How Language Access Providers in Washington Can Opt Out of Interpreters United WFSE/AFSCME Local 1671
Since 2010, language access providers were required to pay union dues to Interpreters United WFSE/AFSCME Local 1671 as a condition of employment. Union dues were automatically withheld from providers’ paychecks.
However, because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2014 decision in Harris v. Quinn, language access providers can now demand that WFSE cease withholding union dues/fees from their wages.
The court referred to the requirement for partial-public employees like language access providers to pay union dues as a money-making “scheme” for the union and ruled that the mandatory dues requirement violated providers’ First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association.
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 requesting 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
Interpreters who wish to cease paying dues to support WFSE simply have to complete the form above and mail it to the union at the address provided. It’s a good idea to send the letter via certified mail or a similar service that provides you with proof of delivery.
Yes. Under state law, the union contract for language access providers is binding on all interpreters in the state, regardless of whether they want to be WFSE represented and regardless of whether they choose to pay union dues. Opting out of paying dues will in no way affect your ability to work for DSHS and Medicaid enrollees.
According to federal filings, the union’s dues in 2018 were 1.5 percent of gross salary, up to $84.46 per month.
Yes. WFSE has arranged to be the “exclusive bargaining representative” for all language access providers in the state, meaning that it is impossible for interpreters to get out of the terms of the contract, even if they cease paying dues.
While the terms of WFSE’s contract will still apply to you, and your relationship with your clients and the state will remain unchanged as a nonmember of WFSE, you will no longer be able to participate in internal union affairs, such as attending union meetings, participating in contract ratification votes or union officer elections.
WFSE does not provide typical workplace representation services and grievance processing to interpreters because, as independent contractors, interpreters do not work in a typical union workplace. WFSE’s primary obligation to interpreters is simply to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with the state once every two years.
Despite its limited role, WFSE charges interpreters the same dues amount as it charges state employees to whom it provides greater services.
According to reports the union must file annually with the U.S. Department of Labor, WFSE collected $24 million in dues from its members in FY2019 and had nearly 200 paid staff and officers.
- $6.8 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.
- $725,220 was spent by WFSE on political candidates, causes and lobbying.
- $243,319 was paid or contributed to largely ideological organizations.
- $826 thousand was spent on hotels, travel, and airfare.
- $73 thousand was spent on union t-shirts and key chains.
- $40 thousand was spent on food and catering.
- WFSE Executive Director Greg Devereux was paid $179,046 in FY2019.
- 20 WFSE employees were paid six-figures in FY2019.
Also, despite having stockpiled more than $10.4 million in spare cash, WFSE increased the maximum monthly dues it could charge from $81.18 in FY2018 to $84.46 in FY2019.
WFSE’s 2019 LM-2 report is available here.
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 $197 million in 2018 and had a paid staff of at least 463.
- $53 million was spent by AFSCME on divisive political candidates, causes and lobbying.
- $2.3 million was paid or contributed to largely ideological organizations.
- $3.1 million was spent on airfare, hotels and travel.
- $1.7 million was spent on food and catering.
- AFSCME president Lee Saunders was paid $356,692 in 2018.
- Over 240 AFSCME employees were paid six-figures in 2018.