Seattle Education Association loses members and dollars after court ruling recognizes right of teachers to leave the union without being fired

Dec 14, 2018

For Immediate Release:
December 13, 2018 

Media Contact:
Liv Finne
WPC Center for Education Director
C) 206-550-3868

SEATTLE– Prior to June of 2018, public employees in our state were required to make payments to a government union or risk being fired. For Washington’s public school teachers, these mandatory payments added up to about $1,000 a year taken from their paychecks. That changed in June when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) that unions can no longer force public employees to make monthly payments as a condition of holding a job.

The result is that teachers and other school employees in Washington state now have a choice and can make their own decisions about what organization they wish to join, including if they want to pay money to a union. New figures reported by the Seattle Public Schools show the number of teachers and other school employees paying the union fell sharply after the ruling.

Overall, some 600 public school employees decided to stop making monthly payments to the Seattle Education Association (SEA) union.  In August, union executives lost $24,000 in monthly payments.  To stem the losses, executives raised dues payments on the remaining members in September.  Still, payments to the union fell a further $19,000 in October. In total, the union stands to lose about $180,000 this year, and around $516,000 in 2019.


Washington Policy Center research analyst Liv Finne noted, “Until now union membership in public schools has been based on coercion, making unions among the most powerful and least accountable political forces in public education.  With the Janus ruling, teachers can now decide for themselves, which means greater accountability, transparency and respect in our schools.  The old system is cracking open, and that means a higher standing for teachers as independent professionals, and better quality instruction for children in the classroom.”