The leaders of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 503 — Oregon’s largest public-sector union — have spent the past year vehemently denying a June 2018 U.S. Supreme Court (Janus v. AFSCME) ruling that declared mandatory union participation unconstitutional had any noticeable impact on its membership numbers.
By January — just six months after the justices had issued their decision in Janus v. AFSCME — payroll data from the state of Oregon for all state employees represented by the SEIU 503 revealed the union had lost 26 percent of its dues-paying members.
And a subsequent public information request filed in August for the same data from Oregon’s Department of Administrative Services shows the defection rate has now reached 33 percent.
“SEIU 503 is entitled to its own opinion, but not its own facts,” said Mike Nearman, Oregon Director for the Freedom Foundation, a free-market think tank that works diligently to educate government employees in Oregon, Washington and California about their rights under Janus — information the union tries just as hard to suppress.
Far from being insignificant, the numbers in deep-blue Oregon are some of the most dramatic recorded anywhere in the country. And despite the best efforts of SEIU and other public-sector unions to thwart its work, much of the erosion is in direct response to the Freedom Foundation’s outreach activities.
“It’s one thing to change a law or get a favorable Supreme Court ruling,” Nearman said. “It’s something else again to make the unions obey it. That’s what we’re doing here, and it makes a huge difference”
In most areas of the country, unions are losing members in the wake of Janus, but at a slower rate. On the West Coast, however, where the Freedom Foundation is active, more than 60,000 public employees have left their union in just over a year.
“People opt out of their union in droves when they know they can,” Nearman said. “Our experience here proves that. In states where the numbers aren’t as large, it isn’t because workers there are more satisfied. It’s because the unions have been more successful at suppressing the truth. Either way, it’s nothing they should be proud of.”
Media Contact: Aaron Withe, National Director