Labor Law -- active

United Nurses & Allied Professionals   (NLRB)

Challenging the NLRB's presumption that union dues spent for lobbying are germane to collective bargaining

The NAM filed an amicus brief with the NLRB in a case that could significantly alter the current way employees exercise their Beck rights to object to union dues expenditures for political activities such as lobbying. The U.S. Supreme Court in Beck explained that mandatory union dues may be used only to support union activities germane to collective bargaining, contract administration and grievance adjustment, and may not be used for political speech that conflicts with the First Amendment rights of the union members who pay dues. The decision does allow a union to charge for core union activities to prevent the “free rider” problem where benefits are bestowed on employees who might not otherwise contribute financially to the union’s activities.

Our brief argued that lobbying is not a core union function, and that the Supreme Court has already decided the issue in a case under an equivalent statute. Non-member employees should not be compelled to fund these union political activities.

In this case the NLRB is considering imposing a presumption that union dues for certain lobbying activities are germane to collective bargaining and other core union functions. The NAM argued that a union must bear the burden to prove that a lobbying expense is germane.

The Board also decided that an employee who objects to the union’s expenditures may not seek any verification of how the union spends funds. The NAM believes that all employees are entitled to a copy of an annual audit verification letter certifying that the union’s expenses were actually incurred, and the union must provide a statement of its chargeable and non-chargeable expenses.

If the NLRB adopts its presumption, it will be much harder if not impossible for objecting employees to determine whether any of the dues they pay are legitimate. The NAM’s approach prevents union dues from being used to promote political causes to which employee's object.

Related Documents:
NAM amicus brief  (February 19, 2013)


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