Less than 60 percent of caregivers are paying dues to SEIU 503

Less than 60 percent of caregivers are paying dues to SEIU 503

Less than 60 percent of caregivers are paying dues to SEIU 503

According to the self-titled “Northwest Accountability Project (NWAP),” an organization created by government union leaders for the sole purpose of smearing the Freedom Foundation, SEIU 503 “has higher membership than ever.”

But of course, that’s if you’re willing to believe the basis of the NWAP’s claim – an SEIU 503 blog post that no longer exists.

Newly obtained state payroll data tell a much different story.

Data obtained by the Freedom Foundation via a public records request to the state of Oregon show that, as of August, fewer than 60 percent of homecare workers (HCWs) and personal-support workers (PSWs) in this state pay any dues to SEIU 503.

That’s a drop of more than 40 percent drop since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Harris v. Quinn (2014) that unions like SEIU 503 could no longer force 100 percent of in-home caregivers to pay union dues against their will.

It didn’t happen all at once. In the three years since the Harris ruling, the Freedom Foundation has been at the helm of an ongoing grassroots campaign to inform all HCWs and PSWs of their right to leave the union.

The recent numbers show just how deadly effective the campaign is.

Not only has SEIU 503’s membership plummeted by 40 percent since Harris, but the percentage of HCWs and PSWs paying dues steadily declined during the summer months of 2017.

While a snapshot of payroll data from May previously pegged SEIU’s dues-paying ranks at 60.2 percent, the most recent data indicate that only 59.1 percent of HCWs and PSWs supported the union in July, and that number fell to 58.6 percent by August.

Not coincidentally, that’s precisely when the Foundation’s door-to-door canvassing efforts reached their peak this year.

The decrease in dues-paying membership among state-paid caregivers – SEIU’s largest group of represented employees – has taken a tremendous financial toll on the union. The Harris ruling allows caregivers to opt out of paying all union fees, which are typically about $500 per year for each individual.

In August alone, the Freedom Foundation’s opt-out campaign and “Decline to Sign” program for new caregivers cost SEIU 503 nearly $380,000, which has resulted in the union’s revenue declining by about $4.3 to $4.6 million annually.

Research & Government Affairs Associate
Ben Straka serves as a Research and Government Affairs Associate for the Freedom Foundation, where his responsibilities include an array of policy research and reform efforts aimed at supporting the organization’s mission through legislative advocacy and public policy expertise. His work has been published in various local news outlets throughout the Pacific Northwest and the country, and he has appeared as a guest on radio programs such as The Lars Larson Show, among others. He has regularly testified before the Oregon State Legislature on matters of labor policy and government transparency, has advised local government leaders on labor relations, and has represented employees in administrative proceedings under the state’s collective bargaining laws. Ben first joined the Freedom Foundation in 2016, and holds additional professional experience in the fields of real estate development and construction. He is a native of Eugene, Ore. and a graduate of Corban University, where he studied political science and business. He lives in Oregon with his wife.