After Scott Walker’s Reforms, Public Sector Union Membership Plummets 35 to 60 Percent

MacIver News Service | April 8, 2013

Just two years after the passage of Act 10, Governor Scott Walker’s reform of the collective bargaining law in Wisconsin, new reports filed with the federal government show a dramatic drop in the membership of at least two Wisconsin unions. One union in particular, Wisconsin AFSCME Council 48, saw a 61% drop in its membership since the passage of Act 10.

Prior to Act 10, certain public sector employees were required to be a member of a union and forced to pay union dues. Once Act 10 was implemented, collective bargaining was limited to wages and each union is required to hold an annual certification vote. With this new found freedom, many public employees seem to be giving union membership a no confidence vote and opting instead to save their money rather than continue paying union dues.

Sean Higgins, Senior Editorial Writer at the Washington Examiner, first reported this information on Friday, noting that membership for Council 40 of Wisconsin’s AFSCME “has gone from the 31,730 it reported in 2011, to 29,777 in 2012, to just 20,488 now.” That is a 35% decrease in just over 2 years.

Reports from the Labor Department show that the other branch of AFSCME that is required to report membership data, Council 48, has dropped from 9,048 to 3,498, a 61% decrease. The link to the reports can be found here.

Most public sector unions are not required to report their membership number to the federal government’s Labor Department, but any union that represents private sector workers are required to report the details of their membership. Wisconsin AFSCME’s Council 40 and Council 48 represent both public employees and private sector employees.

According to an earlier news report, these latest membership losses may only be a small part of the overall membership picture. The Wall Street Journal reported last year, citing confidential sources, that AFSCME in Wisconsin had lost more than 30,000 members in total, but the union claimed that the numbers were inaccurate.