Freedom Foundation

SEIU 503 Letting Members In, But Not Out

In a day when one can deposit a check by scanning it with a phone, authorize a purchase by signing a tablet or sign up for union membership online, SEIU Local 503 in Oregon still refuses to accept union membership resignations submitted by public employees unless the resignations are made in writing with the employee’s original signature.

This means that one cannot opt out of union membership by fax, phone or email.

If you didn’t know better, you’d swear they were trying to make it harder to get out than in.

It’s especially galling that SEIU 503 selectively disputes the originality of a membership resignation form, as it did with one state employee.

In Oct. 2017, Anna (not her real name) mailed an original, signed letter to SEIU 503’s headquarters, requesting to opt out of union membership. Nearly two months later, the union rejected Anna’s request, claiming it didn’t have an original signature.

Mind you, she signed it in blue ink while the rest of the document used black.

Anna reiterated to SEIU 503 that she did mail an original resignation letter in October 2017.

SEIU 503 did not respond.

In desperation, Anna turned to the Freedom Foundation for help.

On Aug. 28, the Freedom Foundation’s attorneys sent a letter to SEIU 503, demanding it process Anna’s resignation request.

SEIU 503 still didn’t respond.

Contrary to what SEIU 503 leaders may think, ignoring a problem does not make it disappear.

A Freedom Foundation attorney sent SEIU 503 a follow-up email on Oct. 16 and, more than two weeks later, SEIU 503 reluctantly replied.

Shirin Khosravi, staff attorney for SEIU 503, again denied Anna ever sent an opt-out letter with her original signature and demanded Anna send in another letter with her original signature before SEIU 503 would consider a refund for past dues.

Anna, through a Freedom Foundation attorney, chided SEIU 503 for demanding another letter when the first one was sufficient. A few weeks later, SEIU 503 stopped deducting dues from Anna and sent a check to refund her for past dues with a note that her claims were “unsubstantiated.”

It seems SEIU 503 is more concerned with bad publicity than with caring for the public employees it supposedly serves. SEIU 503 was perfectly comfortable ignoring Anna and deducting dues against her wishes for over a year, and only agreed to make things right when threatened with a lawsuit.