One year after the Supreme Court ruling inJanus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employeesthat was supposed to decimate public sector unions, organized labor appear to have absorbed the blow better than expected.
The ruling said that public sector workers could not be forced to join or otherwise financially support a union if they didn’t want to, ending a common feature of union public sector contracts. Conservatives predicted that the 5-4 decision, written by Justice Samuel Alito, would be a major financial blow to the labor movement. “Every year for decades, billions — billions with a B — of dollars have been taken by force by government labor unions from workers without their permission and spent on politics against their wishes,” Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said last year when the ruling was announced. “That ends today, decades late, but once and for all.”
But unions have responded by putting an increased effort into recruiting and retaining members. They’ve also pushed friendly statehouses to pass measures that effectively circumvent theJanusruling by limiting the ways that workers can opt out. And in many cases, union members aren’t even aware of their rights underJanus,as unions haven’t promoted them.
The main public sector unions have not reported large membership losses in the year since the ruling came out. AFSCME, the defendant in the case, reported in March that its membership was 1.3 million, up by 27,000 from last year, according to a Labor Department filing.