How State Employees in Vermont Can Opt Out of Paying Dues to VSEA
To opt out of VSEA dues:
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.
The Vermont State Employees’ Association (VSEA) is the designated union for over 6,000 state employees in Vermont.
For years, public employees in Vermont have been forced to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment, allowing unions like VSEA to take their members for granted. However, because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Janus v. AFSCME (2018), public employees can no longer be required to financially support a labor union against their will.
The court ruled that the mandatory dues requirement violated workers’ First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association, and that public employees have the right to choose for themselves whether to pay any union dues or fees.
You can opt out of VSEA dues by filling out the form below, printing it and mailing it to the union.
Frequently Asked Questions
You should receive some acknowledgement of your request from the union within a few weeks.
In most cases, union dues are automatically deducted from employees’ paychecks. Monitor your paychecks to make sure the dues deductions stop. If the deductions continue for more than a couple pay periods after submitting your opt-out request, contact the union.
Finally, keep in mind:
Opting out is your constitutional right. However, unions like VSEA sometimes place restrictions on when they will accept opt-out requests. If the union refuses to immediately cancel dues deductions from your pay, ask them to provide you with written documentation and contact us for assistance.
According to its membership form, VSEA charges $18 per payroll period in dues. In 2019, the average member paid about $550.
Will the union continue to represent me if I opt out?
VSEA 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 dues.
The collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the union and your employer will continue to set the terms and conditions of your employment, and VSEA is legally obligated to enforce the contract on behalf of all employees, including those who choose not to join the union as members.
However, keep in mind:
Although VSEA will continue to negotiate and enforce the collective bargaining agreement on your behalf, union officials have adopted a policy requiring non-members to pay an hourly fee for union representation during grievances or disciplinary proceedings.
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, health benefits, retirement, and anything else governed by the collective bargaining agreement will remain unchanged if you opt out of VSEA.
While the terms of the contract will still govern your employment, 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 any special “members only” benefits, such as discounts on additional insurance, scholarship programs, or deals the union has arranged with businesses. You may no longer receive the union newsletter or similar publications.
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. To learn more about some of the major public unions’ expenditures in light of common faith beliefs, click here.
VSEA collected $2.8 million in dues and fees from its members in fiscal year 2019, according to reports the union must file with the IRS.
In that year alone:
- $102,000 was spent by VSEA on political activity and lobbying.
- $115,000 was spent on travel and staff training.
- $28,300 was spent on legal fees.
VSEA paid 25 employees in calendar year 2018, at least three of whom were paid six figures. General counsel Timothy Belcher was paid $161,900.
Also, as of mid-2019, VSEA has accumulated a stockpile $388,000 in savings and temporary cash investments.