In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME, the information below may be outdated. Please visit MyJanusRights.org to learn more.
To download a free quad-fold brochure about your right as a teacher to opt out of certain union dues or fees, click here (pdf).
Question: How do I cut off the use of my dues for politics and other nonbargaining activities?
[NOTE: You must be a non-member to avail yourself of the rights discussed on this page. If you are currently a member of the union, you must first become a non-member and then object in order to receive your dues rebate or reduction. To learn how to become a non-member, click here.]
Answer: If you work in a Right to Work state, you not only have the right to refrain from becoming a union member, you cannot be required to pay anything to the union unless you choose to join the union.
If you wish to see a list of the 28 Right to Work States, click here.
Educators in non-Right to Work states who are required to pay union dues or fees of a condition of employment have the right to cut off the portion of their dues used for political and other non-bargaining activities. As a result of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977), a lawsuit that was supported by the Foundation, educators cannot be required to do more than pay a union fee (typically called an "agency fee") that equals their share of what the union can prove is its costs of collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment.
Except in extraordinary cases, the union’s costs of collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment do not equal the dues amount.
If you are a nonmember, you have a right to object and obtain a reduction of your compulsory agency fee payments so that they do not include the part of dues that is used for purposes other than collective bargaining and contract administration.
The employer and the union must establish certain procedures to safeguard your right to pay only a limited fee to the union. These safeguards include giving you:
- Audited financial information about how the amount of the agency fee was calculated;
- An opportunity to challenge the amount of the agency fee before an impartial decisionmaker and make the union prove its fee claim; and,
- The right to place the contested amount of the agency fee in escrow so that the union will not be able to illegally use your money while a decision on the proper amount of the agency fee is pending.
Your right to proper safeguards is based upon Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, 475 U.S. 292 (1986), another lawsuit that was supported by the Foundation.
In Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Association, 500 U.S. 507 (1991), another Foundation-supported lawsuit, the Supreme Court discussed the type of expenses which are chargeable and which are not chargeable to nonmember teachers.
If you would like to get an idea of the types of union expenses which are not chargeable to nonmembers, click here.
If you are a non-member in a non-Right to Work state where state law or the contract requires you to pay union fees and would like to see a sample objection letter that will allow you to keep part of the money that you have been sending to the union, click here. You should check with the union to see if it has a policy concerning when and to whom objections should be submitted.
If you would like to learn more about your rights as a public school teacher or college professor, click on the appropriate question below:
- Can I be required to be a union member or pay dues to a union?
- How can I resign my union membership?
- How do I cut off the use of my dues for politics and other nonbargaining activities?
- What if I have religious objections to joining or financially supporting a union?
- What if I am a victim of union violence?
- What if I want to work during a strike?