Image by Nicola Barts via Pexels
SEIU Faces Steep Declines in Membership and Revenue

Jackson Reese

Vice President of Development

Jackson Reese
March 31, 2023

SEIU Faces Steep Declines in Membership and Revenue

SEIU Local 99’s massive strike in LA Unified ended last week with union leaders bragging that the  strike showcased the union’s strength. But the reality is more stark for the union: SEIU is facing steep declines in membership and revenue, and the strike appears more like an act of desperation.

According to internal LAUSD documents, the union is struggling to retain their membership. Of the nearly 23,000 employees represented, 26% have decided to stop paying their union dues. That’s 26% of a budget the union desperately needs to engage in political donations and activity — and to  lobby  legislators.

The union’s predictable playbook mirrors that of an 8-year-old. Make outrageous demands and throw a tantrum if you don’t get what you want. Their strategy is not to actually negotiate — strike observers know the district offered a generous compensation increase. Instead, union leaders used the strike as a flex to demonstrate to their members that unions still matter  so they can remain afloat. 

And the LAUSD strike isn’t an isolated incident.  SEIU locals across the state are suffering from the same steep decline in membership seen in LAUSD. 

Internal documents from Oakland Unified school district note that almost half (46%) of SEIU 1021’s membership has opted out of exercising union membership. 

These trends aren’t only in urban areas either: Tulare County’s SEIU 521, covering just 3,000 employees, has seen 49% of their membership decide to withhold dues payments. 

On a statewide level, SEIU 1000, representing California state employees and the largest SEIU local in the state, is also feeling the pain of plummeting membership. Internal documents obtained by the California Policy Center show almost 48% of the nearly 100,000 employees covered have walked away or refused membership.

While private union membership may be increasing, in California, public employees are clearly becoming more and more dissatisfied with their union leaders. 

If you are a member of SEIU or any government union and want to save up to $1,000 a year by leaving your union, please visit or download your blank opt-out form here to submit to your union representative. 


Jackson Reese is the Vice President of the California Policy Center.

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!