Monday, February 28, 2011

Getting Back Union Dues

For those of you who have been part of the union either now or in the past, here is a way to get back some of those union dues that have not been used for direct representation, such as for political campaigns or charitable causes. has a fairly simple way to generate a letter requesting a refund of your dues.  The Communications Workers of America v. Beck decision by the SCOTUS entitles union members a refund of their dues not used for representation.
I have not used the site, nor should this be considered an endorsement of the site, use at your discretion and caution. As far as I can tell, it does not ask for security information such as your SSN.

As a sampler, I ran Service Employees – Local 49 or Portland, OR just to get some idea of the numbers.  SEIU – Local 49 represents approximately 7000 nurses and health care employees.  According to the number crunched, just that one local owes over $240K in total Beck Funds for 2009. That works out to be $35.00 for each union member. Keep in mind that 2009 was NOT an election year. I’d really be curious how much they spent in 2008 or 2010 but as far as I could tell that function was not available.

One last caveat: If you do decide to move forward with requesting a refund of your dues that were not spent on direct representation, you might be required to resign from your union. Resignation from a union would mean loss of union privileges like voting on matters such as union board members and collective bargaining agreements.  It could also mean the loss of your job if you are not in a state that is a “right to work” state. The example above is from Oregon, which is NOT a right-to-work state.  I would most definitely check with you union steward before submitting anything to your local.

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