Religious Liberty

Department Head: Danny Milton
614-252-5271 ext. 10


Labor Union Membership Exemptions
Tips for Getting Membership Exemption

Begin here: Prayerfully and thoughtfully study scripture and other materials available from the Religious Liberty Department. If you're asked to explain your beliefs, have in mind a one- or two- minute explanation based on several Scripture passages. The union usually does not want a comprehensive explanation.

Different laws apply to union membership according to whether the employer is in the public or private sector.

  1. Federal Employees-Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
  2. State Employees, Public School Employees, Local Government Employees-State Government Codes
  3. Private Employees- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

Most conscience exemptions excuse employees with religious objections from both membership in unions and financial support of unions, but the employee is required to make equivalent contributions directly to a nonunion, non-religious charity.

How to Arrange Exemption

Contact the Religious Liberty Department for copies of documents that support your request for an exemption to union membership because of your personal religious convictions and the official teaching of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  State that you are willing to pay an equivalent of initiation fees and periodic dues to a nonunion, non-religious charitable fund. Do not provide this material until you are approached or notified of the membership requirement. Once you're notified, respond quickly.

Guidelines for Charitable Contributions

  • Charity should not be church or labor union related.
  • Most laws require the collective bargaining agreements to suggest two or three appropriate charities. If the contract does not specify such charities, you should be able to select your own.
  • If appropriate charities are proposed by the employer or union, show a Christian spirit of cooperation by accepting the suggestion.
  • Have two or three suggestions in mind.
  • Some tips to remember:

*  Unions often prefer a charity that gives a local benefit so that other employees will see merit.

*  If United Way or a similar organization is urged, ask the organization for information about
arrangements to “earmark” your donations for a particular program of your preference.
*  Your donations should go directly to the charity.
*  Be prepared to send copies of your receipts to the union if the union prefers.

*  Occasionally unions want you to send them a check payable to the charity and then the charity will send you a receipt.
*  In some cases you may be able to arrange for your charity contributions to be made by automatic payroll deduction.

Suggestions for Employee

Do not apply for union membership, authorize payroll dues deduction, or make contributions through the union or union fund.

Clearly explain that you are a Seventh-day Adventist and have religious objections to joining or supporting unions and want to arrange an exemption.

Be willing to give copies of contribution receipts to the union or arrange payroll deductions for charity.