The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 503 in Oregon has hemorrhaged more than a quarter of its members since the U.S. Supreme Court banned mandatory agency fees in June, according to state filings obtained by The Freedom Foundation.
SEIU 503, Oregon’s most influential labor group, lost about 26 percent of its dues-paying membership from December 2017 to December 2018, according to state and federal filings. SEIU 503 has disputed those figures, saying the opposite is true and the that the union’s membership is up 2.2 percent.
“We knew Janus would be a big blow to the public unions, but it’s happening even faster than we expected,” Freedom Foundation spokeswoman Ashley Varner told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement. “Government unions are bleeding members because as soon as Freedom Foundation informs people they finally have a choice on paying union dues, they’re quick to drop their membership.”
In June, the Supreme Court ruled public-sector agency fees, forced dues paid to a union in order to hold a government position, violated government employees’ First Amendment rights. The Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit supporting right-to-work, has campaigned through the West Coast to inform union members and agency fee-payers of their newly-secured rights.
The nonprofit’s campaigning has cost unions in California, Oregon and Washington tens of millions of dollars-worth of dues money. Across the three states, about 40,000 employees have stopped paying union dues since the Supreme Court’s ruling, costing those unions about $33 million in lost revenue.
The Supreme Court case, Janus v AFSCME, has spawned numerous lawsuits across the U.S. as unions fight to keep members and rate-payers enrolled. Unions have taken steps to protect their membership rolls from being released, though as government workers, all the information is public. Unions have also tried instituting “window periods” for members and rate-payers to opt out, limiting the chance employees have to cut off payment to unions.
SEIU 503 did not respond to a request to comment or clarify the dispute over The Freedom Foundation’s membership figures.
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