AFSCME funnels union dues to Mike Madigan

Mailee Smith

Senior Director of Labor Policy and Staff Attorney

Mailee Smith
September 27, 2018

AFSCME funnels union dues to Mike Madigan

State records show AFSCME Council 31 funnels membership dues into its political action committee, which just gave a record-breaking $767,800 donation to Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 just handed a major political gift to Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan – at the expense of union members.

According to the Illinois State Board of Elections, Council 31’s political action committee transferred $767,800 to Friends of Michael J. Madigan, the longtime speaker’s election committee, on Sept. 24. It’s the largest political contribution the union’s PAC has transferred to a politician’s personal election committee on record.

Records show that union dues directly contributed to that transfer.

How AFSCME union dues paid for record donation to Madigan

Specifically, AFSCME Council 31’s political account – which is subcategorized as “membership dues” with the state board of elections – first transferred over $1.8 million to its PAC between Sept. 4 and Sept. 24. 

Then the PAC transferred $767,800 to Madigan’s election committee on Sept. 24.

That money will, in turn, be funneled to various Illinois House of Representatives candidates across the state.

This sort of political spending is business as usual for AFSCME. The PAC spent over $6.8 million between 2013 and 2017 on Illinois politics, according to records with the Illinois State Board of Elections.

As a chairman of multiple organizations, the top recipient of AFSCME’s political funding between 2013 and 2017 was Mike Madigan. Between his campaign committee (Friends of Michael J. Madigan), the Democratic Party of Illinois (which Madigan chairs) and Democratic Majority (which Madigan also chairs), the speaker took in over $541,000 from Council 31 over that time. Of course, this total does not include funds Council 31 sent directly to other Democratic lawmakers backed by the speaker, at his direction.

Filings also reveal that between 2013 and 2017, the PAC directed over $2,780,000 to the election committees of lawmakers currently sitting in the General Assembly. The majority of that spending – almost $2.7 million (96 percent) – was directed toward the election committees of Democrats. Filings show Republican election committees received only $101,000 during the same time period.

AFSCME Council 31 has claimed to be a “leading voice for working families in the state of Illinois.”

But its members may not agree with what that voice is saying – or with just how much of their money the union is using to be that voice.

AFSCME members upset by the union’s political spending do have recourse. They can stop their hard-earned money from being funneled to Madigan and his allies by resigning from the union and telling their employers to stop deducting dues from their paychecks.

For more information about opting out of paying money to the union, AFSCME members can visit

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