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California Federation of Teachers

How Teachers Can Opt Out of California Federation of Teachers Dues

The California Federation of Teachers (CFT) is the designated union for many educators and classified employees in schools and colleges in California.

For years, public employees in California have been forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment, allowing unions to take their members for granted. However, the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that public employees can no longer be required to financially support a labor union against their will. Janus v. AFSCME, 585 US (2018)

The decision found,

“The First Amendment is violated when money is taken from nonconsenting employees for a public-sector union; employees must choose to support the union before anything is taken from them. Accordingly, neither an agency fee nor any other form of payment to a public-sector union may be deducted from an employee, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay.”

Consequently, public employees may decline to pay these private organizations without losing their jobs or employer-provided benefits.

To stop the union from deducting dues from your pay:

  1. Enter your information into the form below and click “submit.”
  2. On the resulting page, click the link to open your customized form. You will also receive an email with a link to your form.
  3. Print the form. If you check the appropriate box about needing a printed version, we’ll mail you a copy of the form.
  4. Sign and date the form.
  5. Mail the completed form to the address at the top of the form. We highly recommend sending it via certified mail.
  • We will not contact you unless you choose to receive updates from us

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens after I send my resignation to the union?

You should receive an acknowledgement of your request from the union within a few weeks.

Because it has a financial interest in continuing to withhold dues from your pay, the union may contact you and attempt to persuade you to keep your membership. Their sales pitch may include untrue claims and scare tactics. It is a good idea to try to document any questionable claims made by union representatives. Do not be bullied! If you stand your ground, there is nothing the union can do to retaliate against you for opting out.

Monitor your paychecks to make sure the dues deductions stop. Contact the union if the deductions continue more than a paycheck or two after you submit your resignation request.

Contact us for assistance if for some reason the union refuses to process your dues cancellation request.

Will the union continue to represent me if I opt out?

Yes. CFT has been empowered by the state to represent those in your workplace. Employees are not allowed to negotiate their own compensation or handle their own grievances with their employer, nor can they hire another person or entity to represent them.

In exchange for this unusual benefit, CFT is legally obligated to represent all employees in the workplace, including those who choose not to join the union as members.

Consequently, the collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the union and your employer will continue to set the terms and conditions of your employment and the union will continue to represent you in grievances, contract enforcement, discipline assistance or other proceedings governed by the collective bargaining agreement.

Will I lose wages, health care, retirement or other benefits if I opt out?

No. All provisions of the collective bargaining agreement between the union and your employer will continue to govern your employment. Your wages, health benefits, retirement and anything else governed by the collective bargaining agreement will remain unchanged if you opt out of CFT.

How will my relationship with the union change if I opt out?

While the terms of the collective bargaining agreement will still govern your employment, as a nonmember, the union may choose to prevent you from participating in internal union affairs, such as attending union meetings or voting in union elections, including contract ratification votes. Unions also commonly withhold any special “members-only” deals or discounts the union has arranged for with businesses. You may no longer receive the union newsletter or similar publications.

Do I lose professional liability insurance if I opt out?

It is not the union’s responsibility to shield district employees from legal liability from the external claims. That is the responsibility of your employer.  Contact the district business office if you want to learn how your primary liability protection is provided.

Some CFT locals have arranged to provide supplemental liability insurance to union members. Nonmembers are not covered by these policies.

If you would like personal professional liability protection without conflicts of interest with the union or your employer, you can obtain a policy from independent professional education associations like the Association of American Educators or Christian Educators Association International, or you could obtain a policy from a traditional insurance provider.

Why do people opt out of the union?

People have many reasons for not wanting to support the union. Some simply do not believe the services the union provides are worth the dues it charges. Others may find the union’s one-size-fits-all agenda does not serve them well because they are new to the profession, have a specialty that is not acknowledged in bargaining, or they believe their effectiveness is undercompensated. Some resent the union’s role in enabling and defending underperforming employees. Many find the union’s political activity and use of dues to advance partisan causes, candidates and ideology distasteful. Still others believe that union officials are corrupt and unaccountable to their membership.

Unions representing public employees are not governed by the usual consumer protection or anti-trust laws, so abuses are common. Unions can charge whatever they wish. They can spend dues money on anything they want. Often, they do not have to disclose how dues money is spent to members. They can speak for employees without consulting or informing them. They can injure some members’ interests while advancing the interests of others. Unions even have the ability to prevent employees from getting help in their workplace from other sources. They are not governed by any obligation to provide quality service, and almost never have to seek approval of the people they represent in an election to continue as the exclusive representative.

Often people have a faith-based objection to unions’ expenditures on controversial causes and attacks on values. Additionally, the core union philosophy of conflict, oath-breaking, disrespect and greed also can be contrary to many religious beliefs. More information about the major public unions’ expenditures in light of common faith beliefs is available here.

How does the union spend my dues money?

Public employee unions are private organizations with minimal obligations to disclose financial information to members. The lack of accountability makes it easy for unions to take advantage of the easy income.

However, the IRS requires unions’ 990 tax returns to be publicly available, and these can be found online at sites like Guidestar.org. CFT reports using the Employer Identification Number (EIN) 94-1271864.

CFT’s form 990 for 2016 shows it collected $22.6 million in dues and fees from public employees that year. CFT’s highest-paid employee, president Joshua Pechthalt, was paid $222,715. At least six other CTF executives are paid hefty six-figure salaries.

A portion of the funds CFT collects are forwarded to the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in Washington, D.C.

Reports AFT must file annually with the U.S. Department of Labor indicate it collected $196.8 million in the 2017-18 school year and had a paid staff of around 400.

  • $31.2 million was spent by AFT on divisive political candidates, causes and lobbying.
  • $9.9 million was paid or contributed to ideological organizations and political advocacy groups.
  • The highest-paid AFT international employee, president Randi Weingarten, was paid $ $514,144 in 2018.
  • 239 of AFT’s employees were paid six-figures in 2018.

AFT’s 2018 LM-2 report is available here.
AFT’s 2017 LM-2 report is available here.
AFT’s 2016 LM-2 report is available here.