In RCW 41.80, the state legislature granted private organizations the ability to secure a monopoly franchise over workplace representation services for state-funded employees. Teamsters Local 117 has secured the privilege of providing workplace services to thousands of various public employees.
Many believe the union arrangement is not a good fit.
They may be professionals or officers who have the sophistication to manage their own affairs. Others find themselves lumped in with other employees whose interests cannot possibly be uniformly represented by one monolithic organization like Teamsters 117.
Others find the aggressive politicking and use of dues to advance partisan causes, candidates and ideology distasteful. Still others believe that union officials take advantage of the power to force people to pay by overcharging and underperforming.
If you object to Teamsters 117 overcharging you for workplace representation, and you would rather reclaim these funds, then you may request to pay the reduced representation fee by filling out the form below.
The union will still represent you in collective bargaining, contract management and grievance processing, but you will no longer have to fund items unrelated to workplace representation like politics, marketing, litigation, ideological causes or other extraneous activities.
Unfortunately, unions are not governed by the usual consumer protection or anti-trust laws, so abuses of the privilege of collecting money are possible.
They can charge whatever they wish. They can spend money on whatever they wish. They do not have to disclose how the money is spent to those who pay it. They can speak for employees without consulting or informing them. They can injure some members’ interests while advancing the interests of others. They can prevent employees from getting help in their workplace from other sources. They are not governed by any obligation to provide quality service, and they almost never have to seek reauthorization of their right to have this monopoly on workplace services.
The courts have acknowledged that these extraordinary powers can lead to abuses. Specifically, the court recognized that unions have power to wrongfully overcharge for services, and the power to compel people to fund a speech they don’t support in violation of the First Amendment.
Public employees have challenged some of the unions’ abuse of power, and the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed that employees have certain rights. Now you can keep the hundreds of dollars in overcharges and make your own decisions about politics and causes.
If you object to Teamsters 117 overcharging you for workplace representation, you may choose to opt out of those charges.
U.S. Supreme Court decisions have long recognized that unions are not allowed to charge public employees for political, ideological or other nonessential union expenses as a condition of employment (Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Association, 500 U.S. 507 (1991)).
To accommodate this right, any public employee may become an “agency fee payer” and remain a nonunion member of the bargaining unit paying only the workplace representation fee, which is less than full union membership dues.
The Supreme Court has also required unions to explain to fee payers the purposes for any portion of fees it collects from them (Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, 475 U.S. 292, (1986)).
“The Union will establish a procedure that any employee who makes a request may pay a representation fee equal to a pro rata share of collective bargaining expenses, rather than the full membership fee.” (Teamsters Local Union 117 Collective Bargaining Agreement, Pg. 2)
The most recent calculation of how much of the unions’ dues the union claims is used for legitimate workplace representation and how much it admits is used for extraneous purposes is reported to all fee payers each year in the “Representation Fee Notice.”
On page two, the union calculates that thirty-two percent of $138 million union dues sent to International Brotherhood of Teamsters is extraneous (“nonchargeable”) and thus will be returned. Teamsters joint council 28 reports that twenty-seven percent of its $885,000 budget is extraneous, and Teamsters Local 117 reports that nearly seven percent of its $7.9 million budget is extraneous.
Teamsters 117 monthly dues are two and one-quarter (2.25) times the hourly earnings rate. (Constitution Article X Section 3 (d) (ii) Pg. 78) Essentially 2.25 of your hourly rate is approximately 1.3 percent of your monthly pay.
Of those dues received by the union, 22 percent goes to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, $1.60 per month goes to Joint Council 28 (JC28), and the rest is retained by Teamsters Local 117.
For example, if you make $50,000 a year you are paying about $650 in yearly dues. $143 is going to IBT, $19.20 to JC28 and the remaining $487.80 goes to Local 117.
|Dues||% not charged||Reduction Amount|
|Joint Council 28||$19.20||27%||$5.18|
Source: Teamsters 117 “Hudson Report” 2017
This represents a 13 percent reduction in dues.