- No employee in the United States can legally be required to be a full-dues-paying, formal union member. But in many states, a private-sector employee can be forced to pay certain union dues or be fired from his or her job.
- Union members have the right to resign from formal membership at any time. However, dues deduction authorizations may limit when they can be revoked.
- Private-sector employees covered by state Right to Work laws and all public employees can not lawfully be required to pay any union fees to keep their jobs. But state Right to Work laws do not protect railway and airline employees and employees of private-sector contractors on some federal properties.
- Because they enjoy the special privilege of exclusive representation, unions have a legal duty to represent fairly all employees in their bargaining units. Unions are legally required to represent nonmember employees the same as members, but unfortunately this duty is often breached.
- If a law or bargaining agreement permits it, private-sector employees can be forced to pay certain union fees. If you don’t join the union, or resign from membership, and notify the union that you don’t want to pay full dues, the required fee must be limited to the union’s proven costs of collective bargaining activities. This fee may not lawfully include things like political expenses.
- Private-sector nonmembers with religious objections to supporting a union have the right to ask the union to redirect the forced dues amount to charity. Religious objectors do not have to belong to a specific church to claim this right.
- A union member who wants to work during a strike should resign from union membership BEFORE going to work. If the resignation is mailed, the employee should not work until the day after the resignation is postmarked. Otherwise, the employee could be fined by the union. If you are already a nonmember, you can work at will during a strike and not be lawfully fined.
- Many employees have a legal right to petition for an election to oust an unwanted union from their workplace or to eliminate the union’s ability to collect forced fees. You should contact us if you want to do this.
- Your best source for information about your Right to Work rights is this web site. Foundation attorneys have represented many employees like you, and have taken several cases all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to protect workers’ rights.
- If, after reviewing the information available through the links below, you are still unclear about your rights, or believe that you need legal aid because union officials have violated these rights (as they frequently do), call us at 800-336-3600 or send us an e-mail here.
To learn more about your legal rights, please select the category of employment to which you belong:
- Federal Government Employee
- Private Sector Employee
- Public School Teacher or College Professor
- Airline/Railway Employee
- State or Local Government Employee
- Charter School Teacher or Employee
(Download our one sheet PDF printout on understanding your Janus rights here.)