In a recent article posted on the Sacramento Bee’s website, the Freedom Foundation’s mission was validated by a report showing an increase in opt-outs during the COVID-19 pandemic among most state workers’ unions.
Many of these unions, including SEIU 1000 and AFSCME, blame the membership drop on the fact that they cannot hold face-to-face meetings during the pandemic. They claim this has negatively impacted membership rates among new hires.
But that’s only half the story.
For SEIU 1000, which represents nearly half of all unionized state workers, its potential membership pool reportedly increased by 3,277 while the actual number of dues paying members decreased by 1,248.
Unions have long counted on in-person, captive-audience meetings to increase membership rolls, and they’re so important that these kinds of meetings are usually baked into collective bargaining agreements with public jurisdictions.
Without these meetings, it makes sense that prospective members would not be joining at the usual rate.
While this could account for the lack of new members, it doesn’t fully account for the membership drop.
Luckily, we have the ability to show what happened to the 1,248 members who dropped their membership (and then some).
According to the Freedom Foundation’s own statistics, more than 1,600 SEIU 1000 members have dropped their membership during the same time period the story covers (Feb. 1-Aug. 1).
This is due almost entirely to our outreach strategy, which included handing out thousands of informational documents to SEIU 1000 members at their places of work and multiple email campaigns to inform unit members of their constitutional right to cease paying union dues under Janus v. AFSCME (2018)
This translates to a loss of $1.3 million in revenue during that seven-month period.
Since a SEIU 1000 spokesman declined to comment on the story, per the Sacramento Bee, we’re more than happy to fill in for them.
There are a few likely reasons that SEIU 1000 members would consider leaving — though you can bet SEIU 1000 wouldn’t want to speak publicly about them.
For one, SEIU 1000 negotiated a nearly 10 percent pay cut for its membership in the form of two furlough days per month. This was in response to budget issues in California related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While it’s unlikely SEIU 1000 could have done much to alleviate these, it could have reduced the amount of dues members pay to help make up for the loss to its members personal finances.
But it didn’t.
All of this has created a situation where SEIU is currently sitting at a 54 percent membership ratio, with 46 percent of unit members no longer paying union dues.