Language Access Providers WFSE/AFSCME

How Language Access Providers in Washington Can Opt Out of WFSE/AFSCME Council 28 Dues

Since 2010, language access providers were required to pay union dues to the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE)/AFSCME Council 28 as a condition of employment. CTS LanguageLink automatically withheld union dues from providers' pay.

However, because of the U.S. Supreme Court's June 2014 decision in Harris v. Quinn, language access providers can now demand that WFSE cease withholding union dues/fees from their paychecks.

The court referred to the requirement for partial-public employees like language access providers to pay union dues as a money-making "scheme" for the union and ruled that the mandatory dues requirement violated providers' First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association.

You can opt out of WFSE dues by completing this form and sending it to WFSE.


Frequently Asked Questions

What do I have to do in order to get WFSE to stop deducting dues from my paychecks?

Interpreters who wish to cease paying dues to support WFSE simply have to complete this letter and mail it to the union at the address provided. It's a good idea to send the letter via certified mail or a similar service that provides you with proof of delivery.

Will I still be able to serve DSHS and Medicaid enrollees if I stop paying dues to WFSE?

Yes. Under state law, the union contract for language access providers is binding on all interpreters in the state, regardless of whether they want to be WFSE represented and regardless of whether they choose to pay union dues. Opting out of paying dues will in no way affect your ability to work for DSHS and Medicaid enrollees.

How much are WFSE dues?

According to federal filings, the union's dues in 2015 were 1.5 percent of gross salary, up to $78.80 per month. 

If I stop paying dues to the union, will I still fall under the terms of the contract negotiated with the state?

Yes. WFSE has arranged to be the "exclusive bargaining representative" for all language access providers in the state, meaning that it is impossible for interpreters to get out of the terms of the contract, even if they cease paying dues.

How will my relationship with the union change if I resign my membership in WFSE and stop paying dues?

While the terms of WFSE’s contract will still apply to you, and your relationship with your clients and the state will remain unchanged as a nonmember of WFSE, you will no longer be able to participate in internal union affairs, such as attending union meetings, participating in contract ratification votes or union officer elections. 

How does WFSE spend my dues money?

WFSE does not provide typical workplace representation services and grievance processing to interpreters because, as independent contractors, interpreters do not work in a typical union workplace. WFSE's primary obligation to interpreters is simply to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with the state once every two years.

Despite its limited role, WFSE charges interpreters the same dues amount as it charges state employees to whom it provides greater services.

According to reports the union must file with the U.S. Department of Labor, WFSE collected nearly $23 million in dues and fees from its members in fiscal year 2015.

  • $6.6 million (about 27 percent) went to AFSCME's national headquarters in Washington, D.C., to support its massive political, economic and social agenda. The national AFSCME regularly supports a host of controversial organizations like Planned Parenthood — the nation's largest abortion provider — which received $405,000 from AFSCME last year alone.
  • $1.3 million was spent locally on divisive political candidates, causes and lobbying.
  • $517 thousand was spent on hotels.
  • $202 thousand was spent on travel and airfare.
  • $85 thousand was spent on food and catering.

Other interesting expenses include $33,632 for union t-shirts and $20,000 given to the Washington State Labor Council for "internal organizing."

Also, despite having stockpiled $7.1 million in spare cash, WFSE increased the maximum dues it could charge interpreters from $76.50/month in 2014 to $78.80/month in 2015.

WFSE executive director Greg Devereux received a base salary of $157,994 in 2015. 
AFSCME international president Lee Saunders received a base salary of $301,802 in 2015.