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January 3, 2011

A Notary Union — how would that work?

One Notary wanted a Notary Union. But, would a union help? What would happen? He wanted rates fixed at $150 per signing. It’s not legal to fix rates and $150 is too high.

Signing companies would have to sign a contract with the union if they wanted to get some of the better veteran signing agents. Most or many veterans would join the union. The companies that hired union Notaries would only be able to hire union Notaries, and with a long term contract at ridiculous prices. Meanwhile the non-union signing companies would be able to hire anyone who wasn’t a union Notary. The problem here is that Title companies are only willing to pay so much. And if the union had a meeting where they were going to raise their rate to $160 per signing, they would virtually put the signing company out of business.

This is similar to what happened with car manufacturers and manufacturing in the Midwest which moved permanently to China leaving the union guys without a job at all. Unions helped certain Midwesterners and people in other parts of the country make extra money for about two or three decades by artificially controlling market conditions — and then the mother companies discovered a place called Asia and the party was over which led to mass unemployment.

Union Fees
Notaries would have to pay union fees, and go to union meetings. Very few Notaries make it to the NNA annual conference, so how will they make it to meetings? Notaries have so little money already, how will they pay fees? Most are not even full-time?

Unions basically give privelege to a few of the workers, but do not help workers as a whole. In Boston in the 1980’s, certain more established classes of workers gained privelege to union jobs while Blacks and Puerto Ricans were generally left out until affirmative action became more prevelant. There is also a lot of power politics going in within unions for control. To me, unions are mafia-like power grabbing organizations which force companies to pay an elite group of workers above market level wages. This leaves those without social favor out of the picture and bankrupts companies in the long run. In the long run unions lead to unemployment, unfairness and misery.

The Solution
So, what is the solution to unfair wages? Markets! Fair and open markets solve all wage related problems. With open markets you get paid what you are worth. The problems the Notaries are facing these days is that there are lots of unskilled people who can do Notary work. They might not do a good job, but they can function with guidance. The skills of highly skilled Notaries are no longer valued like in the old days, and that is why the market hires too many unskilled Notaries and doesn’t pay the worthwhile Notaries enough — at least until signing companies come to their senses.

The Cause of the Problem
Part of the reason this is the case is because there are SO FEW highly skilled and reliable Notaries, that you can’t base your business model on only hiring the best. You might get a few “best” notaries, and the rest will be slouches! That is not a consistent business model. Most Notaries on 123notary just don’t know their documents, don’t know what information is where, and don’t know what to do if there is trouble. Most of our Notaries make a lot of claims of how good they are, but really only 250 Elite Certified Notaries on 123notary are hot stuff in my opinion. Those ultra-experienced and highly educated stampers are worth $150 per signing in most cases. The “regular” 123notary certified Notaries are worth about $100 per signing (in my opinion) and the un-123notary certified Notaries are worth $50. If you don’t know anything and have hardly any experience, why should you be paid much more than minimum wage?

My issue is NOT that Notaries are not paid a decent wage. My issue is that the 250 Elite Certified Notaries on our site who merit a better wage are not usually getting it. As for the uncertified majority, the fact that you get work at all is a miracle. I personally would not hire someone who couldn’t pass my test. My test doesn’t guarantee that you are a great Notary — however, it determines that you are at least worth trying and have potential and know your basics.

If it were up to me, anyone who didn’t pass our elite test wouldn’t be allowed to do any signing agent work. After all, this is a serious profession where you routinely handle half million dollar loans. Why hire someone who is any less than highly qualified for such critical work?


You might also like:

The Notary Union raises it’s rates and alienates its notaries!

Minimum wage for Notaries

How much do you merit as a signing agent?



  1. On the last paragraph; because financial decisions are based on “penny wise, pound foolish”

    Comment by Rob Rutt — December 16, 2016 @ 3:30 pm

  2. Well said.

    Comment by Lorraine Lougheed — December 16, 2016 @ 3:45 pm

  3. You are so right on, on this issue. I have thought about this so many times and ended up with the same conclusion. Thank you.

    Comment by Cindy — December 16, 2016 @ 4:03 pm

  4. I agree. I have often thought about a method of eliminating the $50 companies, then realized there was no viable plan that would accomplish that while ensuring quality for the title companies. A free market is the only viable alternative, and knowledgeable, conscientious notaries are the key.

