Opt Out Today


How Public Employees Can Opt Out of Dues and Fees for United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) local 21

UFCW 21 is a union representing primarily private sector employees. This page describes the court case affecting public employees to end union payments altogether.

A private sector employee who disapproves of paying UFCW 21 does not have the rights described below to end deductions, but may pay a reduced rate by turning  in this form. The private sector employee who has a faith-based objection may also be allowed to donate to charity instead of paying union dues as described here.

If you are employed by a public entity such as a public health district, a local government or a school district, and the union collecting your dues is UFCW 21, then read on.

For years, public employees in Washington 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, 2018).

“States and public-sector unions may no longer extract [funds] from nonconsenting employees.  . . . This procedure violates the First Amendment and cannot continue.”

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

It is important to know that UFCW 21 may continue to automatically withhold dues from employees’ pay even if they never signed up for membership in the first place. The best way to ensure the deductions stop is to submit a request to the union in writing.

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 some 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 couple paychecks after you submit your resignation request.
Some unions have tricked employees into signing membership forms with fine print waiving their right to resign except during a short annual window period. If the union claims you signed such a form and therefore cannot cancel the dues deductions from your pay, ask to be provided with documentation that you ever signed such an agreement.

How much are UFCW 21 dues?

Union dues for UFCW 21 are $16 to $75 per month and as high as $900 per year.

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

Yes. UFCW 21 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, UFCW 21 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 UFCW 21.

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.

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.

Sometimes people have a faith-based objection to unions’ expenditures on causes like abortion advocacy and attacks on values. Additionally, the core union philosophy of conflict, oath-breaking, disrespect and greed also can be perceived as contrary to many religious beliefs. To learn more about the major public unions’ expenditures in light of common faith beliefs click 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 IRS requires unions’ 990 tax return to be a public document, and these can be found online at sites like this. UFCW 21 reports using the Employer Identification Number EIN 20-3286319.

UFCW 21 tax return for 2017

All private-sector unions, and some public sector unions, are obligated to report financial information to the U.S. Dept. of Labor in an annual LM-2 report which can be found here. UFCW 21 reports using the Dept. of Labor file number of 543-341.

UFCW 21 LM-2 Report for 1/1/2019 to 12/31/2019

According to forms filed with the Federal Government, in 2017 1/1/2019 to 12/31/2019

  • $23,914,204 was collected as dues and fees.
  • $997,315 was spent by UFCW 21 on divisive political candidates, causes and lobbying
  • $327,817 was paid or contributed to largely ideological organizations.
  • $153,322 was paid to Faye Guenther from the union and affiliated entities.
  • Thirty of the employees of the union were paid over $100,000 per year.
  • Board members are paid $60, $80, $115 or even $424 per hour for serving on the board.
  • $245,000 of dues money was directly transferred to the Political Action Committee for campaign contributions.
  • $8,000 given to Labor Education & Research Center (LERC) University of OR.
  • $24,000 given to Portland Jobs With Justice
  • $29,150 given to Washington CAN!
  • $7,083 given to Heather Weiner
  • $37,000 given to 21 Progress
  • $40,000 given to the organization to Approve Referendum 88
  • $7,000 given to Community Alliance for Global Justice
  • $5,000 given to Northwest Accountability Project
  • $5,000 given to OneAmerica
  • $35,000 given to Puget Sound SAGE
  • $5,000 given to Washington Environmental Council
  • $15,000 given to  Win/Win Action

The question is not whether these are meritorious organization, but whether these are donations you would choose to make with your wage deduction.

Those represented by a local bargaining agent often also pay several related organizations, such as state and national affiliates, and also regional, state and national labor councils. For example, part of dues paid to UFCW 21 fund the Washington State Labor Council. These organizations are less likely to perform workplace representation services.

A significant portion of your dues support UFCW’s national headquarters. This entity reports annual financial information to the Dept. of Labor using the file number 000-056
UFCW National Headquarters LM-2 report for 1/1/19 to 12/31/19

The hundreds of employees of the Washington D.C. office will probably never set foot in a local workplace, but collected $225,634,288 in dues. Things they spent that money on include:

  • $6,112,404 on political activities
  • $2,808,477 given to ideological activities and causes