SEIU 503 - Reclaim Union Overcharges

Each year, SEIU 503 charges state employees hundreds of dollars in union dues and fees. However, much of the union's budget goes towards political activity and other extraneous expenses unrelated to its core responsibilities of collective bargaining and workplace representation.

If you object to SEIU 503 overcharging you for workplace representation, you may choose to opt out of those charges.

U.S. Supreme Court decisions have long recognized that the First Amendment protects public employees from being forced to pay for a union's political and ideological expenses (Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977) and Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Association, 500 U.S. 507 (1991)).

As a result of these decisions, any public employee has a constitutional right to become an "agency fee payer" by resigning formal union membership and paying a reduced workplace representation fee, which is less than full union membership dues.

An annual calculation by the union determines what percentage of your dues are "nonchargeable," or refundable to you as an agency fee payer. For example, if the union estimates that 30 percent of its budget goes towards political and other nonessential activity during a given year, then an agency fee payer will pay a workplace representation fee that is 30 percent less than the amount of full union dues that year.

The Supreme Court has established that unions must provide this calculation to agency fee payers and explain the purposes for any portion of fees it collects from them (Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, 475 U.S. 292 (1986)).

SEIU 503's calculation of how much of your dues it spends on legitimate workplace representation and how much it spends on extraneous purposes is reported to all agency fee payers each February. The calculation for 2015-2016 is available here.

The nonchargeable percentage may be difficult to locate within SEIU's accounting summary, but page six of the accompanying union letter reveals that over 20 percent of the union's dues/fees in 2015 were used for activities unrelated to workplace representation.

If you object to SEIU 503's overcharges and would rather make your own decisions about how your money is spent, then you may become an agency fee payer by requesting to pay the reduced workplace representation fee.

Because the representation fee covers the union's core workplace activities, it has a responsibility to represent you fairly and without discrimination. The union will still represent you in collective bargaining, contract management and grievance processing, but you will no longer have to contribute to causes unrelated to workplace representation.

To become an agency fee payer, complete this form and mail it to the address provided.

 

* Choosing this option is your constitutional right. However, unions often place restrictions on when they will accept agency fee requests. For this reason, the forms provided on this page are addressed to the Freedom Foundation. We will submit your form and help you navigate any restrictions that may exist.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I keep my money from going to SEIU 503’s extraneous activities like political and ideological causes?

Inform the SEIU 503 Executive Director in writing that you wish to resign from all levels of the Service Employees International Union, including SEIU Local 503.

Specifically state you object to your fees being used for nonchargeable activities and that you wish to pay the reduced representation fee.

Send a copy of your letter to SEIU Local 503 and/or the address provided.

A “fill in the blanks” version of the letter is available here.

If I stop paying the full amount of dues to the union, will I still receive the same wages and benefits specified in SEIU 503's contract with the state?

Yes. SEIU 503 has arranged to be the "exclusive representative” of its bargaining units, meaning it is impossible for workers to get out of the terms of the contract, even if they cease paying the full amount of dues.

Will I need to request my refund every year?

No. Agency fee payers will automatically receive semi-annual "advance reduction" checks proportionate to the amount of overcharges that SEIU 503 projects over the next six months.

How do I know the union calculated my refund correctly?

It is possible to challenge the union’s calculation through a process outlined in the union letter sent to agency fee payers each year. SEIU 503 will schedule an “arbitration” for those challenging the calculation at which some of the evidence used to calculate the refund will be disclosed. 

Does it affect my pension?

No. Under state law, a union contract is binding on all employees in a bargaining unit, regardless of whether they are technically union “members.” Your compensation, benefits and conditions of employment are all set by the contract and the state legislature and will remain unchanged whether you pay full union dues or only the representation fee. 

Will I lose my health insurance?

No. Your health insurance and other employer-provided benefits will remain the same regardless of your union membership status.

Will the union stop helping me with workplace issues if I pay only the workplace representation fee?

The union has a franchise to be the exclusive representative of the members of the bargaining unit. In return for the monopoly on this particular service, unions have a corresponding legal duty to provide fair representation.

How will my relationship with the union change if I become an agency fee payer?

Union officials commonly prohibit nonmembers from participating in internal union affairs, such as attending union meetings, voting for union officers or participating in contract ratification votes. You’ll also be ineligible for certain “members only” benefits, such as discounts on additional insurance (life, auto, etc.). You may no longer receive the union newsletter or similar publications.

How does SEIU 503 spend my dues money?

The core of SEIU 503's activity involves negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with the state once every four years. SEIU 503 has a paid staff of over 200 and, according to reports the union must file with the U.S. Department of Labor, collected over $26 million in dues and fees from its members in 2015.

  • $6.5 million (nearly 25 percent) went to support the SEIU's headquarters in Washington, D.C., to support its massive political, economic and social agenda. The national SEIU regularly supports a host of controversial organizations like Planned Parenthood — the nation's largest abortion provider — which received $20,000 from SEIU last year alone.
  • $1.7 million (about 6.5 percent) was spent on political candidates and causes in Oregon.
  • Over $400 thousand was given to other unions and ideological nonprofit groups.
  • Over $150 thousand was spent on hotels and travel.
  • Nearly $90 thousand was spent on food and catering.

SEIU 503 executive director Brian Rudiger received a salary of $102,217 last year.

SEIU international president Mary Kay Henry received a salary of $296,549 last year.

 

  • SEIU Oregon Service Leadership Council's 2015 LM-2 report is available here.
  • SEIU Oregon Service Leadership Council's 2014 LM-2 report is available here.
  • SEIU Oregon Service Leadership Council's 2013 LM-2 report is available here.
  • SEIU Oregon Service Leadership Council's 2012 LM-2 report is available here