82.87 percent of Americans say union workers should be able to opt out without force or penalty. Many union members don’t know they already have that right.
National Employee Freedom Week (NEFW) is working to change just that. NEFW is a nationwide campaign to let employees know they have the freedom to opt-out of their union. Through a coalition of 77 groups in 44 states, NEFW aims to “empower workers by informing them of their choices, sharing alternatives that may better serve their needs and provided them the resources needed to make the choice that’s best for them.”
Among these options, NEFW emphasizes that employees in “Right-To-Work States” have the option to leave their union entirely. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Inc. explains nearly half of the US—24 states —protect employees from being required to join unions. Even those living in “Non-Right-To-Work States,” have options within their union. Employees in these states can either become an agency fee payer that only pays for the non-political parts of union membership or become a religious/conscientious objector who does not fund the union whatsoever.
Alternative professional organizations provide additional options such as insurance and opportunities for professional development at a fraction of the cost of a union membership. For example, organizations such as the Association of American Educators offer insurance benefits for just $16.50 a month and cover $2 million in liability insurance.
Of 454 union members surveyed, NEFW found 136 wanted to leave their union. By increasing awareness through their August 10—16, 2014 campaign, NEFW can help union members to understand their options and weigh the opportunity cost of paying thousands of dollars in dues or freeing themselves from the unions.