Opt Out Today

How Educators, faculty and classified school employees Can Opt Out of Dues and Fees for Washington Education Association (WEA)

WEA is the designated union for public employees who are educators in the K-12 school system, college faculty and other school employees.

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 WEA 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, and make two copies.
  5. Mail the completed form to the address at the top of the form. We highly recommend sending it via certified mail.
  6. Provide a copy to your employer’s payroll officer and keep a copy for your files.
  • We will not contact you unless you choose to receive updates from us
  • e.g. Seattle School District, Olympic College, etc.

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.

The 2020 version of the WEA membership form includes an irrevocable payment obligation stating: “I am obligated to fulfill my dues obligation to the WEA and its affiliates during the year of revocation.”

If WEA suggests they will not end your dues deduction, ask them to document that you have made any commitment beyond month to month.

How much are WEA dues?

Union dues for WEA for 2019-20

Teachers

$196 NEA

$511 WEA

$103 to $285 UniServ

$12 to $409 Local

Up to $1,300

Education Support Personnel

$48-$120 NEA

$100-$446 WEA

$?? UniServ

$?? Local

of salary and as high as $1,000 per year.

You can look up 2017-18 dues here and here, and see the rates for WEA and NEA in 2019-20 here.

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

Yes. WEA 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, WEA 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 WEA.

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.

Does the NEA withhold liability insurance?

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.  Often the collective bargaining agreement specifically requires the district to provide liability protection for employees.

Since the first responsibility for liability for workplace issues lies with your employer, contact the district business office if you want to learn how your primary liability protection is provided.

The NEA pays roughly $5 for a liability policy for its members that supplements the protection already provided by your employer. Nonmembers are not covered by the NEA liability policy.

Check with your district’s business office to learn about the liability protection already offered. If you feel more protection is necessary, similar liability insurance can be obtained through other independent professional education associations like Northwest Professional Educators (NWPE), Christian Educators Association International, a homeowner’s policy, or from an 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.

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. WEA reports using the Employer Identification Number EIN 91-0460645.

WEA tax return for 2017

According to forms filed with the Federal Government, in 2017

  • $41,348,434 was collected as dues and fees.
  • $959,872 was spent by WEA on political action. Additional funds were spent on lobbying, political communication to members, and gifts to ideological advocacy organizations. Among the recipients of dues money are these organizations:
  • WEA has 185 employees at the state organization not including UniServ or local union employees. Top salaries include:
    • James Regan $298,287
    • Shawn Lewis $286,075
    • Armand Tiberio $277,904
    • Kim Mead $276,281
    • Aimee Iverson $269,840
    • Margaret Knight $261,787
    • Manuel Bosser $261,681
    • Robert Forhan $254,069
    • Lisa Kodama $251,850
    • Scott Porier $251,728
    • Gary McNeil $238,974
    • Lois Golden $238,665
    • Gary McNeil $238,974

More information about how WEA spends money is available in the last Hudson Report for 2018 and their annual “New Business Item Progress Report.”

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.

National Education Association

An estimated $15 million from Washington school employees is sent off to support the National Education Association in Washington, D.C., which collected $369 million in 2018-19 and had a paid staff of at least 653. According to forms filed with the federal government: $36.5 million was spent by NEA on divisive political candidates, causes and lobbying.

  • $115.3 million was paid or contributed to largely ideological organizations.
  • NEA President Lilly Eskelsen was paid $429,569 in 2018, and Executive Director John Stocks was paid $420,198.
  • 380 NEA employees were paid six-figures in 2018
  • 42 NEA employees were paid over $200,000 in 2018
  • NEA employees with 10 years of service are entitled to 10 weeks salary which had a 2017 liability of $6,042,740

Dept. of Labor Reports (file number 000-342)

NEA LM-2 report for 9/1/2018 to 8/31/2019
NEA LM-2 report for 9/1/2017 to 8/31/2018
NEA LM-2 report for 9/1/2016 to 8/31/2017

IRS tax returns (Employee Identification Number 53-0115260)

NEA tax return for 2016
NEA tax return for 2015
NEA tax return for 2014