Union dues
Union dues are a regular payment of money made by members of unions
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

. Dues are the cost of membership; they are used to fund the various activities which the union engages in. Nearly all unions require their members to pay dues.


Depending on the level of democratic control in a union
Union democracy
Union democracy is a school of thought within organized labor which argues that sound unionism requires adherence to principles and practices of democratic trade unionism; that internal democracy and greater membership control make unions stronger and better able to fight for the rights and...

, union members may have little to a great deal of say over the level of dues, what dues are used for, and how often dues are collected. Many union members pay union dues out of their wages, although some unions collect dues separately from the paycheck. Union dues may be used to support a wide variety of programs or activities, including: Paying the salaries and/or benefits of full-time or part-time union leaders and/or staff; union governance; legal representation; legislative lobbying; political campaigns; pension, health, welfare, and safety funds; and/or the union strike fund
Strike action
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...


Dues are different from fees and assessments. Fees are generally one-time-only payments made by the union member to the union to cover the administrative of ongoing programs or activities. One example is the initiation fee, a fee charged by the union to the worker when the employee first joins the union. The initiation fee covers the administrative costs of joining the union. Fees may, however, be ongoing. For example, a union program (such as a welfare or benefit fund) may be offered only to those union members who pay a regular fee to participate in the fund.

Since participation in the fund is not a requirement of union membership, the payment qualifies as a fee payment and not a dues payment. Assessments are generally one-time-only payments made by the union member to the union to cover a special program or activity. These special programs may or may not be ongoing, and may or may not operate for a limited time or in a limited fashion. An example is an organizing assessment, a payment the union may levy on its members to establish a union organizing fund. Another example is a one-time-only assessment to establish a fund; since the fund requires a large capital infusion to be established, the assessment is used to raise this money.

Many local union
Local union
A local union, often shortened to local, in North America, or a union branch in the United Kingdom and other countries is a locally-based trade union organization which forms part of a larger, usually national, union.Local branches are organized to represent the union's members from a particular...

s are affiliated with city, province/state, regional, or national bodies. Often, these bodies levy their own dues on local unions, and a union member's dues may include the dues these other union organizations impose.

The legal status of union dues may be regulated by law. Depending on each country's labour law
Labour law
Labour law is the body of laws, administrative rulings, and precedents which address the legal rights of, and restrictions on, working people and their organizations. As such, it mediates many aspects of the relationship between trade unions, employers and employees...

 and/or the kind of union security
Union security
A union security agreement is a contractual agreement, usually part of a union collective bargaining agreement, in which an employer and a trade or labor union agree on the extent to which the union may compel employees to join the union, and/or whether the employer will collect dues, fees, and...

 agreement permitted by law, not all dues may be collected from all members.

The level of union dues varies widely. Some unions collect a percentage of each worker's pay (which may be limited to base wages only or include additional pay such as overtime
Overtime is the amount of time someone works beyond normal working hours. Normal hours may be determined in several ways:*by custom ,*by practices of a given trade or profession,*by legislation,...

 income). Others collect a percentage of each worker's pay, but the percentage itself varies on a sliding scale (with lower-paid workers paying a lower percentage). Some dues ("set-dues") may be set at a specific level. For example, "each worker must be 150 denarii per month." Some unions use a combination of percentage and "set-dues". Collection frequency also varies widely, and may be tied to the receipt of the paycheck or on a calendar basis (biweekly, monthly, or yearly).

Different Collection machines are used for union dues also exhibit wide variation. A commonly used machine in industrialized countries is the "dues check-off" mechanism, where the employer agrees to deduct all union dues, fees, and assessments automatically from each worker's pay-check and transmit the funds to the union on a regular basis. Many unions, however, collect dues from workers directly. For example, the Industrial Workers of the World
Industrial Workers of the World
The Industrial Workers of the World is an international union. At its peak in 1923, the organization claimed some 100,000 members in good standing, and could marshal the support of perhaps 300,000 workers. Its membership declined dramatically after a 1924 split brought on by internal conflict...

, are constitutionally prohibited from allowing an employer to collect dues on its behalf.
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