The Right to Deunionize

Your right to quit the union -- or try to force it out altogether.

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Just as it gives employees the right to unionize, the NLRA also gives them the right to withdraw from union membership.

How to Deunionize

There are two basic ways to deunionize.

One way is to conduct a campaign among the members of your bargaining unit to get them to petition the NLRB to conduct a decertification election. You generally have to show the NLRB that at least 30% of the bargaining unit wants to get rid of the union before the NLRB will hold an election. If you are able to bring about an election, you will probably also have to campaign hard against the union for the votes of other members of the bargaining unit.

Another way to deunionize is simply to resign your individual membership. The courts have ruled that informing your employer that you want check-off deductions for union dues and fees stopped is not sufficient to quit a union; you must advise the union in writing of your decision to quit.

In right-to-work states, such a resignation leaves you free and clear of the union altogether—no membership, no dues, no fees.  In other states, you may be required to continue paying fees and dues to your bargaining unit’s union if the contract there includes a union security agreement. See Right to Work, Union Shops, and Union Dues for more information. 

Limitations on Unions

The NLRA also prohibits unions from interfering with your right to reject or change union membership. Unions may not:

  • restrain or coerce employees from exercising their rights under the NLRA; this includes the violence and threats of violence that some unions use against people who reject union membership
  • cause or encourage an employer to discriminate against an employee or group of employees because of their deunionization activities
  • interfere in any way with an employee’s right to freely express opinions on union membership
  • fail or refuse to bargain in good faith with an employer on behalf of a bargaining unit that has designated the union as its bargaining agent, even if the union and the bargaining unit are at odds, or
  • prevent you from going to work by using such tactics as mass picketing.

Updated by: , J.D.

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