National Employee Freedom Week (NEFW), which started August 10 and runs until August 16, is a countrywide effort by 70 groups in 41 states that’s goal is to educate workers of their rights they have to opt out of union membership. This worker education is necessary because many workers are unaware of this freedom and unions do as little as possible to inform workers of their right to end their union membership.
For workers in the 24 right-to-work states, they can end their union membership and are free from paying any union dues without suffering loss of pay or benefits.
In the 26 forced-unionism states, where workers are required to pay union dues as a condition of employment, employees options are restricted, but they still can opt out of union membership and become an agency fee payer. Agency fee payers cannot be charged full union dues and those dues cannot support the union’s political activity.
However, as previously mentioned, unions make it difficult for workers to disassociate. Many unions limit when members may opt out of union membership. Often workers only have a window of a week or two during the year to end their relationship with their union. Commonly, August is the month when workers are permitted to leave their union.
For example, in Michigan, the Michigan Education Association only allows teachers to opt out of union membership in August. To inform workers of this reality, the Mackinac Center initiated the “August Opt Out” campaign, where the website provides a generic opt-out form for you to fill out.
In addition to alerting workers of when and how to opt out of union membership, NEFW provides information on professional associations that offer similar benefits and services of unions at a lower cost.
A poll conducted by NEFW provides evidence that workers need to greater education on opting out of union membership. A NEFW scientific poll shows that “more than 28 percent of union members would like to leave their union if they could do so without penalty. That’s about 4 million of the nation’s 14.5 million union members.”
Further, the lion’s share of the public agrees that right-to-work should be the law of the land. According to the NEFW poll, 83 percent of Americans agree that workers should “have the right to decide, without force or penalty, whether to join or leave a labor union.”
From August 10 to 16, the NEFW coalition members will put on a variety activities to educate union members of their rights to leave their unions.
For instance, in North Carolina, the Civitas Institute, a NEFW member, put up eight billboards asking the question: “Want a $450 raise?”
North Carolina, a right-to-work state, allows workers to opt out of union membership without any negative repercussions. But as the Civitas billboard intimates, a benefit that arises from teachers ending their union membership is a $450 raise (the cost of union dues).
To learn about how to opt out of union membership in your state or find a professional association, visit EmployeeFreedomWeek.com.