Public sector employees in a unionized workplace can choose whether to join a union. Neither your employer nor the union can force you to become a member.
The decision on whether to become or remain a union member is a highly personal and important one. Here are a few things to consider:
1. Because the union is your exclusive representative, the collective bargaining agreement will apply to you regardless of whether you become or remain a member
The salary and benefits provided by your employer are all found in your collective bargaining agreement and apply to all covered employees, whether they are union members or nonmembers. It is illegal for the union to exclude nonmembers from collectively bargained benefits.
2. Public sector employees no longer have to pay a union just to keep their jobs
Before 2018, public sector employees who decided against union membership could be forced to pay a “fee” to the union just to keep their jobs. However, a recent United States Supreme Court case ended this practice, meaning that public sector employees—public school teachers, first responders, and state and local government employees, for instance—can become nonmembers and stop paying the union.
3. Only a fraction of your dues will support local collective bargaining and representational activities
Public-sector unions are typically multi-layered organizations with a lot of overhead expenses, including large salaries for top union officials. State and national affiliates also spend members’ dues on controversial lobbying, political, and electoral projects you may or may not want to fund. That leaves only a fraction of your dues for local collective bargaining and representational activities.
4. Other organizations provide support for nonmembers
Some unions have member benefits, like discount retail programs or professional liability insurance, but these benefits are also available elsewhere for less. Americans for Fair Treatment provides a similar retail discount program to its members for free, and union alternatives provide professional liability insurance and other benefits to qualifying employees. If you want to learn more about either, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 833-969-FAIR (3247).
5. You can start a new local union
Many public employees want to be represented by a union, but they don’t like the union currently representing them. With enough support from your co-workers, you can decertify your union or replace it with a new union operated at the local level. If you want to further explore your options, reach out to us at email@example.com or 833-969-FAIR (3247).
If you are already a union member and wish to resign, we have information for you here.