Americans for Fair Treatment
AFFT encourages workers to resign from their unions. The organization is "designed to help public sector workers exercise their First Amendment rights without fear of coercion from unions. Since the June 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, our mission has become increasingly important: government workers are now free to exercise their right not to pay a union and still keep their jobs, but the process of resigning from a union, introducing new ideas for workplace support, and avoiding workplace intimidation all remain daunting."
- 1 News and Controversies
- 2 Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
- 3 Ties to the State Policy Network
- 4 Funding
- 5 Core Financials
- 6 Personnel
- 7 Contact Information
- 8 Articles and Resources
- 9 References
News and Controversies
AFFT One of Several SPN Groups Working to Convince Union Members to Stop Paying Dues after the SCOTUS Janus Decision
Tracy Sharp, SPN's President and CEO, said her organization plans to “deal a major blow to the left’s ability to control government at the state and national levels. I’m talking about permanently depriving the left from access to millions of dollars in dues extracted from unwilling union members every election cycle."
Free to Teach
Free to Teach is a project of AFFT focused specifically on encouraging teachers to leave their unions. The organization spreads its information to teachers through mail, social media, and offers in-person meetings for interested educators. In May 2019, the organization sent a booklet called "Knowing Your Rights and Union Alternatives" to 4,000 members of Pennsylvania school boards.
Represented by the Fairness Center in Case Against Pennsylvania Teachers
The Fairness Center, another associate member of the State Policy Network, represented AFFT in Americans for Fair Treatment v. Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and School District of Philadelphia, a case that challenged "the union leave of absence provision in the 2010 collective bargaining agreement between the Union and the School District". The case was dismissed in November 2016 due to lack of standing.
Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.
Ties to the State Policy Network
Americans for Fair Treatment is an associate member of the State Policy Network. SPN donated $60,000 to AFFT in 2019. Members of AFFT's board are employed or were formerly employed by other SPN member organizations, including the Commonwealth Foundation, the Empire Center for Public Policy, the Freedom Foundation, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. SPN is a web of right-wing “think tanks” and tax-exempt organizations in 50 states, Washington, D.C., Canada, and the United Kingdom. As of January 2021, SPN's membership totals 163. Today's SPN is the tip of the spear of far-right, nationally funded policy agenda in the states that undergirds extremists in the Republican Party. SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told the Wall Street Journal in 2017 that the revenue of the combined groups was some $80 million, but a 2019 analysis of SPN's main members IRS filings by the Center for Media and Democracy shows that the combined revenue is over $120 million. Although SPN's member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, the Center for Media and Democracy's in-depth investigation, "EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government," reveals that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed corporate agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders.
In response to CMD's report, SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told national and statehouse reporters that SPN affiliates are "fiercely independent." Later the same week, however, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer caught Sharp in a contradiction. In her article, "Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?," the Pulitzer-nominated reporter revealed that, in a recent meeting behind closed doors with the heads of SPN affiliates around the country, Sharp "compared the organization’s model to that of the giant global chain IKEA." She reportedly said that SPN "would provide 'the raw materials,' along with the 'services' needed to assemble the products. Rather than acting like passive customers who buy finished products, she wanted each state group to show the enterprise and creativity needed to assemble the parts in their home states. 'Pick what you need,' she said, 'and customize it for what works best for you.'" Not only that, but Sharp "also acknowledged privately to the members that the organization's often anonymous donors frequently shape the agenda. 'The grants are driven by donor intent,' she told the gathered think-tank heads. She added that, often, 'the donors have a very specific idea of what they want to happen.'"
A set of coordinated fundraising proposals obtained and released by The Guardian in early December 2013 confirm many of these SPN members' intent to change state laws and policies, referring to "advancing model legislation" and "candidate briefings." These activities "arguably cross the line into lobbying," The Guardian notes.
