How Public School and Higher Education Employees Can Opt Out of Washington Education Association Dues
The Washington Education Association (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, 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:
- Enter your information into the form below and click “submit.”
- On the resulting page, click the link to open your customized form. You will also receive an email with a link to your form.
- Print the form. If you check the appropriate box about needing a printed version, we’ll mail you a copy of the form.
- Sign and date the form.
- Mail the completed form to the address at the top of the form. We highly recommend sending it via certified mail.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 causes like abortion advocacy and attacks on values. Additionally, the core union philosophy of conflict, oath-breaking, disrespect and greed also can be contrary to many religious beliefs. To learn more about the major public unions’ expenditures in light of common faith beliefs click here.
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.
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. WEA member pay NEA, WEA, UniServs as well as the local.
These organizations are less likely to perform workplace representation services, and may report to the IRS some of the financial activity found in their 990 tax returns, or to the U.S. Department of Labor in their LM-2 forms.
Some elements of WEA and NEA spending are also available here.