As its name would indicate, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees is primarily focused on government employees and therefore the vast majority of locals are exempt from the federal financial reporting requirement. Nonetheless, four AFSCME locals in Michigan filed LM-2 forms for 2006.

Of these four, however, one claimed that all paid staff time was spent on representation: Local 1640 (Community Social Agency Employees) in Detroit.[55] While such diligence would be commendable, we found it unlikely that staff had no duties relating to internal union administration.

Two of the locals claimed no money or significant staff and officer time was spent on representation in 2006: Local 1820 (The St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Employees Union) based in Bloomfield Township, and Local 2568 (Oakwood Employees) based in Lincoln Park.[56]

Local 1820 would file a similar report, indicating no representation activity, in 2007 and reported some spending on representation, but no staff or officer time dedicated to representation, in 2005.[57] (None of the representational spending is itemized.) Such a pattern is conceivable, but barely. One explanation would be that the local brought in outside counsel for collective bargaining in 2005, allowed them to run the negotiations with minimal oversight, and has had no workplace issues, such as employee grievances, arise since then. Local 2568 filed a report indicating no representation activities in 2007.[58] In 2005 the local filed an LM-3 form, and as a consequence we cannot tell what their representation activity might have been. If taken at face value, the reports filed by locals 1820 and 2568 indicate that the local organizations are almost entirely superfluous in most years and perhaps irrelevant in contract negotiations as well.

Ultimately, we concluded that LM-2 reports from all three locals were not credible. The remaining AFSCME affiliate in Michigan was Local 875 (McLaren Registered Nurses) based in Flint. In 2006, the local spent $126.43 per member, which amounts to 27.1 percent of overall dues. Of that, 40.2 percent went into representation, with union administration taking nearly a third of local spending (33.1 percent) and overhead slightly more than a quarter.[59]

Graphic 22: AFSCME Local 875, McLaren Registered Nurses (27.2 Percent of Total) - click to enlarge

AFSCME's statewide organization for Michigan is Council 25, headquartered in Lansing. The LM-2 for Council 25 indicates that the council's responsibilities are substantial, much more than is typical for intermediate union bodies; Council 25 spending amounts to $228.90 per member, nearly half of total per-member spending by AFSCME and its affiliates.

Council 25's spending profile is not particularly lean: overhead (38.4 percent) is nearly as large as representation (39.9 percent). Politics and lobbying make up a significant portion of Council 25's expenditures, 13.8 percent.[60]

Graphic 23: (AFSCME Statewide) Council 25 (49.3 Percent of Total) - click to enlarge

AFSCME's National headquarters take up the remaining quarter of AFSCME spending, with disbursements of $111.49 per member. AFSCME's national office is even less involved with representation, and more with politics, than Council 25: Representation takes up less than a third of expenditures by the national office, and is nearly matched by political and lobbying expenses.[61]

Graphic 24: AFSCME National Headquarters (23.4 Percent of Total) - click to enlarge

Breaking down representation expenses, we found that spending by AFSCME's national office included a larger-than-usual amount of overhead costs and an unusually large number of transfers to locals. To its credit, AFSCME had no significant entertainment costs, and there was little evidence that political spending was mischaracterized as representation, although a number of contributions, gifts and grants items (such as $73,000 in payments to Rainbow/PUSH) were to political groups.[62]

Graphic 25: Summary of Spending on Representation, AFSCME - click to enlarge

Overall, though, AFSCME comes across as a particularly inefficient workplace representative. We estimate that only 38.0 percent of AFSCME member dues are dedicated to workplace representation. Overhead (29.8 percent) and administrative (17.1 percent) expenses combined exceed worker representation by a sizable margin.[63] Our summary is shown in Graphic 26.

Graphic 26: Summary of National, State and Local Spending, AFSCME - click to enlarge

[55] LM-2 form for 2006 filed by AFSCME Local 1640.

[56] LM-2 forms for 2006 filed by AFSCME Locals 1820 and 2568.

[57] LM-2 forms for 2005 and 2007 filed by AFSCME Local 1820.

[58] LM-2 form for 2007 filed by AFSCME Local 2568.

[59] Author's calculations based on LM-2 form for 2006 filed by AFSCME Local 875.

[60] Author's calculations based on LM-2 form for 2006 filed by AFSCME Council 25.

[61] Author's calculations based on LM-2 form for 2006 filed by AFSCME National Headquarters.

[62] Author's calculations based on LM-2 form for 2006 filed by AFSCME National Headquarters.

[63] Author's calculations based on LM-2 form for 2006 filed by AFSCME National Headquarters.