Albany, NY — About 15 percent of unionized New York state government workers chose not to pay union dues last year, up from 10 percent in 2020, according to a new research report from the Empire Center.

In The Janus Effect, Empire Center fellow Ken Girardin used public payroll records to measure union membership rates after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Janus v. AFSCME, which ended the unions’ ability to force nonmembers to pay. The data show union membership rose as unions succeeded in persuading some employees to join, but is down from 2020 levels both in New York state government and in the City of New York. In state agencies, for which the most current data are available, union membership has sunk below 2017 levels — when unions could force people to pay.

“Janus has allowed public employees to stop supporting explicit political ideology with which they disagree, and in the years since the ruling we have seen thousands of New Yorkers exercise that First Amendment right,” said Ken Girardin, fellow at the Empire Center and author of the paper. “Public employees are now empowered to use their Janus rights to vote with their wallets — as seen, for example, in the decline in United Federation of Teachers membership during the COVID-related school reopening debacle.”

Read the full paper here.

The Empire Center, based in Albany, is an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan think tank dedicated to promoting policies that can make New York a better place to live, work and raise a family.

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