Send Dues to Charity
In the twenty-five right-to-work States, an employee can choose whether he or she wishes to belong to a union. In the other twenty-five states, the employees of any unionized employer, with a contract so providing, are forced to join or financially support the union in order to work; and these employees will find themselves paying dues to a union without any choice1. These dues will be taken to support the union at the local, state, and international level. Some workers may have sincere religious beliefs that conflict with their being compelled to support the union. For example, you may find that the union has taken a position on issues like abortion, homosexuality, or the death penalty, or has endorsed a candidate whose positions conflict with your own religious beliefs. You should not be forced to use your wages to support someone or something in violation of your own convictions just to be allowed to work. Fortunately, when faced with this conflict, Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act allows you to request the union to send your compulsory dues to charity instead.
Compulsory fees collected by a union are typically split two ways. One part, known as a “Collective Bargaining Fee,” is used to cover the union’s administrative costs, provide for collective bargaining representation, and fund the same kind of expenses for the state and national levels of the union. (The second part, a “Political Fee,” is discussed under Request Dues Refund.) If you have a sincere, earnest religious objection, you also have a right to ask the union to send the fee to charity. The charity has to be non-religious and non-labor oriented. The union may designate charities for you to choose from; but if it hasn’t done so, you may be allowed to choose a qualified, charitable organization of your choice.
When you raise a religious objection, you do not lose any employer-provided benefits. You will no longer be considered to be a member of the union. If your union provides any additional benefits directly to its members, you may lose these.
To make your objection, you only have to explain your sincere and earnest religious belief against paying the union dues.
1The twenty-five States where union fees are compulsory are the following: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.