Photo ID Needed to Leave Union, Not to Vote for Union

Leaving the union? Not so fast. On October 1, 2014, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) issued a policy that all employees who want to leave the union must appear in person at the IBEW office with a photo ID.

This is a particularly interesting development given that in April 2012, the IBEW opposed laws requiring an individual to have a photo ID to vote. The IBEW argued that photo ID laws suppress voting because 11% of American citizens don’t have a government-issued photo ID. It seems that 11% of American citizens also will not be able to leave the union.

This rule was challenged when the IBEW required a member to present photo identification – 82 miles from where he worked – to quit the union under Michigan’s right-work-law.

IBEW is not the only union to oppose photo ID requirements for voting and then require workers to present an ID to leave the union. The UAW Local 600 union, which represents truck drivers and other private sector workers, was the subject of an NLRB complaint alleging the union was requiring individuals to present a photo ID in person to leave the union. As right-to-work legislation catches on across the country, I suspect this “photo ID to leave a union” issue will be growing in the coming years.

Matt Austin is a lawyer based in the Columbus, Ohio office of Roetzel & Andress, LPA who limits his practice to representing employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 723-2010 or email him at