How to Join

Do you work in:

  • A preK-12 school system (public, private or charter)?
  • An early childhood center (Head Start, child care center or family child care)?
  • A college or university system?
  • A local, state or federal government office?
  • A healthcare facility (hospital, nursing home, etc.)?

If the answer is yes, then the AFT is the place for you. We are not a union for teachers only. We represent over 1.6 million members, including: pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; and nurses and other healthcare professionals. In addition, the AFT represents approximately 80,000 early childhood educators and nearly 250,000 retiree members. Learn more about the AFT and unions.

Become a member

Membership in the AFT is usually established by joining an AFT local, a council of locals or, in some cases, a statewide affiliate. Most AFT locals are organized around a specific employer (such as a school district, a hospital or a municipality). Membership requests are handled by our affiliates and not at the national level, except for associate membership.

Form an AFT union

If you are interested in forming a union, start by contacting the AFT.  We will answer your questions, put you in touch with the proper state affiliate and regional staff, and try to connect you with other local leaders in your area.

As an affiliate, your group would be considered a location union or part of a local union. The group would benefit from the support of the state and nation union which is a federation of local and state affiliates. Those supports include organizing assistance when employees want to establish a union, bargaining assistance in contract negotiations, and research for bargaining or other issues the union may face in the complicated arena of employee representation. Members also benefit from legislative and political action work that takes place both at the state and national levels, which helps ensure that funding for your institution is maintained and that gains can be made for our members and those we serve through the political process.

Student Teachers

If you are a student-teacher or are enrolled in a teacher-training program of any sort and would like to join AFT, please complete this form and our staff will be in touch with you shortly.

Become an associate member

If you are a student, are not eligible to join the union through your workplace, or live in a jurisdiction where there are no AFT locals or state affiliates, you may be eligible for the AFT’s associate member program. There are two types of associate memberships:

  • Basic. For $40 a year, you will receive the benefits listed below, including the quarterly magazine, American Educator.
  • Advanced. For $70 a year, you will receive all the benefits listed below plus $1 million in occupational liability insurance and up to $10,000 in legal defense protection.

For details, please contact assocmbr@aft.org

Membership benefits

With access to a wealth of opportunities and resources, the AFT has something for you.

  • Working together, we improve the quality of the services we provide to those we serve, making our institutions better and stronger.
  • By standing with our 1.6 million members, we make our voices heard on the national, state and local levels.
  • By building a union, we improve our working conditions, our benefits and our ongoing professional education.
  • We don’t simply work in a community, we work with our community to better our neighborhoods and achieve social justice for all.

As an AFT member and through involvement in your local union, you have an advantage. You have the power to bargain; the power to negotiate; and the power to change things, win improvements, and accomplish the goals that matter to you and to the people you serve.

In addition, your membership comes with the following:

Find Your Local

The AFT represents 1.6 million members through a network of more than 3,000 local affiliates across the nation. Find the on closest to you.