Solidarity cracking at AFSCME

The governor and legislature have all but outsourced policymaking to the state’s most powerful unions, as even a cursory review of this session’s key legislation makes clear.

Governor Dayton has already signed into law two of Big Labor’s coveted prizes, an inflation-indexed minimum wage hike and the school bullying bill. In this final month of session, labor bosses intend to check off even more victories with the so-called Women’s Economic Security Act and Public Employment Relations Board bill, among others.

But while union bosses enjoy cozy relationships with politicians at the Capitol, they seem to have a chillier relationship with their own rank-and-file. In fact, AFSCME Council 5, one of the state’s largest and most powerful unions, is struggling to stem an exodus of its own members.

According to a review of annual financial reports filed with the U.S. Department of Labor, AFSCME Council 5 lost over 2,000 (or 6.4 percent) of its full dues-paying union members over the last five years. Meanwhile, the number of workers opting out of union membership jumped almost 16 percent. These workers are still required by state law to pay a so-called “fair share” fee to AFSCME, but cannot be charged more than 85 percent of full union dues. Statewide, one of every four AFSCME workers has rejected union membership, an unusually high rate of opt-outs.

It’s not hard to see why public workers are shunning AFSCME, given a slew of recent controversies that has tarnished the union’s image.

AFSCME spearheaded the heavy-handed childcare unionization campaign that outraged childcare providers and parents, including the union’s own cofounder. They have spent millions of compulsory union dues on a far-left political agenda not aligned with its own membership. And, as we recently reported, AFSCME bosses coerced and intimidated their own members, even threatening the jobs of members who were a month late on union dues.

Worst of all, members and nonmembers alike are legally required to pay for the abuses and excesses of their union bosses.

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