SALEM, Ore.) — SEIU 503, Oregon’s largest labor union, has suffered one of the nation’s most dramatic membership declines since the U.S. Supreme Court landmark ruling last summer in Janus v. AFSCME.
In the wake of Janus, which eliminated mandatory union dues or fees for government employees, the Freedom Foundation originally reported SEIU 503 had lost 21 percent of its members. In fact, a more recent information request finds the actual loss is 26 percent.
Freedom Foundation Oregon Director Aaron Withe said even he was surprised by the defection rate. In an interview with Oregon Public Broadcasting, Withe said he anticipated union losses would reach 20 to 30 percent in the first year.
Instead, it’s taken only six months.
The state’s official numbers debunk the claims of the SEIU 503 Executive Director Melissa Unger, who actually boasted a 2.2 percent increase.
Much of the decline can be attributed to the Freedom Foundation’s aggressive outreach efforts to public employees across Oregon represented by SEIU 503.
“It’s one thing to have the law on your side,” Withe said. “It’s something else to have to the union respect it.”
Following the Janus decision, SEIU 503 and other public-employee unions hatched a variety of schemes to avoid compliance. At first, they simply pretended it never happened and refused to notify the workers of their newly affirmed rights.
Later, as workers began to discover the truth, the unions either lied to them, resisted their opt-out requests or tricked them into signing membership renewals that claimed to be irrevocable.
In response, the Freedom Foundation launched a full-scale outreach campaign to public-sector employees in Oregon, Washington and California to inform them of their workplace rights.
The newly disclosed numbers show which side has the more compelling case.
“The unions did everything they could to prevent the Janus ruling from happening,” Withe said. “When the court ignored them and issued the ruling anyway, they tried to invalidate it. Finally, when all else failed, they resorted to denial.
“None of it worked.”
Contact: Aaron Withe