SEIU’s Sinking Ship

SEIU’s Sinking Ship

SEIU’s Sinking Ship

In the six months that have passed since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, government unions have downplayed its impacts and pooh-poohed the notion that membership has dwindled.

Service Employees International Union Local 503 (SEIU 503), formerly the largest government union in Oregon, even told Marketplace in September 2018 that “…its membership is up — with new members outnumbering quitters 3 to 2.”

Fortunately, though, the union doesn’t have the luxury of being able to lie to the U.S. Department of Labor as it does to the media. Certain unions, including SEIU 503, are required to file an annual LM-2 report with the Department of Labor. In its 2017 report  the union disclosed it had 51,291 members and 7,093 “fair-share” payers (non-union members still required to pay a portion of union dues prior to the Janus decision) as of Sept. 30, 2017.

This was the end of SEIU 503’s last fiscal year prior to Janus.

By this past December, however, SEIU 503 reported only 635 agency fee payers remaining.

These remaining fair-share members work in the private sector, where agency fees are still required if an employee chooses to leave his or her union.

What the 2018 report also shows is a 6,185-person decline in membership from 51,291 to 45,106.

The loss of agency fee-payers coupled with the decline in membership means the total number of employees financially supporting SEIU 503 dropped by 21.7 percent (12,463 workers), from 58,384 to 45,741, in the span of half a year.

According to Freedom Foundation Oregon Director Aaron Withe, it was expected to take a year or more to see that many defections.  In an interview with OPB he stated, “We anticipate membership to be declining between 20 percent and 30 percent in the next 12 months.”

Data obtained from the state also show some Oregon agencies are seeing significant declines in union membership, as well.  Two of these, the departments Revenue and Agriculture alone, have seen 48 percent declines in their membership.

Despite the union’s claims, the Freedom Foundation’s efforts are highly effective.

The numbers don’t lie, and SEIU 503-represented public employees are dissatisfied with the job their union is doing.

If the union really treated their members as it claims to, why would so many of them head for the exit the minute they got the chance?

Policy Analyst
Boaz Dillon works as a policy analyst for the Freedom Foundation Oregon office. His responsibilities include an array of policy research and reform efforts, primarily centered around labor relations, education and government transparency within the state of Oregon. He was born and raised in the Illinois Valley in southern Oregon. In May of 2018 he graduated with a bachelor’s of science from Corban University majoring in Criminal Justice with a minor in Forensic Psychology.