California

Opt Out of Your Public Sector Union

It’s your paycheck. Union membership is your choice. Government workers in the United States now have a voice and a choice whether or not to support or pay money to a union.

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Provide Information
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Submit Letter

Simply enter the information below and the form will automatically be filled in. When complete, the form will be saved as a PDF to print and send to your union and employer. If you want to fill out the information manually, or print several copies for family, friends and colleagues, you can print a blank opt out form here.

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Instructions

Below is a letter you can use to try and resign your membership from your union and stop paying dues. We recommend you send a copy to your union (by certified mail), a copy to your district, and keep a copy for yourself. Some unions and states may attempt to restrict this right – if you have issues, email us at [email protected] or call us at 833-33MYPAY.

Opt Out Letter

  Download PDF

While public employees are eligible to work without having to pay money to a union, the state of California has passed laws limiting this right. California has nearly 1.5 million public employees that are represented by unions, totaling 55% of all public employees. Some public employee information may only be shared with the union, the associations have specific designated time to meet with employees to pressure them to join and some unions may attempt to enforce opt out “windows.” If you run into any problems, please contact our legal team here.

The main public employee unions in California are the California Teachers Association (NEA), the California Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Union of California State Employees (state and university) and AFSCME (for local government employees). California’s teachers and educational staff make up nearly 450,000 of the public employees represented by unions.

Some other facts you might not have known about public sector unions:

  • There are a number of active lawsuits throughout the state in which public employees are still having fees deducted from their paycheck, despite multiple attempts to disassociate.
  • Each year, government unions in California bring in $800 million in dues.
  • The average California, fee-paying teacher owes $650 each year. The average member pays around $1,000 each year.
  • Since 2016, the California Teachers Association has made nearly $30 million in political contributions to candidates and PACs.
  • Right to work before Janus? NO
  • Active lawsuits
  • Total dues estimate of government unions each year: $800 million
  • 55% public sector employees unionized (2017)
  • Public sector union membership: 1,367,968 (members) / 1,451,361 (covered by collective bargaining/contract) (2017)
  • 61.2% state & local government employees represented by unions (2017)
  • California Teacher’s Association represents more than 325,000 teachers/public school personnel
  • California Federation of Teachers represents more than 120,000 educational employees
  • The average California, fee-paying teacher owes $650 each year. The average member pays around $1,000 each year.
  • Since 2016, the California Teachers Association has made nearly $30 million in political contributions to candidates and PACs.
Image for Meet Mike

Meet Mike

Los Angeles, CA

Mike has worked as an Animal Control Officer for the City of Los Angeles for nearly 30 years after being drawn to the line of work through a background in Animal Science and interest in law enforcement. The job was his first experience with a labor union so he was not familiar with their work and political affiliations. That all changed as soon as the first election cycle came around when Mike received the “voter guide” edition of his union’s quarterly newspaper. “I found that on ninety percent of the issues, the union disagreed with my political views. As the years went on I soon realized I could use this newspaper guide as a voter’s guide for myself. I would vote opposite!” Mike said.

While he was happy with the job and the benefits, Mike felt that his union dues were basically a campaign finance arm for the Democrat Party. For years, he has anticipated the Supreme Court decision on Janus. Once the Court ruled, Mike had difficulty exercising his new rights to stop paying union fees. After calls and letters, he was informed that his window to opt out had passed.

Finally, Mike enlisted the help of My Pay My Say and he soon received a letter from his union stating there had been a “glitch in the system.” He has been receiving checks for back dues and just starting to receive his first paychecks without the union fees deducted.

Image for Meet Kim*

Meet Kim*

San Francisco, CA

Kim works as a breast cancer researcher at a public university in northern California. She has worked in the field for more than a decade, having always been interested in research and passionate about women’s health issues. The prospect of saving lives and contributing to the scientific community continues to drive her work.

Kim, a native of the United Kingdom, experienced an unexpected obstacle in her research efforts and career advancement: public sector labor unions. In the UK, she worked in the public sector as well, where workers had to “opt-in” if they wanted to be a part of a union. However, at her first job in the US, she was shocked that she had no choice but to pay union fees in her job. This seemed to be contradictory to the long-held ideals of “American capitalism” she had heard so much about.

After several years in her position, Kim’s boss offered her a significant pay raise. However, union rules prevented Kim from accepting the increase. Unions claim to have workers’ best interests at heart, yet Kim found their “mob-like” mentality prevented her from being compensated for her research and hard work. Upon reaching out to her union for assistance and an explanation, she faced hostility and a clear unwillingness to help. Even her human resources department was unable to get involved, as the union essentially “owned” the job.

Ultimately, the university created a non-unionized position for Kim in order to circumvent her union’s obstacles. Although grateful to be out from under the thumb of unions, she still does not understand the purpose of punishing people like her and others in her field who have gone to school for many years only to be subjected to an archaic and punitive system.

Moving forward, Kim is thankful for the Janus decision and is glad resources like the My Pay, My Say campaign are available to assist public workers facing similar challenges with their unions.

*At her request, the real name of this public employee has been redacted to protect her from potential retribution from her employer or former union.


Have you made the decision to leave your union? If you are willing to share your story, you can do so here

The Basic Facts

Public employees can no longer be forced to financially support a union that they do not want to be a member of.

Get started above and learn about your rights under Janus, or check out our explainer video for more information on the issue.

State Resources

My Pay, My Say has partnered with the California Policy Center, an educational non-profit focused on public policies that aim to improve California’s democracy and economy.