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What the Janus v. AFSCME Decision Means for Government Employees

The Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME that no government worker can be required to pay money to a government union as a condition of working in public service. This means that government employees who are not union members are no longer required to pay union fees, union dues or “agency fees” at their workplace. Public employees are free to join a union and pay membership dues or to opt out and not fund union activities without fear of losing their job.

Worker's Rights FAQs

Do I need to “opt out” of the union if I am already paying “agency fees” or “fair share fees?”

If you have already declined union membership and were paying fair share fees before the Supreme Court issued its ruling on June 27, 2018, then your employer must immediately stop collecting fees for the union from your paycheck. Check your next pay stub to ensure that the line previously noting how much you paid in agency fees or union collective bargaining now says zero. If you are still seeing fees deducted from your paycheck, that is a violation of your First Amendment rights under the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling and you should contact us right away. Our lawyers may be able to help.

I am currently a dues-paying union member, but now I would like to leave my union. How can I do that?

The decision to stay in or leave your union is one only you can make. If you were a union member in a state that before the Supreme Court’s Janus decision required nonmembers to pay agency fees and now you do not want to be a union member for any reason, you have the ability to exercise that choice and immediately stop paying money to the union. Here’s how:
  1. Let both your employer and your union know that you have decided to resign from the union. Here are sample union opt out letters that you can use or adapt for your own use. Resignation letter to send to your union (.doc download) Union opt out letter to send to your employer (.doc download) Your resignation letter to your employer and your union should state that you have the right to immediately resign from the union and any union dues must immediately stop being withheld. The letter should state that any previous authorizations of membership and/or the deduction of dues are invalid because they were based on an unconstitutional choice: Pay dues to a union and become a member, or pay fees to a union as a nonmember.
  2. Confirm on your next pay stub that your employer has stopped collecting union fees or dues from your paycheck.
  3. If your employer continues to collect union fees or dues, tells you that you cannot stop paying fees or dues, tells you that you must wait to resign from the union or if the union at your workplace tells you that you must continue to pay them, then contact us. Our lawyers may be able to help.

I am currently a  dues-paying union member in a state that did not require non-union members to pay union dues or fees, but now I would like to leave my union. Can I do that?

Yes, but your ability to resign from the union and stop paying fees immediately may be limited by the authorization agreement you signed when you became a union member. If you have questions about how you can resign from the union in this circumstance, please contact us, and our lawyers may be able to help you through the process.

What if  I get pushback when I try to opt out of my union?

There is a lot of misinformation about the Janus ruling and what it means for government workers. Unfortunately some government unions and politicians are working to make it hard for workers to exercise their rights. They are making it difficult for employees to stop paying the union, or trying to scare workers into remaining union members by claiming they will lose their benefits or their salary will decrease. Some workers have reached out to us saying their unions are trying to convince them not to leave by applying social pressure, saying they by making the very personal decision to leave the union they will undermine their fellow colleagues and hurt everyone else. This is wrong – and unfair. This is a deeply personal decision and the Supreme Court said every worker has the right to make this decision for themselves. The right to choose or decline union membership is your constitutional right and no one can or should prevent you from making that decision.

The Janus decision does not affect unions’ ability to collectively bargain or represent workers. Anyone who wants to be in a union can, and anyone who wants to pay money to a union is free to do so. The union will not cease to exist because you leave and neither will the benefits you currently have. There are a lot of reasons someone might decide not to be a union member at any given time. If you decide to leave your union, you will be joining many other workers across the country. Some feel like their union is not listening to them or representing their views. And some have entirely different reasons for leaving. No matter the reason, it’s your choice!

Can the Liberty Justice Center help if I have trouble leaving my union?

Yes, we are here to help! We fought with Mark Janus all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to restore his First Amendment rights and the rights of millions of other government employees. We can help you exercise your right to leave the union and stop paying the union. If you are encountering problems or pushback, please contact us.

When you contact us, please let us know how to get in touch with you by providing your name, phone number, and email. Also include your employer, what union you’re affiliated with, and details about the circumstances or situation you are facing.