California government unions continue their steady decline

Spurred by emergency Covid funding, California governments went on a hiring spree, but membership in California government unions hit a 20-year low, according to documents obtained by the California Policy Center. .

State and local government payroll records, obtained by CPC under the State Public Records Act, reveal that governments added some 200,000 new employees after four years of declining employment. At the same time, membership in government unions continued to decline. Since the 2018 Supreme Court decision in Janus versus AFSCME, state unions lost a total of 378,000 potential members.

In Janus, the Court said that governments cannot require their employees to join unions without violating those employees’ First Amendment rights to speech and assembly.

“This decline is particularly remarkable because it comes despite this massive hiring boom,” said Jackson Reese, vice president of the California Policy Center and director of CPC. janus project. “Every time a worker quits their union, their union loses almost $1,000 in dues per year. And, of course, that means $1,000 a year goes into the employee’s pocket.

Reese, who led the review of the CPC documents, said his team calculates that member losses have reduced annual union dues revenue by just under $337 million.

“It’s money unions no longer have to fund campaigns, engage in political activism or lobby government officials – and that’s a key focus of our work here,” said said Reese.

Some of the most notable declines have been in the California university system, where nearly 45% of faculty and staff no longer pay dues to their unions. Internal records show that 29,403 employees have decided union membership is no longer for them.

On the other side of the spectrum, many firefighter unions still retain the bulk of their membership — despite steady endorsements from California’s professional firefighters and financial support from progressive candidates statewide.

The CCP spent about $4.5 million to help civil servants quit their unions.

“Wherever we deploy our resources, the documents show a sharp drop in union membership,” Reese said. “Without intervention, union membership remains stable or increases just a little.”

“We are winning the fight to free government workers from unions who work against the interests of California workers every day,” said CPC Chairman Will Swaim. “But the fight continues. Unions have controlled state and local government for decades – decades in which the state has become increasingly dysfunctional. They won’t go away because we ask them politely.

Bernard P. Love