Americans for Fair Treatment is not required to disclose its funders but major foundation supporters can be found through their IRS filings. Here are some known contributors:
- DonorsTrust: $255,300 (2016-2019)
- Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund: $100,000 (2018)
- Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation: $50,000 (2018)
- Searle Freedom Trust: $450,000 (2018-2019)
- State Policy Network: $60,000 (2019)
- Total Revenue: $1,171,026
- Total Expenses: $1,030,001
- Net Assets: $237,819
- Total Revenue: $375,029
- Total Expenses: $273,593
- Net Assets: $96,794
- Total Revenue: $38,000
- Total Expenses: $40,513
- Net Assets: -$4,642
- Total Revenue: $27,000
- Total Expenses: $30,871
- Net Assets: -$2,129
As of 2021:
- David Osborne, CEO, attended ALEC's 2020 States and Nation Policy Summit, where he participated in "Civil Justice Committee and Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Subcommittee Joint Meeting", "Workshop: New Education Polling Data with EdChoice", "General Session - Morning", "Workshop: Against Critical Theory’s Onslaught: Reclaiming Education and the American Dream", "Thursday General Session - Afternoon", "Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force Meeting", "Friday General Session - Morning" and "Friday General Session - Afternoon".
- Elisabeth Kines, National Executive Director
- Keith Williams, Pennsylvania Director
- Brigette Herbst, New York State Director
- Suzanne Bates, Senior Writer and Researcher
- Rebecca Whalen, Membership & Logistics Manager
- Cassidy Martin, Membership & Research Coordinator
Board of Directors
As of 2018:
- Michael Reitz, Chair; Executive Vice President, Mackinac Center for Public Policy; former Director and Legal Analyst, Freedom Foundation's Labor Policy Center
- Charles Mitchell, Secretary-Treasurer; President and CEO, Commonwealth Foundation
- Timothy Hoefer, Executive Director, Empire Center for Public Policy; former senior staff, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
- Thomas Riley
- George Coates
Americans for Fair Treatment
1200 NW 63rd Street No. 5000
Oklahoma City, OK 73116-5706
Phone: (833) 969-3247
Articles and Resources
IRS Form 990 Filings
- American Legislative Exchange Council
- ALEC 2020 States and Nation Policy Summit
- Commonwealth Foundation
- Contributions of the Bradley Foundation
- DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund Grant Recipients
- Empire Center for Public Policy
- Fairness Center
- Freedom Foundation
- Janus vs. AFSCME, U.S. Supreme Court Case
- Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
- Mackinac Center for Public Policy
- Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
- Searle Freedom Trust
- SPN Members
- State Policy Network
- Supreme Court
- Guidestar, Americans for Fair Treatment, organizational website, accessed February 8, 2021.
- Americans for Fair Treatment, About Us, organizational website, accessed February 8, 2021.
- David Armiak, "State Policy Network Unleashes Wave of Front Groups to Attack Public Union Membership", Exposed by CMD, July 13, 2018, accessed February 8, 2021.
- Free to Teach, About Us, organizational website, accessed February 8, 2021.
- Americans for Fair Treatment, "Free to Teach Sends Janus Booklet to Every Pa. School District", press release, May 20, 2019, accessed February 8, 2021.
- Senior Judge Collins, "Americans for Fair Treatment, Inc. v. Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Local 3, AFL-CIO; et al. (majority)", Justia, November 21, 2016, accessed February 8, 2021
- Fairness Center, Americans for Fair Treatment v. Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, organizational website, accessed February 8, 2021.
- David Armiak, Revenue for State Policy Network and State Affiliates Tops $120 Million, ExposedbyCMD, November 13, 2019.
- Rebekah Wilce, Center for Media and Democracy, EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
- Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
- Americans for Fair Treatment, 2017 IRS Form 990, August 14, 2020.
- Americans for Fair Treatment, 2017 IRS Form 990, July 29, 2019.
- Americans for Fair Treatment, 2016 IRS Form 990, August 8, 2019.
- Americans for Fair Treatment, 2015 IRS Form 990, July 27, 2017.