In the current economic climate, businesses across the country are uncertain of their future —with many governors wielding extra-constitutional “emergency powers” to determine which are essential and which must shutter their doors.
New internal documents from an inside source at the Oregon School Employees Association (OSEA), reveal even government unions are not completely exempt from the reality the rest of us are facing daily.
The Freedom Foundation reported in September that the school employees’ union had experienced one of the largest membership declines in the entire nation as highlighted in its federal filings.
Now, internal documents from the union not only confirm our report, but also rightfully attribute the monumental decline to the outreach by the Freedom Foundation.
An April 15 letter from Executive Director Rick Shidaker highlights some of the damage. “Immediately following the (Janus) decision, we immediately lost all public-sector fair-share feepayers (3,689) and went from 20,681 total dues-payers down to 16,992. Due to a combination of turnover and previously active member resignations of their membership, we have further dropped another 2,745 dues-payers as of March 31, 2020, to 14,247.”
Vicki Poyser, the chair of the union’s finance committee and apparently one of the brightest of the dim bunch, knows exactly why the membership resignations keep pouring in.
In her last committee report, Poyser states, “(W)e noticed that every time the Freedom Foundation had another mailing, email or contact, there was an increase in membership withdrawals.”
These massive defections have obviously taken a toll on the failing union’s budget. Shidaker reports, “(W)e amended the 2018-19 budget to significantly reduce expenditures from the pre-Janus budget of $8,447,246 down to $6,792,881.”
He further explains, “(W)e implemented a hiring freeze, closed field offices, cut phone lines, reduced travel and had management staff take a monthly furlough day.”
According to the Department of Labor, Shidaker also took a $10,000 pay cut.
Shidaker drafted the current operating budget with the rosy hope the union would only lose 25 percent of its membership. Thanks to the work of the Freedom Foundation, that number is now closer to 40 percent.
Remember, this level of uncertainty was the reality for OSEA before the Coronavirus pandemic. Since then, many school employees have been furloughed, further straining the already-narrow budget.
Thanks to our persistent opt-out work, and what have become chronic membership resignations, one can’t help but wonder if this pandemic will hand OSEA the same fate it has delivered to so many businesses.