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.
Public Sector Employees:
Even if a state law or contract between your public employer and a union contains a provision requiring you as a nonmember to pay union fees, you have no obligation to pay those fees because that state law or contractual provision is unconstitutional under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision.
However, if you signed a deduction (“check-off”) authorization, that authorization may contain a limitation on when it can be revoked. In that event, you should request the advice of a Foundation attorney as to whether the limitation can lawfully be enforced.
If you would like to see a sample union resignation and dues check-off authorization letter for public employees, click here. You should check whether your union’s constitution or bylaws specifies to whom a resignation must be sent.
If you decide to revoke your check-off authorization, keep copies of your letters for your records. You should send such letters by certified mail, return receipt requested, so that the union and employer cannot claim that they did not receive them.
If the union and/or employer do not honor your resignation and/or dues deduction revocation, you should contact the Foundation immediately if you want assistance. There may be a time limit on when claims of violation of your rights may be filed, so it is important to pursue claims promptly.
Private Sector Employees:
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.
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.