Major news sources report that the United Teachers Los Angeles union officials intend to order a strike if the Los Angeles Unified School District does not agree to their demands in collective bargaining agreement negotiations. If it occurs, the planned strike will start on Monday, January 14, 2019.

Reports also are that the School District will attempt to keep the schools open during the strike and allow teachers and other employees to work during the strike. Teachers and other school employees who don’t want to abandon their schools and their students are advised to carefully read the following notice about their legal rights.

The situation raises serious concerns for employees who believe there is much to lose from a union ordered strike.

Employees have the legal right to rebuff union officials’ strike demands, but it is important for them to be informed before they do so.


The Foundation wants you to learn about your legal rights from independent sources. You should not rely on what self-interested union officials tell you. For over five decades, Foundation attorneys have worked in the courts to protect and expand the rights of individual employees in situations such as strikes. It is the nation’s premier organization exclusively dedicated to providing free legal assistance to employee victims of forced unionism abuse.

LAUSD employees should know they have the following rights:

1) The union has no disciplinary power over nonmembers of the union and cannot discipline nonmembers for crossing a picket line and working during a strike. If you are currently not a member of the union, you have the right to go to work even if the union bosses order a strike.

2) Union officials can (and often do) levy thousands of dollars in fines against union members who work during a strike. So, if you are currently a member, you should seriously consider resigning your union membership at least one day BEFORE you return to work during a strike. That is the only way to avoid possible ruinous union fines and other discipline. To have the best legal defense possible against fines the union may try to impose it is imperative that you give the union notice of your resignation before you cross the picket line so that at the time you return to work you are not a member of the union.

The decisions whether to resign your union membership and/or cross the picket line are wholly yours. The Foundation is simply providing this information so that your decisions are informed. If you are a member and decide to resign your union membership, please follow this link,, for a sample letter resigning your membership in the union and revoking any authorization for the union and employer to collect any fees or dues from your pay.

NOTE: Although not legally required, it is a better practice to send your resignation letters to the union and employer by certified mail, return receipt requested, and save copies of your letters and return receipts to prove delivery. If you hand deliver a letter, make sure that you have a reliable witness to the delivery. In our experience, angry and dishonest union officials often pretend they did not actually receive resignations and initiate discipline against non-striking workers anyway. If you encounter any difficulties in exercising your right to work during a strike, you can contact the Foundation to request free legal aid at

3) It is Foundation attorneys’ best legal opinion that public sector employees have the right to resign their membership in a union at any time. At least two federal district courts have reached that conclusion, including one in California. See McCahon v. Pa. Turnpike Comm’n, 491 F. Supp. 2d 522 (M.D. Pa. 2007); Debont v. City of Poway, No. 98CV0502-K, 1998 WL 415844 (S.D. Cal. Apr. 14, 1998). If you encounter any difficulties in resigning your union membership, you can contact the Foundation to request free legal aid at

4) In addition, nonmembers of a public sector union have a First Amendment right not to pay any fees or dues, unless they have freely waived their First Amendment rights. See Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, 138 S. Ct. 2448, 2486 (2018). The union has the burden of proving employees waived their First Amendment rights by “clear and compelling” evidence. Some unions have claimed that employees who authorized their employer to deduct union dues and fees in the past have waived their First Amendment rights. Whether a dues deduction authorization is an effective waiver depends on when it was signed and how it was worded. You can contact the Foundation to request free legal aid at if you encounter any difficulties in getting the union and employer to stop collecting union fees or dues from you.

5) If you wish to eject an unwanted union hierarchy from your workplace, you have the right to petition for a secret ballot decertification election to do so. More information about California laws on decertification is available here: Public Sector Decertification Laws (as of 8/2010)