The labor union in the crosshairs of the right wing-led effort to gut public sector unions through a landmark Supreme Court case released new membership data Wednesday showing a decline that experts say could mark the beginning of larger losses, but is far shy of a fatal blow.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) reported a 6 percent loss last year, down from 1,411,877 members, agency fee payers and retirees in 2017 to 1,329,594 in 2018.

The numbers offer the first concrete picture of the preliminary fallout from last year’s Janus v. AFSCME decision that eliminated public sector unions’ ability to collect agency fees—also known as “fair share” dues—from workers who do not sign up for full membership in the union but still benefit from its representation.

Many predicted the case, bankrolled by a network of conservative billionaires and think tanks, could put the nail in the coffin of public sector unions by encouraging workers to opt out of paying dues in favor of becoming “free riders.”
A Blow But Not Fatal: 9 Months After Janus, AFSCME Reports 94% Retention