Principles Statement

As supporters and champions of employee freedom, we affirm that freedom from coercion and compulsion are paramount in the workplace. Every employee deserves a choice and a voice on union representation.

Policymakers across the country should therefore safeguard public employees’ right to free speech. Labor unions should not expect employees to sacrifice their constitutional right or to forfeit a portion of their hard-earned pay for union fees without their express consent.

Choice is also a pivotal component of a thriving workforce. Employees may enjoy choices about where they work, but not all can choose whether a union collectively bargains for their wages, or even which union will represent them in that process. They deserve a say on these matters.

State and local governments also bear the responsibility of ensuring that union interests are not prioritized above the rights, interests or expressed wishes of individual employees. Policies should be neutral because – above all – the right to earn a living should not be hampered by one’s union or one’s government.

We demonstrate a commitment to these values by advancing and protecting the following principles:

1. Public employees deserve choice when it comes to their hard-earned paychecks

Employers must have express consent directly from employees before any union dues or fees are withheld from their paychecks. When determining whether it’s appropriate to deduct these dues or fees from employee paychecks, employers should no longer simply take the union’s word for it.

2. Employees should be able to exercise their rights at any time and not be trapped into paying union dues against their will.

Unions should not use confusing verbiage to trap members into union contracts. Neither should unions or employers leverage policies that prevent employees from exercising their right to make a fresh decision about their union membership at any time. Unions and employers should provide clear and appropriate opt-in or opt-out opportunities for employees to pursue at their own discretion, regardless of time or rationale.

3. Employees must be allowed to choose which union best represents them, if they choose one at all.

Most union members have never had a say in which union represents them.

Regular union re-certification elections should be held to provide employees a choice and a voice in deciding whether an entity will represent their interests and, if so, which entity is empowered to negotiate on their behalf.

4. All Americans deserve the right to work without intimidation or forced financial support to unions.

The Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME ruling confirmed public-sector employees’ right to work without paying a union. The decision gives all public employees the same freedoms already enjoyed by employees in right-to-work states, which make up the majority of the United States. Private-sector workers in states without right-to-work protections, however, can still be fired for not paying unions.

All Americans, including private-sector workers, deserve the chance to work without financially supporting unions.

5. Employees have First Amendment rights.

Employees’ First Amendment right to free speech protects them from being forced to financially support a government union, whose negotiating and political campaign activities constitute political speech.

Public employers must have practices in place that ensure these rights are recognized and respected.

6. Employees expect their unions to apply commonsense business practices, just as they expect employers to do so.

The standards of good business apply to unions just as they apply to employers. Transparent recordkeeping and sound bookkeeping practices matter, especially when it comes to confirming in writing who wants to join the union, and knowing, without a doubt, which employees agreed to have union dues deducted from their paycheck.

Public and private-sector employees should be able to expect transparency and accountability from the unions they’re financially supporting or those empowered to represent them.

These principles are grounded in fairness, the constitutional right to free speech and the goal of protecting opportunities for all employees across the country.