more than $25 million to political causes in 2016 alone, most of which comes from union dues. In fact, AFT’s prolific donations actually caused four of their union members to sue AFT because of their use of union dues for political activities. We do not believe that we should pay dues to an organization that would use our money to support various causes in which we would have no input.