AFSCME union boasts about new membership numbers, but that’s only half the story

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) was quick to boast about its “strong membership numbers” in a press release on the union’s new filing with the U.S. Department of Labor.

The federal report, referred to as an LM-2 filing, shows AFSCME gained 9,097 dues-paying members (which includes full time and part time members and accounts for the loss of 862 half time members) and 18,638 dues-paying retirees from January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018.

But as Mike Antonucci wrote, “That’s only half the story. AFSCME has been playing semantic games with reporters for months after Janus…”

The U.S. Supreme Court decided the Janus v. AFSCME case in June 2018, and the Court’s ruling freed agency-fee payers from funding public-sector unions. AFSCME’s fee payers dropped from 112,233 in 2017 to 2,215—a loss of over 110,000 workers.

The union’s press release dismissed the decrease, choosing instead to focus on its 94 percent retention rate. Again, though, this is only half the story. While Janus put an end to “fair-share” deductions, union members wishing to resign membership could not immediately exercise their newly restored First Amendment right.

Bound by union membership cards, public-sector employees who were full dues-paying members prior to Janus can only cease membership during a narrow resignation window period. For AFSCME members, this window period is based on the unique anniversary date of their signed membership card.

Because Janus was decided during the middle of the 2018 year, AFSCME members with a yearly anniversary that occurred prior to June would have to wait until their window came around again in 2019.

Many public workers are not aware they can resign or do not know how to resign. The Center is working to help public employees know their Janus Rights. If you are interested in sharing your story or learning more, email us at [email protected].