Unions have lost hundreds of thousands of members since SCOTUS decision on forced dues

Tim Pearce, DCNF

Three of the largest public sector unions in the United States have lost hundreds of thousands of members and agency fee payers since the Supreme Court banned forced dues last year, according to data reviewed by the Mackinac Center.

Image: Union protest, Wikimedia

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 27, 2018, in the case Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees ruled that forcing an employee to pay dues to a union in order to hold a government job violates that employee’s First Amendment rights.

The court ruling freed millions of public employees from having to pay union dues and fees in order to hold a job working for the government. Federal filings reviewed by the Mackinac Center suggest that public sector unions have taken a significant hit from losing members and fee payers since the decision.

Annual federal filings show that the National Education Association (NEA); American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) have lost a combined 278,804 members and fee payers from each organization’s last report before the Janus decision to the first report after it.

The NEA’s membership and fee-payer count dropped from 2,666,339 on its Nov. 28, 2017, report to 2,591,602 in its Nov. 29, 2018, report, a total loss of 74,737 dues payers.

AFSCME lost 100,921 members and fee-payers in the year between March 28, 2018, to March 26, 2019, an 8 percent drop. The SEIU saw a similar drop of 103,146 members and fee-payers from March 29, 2018, to March 29, 2019, a loss of 5.2 percent.

For each union, the largest drop occurred in their reported numbers for agency fee payers, those workers that are not considered union members but pay a percentage of the full membership dues rate. The AFSCME and SEIU reported a total of 216,734 fee payers on their rolls before the Supreme Court decision. After Janus, both unions recorded just 8,027 fee payers.

The NEA 87,764 agency fee payers before the decision. The section was left blank in its first report after Janus.

The membership and agency fee payer losses amount to the three unions losing about $181 million in annual revenue, according to the Mackinac Center.

The unions did not immediately return a request for comment.

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