The possibility of a pro-employee ruling in the Janus vs. AFSCME case has evoked this admission from a pro-union media outlet:
But what if you’re caught in a union that hasn’t been doing a good enough job? What if your union doesn’t communicate much with members, or is mostly invisible, or only reaches out to you when there’s a crisis, or doesn’t fight hard for good contracts, or is too cozy with the boss? Tragically, there are many union locals like this.
The article then goes on to plead with those who “know that workers are better off with a union” to attempt to reach out to their fellow employees, to stem the tide of the disaffected wanting to jump ship. After providing a four-step strategy, the article provides this “fair warning:”
This approach to bottom-up problem-solving on the job might fly in the face of your union’s way of doing things. Most of our unions have spent decades focused exclusively on collective bargaining and processing grievances. A lot of that work was done by a few “experts,” often behind closed doors, so of course the majority of members don’t feel the union is theirs. In the worst cases, some of our unions don’t even do the minimal job of enforcing contracts. If this doesn’t change, it will be easy for members to quit without a second thought.
The spate of recent right to work laws, the Janus case, the avalanche of major union corruption stories (see below), and a pro-employee NLRB are forcing some in Big Labor to admit weaknesses in their model (ie. truth) and seek for a way to remain relevant to workers. From the noise coming from labor pundits, expect to see two camps of pro-union activity: one looking for new and innovative ways to be perceived as relevant, and the other focusing on becoming more aggressive at old-school tactics. Neither side will admit there isn’t much use for unions anymore.
As an end cap to this story, the union membership stats from 2017 show a flat-line picture, with total unionization remaining at 10.7%. Since public employees are the bulk of this total (34.4% of public vs. 6.5% of private-sector employees), an employee-favorable outcome of Janus could portent a severe decline overall.