Teachers’ Unions See Drops in Membership and Revenue

United Teachers Los Angeles leaders are joined by thousands of teachers, who may go on strike against the nation's second-largest school district next month, as they march past the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. The union contends that the district is hoarding a …
AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

Teachers’ unions are continuing to see a decline in membership and revenue since the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME in June 2018.

A recent report at the Washington Free Beacon demonstrated that, despite the media spectacles of red-shirted striking teachers in large cities, teachers’ unions are shedding numbers and revenue, even in states in which they have encountered strong support in the past.

The Free Beacon reported:

Two Oregon teachers’ unions—the state’s American Federation of Teachers (AFT) chapter and the Oregon School Employees Association (OSEA)—reported drops in paying members of 35 percent and 36 percent, respectively. Both unions lost nearly $1 million in revenue as a result, with the OSEA closing three field offices and accepting a $400,000 bailout from its parent organization to help make ends meet. In Washington, the Federation of State Employees disclosed a 27 percent decline in financial supporters since June 2018.

According to the report, only 10.5 percent of American workers were union members in 2018, “the lowest percentage in the past century.”

Nevertheless, a poll released in June – one year after the Janus ruling – revealed 52 percent of teachers still were unaware it is their right to leave their unions without paying a fee.

The survey, sponsored by the Teacher Freedom Project and conducted by YouGov, found over three in four teachers (77 percent) had not even heard of the Janus case. Despite that outcome, 74 percent said union membership should be voluntary, and 84 percent agreed teachers should be able to join or quit a union at any time.

The poll found significant misconceptions among teachers about which aspects of their employment have nothing to do with union membership and what the Janus case means in terms of membership in unions.

As the Free Beacon reported, the National Right to Work Foundation, which argued and won the Janus case before the Supreme Court, is working now “to close loopholes that labor unions use to prevent workers from ending their payments,” including enacting “withdrawal windows,” in which they set very short time periods with rigid deadlines in which to officially withdraw from the union.

“Already hundreds of thousands of teachers and other public workers have been freed from mandatory union payments as a result of Janus,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation Vice President Patrick Semmens in a statement to Breitbart News.

He continued:

Though even that impact may only be the tip of the iceberg considering that countless more government employees are still being coerced into funding unions as a result of union boss-invented schemes meant to circumvent Janus, such as ‘escape periods’ which block workers from exercising their First Amendment Janus rights except for a few days every year or few years. Currently those restrictions are being challenged in numerous lawsuits nationwide brought by workers who want to stop funding union activities but have been illegally told they cannot.

Semmens also told the Free Beacon the decline in teacher union membership and revenues in states such as Oregon and Washington suggests the union bosses likely depended on “coercion to corral workers into their ranks.”

“Hundreds of thousands of teachers and other public employees across the country remain trapped in dues payments because of union policies that block workers from exercising their First Amendment rights,” he said.

The Freedom Foundation has been working to educate teachers in Oregon and Washington about the effect of the Janus ruling and the fact they can no longer be compelled to pay union dues and agency fees as a requirement of their employment.

Aaron Withe, the group’s national director, told the Free Beacon he believes the Freedom Foundation’s extensive outreach efforts have brought about the fallout in both western states.

“We’ve spoken to tens of thousands of public employees at their homes and offices, and what we’ve found is that when they learn their rights under Janus, they opt out in droves,” he said, adding his foundation’s education efforts will soon be expanded in other states as well.

“We expect to see these results continue in the larger states that we operate in as we continue and expand this campaign,” Withe said.

 

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