The AFSCME International Convention: Union Democracy in Action


Every two years, thousands of AFSCME members and retirees from across the nation get together to discuss issues of vital importance to our communities, our workplaces and our union. Through open discussion of the issues that matter to public service workers and working families, delegates set our union’s priorities, renew shared commitments and strategize to make us stronger.

In the last few years, our communities have faced historic challenges, and public service workers, many of them on the front lines, have responded with bravery and determination. As union members, we have confronted existential threats, but we have shown that we can rise up, never quit and remain all together. As a result, we are stronger than ever.

Since the founding of our union in 1932, there have been 45 International Conventions. This year, for our 46th gathering, we are Front Line and Fearless.

We are Front Line and Fearless

Convention delegates are elected in a democratic process by their fellow AFSCME members.

Most locals, councils and retiree chapters have representation at convention, which, when in session, is the highest governing body of our union. The AFSCME International Constitution offers guidance regarding how to become a delegate, as well as the allotment of delegates to convention.

Delegates debate and vote on resolutions, connect and network with other workers in their fields, share knowledge and learn the skills to become better activists and organizers.

Union leaders are elected by convention delegates.

Every four years, we must elect the officers who will lead our union. Through a democratic process that gives every member the opportunity to make their voice heard, secret ballots are cast for International union president, secretary-treasurer and vice presidents.

This year, we will elect the officers who will lead our union for the next four years. A description of the voting process can be found in the Delegate Guide and on the website. Voting times and locations will be posted on the website and on the Convention App.  

Convention business begins months before the event, with AFSCME members and retirees discussing issues of vital importance to our communities at the local level.

Some of these discussions lead to proposed resolutions and constitutional amendments that are sent to the international secretary-treasurer. The International Union distributes copies of these resolutions and constitutional amendments to convention delegates for them to debate and vote on.

In a gathering of several thousand people, rules of order are essential to conduct business in an organized and democratic way. Delegates who participate in debate must familiarize themselves with the rules of convention, which include when and how to address the floor. Robert’s Rules of Order is also helpful.

AFSCME members share their personal stories of public service.

A crowd favorite of the convention floor program is AFSCME members sharing their passion for public service through personal stories of dedication and hard work. 

It’s the story of what makes our union unique: our never quit spirit.

AFSCME members also hear from political leaders and thought leaders who share our values.

Convention is an opportunity to become a better union activist.

Through workshops and group discussions, members can share their own expertise and learn from veteran activists on a wide variety of topics – political action, organizing, communications and more.

During convention, AFSCME members also engage in community action. 

As AFSCME President Lee Saunders put it, “The convention is where we chart the future of our union and where you can become a better warrior for public service workers everywhere. It’s the place where AFSCME members from every corner of America who make their communities better every single day can be all together. I welcome you to the convention and look forward to working with you to make AFSCME the best union we can be.”

Union governance is 
what convention is mostly about But delegates also...

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How do I follow along? 

On our convention website, you’ll find the latest news on official convention business and related activities, including blogs, photos and videos of delegates hard at work making our union stronger.

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