Newly released statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate that the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v AFSCME has had little impact on public sector union membership nationwide.  

For those of you that are not up to speed, Janus was the 2018 decision, in which the Supreme Court held that employees could not be compelled to be members of their union or pay any dues to the union.  For more details on the decision see our article on Janus.

Last month the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its 2019 statistics for union representation and membership. In the public sector nationwide the statistics show that union membership in 2019 was 33.6%, compared to 33.9% in 2018. Additionally, the percentage of employees represented by a union including both members and non-members was the same in 2019 as it was in 2018 at 37.2%. 

These statistics include federal, state, and smaller agency employees.  However, Federal employee unions were not impacted by the Janus decision because the state of the law under Janus was already the law for federal employee unions prior to the Janus decision. So looking just at state and local government agency employee unions, the decline in union membership was only .16% between 2018 and 2019.  Additionally, we cannot assume that the decline was caused solely by the Janus decision.

In California, union membership overall increased by 4.1% from 2018 to 2019. As we know that rates of union membership is higher in the public sector than in the private sector, so it looks like in California public sector union membership could actually be increasing instead of declining.