Union Free America

Decertifying a Union in Public Employment

All state public sector unionism laws have provisions for employees who no longer want a union to get rid of it.

Generally the process involves getting 30 percent of your coworkers to sign a petition calling for a "decertification" election and then getting a majority of your fellow employees to vote to oust the union.

Here again the deck is usually stacked against freedom.  There are several different time restriction on when a petition to decertify a union can be filed.  This will depend on the state you are in, whether there is already a union contract in effect and the length of the contract.

Some public sector laws are even further stacked against freedom.  They say you can certify a union with a majority of those who vote in an election but that if you want to decertify a union you have to have a majority of all members of the unit, whether they vote or not.  

If you are considering trying to decertify a union you should do some groundwork before you "go public" with the campaign.  The more advance planning and preparation you can do before the union finds out what you're up to, the better will be your chances of success.

The government unionism laws are all a bit different.  Before you start a decertification campaign find out just what the situation is in your agency in your state.  Most of the laws are available on the Internet.  The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO, does a pretty good job of keeping track of the various state public employment relations boards' web sites.

If you want to become Union Free and are having trouble finding the information you need, send us an e-mail and we will look up the law in your state for you.  Be sure to tell us kind of government agency you work for and what state you are in.

In twenty-one states the government unionism laws sanction compulsory unionism in the form of agency shops.  If you are not a union member and are forced to pay an agency shop fee - sometimes called a "fair share" - you should know that you have the Constitutional right to refuse to pay for any union activity other than the actual cost of representation.  The best source of information on that issue is the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

Some of the government unionism laws have provisions for holding an election to "deauthorize" an agency shop.  If you are in an agency shop and decertifying the union isn't in the cards, you may want to consider a deauthorization election.  Let us know what state you're in and we'll see what we can find out for you.

Keep in mind that many of the people who work for public employee relations boards have ties to the unions.  It is possible that if you contact them for information about decertifying a union the union will know about it before the information even reaches you. 

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