MIDLAND, Mich. — More than 20% of workers in non-right-to-work states have dropped out of their unions, according to a new report from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. This month marks the five-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus vs. AFSCME, which gave public sector workers across the country the ability to opt out of joining a union or paying union fees.
More than one million workers in 22 non-right-to-work states are estimated to have opted out of paying union dues, costing government unions approximately $700 million in foregone revenue annually.
There are several ways to track public sector union membership. The most common method relies on survey data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some government unions file federal forms that show their annual membership numbers. These data show a loss in public sector union membership since the 2018 Janus decision, but there are significant limitations to these numbers that likely lead to an undercounting of membership losses.
Since 2018, the Mackinac Center has annually filed hundreds of public records requests to the largest public entities in the 22 states affected by the Janus decision. The information provided directly by public employers, such as state departments, cities, counties, school districts and universities, enables a more accurate estimate of the changes in public sector union membership. These entities report how many public workers are represented by labor unions and how many are having dues withheld. The results show that more than one in five government workers employed by these entities have opted out of union membership since the Janus ruling.
“There is a wide range of opinions about the impact of the Janus decision, with some claiming it would lead to large losses in membership and others saying it would have minimal effect or even rejuvenate organized labor,” said Jarrett Skorup, vice president for marketing and communications at the Mackinac Center and the author of the report. “This research aims to inform this debate. It presents more accurate and comprehensive data than anything out there currently being used to assess Janus’ impact.”
You can read The Janus Effect: The Impact of the 2018 Supreme Court Decision on Public Sector Unions here.
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a nonprofit research and educational institute that advances the principles of free markets and limited government. Through our research and education programs, we challenge government overreach and advocate for a free-market approach to public policy that frees people to realize their potential and dreams.
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