Thanks to the recent Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, state and local government workers in all 50 states can no longer be forced to financially support a union that they do not want to be a member of for any reason.
The Court’s Janus ruling restored the First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association so that all workers freedom of speech is protected which means that all public servants have the right to decide whether or not they want to join or support the union.
Whether or not union membership is right for you is now your choice alone.
If you are interested in leaving your current union or simply exploring what alternatives to union membership exist, there are many resources and organizations out there to help you understand your rights and navigate the process.
How to opt out of your union
Beginning the opt-out process can be as easy as filling out a few fields on a form and printing out the customized letter. There are several sites that offer an opt out letter template and additional insights into any timing requirements or other limitations you might face.
This Pennsylvania-based nonprofit staffed by former government employees is there to help educate, equip, and empower teachers, first responders, and other public servants in Pennsylvania to receive fair treatment from government unions. Get answers, find out your options and connect with other teachers through their Free to Teach community or with other public servants through their Free to Serve community.
Public employees in Connecticut can learn about their rights and which benefits, such as pensions and protection from layoffs, are protected by state law independent of their union membership status. Workers can also request help in opting out their union.
Teachers in Minnesota can get sample letters and instructions for opting out of their unions as well as tips, and even reminders, of upcoming opt-out window deadlines.
Government employees in Illinois can get answers to frequently asked questions about opting out of Illinois unions and easily create customized opt out letters with all the necessary addresses to mail to their unions.
This site assists workers in learning their rights, provides guidance on how to exercise them, and directs workers to the National Right to Work Foundation’s legal aid program for free assistance in exercising their First Amendment rights protected by the Janus decision.
Public sector employees from all 50 states can use this website to create a PDF opt out letter specific to their state that can be printed and sent to their union.
If you teach in Nevada, Nevada Teacher Choice offers step-by-step instructions and a template letters specific to each school district. They also offer resources for replacing union benefits and a community of other educators who have decided to leave their unions.
Public employees in New York can learn more about how the Janus v. AFSCME decision impacts them and submit their information to have an opt out letter sent directly to their employer.
Public sector employees in Washington, Oregon and California can get detailed information about what it will take to opt out of their union, as well as create a customized letter or a general opt-out letter.
Rhode Island public sector workers can get more information about their rights, find answers to frequently asked questions, and generate a personalized opt out letter to send to their employer and union.
If you have tried to opt out and encountered obstructions or resistance, or are having your workplace freedoms violated in other ways, the Liberty Justice Center (who represented Mark Janus) is available to help. Check out StandwithWorkers.org for more information and to get updates on the issue of workplace freedom.
Teachers across the US will soon be able to see the specific requirements to opt-out of the teachers union in their state, as well as the challenges or obstacles they can anticipate and available alternatives for liability insurance, professional development, and other benefits.
The Buckeye Institute is making it easy for public-sector workers in Ohio to initiate the opt-out process by providing the unique opt-out requirements for their specific union and how to complete the process (which varies from union to union).
If you are unhappy with your current union options, you are not alone.
If you’re considering leaving your union, you are not alone. Many government workers around the country feel like their unions are no longer listening to them and are embracing political agendas and causes that oppose their own beliefs and often have nothing to do with worker benefits. Opting out of your union will not mean that public sector unions cease to exist, but it will send a signal to union leaders that they need to re-focus priorities and start listening to their members again.
Government Workers Stories: Hear about the experiences that prompted these worker heroes to leave their unions.
Mark Janus (Illinois): Mark felt his union was pushing for benefits that were not in the best interest of his state or taxpayers.
Kate Bowers (Oregon): Kate’s dues were being used for political views she did not support and were unrelated to her profession.
Aaron Benner (Minnesota): Aaron Benner found his union was working against him when he tried to change school policies that were endangering his students.
Government workers offer their perspectives on what the Janus v. AFSCME decision means to them and their colleagues:
Jade Thompson: Supreme Court decision puts workers In driver’s seat (Washington Examiner)