Since the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 issued its landmark ruling in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), public employees have no longer been compelled to join or financially support a labor union as a condition of employment.
Overnight, union members across the country could keep their dues money in their own pockets rather than watch it used to fund the lavish lifestyles of labor leaders as well as fund political activities the rank-and-file often find objectionable.
Sadly, no one told these public sector employees of their constitutional right to leave their union. The vast majority of public employees were kept in the dark by their unions and by their government employer.
It’s no secret why these government unions hid the truth. Once public employees learn they have a choice in the matter, they very often choose freedom over union membership. It shouldn’t be surprising to learn many union members prefer to keep dues money in their own pockets in order to put food on their own family’s table and gas in their cars.
One Commonwealth public employee union in particular, AFSCME Local 13, has recently experienced a sharp drop in membership. In just an eight-month period from March to November 2021, according to data obtained through Right to Know (RTK) requests, AFSCME 13 lost nearly 1,200 dues-paying workers. That’s five employees every day who left and took their dues dollars with them.
This didn’t happen by accident. Since commencing operations in the Keystone state in 2020, the Freedom Foundation has been regularly contacting public employees regarding their right to opt out of their unions.
AFSCME members have been a particular beneficiary of our outreach efforts.
For the first time, Pennsylvania AFSCME 13 members learned their union bosses collected more than $26.4 million in dues — $7.1 million of which went directly to the union’s national headquarters in Washington, D.C., where it was spent on big salaries, lavish travel and progressive political causes, including:
- $3.2 million on travel
- $373,720 on food/catering
- $2.7 million on partisan organziations
- $440,000 sent to 14 groups that call for defunding the police
- $25,000 to DEMOS (Defund the Police and Prisons) group
- $21,500 to Coaliation of Human Need (to tear down the law enforcement apparatus)
- $465,100 to Planned Parenthood
It should come as no surprise that after learning where their money was really going, hundreds of AFSCME 13 members decided to leave the union and stop funding someone else’s pet projects.
Union bosses clearly weren’t letting their members know the truth about how they were spending dues money, so the Freedom Foundation did it for them.
Our message is resonating with public workers throughout Pennsylvania, and we’re just getting started.