Opt Out Today

WFSE (AFSCME Council 28)

How state employees can opt out of paying dues to the Washington Federation of State Employees/AFSCME Council 28 (WFSE)

WFSE is the designated union for state employees across Washington in most state agencies and community colleges.

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:

  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 requesting 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
  • e.g. DSHS, University of Washington, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens after I send my resignation to the union?

If your pay stubs show a deduction labeled, “4509 WFSE Member Dues 1.50%,” then the state should cease the deduction as soon as you request it.

Also, 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.

What if WFSE says I have to wait to end my payroll deduction?

Since 2017, WFSE has pressured state employees to sign a new membership form containing fine print designed to make it difficult to end your dues deductions. The form states you can only end the deductions during a 15-day period each year. If you’ve signed such a form, your pay stubs will show a deduction labeled, “4575 WFSE Maint of Membership.” Even if you have signed a form like this, submit a cancellation request right away. WFSE should respond by letting you know when your resignation window is.

What to do:

First, request that the union provide you with a copy of the dues deduction authorization you allegedly signed.

Second, provide your employer with a written request to cancel the deduction of dues from your pay. The U.S. Supreme Court was clear that government employers have an obligation to recognize employees’ rights when it held that “States and public-sector unions may no longer extract agency fees from nonconsenting employees.”

A copy of a letter you can use is available here.

If neither the union nor your employer will end the deductions, contact OptOutToday.com for assistance.

How much are WFSE dues?

Union dues for WFSE are 1.5% of salary and as high as $955 per year.

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

Yes. WFSE is the union designated to represent employees 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, WFSE 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 WFSE.

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 unions?

People have many reasons for not wanting to support a union. Some simply do not believe the services a union provides are worth the dues it charges. Others may find a 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 unions’ role in enabling and defending underperforming employees. Many find unions’ political activity and use of dues to advance partisan causes, candidates and ideology distasteful. Other 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. 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.

How does WFSE spend my dues money?

According to reports the union must file annually with the U.S. Department of Labor, WFSE collected $25.3 million in dues and fees from its members in 2018 and had a paid staff of at least 125.

  • $7.5 million went to AFSCME International in Washington, D.C., to support its massive political, economic and social agenda. The national AFSCME regularly supports a host of controversial organizations like Planned Parenthood — the nation’s largest abortion provider — which received $405,000 from AFSCME in 2016 alone.
  • $791,421 was spent by WFSE on political candidates, causes and lobbying.
  • $109,804 was paid or contributed to largely ideological organizations.
  • $1.3 million was spent on hotels, travel, and airfare.
  • $86 thousand was spent on food and catering.
  • $316 thousand was spent on digital advertising, bus ads and billboards.
  • $135 thousands was spent on union-branded promotional products, like bandanas, pens and decals.
  • $15,000 was spend on a Seahawks Yearbook advertisement.
  • WFSE Executive Director Greg Devereux was paid $190,121 in 2018.
  • 14 WFSE employees were paid six-figures in 2018.

WFSE’s 2018 LM-2 report is available here.
WFSE’s 2017 LM-2 report is available here.
WFSE’s 2016 LM-2 report is available here.
WFSE’s 2015 LM-2 report is available here.

Reports AFSCME must file annually with the U.S. Department of Labor indicate it collected $186 million in 2017 and had a paid staff of at least 480.

  • $26.5 million was spent by AFSCME on divisive political candidates, causes and lobbying.
  • $4.4 million was paid or contributed to largely ideological organizations.
  • $2.9 million was spent on airfare, hotels and travel.
  • $39,410 was spent on food and catering.
  • The highest-paid AFSCME international employee was paid $497,023 in 2017.
  • Over 240 AFSCME employees were paid six-figures in 2017.

AFSCME’s 2017 LM-2 report is available here.
AFSCME’s 2016 LM-2 report is available here.
AFSCME’s 2015 LM-2 report is available here.

Can I get more copies of the WFSE dues cancellation forms to share?

Yes. You can download and print copies of the WFSE dues cancellation form here.