WASHINGTON—AFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement responding to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ release of 2017 union membership data:
“Workers are joining together in unions because they want a voice in an economy and political system that they understand is increasingly rigged against them. Unions give workers the power to negotiate for higher wages and better learning, working and safety conditions for our students, patients and communities, so they have the freedom and the clout to secure a better life.
“At the AFT, we’re growing, because we care, we fight and we show up—for our students, our patients, our members and our communities; for public education, good jobs and affordable healthcare; against hate and bigotry; and in defense of democracy and pluralism. In the face of historic disinvestment in public education and services, political turmoil, and coordinated efforts by conservatives to ‘defund and defang’ us, the AFT has grown to more than 1.7 million educators, higher education professionals, nurses and public employees.
“Our success stems from our union’s pursuit of a voice for our members, based on deeply held convictions and a concrete plan for an economy and society that works for all, not just corporations and the rich.”
AFT membership has expanded by 17 percent, or more than a quarter of a million members, over the last decade—from 1,471,526 in July 2008, to 1,725,000 members by August 2017, when 40,000 educators in Puerto Rico joined the union.