When workers have a choice, public-sector union membership plummets

Victor Joecks

Why is the Clark County Education Association so afraid to let teachers know that teachers can drop their CCEA membership between July 1 and July 15? Because when public employees are given the choice, many, many individuals choose to leave the union.

Gov. Walker’s reforms ended compulsory dues. Today, if Wisconsin state workers want to remain in a union, they have to say so and opt into automatic payroll deductions.

Guess what’s happened in the year since Gov. Walker’s reforms took effect? According to The Wall Street Journal, overall Wisconsin membership in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has declined by more than half, from 62,818 members in March 2011 to 28,745 this past February. Among state employees, the drop has been even steeper. Its AFSCME membership has fallen from 22,300 to just 7,100 in that period.

This is why union bosses in Nevada have taken away the voice of teachers and only allow teachers to leave CCEA by submitting a written notice between July 1 to July 15 (details here on how to do that). In contrast, a teacher can join CCEA at any time.

While the larger issue – eliminating these drop-period restrictions – is something the Legislature should address, there is something you can do right now. Let teachers know they have this two-week window to leave CCEA and save $768 a year. Let teachers know there are alternative professional educator associations that are cheaper and provide better benefits, like the Association of American Educators. Let teachers know that a generic opt-out letter is available here.

Let teachers know that for just two weeks – they have a voice. They have a choice. And during the next legislative session, let’s work to give teachers a voice for the entire year, not just for two weeks.