August 27, 2018 at 2:36 pm

Teachers and ESPs Who Are Union Members: Your “Opt-Out” Window is September 24-30

It is back-to-school time for teachers and education support professionals (ESPs) but is it back to the union as well? EducatedTeachersMN is here to answer your questions so you can decide for yourself what is best.

At the end of June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that forcing public employees to fund a union as a condition of employment violated their First Amendment rights. That long-anticipated decision in Janus v Afscme had immediate financial consequences for Minnesota’s public-sector unions.

Across Minnesota, government employers stopped deducting agency or “fair-share” fees from the paychecks of employees who had exercised their right not to join the union. People like Mark Janus and Rebecca Friedrichs who had exercised their right not to associate with their workplace union got a pay raise this summer.

But what about employees who belong to the union? Was there anything in the Janus decision to help them?

The Court made it clear that employers and unions had to have the affirmative consent of employees before they deduct dues from paychecks. But what that means in practical terms is still being debated. Legal scholars around the country are taking the position that many employees who signed a union card did not freely give their consent.

This is because some employees signed union cards under duress; that the choice of joining or not joining but paying 85 percent of dues, losing your right to vote on the contract you paid to have negotiated, losing all membership benefits, was not a choice at all.

Multiple lawsuits have already been filed on behalf of employees who are union members. The unions argue that union members were not affected at all by the Janus case. And furthermore, that union members are bound by whatever terms the union imposed on them unilaterally for exiting union membership.

That fight will play out in the courts, and state legislatures, across the country for the next several years.

In the meantime, what are teachers and ESPs who want to exercise their right to resign from the union supposed to do?

For the 66,000 licensed K-12 teachers and 7,400 ESPs (para-professionals, payroll clerks, lunch room helpers, et. al.) who signed an Education Minnesota union card, there is a very narrow seven-day window to resign that runs between September 24 and September 30.  

By the way, here is a link to the current union card, and language on dues and resignation:

I agree to submit dues to Education Minnesota and hereby request and voluntarily authorize my employer to deduct from my wages an amount equal to the regular monthly dues uniformly applicable to members of Education Minnesota or monthly service fee, and further that such amount so deducted be sent to such local union for and on my behalf. This authorization shall remain in effect and shall be automatically renewed from year to year, irrespective of my membership in the union, unless I revoke it by submitting written notice to both my employer and the local union during the seven-day period that begins on September 24 and ends on September 30. Such revocation will take effect on October 1 in the year in which I submit the revocation.

The “opt-out” window is very narrow, but the union card is unambiguous: teachers and ESPs have one week to submit their resignation for 2018.

If you do decide to resign from the union, we recommend you buy liability insurance (the rates are quite low). You can find some options here but your insurance agent for home/auto might have a great policy for you, too. You have good options!

EducatedTeachersMN is designed to give teachers and ESPs the information they need to decide for themselves whether to stay in the union or resign. You can sign up for reminder emails and get help next month writing your letter if you decide to resign from Education Minnesota.

Please forward this to your friends who are teachers or ESPs in our K-12 schools. Ask them to join us at


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