You must be a nonmember to possess the rights discussed in this section. If you are currently a union member, you must first become a nonmember, and then object to receive the dues rebate or reduction. To learn how to resign your membership, click here.
Charter school employees may be classified as public- or private-sector employees. For an explanation of this classification for purposes of compulsory unionism, please visit: “Public or Private—Why Does It Matter?”
In non-Right to Work states, you have the right to cut off the portion of union dues used for political and their non-bargaining activities by filing a written objection with the union. This is true even if the employer, the union, or the collective bargaining agreement says otherwise. Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977), held that a reduced fee, reflecting only the union’s expenses for collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment, is the only fee you, as a union nonmember, can be required to pay as a condition of employment in non-Right to Work states. For charter school employees that are hired by a private charter-school management organization /education management organization employer, the United States Supreme Court held this right was protected by the National Labor Relations Act in Communications Workers v. Beck, 487 U.S. 735 (1998), another Foundation supported lawsuit. In Right to Work states, nonmember employees have the right to stop paying all dues and fees to the union. To view a map of Right to Work and non-Right to Work states, click here.
To ensure that your right to pay the reduced union fee is adequately protected, the United States Supreme Court in Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, 475 U.S. 292 (1986), established mandatory procedures the employer and union must have in place. These mandatory safeguards include all of the following:
- notice of independently audited financial information explaining how the agency fee was calculated, and providing an opportunity to object and pay less than full dues;
- an opportunity to challenge the reduced agency fee amount before an impartial decision-maker; and
- the right to place the contested agency fee amount in escrow to prevent the union from illegally using your money while a decision on the proper agency fee amount is pending.
If you are a private-sector employee, California Saw and Knife Works, 320 N.L.R.B. 224 (1995), enforced, 133 F.3d 1012 (7th Cir. 1998), established similar procedural safeguards that the union must provide to private-sector employees:
- the union must inform all employees that they have a right to be nonmembers;
- the union must inform employees that nonmembers have the right to object to paying for union activities unrelated to the union’s duty as a collective bargaining agent; and that objectors have a right to have their fees reduced to exclude those activities;
- the union must provide nonmembers with sufficient information to enable them to make an intelligent decision on whether to object;
- the union must inform nonmembers about its procedures for filing objections; and
- if nonmembers object, the union must inform them of the percentage of the reduction, how the reduction was calculated, and that the objectors have a right to challenge those figures.
In the Foundation-supported case Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Association, 500 U.S. 507 (1991), the United States Supreme Court provided guidelines for the types of expenses that are or are not chargeable to union nonmembers. For a list of union expenses that are not chargeable to union nonmembers, click here.
If you are a nonmember employed in a non-Right to Work state where state law or the collective bargaining agreement requires you to pay union fees, click here for a sample objection letter allowing you to only pay the reduced forced fee. If you need assistance in drafting or sending your objection letter, contact a Foundation staff attorney at (800) 336-3600 or by email or click here to fill out a legal aid request form.