After the Janus Dust Settles, State Unions See More Members, Less Money
In the six months since the controversial Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, state employee unions gained 2,952 members but lost income from 11 percent of state employees, according to a comparison of union membership numbers between April and December of 2018.
The increase in union membership did not mean more money for union coffers and was not enough to off-set the loss of agency fee payers.
The numbers provided by the State Comptroller’s Office show a back and forth between the number of state employees, union member sign ups and the loss of agency fee payers.
In April, Connecticut had a total of 51,148 employees represented by bargaining units.
Of those employees, 7,145 were listed as agency fee payers, meaning they were not union members but still had to pay a union fee as a condition of employment.
This meant there were 44,003 dues-paying union members in state service.
The Janus decision in June of 2018, meant unions could no longer collect agency fees from state employees who did not wish to be a part of the union. The Comptroller’s Office ceased collection of agency fees following the decision.
As of December 2018, the number of employees in bargaining units and dues-paying members had changed.
The total number of employees in bargaining units increased to 52,432 and the number of dues paying members increased to 46,955.
The change, however, means that 5,479 – approximately 11 percent of bargaining unit members — are no longer paying union dues or agency fees.
Combined, the unions took in $2.46 million in dues for the month of December, compared to $2.6 million in dues and agency fees in April before the Janus decision — a loss of $280,000 per month, or $3.6 million per year when accounting for a two-week pay cycle.
According to the dues figures, state employee unions take in approximately $32.1 million per year through dues deductions, although this figure is subject to change during the summer months when higher education employees are not counted and does not include municipal employee dues.
Preparing for the Janus decision, state union mounted a membership campaign, reaching out to employees and encouraging them to re-sign membership cards, which contain provisions making it difficult for workers to resign membership in the future.
Some state agencies like the Department of Correction saw a large change in the number of agency fee payers.
In April, the NP-4 bargaining unit representing Corrections Officers had 871 agency fee payers, according to the Comptroller’s Office. By December, that number was reduced to 94.
The total number of correction officers in the bargaining unit had also increased by 334 as the state hired more prison guards.
In an interview with the Journal Inquirer, Executive Director of AFSCME Council 4 Jody Barr said the large number of agency fee payers earlier in 2018 was due to an “administrative error” which marked employees as agency fee payers when they transferred from work at one prison to another or switched departments.
Barr said he met with those members marked as agency fee payers and convinced them to sign membership cards to become official dues paying members again.
Unions have also increased dues rates for members, which may help offset the loss of agency fee payers.
According to memoranda sent out by the Comptroller’s Office, AFSCME Council 4 has increased dues payments for state employees, ranging from 40 cents for corrections officers to $1.39 per paycheck for professional health employees.
According to the Janus decision, unions must definitively demonstrate an employee has chosen to join the union before deducting membership dues.