    Comment by Jeff Hebert — December 16, 2016 @ 5:11 pm

  5. $150 is not “too high” and it is ridiculous to say so. I have been doing this for job for 15 years+ and I am paid to perform as expected. I quite often get $150 (like the loan I am doing this morning) because……. my work is clean and there are more pages to a loan than there used to be. I am regularly paid %125 to complete loans because once I am assigned to a loan, I carry through and they can forget about hand-holding.

    Yes, of course the union thing is ridiculous, but with each batch of newbies it arises again and again. I do not ascribe to your thoughts (in previous articles) about “taking anything” to “fill in.” I won’t even start my car for $50, because you lose money. I am not in this business to lose money or enrich signing services. I perform a service and my clients expect the job to be done right, and I expect to be paid for what I do. It’s as simple as that.

    Comment by Ralph Wedertz — December 16, 2016 @ 5:13 pm

  6. Jeremy

    Using the word UNION is misleading and downright meant to make it look like an UNION is all BAD.

    What NOTARIES need is an Professional Association , just like ALTA, REALTORS, NMLS , BANKERS All have.
    Professional bodies that will represent notaries and their welfare and contribute the standards in notary practices.

    So NOTARY ASSOCIATIOn that exist online now are NOT NOTARY ASSOCIATION as the do not represent notaries, but just about plain dont care about them , except for subscription only & product purchase that the sell in their websites.

    There are expensive lawyers, cheap lawyers… Likewise there are going to be expensive notaries & cheap notaries.

    Comment by MainSt Joe — December 16, 2016 @ 5:32 pm

  7. THIS ARTICLE IS IS MISLEADING & Downright Rubbish !!

    Comparing regular unions which what a Notary does is meant to take ones thoughts down the wrong track.

    First off all, lets not trash unions. They do serve a purpose. To prevent worker exploitation & greedy employees. The problem arises that the Union grows stronger and greedy. Greed meets Greed … Boom !!!

    Do Realtors have union? No they have associations !
    Do Title Companies have union? No they have association or a professional body.
    Do Lenders have union? No.. They have professional association

    So trying to suggest notaries need a union and then condemn is meant to mislead notaries.


    4) TO INTRODUCE THE ” ENGAGEMENT OF NOTARY / DIRECT LIABILITY LAW ” .. WHEN a signing service is employed by a lender/title and if the signing service company fails to pay , the lender or the title company who is a beneficiary party to the transaction or the signer itself is directly responsible to clear that delinquency of non-payment. This will put great fear when companies engage signing services who are likely to default.


    Comment by MainSt Joe — December 16, 2016 @ 5:43 pm

  8. Not at all interested om a Union….I can speak for myself and the work I do…..I have set fees….and now that our wonderful State of California our notary fees are going up from $10 to $15…About time…and thankfully so….some lender’s load package are excessive…so I charge an additional $20 for any package over 150 pages…more for Spanish speaking and if the location if a difficult mountain location I charge more…my original fee is $100…$20 more for faxbacks (after all that is a two step process…have to go back to the office to scan and email or fax and then back out to drop the package)…Many times my fee is too much for the company….so I lose that job…but they know the quality of my work and always call back with other offers……..Know your value fellow notary signing agents……make sure your earn appropriately…..so no union for m….

    Comment by Ann Dye — December 16, 2016 @ 11:05 pm

  9. I agree, $150.00 is not too high. It wasn’t that long ago that $125.00 was a standard base fees for a notary traveling between 0-10 miles round-trip to perform a closing. The fee went up from there determined by distance. Of course there were exceptions for areas like NYC, upper state NY or the mountain regions. Professional notaries started at $150.00 in these areas and depending on distance it went up from there. Notaries are providing a professional service. Think about it. You are paying for electric, computer, printer, laser cartridges, paper, scanners, gas, oil, wear and tear on your vehicle and your time. Unless you are performing a notary service to help someone in need, this is a business. My base fee to perform a closing is $125.00.

    Comment by Sherry — December 17, 2016 @ 2:48 am

  10. The point of this article was comedy in case you didn’t notice. In real life there is never going to be a notary union and if there were, it would cause more damage than good. We already have Notary associations and they sell stamps and E&O and might influence Notary law changes in certain states.

    Comment by admin — March 22, 2019 @ 3:33 am

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