By Jarrett Skorup, Mackinac Center for Public Policy
Number is the lowest in decades
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is one of the largest public sector unions in the United States. But the union has shed members since it lost a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court case, Janus v. AFSCME, which extended right-to-work to government workers nationwide.
The Janus decision recognized that every public sector worker has a First Amendment right to decide whether to join or financially contribute to a labor union, or to refrain from doing so. AFSCME had a total of 1,256,361 active workers paying dues or fees in 2017, the year before the decision. In 2022, the union was down to 1,051,671 active dues and fee payers – a drop of nearly 205,000 people, or 16.3%. About half of this loss is from “fee payers,” nonmembers who, before the decision came down, had to pay an agency fee to the union, against their will. The rest of the loss came from the ranks of full members.
Many unions must file annual reports with the federal government. Data from AFSCME’s reports from 2017 and 2022 show the union has lost members since the Janus decision.
LM-2 reports also reveal information about union finances. This union’s revenue from dues payments is down by about $8 million annually, from $185.6 million in 2017 to $177.7 million in 2022. Total membership in AFSCME – which includes full, part- and half-time workers as well as retirees – is at 1,238,307. That is down from a peak of over 1.5 million in 2009, and it is the lowest since at least the 1990s.
Jarrett Skorup is the vice president for marketing and communications at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.