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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is FCFT / AFT? What is a union?
    A Union is as simple as this: it's people in a workplace, coming together to improve their lives through collective action. Unions exist in all types of industries and in every state in the country. Unions exist to redirect the power imbalance between an employer and employees like yourself. The basic idea is, "Power in numbers!" Your union is a change agent working to transform the nature of the workplace for members, FCPS employees, students and families. Fairfax County Federation of Teachers is the state affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)—a national union with 1.7 million members. Through your AFT union, you can come together with your fellow educators and advocate around issues that affect you and your job, including wages, benefits, and working conditions. When we come together, we have power to change our situation! FCFT hires staff to help members with everyday workplace issues, advise members who are being treated unfairly, and bring educators together to advocate to administrators, School Board members and other elected officials. Your fellow union members are fighting for you and your right to have a say. Strength in Numbers - Union members organize for improvements as a group, instead of as individuals. When we work together, this collective force translates into the power to make changes in your school for the better.​ Protection and Support - If your workplace rights are violated, or you're being treated unfairly, staff will be able to guide you on the best course of action. You're never in this alone. Respect - Union educators join, not because we’re against our employer, but because we love our profession and our kids. We know that the best way to ensure that passion is respected is to join with our co-workers and stand together. For more, please see our Who We Are page.
  • Who can join FCFT?
    All non-administrative FCPS staff are eligible to join FCFT. This includes: Teachers IA's, PHTA's and PHA's Specialists Custodial Staff Security Staff Transportation & Food Service Administrative Assistants Other Support Staff Retired Educators (through our affiliate, the Fairfax County Federation of Retired Teachers) and more!
  • Why should *I* get involved in FCFT?
    Can you think of changes that would make your school better for educators, staff, students, and families? How are you going to make those changes? Unions are always built on the strength of their membership. When we work together, this collective force translates into the power to make changes in your school for the better. FCFT is dedicated to bringing our members together, in order to use our collective power to advocate for the issues that impact our educators and our students. Additonally, FCFT staff help our members defend their rights. Remember, if you only decide to join your union after a situation arises at your school, staff cannot assist you with that situation! Union members pay dues so that members can be protected. If your workplace rights are violated, or you're being treated unfairly, FCFT staff will be able to guide you on the best course of action. Your dues help you with things that matter... Certification/Licensure Problems Evaluation Guidance Disciplinary issues - both employee & student (Member Specialists serve as a silent witness for members in disciplinary meetings) Assistance in filing grievances Short & long-term disability requests Legal assistance - employment defense* Advice on what you CAN do, versus what you SHOULD do.
  • How do I file an ADA form or Telework Request Form?
    Both forms are available on our Know Your Rights page. Please call or email the FCFT Office if you are a member and need any guidance filling out these forms.
  • Why should I join FCFT, isn't Virginia a right to work state?"
    Unions are fighting in every part of the country, no matter the legal framework. You are only powerless if you choose to be. In Nevada, culinary workers organized and built a powerful force for change despite Nevada's "right-to-work" laws. When educators and school staff organized in West Virginia, they had the same anti-union laws we have - but they showed that when educators come together, we have more power than we realize. We can change our public education for the better. These educators know that by speaking up together, you can accomplish more than you could on your own. When working people come together, they make things better for everyone. Joining together in unions enables workers to win higher wages and benefits and improve conditions in the workplace. We can also make the situation better for our students, especially those that need the most advocacy. As you read this, FCFT members are organizing to change the legislative situation by winning legislation such as collective bargaining. When we organize, the law will follow.
  • How do I join FCFT?
    You can download an FCFT Membership Form here. Complete and sign the form and mail it to our office address, 7405 Alban Station Ct. Suite 215B Springfield, VA 22150 or forward it through the pony to FCFT.
  • How does FCFT run? What is Union Democracy?
    Labor unions are democratic structures, and FCFT is a democracy. We hold elections for officers, and our elected leadership makes decisions on behalf of members, giving workers more power on the job. By getting involved with union committees and leadership, you can protect your rights as a worker. FCFT is a union that is locally-based within Fairfax County Public Schools and comprised of a large group of member educators with a charter from our national union, American Federation of Teachers (AFT). A portion of member dues goes to help finance the operations of the national AFT. If you have more questions about FCFT's structure, please email
  • Questions about Union Dues
    Your union dues are an investment in you and your coworkers' right to a decent work life. By collecting members dues, we're able to fund union organizing and advocacy efforts independent of the school system or wealthy donors. AFT Resources - A portion of your dues goes to the American Federation of Teachers. AFT uses these funds to develop resources for members: student debt clinics, ShareMyLesson professional resources for new teachers, and more. Office Staff - FCFT Staff (Organizers and Member Specialists) are paid through your dues, not the school system. Your union staff work full-time, helping you deal with issues at your school both individually and collectively. Union Benefits - Including AFT + Insurance, UnionPlus benefits, and more. Learn more by following the "Member Benefits" option in the top menu. Legal Support - If FCFT staff decide it is necessary to refer you to outside lawyers, that service is paid for through your union dues and confers no additional cost to you. Current dues rates are listed on our application form on our Join Now page:
  • Can the union spend dues money on political candidates?
    No, FCFT does not use member dues on political contributions! Your union only uses money that is voluntarily donated through our Committee on Political Education (COPE). Through the COPE Fund, FCFT raises money for legislative efforts and organizes together to make change in the political system on behalf of union members, students, and working people. ​ Through the COPE Committee, members decide in a fair and democratic way who really has our best interests at heart. Educators figure out how to apply pressure to elected officials, how to pass legislation that supports our rights as working people, and how best to engage in local and state elections. The COPE Fund is our union's way of ensuring we can finance this independent political action. The COPE Fund lets union members be truly independent - since we're relying on member donations, we're never beholden to political parties or to big corporate interests.
  • Busting Union Myths - What FCFT *Doesn't* Do
    PROTECT LOW-PERFORMERS Work standards and conduct are just as important in a unionized workplace, and administrators still have a responsibility to address poor performance. FCFT makes sure the hiring process is objective and FCPS polciies and regulations are fair and followed. HARM THE EMPLOYER People who form a union are more satisfied and productive at work. Joining in unions also reduces costly turnover and makes the workplace safer. WORK WITHOUT YOU We are stronger together. Unions are democratic, and union members vote on things like union dues, who represents you, and what protections and improvements you want to see in your workplace.
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