We have not made it a secret that we think that unions should be run as efficiently as any business.  In fact, we wish that Goldman Sachs and other investment bankers had an opportunity to bring some sense to the often nonsensical union market place—but that is an article for another time.  For now, we thought you might like to see how the four major federal sector unions, namely, AFGE, NATCA, NFFE and NTEU, compare when the raw financial numbers are examined using their 2013 DOL LM-2 reports.

Membership (DOL Item 20)

AFGE     301,201

NATCA    16,213

NFFE          7,553

NTEU       81,766

Comment: No one is going to challenge AFGE as the biggest federal sector union in our life time.  In fact, it borders on fiscal malfeasance to even try to take the size advantage away from it.   If others feel a need to make up for the size disparity, they need to look to other kinds of strategic advantages.


Total Dues Income (DOL Item 49)

AFGE     $67,919,000

NATCA $23,064,000

NFFE      $4,657,000

NTEU     $31,413,000

Comment: Don’t draw any conclusions yet.  Wait until you see the next item.


Annual Dues Per Member (DOL Item 21a)

AFGE        $249.

NATCA  $1,418. (The average given that they are technically 1.5% of annual salary)

NFFE         $653.

NTEU        $384. (The average given its sliding scale)

Comment:  AFGE appears to have the lowest national-level dues. However, unlike the other three unions AFGE members often must also pay dues to AFGE Councils that supply the bulk of the job-site representational services. The VA and SSA councils charge an extra $1.50 per month, the Prison Council $3.60 month, and the Border Patrol Council $28 per month. For example, the Border Patrol Officer pays $585 per year to the Council and AFGE national office combined.


Assets (Total & Per Member) (DOL Item 29 v. 34)

AFGE     $56,700.000           $118.00

NATCA  $17,000,000        $1,048.00

NFFE        $5,600,000            $741.00

NTEU     $41,000,000           $501.00

Comment: Building ownership or the more liquid proceeds from a recent sale of a building appear to be the basis for these amounts.


Total Liquid Investments Funds and Per Member (DOL Sch. 5G)

AFGE     $17,000,000.        $56.00

NATCA        $446,000.         $27.00

NFFE        $5,200,000.       $688.00

NTEU     $31,400,000.       $386.00

Comment: None


Presidential Salary (Annually) (DOL Sch. 11)

AFGE     $156,000

NATCA  $296,704

NFFE      $150,000

NTEU     $266,500

Comment: There is no relation between what these unions pay their top executive officer and their dues size, assets, nor success. Compensation is decided by internal political calculations.


Number of Staff Paid Over $175,000 Per Year (DOL Sch. 12)

AFGE      4


NFFE      0

NTEU     11

Comment:  AFGE apparently allows staff to be paid more than the National President.  Given its unquestioned success over the last decade it seems time for that to change.  Give Dave a raise.


Number of Staff Employees/Number of Members Per Staffer (DOL Sch. 12/Item 20)

AFGE     282/       1067

NATCA   59/       274

NFFE        20/       377

NTEU     137/       591

Comment: None


Total/Average Staff Salary (DOL Sch. 12 & Item 20)

AFGE     $22,449,000/       $79,600

NATCA    $4,200,000/        $71,200

NFFE        $1,475,000/        $73,750

NTEU     $15,300,000/      $111,700.

Comment: If you are going to work for a union, this is a pretty good indication of which one you should work for.  However, the amount spent on staff benefits tells a different story.


Staff Salary Costs as Percentage of Annual Dues Income

AFGE     33%

NATCA  18%

NFFE      32%

NTEU     49%

Comment: None


Amount Spent on Political and Lobbying Activity (DOL Sch. 16)

AFGE     $4,600,000

NATCA $1,700,000

NFFE         $257,000

NTEU     $1,900,000

Comment: Given the potential damage politicians can do to federal employees and government in general, it seems like unions should be spending far more on this than an aggregate 6% of their total dues income.


Total Political Actions Funds Available/Per Member (Source: Open Secret)

AFGE                     $3,722,000                             $12.00

NATCA                  $4,074,000                           $250.00

NFFE                      Unknown

NTEU                       $637,000                              $7.80

Comment: WOW! Whatever NATCA is doing to generate this kind of money per member, the other unions should beg for the secret.  Admittedly, the average salary of a NATCA member is much higher than the averages of the other unions, but not this much higher.



In the world of investment banking, they would salivate over the fact that some unions appear to be better, even far better, than others at certain parts of their business.  That means there are efficiencies to be gained by driving some management and structural changes. Federal employees certainly could benefit from that, but sadly as nonprofits they do not have a Goldman Sachs to initiate the modernization. That will have come from somewhere or someone else.


About AdminUN

FEDSMILL staff has over 40 years of federal sector labor relations experience on the union as well as management side of the table and even some time as a neutral.
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2 Responses to

  1. Unionlvr says:

    Good article and it proves all unions are not crete equal. Also, if we are to make progres even with this Republican held legislative branch we better start working together or we’ll all hang seperately. Good work Fedsmill editorial board.

  2. BushWhacked says:

    The average salary of NATCA’s members is only a partial explanation for the disproportionate PAC contributions.

    NATCA was targeted for extermination by the Bush administration in 2006. FAA Administrator Marion Blakey bargained in bad faith attempting to create a lower pay scale for new controllers and implement draconian management policies. FAA used a legal loophole to cease contract negotiations and imposed work rules that changed forever the way air traffic controllers viewed political influence on their working conditions.

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