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Survey: Many workers do not know of right to forgo union membership


From Illinois Business Journal news services

Workers in nearly one-third of union households in Illinois are not aware of their right to forgo union membership, according to a survey released recently by the Illinois Policy Institute and the Nevada Policy Research Institute.

The survey was released as part of National Employee Freedom Week, an annual, national campaign to inform workers about their workplace rights – specifically their right to leave the union.

The poll, conducted in June by Google Consumer Survey, asked workers in 300 union households in Illinois: “Are you aware that you can opt-out of union membership and of paying all union dues without losing your job or any other penalty?” The survey found that 30.8 percent of Illinois respondents answered “No” to the question. Nationally, the figure is 39.2 percent.

“Illinois does not have a Right-to-Work law, so almost every worker in a unionized workplace must pay fees or dues to a union as a condition of employment. But workers do have some recourse,” said Kristina Rasmussen, executive vice president at the nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute. “They are not forced to be full-fledged union members, and are offered the choice to ‘opt out’ of paying full union dues.”

Other findings from the NEFW survey:

– Illinois has approximately 831,000 unionized workers.

– Nationally, one quarter of union members said they would exercise the right to opt-out of official union membership if they were able to do so without losing their job or facing any other penalty.

– More than 75 percent of union members surveyed across the U.S. said that workers should have the right to decide, without without force or penalty, whether to join or leave a labor union.

In addition to educating union members about their rights, NEFW also helps them exercise these rights. The NEFW website features an interactive map that includes information on opt-out windows, sample opt-out letters and information about union alternatives.

The full survey results are available here:

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