Send Dues To Charity

In the twenty-two right-to-work States1, an employee can choose whether he or she wishes to belong to a union. In the other twenty-eight states2, the employees of any unionized employer are forced to belong to the union in order to work and these employees will find themselves paying dues to a union without any choice. 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 direct the union to send your compulsory dues to charity instead.

Dues collected by a union are typically split two ways. The larger part, known as an “Agency Fee,” is used to cover the union’s administrative costs, provide for collective bargaining representation and fund 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 refuse to pay the union these dues. You can redirect the agency fee portion to a charitable, non-profit organization as a substitute form of payment. The charity has to be non-religious and non-labor oriented, such as the March of Dimes or the Salvation Army. The union is permitted to designate three charities for you to choose from but if it hasn’t done so, you are free to divert your dues to any qualified, charitable organization of your choice.

When you raise a religious objection, you do not lose any employer-provided benefits. You will continue to be covered by the collective bargaining process and you will get the same pay, same raises, same health coverage and same pension benefits your employer provides to its union employees. 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 but they are usually supplemental and can be replaced at a minimal cost.

To make your objection, you only have to explain your sincere and earnest religious belief against paying the union dues and nothing more. Unions cannot try to discourage you by requiring proof of your beliefs. The union cannot require letters from clergy or copies of church doctrines. You simply have to be sincere in your request and inform the union of why you have a religious objection to paying dues. Feel free to use language similar to the sample letter found here.

1The twenty-two right to work States are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming.

2The twenty-eight States where union membership is compulsory are: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.