The Law and Union Membership
A “union security” provision in your contract may state that you are required to become a member of the union within thirty or sixty days of being hired, as a condition of keeping your job.
A “union security” provision in your contract may state that you are required to become a member of the union within thirty or sixty days of being hired, as a condition of keeping your job. What is being required in these cases is not full, dues-paying membership in the union but rather the regular payment of a defined amount of money, which can be somewhat less than full dues. (There’s another type of arrangement, known as “maintenance of membership,” in which all those who are members of the union as of a certain date are required to maintain their memberships for a set period of time.)
In the private sector, all these kinds of arrangements are bargained in the union contract. In the public sector, they may come about through bargaining or legislation. If you are covered by this kind of union security arrangement, the law says you can choose not to pay the full amount. You may opt, instead, to pay what is called an “agency fee” or “fair share.” You must pay one or the other, however; if you do not join the union or pay your fair share, you can lose your job.
-- Adapted from The Union Members Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer