The American Federation of Teachers and its state affiliates like the New York State United Teachers are hoping to counter Janus with aggressive “recommitment” campaigns. The union has focused on 18 states with the largest numbers of public employees. The day before the Janus decision came down, they reported that of the 800,000 members in those states, they had secured more than 500,000 membership cards over the past five months.
On a recent Saturday, 45 educators — bus drivers, adjunct faculty, teachers — attended a membership organizing institute in Albany’s union headquarters, preparing to fan out for door-knocking in the community. A smartphone app allowed them to access and share information about their potential recruits. But much of the training was focused on a skill that will be crucial for the union’s survival: listening.