No, the SEIU is Not the Fastest Growing Union – It’s Shrinking

Service Employees International Union’s 2012 LM-2 shows membership dropped by nearly 45 thousand members- the first drop in 8 years. The SEIU is in trouble.

LM-2 reports show that for the first time in 8 years, the SEIU’s membership has actually decreased, and by nearly 45,000 members. This continues our series examining LM-2s. Last week’s article showed reckless spending by the SEIU far and above what they brought in.

Looking at reports dating back from 2006, the SEIU shows steady growth each year. This trend continues until the 2012 LM-2 report was released:

The SEIU's Rate of Growth and Decline from 2006 to 2012 shows a steady, regular growth every year until 2012.

SEIU’s Rate of Growth/Decline, 2006-2012

This directly contradicts the long-standing claims that the SEIU has made about their growth. As of the posting of this article, the SEIU’s own website is still claiming they are the fastest-growing union:

The Service Employees International Union is the fastest-growing union in North America, focused on uniting workers in the key service sectors to improve their lives and the services they provide.

As the SEIU is not actually growing per their 2012 LM-2, this claim is now provably false. In fact, they can’t even claim they are the least quickly shrinking union- the United Food and Commercial Workers lost fewer workers at 13,000 workers last year.

The union’s website also currently lists their mission statement, which claims the union has 2.1 million members represented:

We are the Service Employees International Union, an organization of 2.1 million members united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide and dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society.

This 2.1 million number is nowhere verified on the LM-2 data. In fact, according to the LM-2 forms dating back to 2000, the SEIU has never claimed 2.1 million members to the government. The highest recorded membership is 1.9 million members in 2011.

SEIU Total Membership 2005-2012

SEIU Total Membership 2005-2012

So where is the union getting this figure from? Did they just make up 200,000 members from thin air, or are there more members they haven’t reported to the government? Unfortunately, the SEIU doesn’t seem to have any explanation for this discrepancy.

The SEIU is also actively peddling this false information publicly. On Tuesday, NPR affiliate KUOW posted an article titled “SEIU: Fastest Growing Union Holds Strong In Washington”. The article provided this description of the union that is provably false:

Nationwide, the percentage of workers who are in unions has dropped to around 11 percent according to January report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s lowest rate in nearly a century. But the Service Employees International Union has been bucking the trend in recent decades – it’s the fastest growing union in the United States.

Since 1996, 1.2 million workers have joined SEIU nationally. Today, SEIU national represents 2.1 million. Here in Washington state the SEUI [sic] has six locals with more than 100,000 members, up from about 40,000 in 2001.

The host of the show repeated this misinformation in the his interview. David Rolf, the SEIU International Vice President and head of the local 775 SEIU branch, was interviewed on the show and did not correct him.

Also, this interview took place a full month after the LM-2 records were released. So either Rolf didn’t know his own union’s membership information, or he didn’t want to admit he knew his own union was shrinking.

The SEIU-UHW is still releasing press releases as recently as May 1st claiming they “part of the 2.2 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the nation’s fastest-growing union.” Not only are they repeating the untrue line about the union’s growth, but they have also added 100,000 more unreported workers to their totals.

A Lexis search shows the union has repeated it’s “fastest growing union” line  in press releases since at least 1986. At that time, it was a part of the AFL-CIO and claimed 100 thousand members. That claim has been relayed consistently in press releases in nearly every year since.

Based on the recent drop in membership and the reckless spending our research has uncovered, SEIU members have reason to be alarmed. If the SEIU does not change course soon, they will find themselves in the unenviable position of massive debt, declining membership, and inability to support the few members they’ll have left.


2008 SEIU LM-2 Data

2009 SEIU LM-2 Data

2010 SEIU LM-2 Data

2011 SEIU LM-2 Data

2012 SEIU LM-2 Data

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