Bloomberg Law is reporting a massive drop in union collections in 2018 after the Supreme Court ruled against the forced fees.
Two major public sector unions lost nearly 210,000 agency fee payers combined in 2018, according to recently filed reports showing the impact of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that prohibits forcing nonmembers to pay for collective bargaining and other nonpolitical expenses.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) saw a 98 percent drop from the prior year, leaving 2,200 agency fee payers. The Service Employees International Union lost 94 percent of their agency fee payers, reducing the number of agency fee payers to 5,800.
The disclosure reports filed with the Labor Department last week provide an early snapshot of ramifications of the high court’s June 2018 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, which said mandatory agency fees in the public sector violate nonmembers’ First Amendment rights. Agency fees typically amount to 75 to 85 percent of full union dues.
The two main public teachers unions similarly lost their fee payers following the ruling, according to government reports and union representatives.
While the immediate and near total exodus of fee payers from public sector unions was expected, the long-term impact of the Janus decision will likely be measured in how many members quit. The ruling allows public employees in unionized workplaces to benefit from collective bargaining without paying anything.
“Most agency fee payers left,” said Patrick Wright, vice president for legal affairs at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a conservative advocacy group. “The big question going forward is how many full members are going to join them.”
The Mackinac Center is one of several conservative groups running campaigns urging public employees to consider dropping out of their unions.
Such a drop will have one of the biggest impacts on union lobbyists and campaigns run for ‘compatible’ democrats.
The early returns show little change in AFSCME and SEIU membership numbers. AFSCME gained by more than 9,000 non-retired members in 2018, about a 1 percent gain over the previous year. The SEIU lost nearly 4,500 non-retired members, which represents a 0.3 percent drop.
AFSCME reported a $4.2 million drop in revenue from fees and dues.
Outside of funds taken in, public sector unions have had to dish money out to defend against a slew of Janus-related lawsuits seeking fee refunds, and challenging unions’ power to represent nonmembers and their ability to limit when former members stop paying dues.
Of course, many groups are trying to put a good face on the change and talk about “anti-worker extremists” trying to divide the unions.
But the fact remains that there is less money now that certain members aren’t forced to pay for something they never wanted and was completely useless.