Writing and submitting an opt out letter can be an intimidating part of leaving a union, but it doesn’t have to be. If you decide that union membership isn’t right for you, sending an opt out letter is a necessary step if you want the union to stop deducting dues from your paycheck.
Below we’ll explain the importance of an opt out letter, what your letter should include, and guide you through the process of filling it out and sending it to your union.
What is an opt out letter?
An opt out letter is a formal way of notifying your union that you no longer wish to be a member. Think of an opt out letter like a resignation letter that you would provide to your employer when you decide to leave your job. Your union opt out letter allows you to formally end your union membership, but it also provides legal protection for you and the union by showing that you have been offered the chance to join the union or continue your membership, but have chosen to decline.
Why do I need an opt out letter?
You can reject union membership either by opting out or never joining in the first place. Choosing whether to join or leave a union is a personal decision that you should be able to make without fear of retaliation from your union or employer. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects you from this type of conduct, so you can confidently make your own decision about union membership.
If you have decided to resign your union membership and want to stop union deductions from your paycheck, we strongly recommend that you document your decision in an opt out letter and send it to your union.
While your union may not require one, writing an opt out letter can help clarify your reasons for wanting to leave the union in the first place. It also gives you the space to make an informed decision about union membership without feeling unnecessary pressure if you decide to leave.
An opt out letter also creates a paper trail and can protect you from any future legal disputes over whether you were offered the opportunity to join the union or whether you really exercised your right to end your membership.
What should my opt out letter include?
You can find examples of opt out letters online or choose to write your own from scratch. Not every opt out letter will look the same, but each letter should include a few key pieces of information.
In addition to your name and contact information, be sure to include your employer’s name, the name of the union, and your reason for opting out. You should also clearly state that you have the right to resign from the union and it must immediately stop any automatic payroll deductions for union dues or fees.
In some cases, you may only be able to end your union membership during a designated opt out period. You can choose to mention this in your opt out letter by asking the union to respond to your request in writing with any additional action you must take in order to stop automatic dues or agency fee deductions and resign your membership in the union.
If you need help writing your letter, try our Opt Out letter tool here. To get started, select your state and fill out the form. Once you click submit, our site will generate a PDF version of your opt out letter that you can print and send to your union.
What should I expect after I send my opt out letter to the union?
Once you send your opt out letter, the union will typically respond to let you know they received it within a few weeks. In the meantime, keep an eye on your paycheck. Monitor your pay stub closely to make sure that the deductions stop. Depending on when your opt out letter is received, it could take a pay period or two for your request to be processed. If you continue to have dues deducted from your paycheck after more than two pay cycles, contact the union.