How Language Access Providers in Washington Can Opt Out of WFSE/AFSCME Council 28 Dues
Since 2010, language access providers were required to pay union dues to the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE)/AFSCME Council 28 as a condition of employment. CTS LanguageLink automatically withheld union dues from providers’ pay.
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 paychecks.
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.
You can opt out of WFSE dues by completing the form below and sending it to WFSE.
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 2017 were 1.5 percent of gross salary, up to $79.59 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 $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.
Also, despite having stockpiled more than $9.5 million in spare cash, WFSE increased the maximum monthly dues it could charge from $79.59 in 2017 to $81.18 in 2018.
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.