For decades, state and local government employees were forced to make an unfair and unconstitutional choice: Pay money to a union, or lose your job.
But that changed in June 2018 with the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Janus v. AFSCME. The court ruled that paying fees to a union can no longer be a condition of employment. Now, public employees can work for the state or their local government or school district without sending a piece of every paycheck to a union.
Public employees who do not want to be members of a union can leave the union while continuing employment.
Union dues can cost hundreds of dollars a year. By opting out, you will no longer pay any union dues.
No. You are guaranteed any benefits provided in the collective bargaining agreement with your employer.
The Illinois Policy Institute has always been a resource for workers seeking to exercise their rights and choose for themselves whether to associate with a union. We’ve created this website to make the process easy for those who want to opt out of union membership.
Government and public school employees who have chosen not to be union members have cited a number of reasons for doing so, including the following:
Public sector unions are inherently political. And members’ dues flow to politicians and political causes they may not agree with. Opting out allows you to determine where your hard-earned money goes.
Take a look at the following examples from three of the largest government unions in Illinois:
There’s a good chance you never voted for your union. In fact, many of Illinois’ government worker unions were in place before current workers were even born.
Perhaps the union failed to provide adequate support when you filed a grievance. Maybe the union’s priorities no longer reflect the priorities of its members. Or perhaps you don’t oppose the politicians the union supports, but think the union’s No. 1 job is to represent you – not to engage in political activities.
Opting out allows you to retain your dues if you don’t think the union is representing you well. And it sends a message that the union needs to work harder to support the workers it represents.
Public employees each pay hundreds of dollars – or more – every year to their unions.
That’s money workers earn, but never get to see.
Opting out of the union allows you to keep more of your hard-earned money.
Public employee strikes are not uncommon in Illinois. In fact, the state is home to two of the nation’s biggest government worker strikes in the last decade – both by the Chicago Teachers Union.
This means public employees in Illinois frequently have to make an intensely personal and stressful decision:
1) Go to work and get paid – and risk fines or other forms of union punishment, or 2) Go on strike – and risk not only your paycheck, but, unbeknownst to many workers, sometimes even your job.
Because the union has no disciplinary authority over nonmembers, opting out provides you more freedom to make the choice that is best for you and your family.
Nonmembers do not pay any fees to the union. But you are still guaranteed the benefits provided in the collective bargaining agreement.
That’s because decades ago, Illinois’ government union leaders lobbied for the exclusive right to represent all public workers – both members and nonmembers. And that means you retain all benefits provided in your collective bargaining agreement.
Examples may include the following:
On the other hand, nonmembers are not entitled to perks guaranteed to members through the union’s internal rules or membership agreement. Examples may include:
If you are a public school employee, there are alternative organizations – such as the Association of American Educators – that offer liability insurance and job protection coverage, often at a fraction of the cost of union membership.
Interested in learning more about how Illinois public school educators can obtain liability insurance and job protection? You can learn more and sign up at the Association of American Educators.
Both state and local government employees can opt out of union membership and stop paying dues. This includes teachers in public schools as well as workers employed by cities, towns, villages, counties, townships and the state.
The process is simple: Fill out the form here, and the appropriate letters will be sent on your behalf to both your employer and your union.
Some employers, influenced by union misinformation, are not immediately stopping dues deductions upon request. And some unions are refusing to honor requests unless they are submitted within a specific time window dictated by internal union rules.
We believe these obstructions are unconstitutional. If you encounter any barriers in your effort to stop dues or fees from being deducted from your paycheck, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.