Unions locking workers in

As government workers begin exercising their rights to leave their unions, some are speaking out about the ways government unions are trying to lock them into paying fees or dues.

The  Washington-based Freedom Foundation reported this disturbing incident: AFSCME 3299 refused to accept a union resignation letter submitted by a government worker. The union told the employee that her letter lacked “sufficient information” to verify that the worker did, in fact, wish to resign from her union. Instead, AFSCME 3299 instructed the employee to use the union’s own form – a form that would waive all membership rights but require the employee to pay “service fees” to the union indefinitely. According to the Freedom Foundation: 

Less than a week later, AFSCME 3299 responded and informed Sarah that the letter she submitted to cancel her union dues did not have “sufficient information necessary to verify that these are, in fact, your wishes.”

The letter instructed Sarah to fill out AFSCME 3299’s own “membership cancelation form,” which requests the same information as the opt-out letter she’d already submitted.

Fortunately for Sarah, she got in touch with the Freedom Foundation before signing AFSCME 3299’s form.

This form contains language that expressly waives all rights associated with union membership and simultaneously agrees to pay “service fees” equal to union dues, indefinitely.
AFSCME 3299’s letter provided that Ms. Johnson may stop the “service fee payments” if she submitted yet another form 75 days prior to her one-year anniversary of signing the “updated membership card” that locked her into these “service fees” to begin with.

These attempts to deceive and trap public employees are wrong and morally reprehensible.
How can workers protect themselves from being victimized by the unions that claim to represent their best efforts?

  1. Read before you sign. Read the fine print before signing any union document, even if it is a form to cancel your membership or resign. Consider getting a second opinion before signing anything.
  2. Get help if you’re unsure. If you are unsure about the wording of these documents or identify elements that waive your rights, contact us.
     We may be able to help or put you in touch with other organizations who can.

Contact us if you’ve already signed such a letter! If you have already signed a cancellation or resignation letter that requires you to continue paying fees, contact us. We can help.

Deciding whether to stay in a public-sector union or to resign your membership and cease paying union fees is an individual choice. No one should trick or coerce you into a decision not in your best interests. If you or someone you know has experienced this, let us know. The Liberty Justice Center may be able to help.