Public sector unions continue to grow in New York

While many have warned of the detrimental effects of one U.S. Supreme Court decision undermining union rights, labor organizing in New York has continued to remain strong. Janus v. AFSCME, decided in June 2018, undermined the ability of public sector unions to assess fees from non-members of the union to cover the cost of collective bargaining for the entire group of workers. In the past, these non-members had to pay an agency fee to contribute to the costs of bargaining. The decision was widely interpreted as a conservative attempt to reduce the ability of public sector workers to organize, defend their rights and speak collectively.

However, New York unions have continued to grow, including in the public sector. The New York State United Teachers added 15,097 more dues-paying members for the 2018 fiscal year. This increased the union's membership to 426,396, marking a 4 percent increase overall for the organization. In addition, the Civil Service Employees Association, representing laborers at the state and municipal levels, grew to 230,354 dues-paying members in 2018, an increase of 4,294 from the previous year.

At the same time, the Janus decision did have an impact. Around 35,000 non-members of both unions no longer had to pay agency fees to help cover collective bargaining costs paid for by the union. However, despite predictions that many people would leave their unions since they could now benefit from collective bargaining without paying, more new hires have actually joined.

New York remains the most heavily unionized state across the country. Still, many workers face an uphill battle when working to organize to defend their rights on the job. Workers seeking to organize a union and facing interference from their employers can consult with a labor law attorney about how they can protect their rights to union representation.

Source: Democrat & Chronicle, "Many warned a Supreme Court ruling would cripple unions. NY's remain strong", Jon Campbell, Feb. 22, 2019

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