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FAQs About Obtaining Labor Union Exemption

What can I do? My company is being unionized. Unless I sign up, I will lose my job.

The Civil Rights Act requires labor unions to accommodate an employee’s religious convictions. An employee has the right to request an exemption from joining and paying dues to a labor union. Instead, he/she contributes a comparable sum to a mutually agreed-upon non-union, non-religious charity.

If you don’t join the “union”, you cannot work here!

We receive calls from clients regularly asking us if that statement is true. In Alaska, Montana, Oregon and Washington, if a company is unionized, membership in that union is a condition of employment. Idaho is the only right-to-work state in the Northwest. An exception to required membership is an objection due to sincere religious, moral, or ethical convictions against membership.

Why the caution about membership?

  • Christ is the Lord of the life, the ultimate authority to which Christians submit all decisions and relationships:
    • Acts 2:36, NIV – 36“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
    • Acts 5:29, NIV29“Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!”
  • Christians should stand apart from any alliance that might impinge on the Lordship of Christ in the life:
    • Isaiah 8:12, 13, NIV12“Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.13 Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.”
  • When employees sign a union card, they are agreeing to give over their personal responsibility to the union in most workplace matters.
  • A Christian will not want to violate his conscience by giving support to activities or policies incompatible with the principles and counsels set forth in God’s Word. For example, we would not want our dues and fees to support political causes and candidates that we could not support as individuals.
    • Luke 22:34, NIV34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
  • Non-Christians who oppose membership can also obtain labor union exemption if their beliefs meet the requirements of the definition of religion used in 701(j) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. This provision defines religious practice as “moral and ethical right and wrong which are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views.”

How can conscientious employees request exemption from union membership?

Call the Northwest Religious Liberty Association (NRLA) at 360-857-7040. We are in the office Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on Friday. After talking with you, we can provide guidance applicable to your situation. We also supply the necessary forms and letter templates and instruction on how to use them via e-mail or the US postal service. Labor union exemption is not a way to avoid the expense of dues, since by law, exemption from membership requires the employee to pay the equivalent of dues and fees to a non-union, non-religious charity.