A recent Memorandum issued by the General Counsel (GC) of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) (GC 19-04, February 22, 2019), discusses issues of importance to all employers and in particular to employers that have union contracts that provide for union dues-checkoff.
In the Memorandum, the GC reminds the NLRB Regions that the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) permits union dues-checkoff contractual arrangements only if the employees, subject to those arrangements, authorize their employers, in writing, to have the union dues checked-off from their wages and only if they are provided with the opportunity to revoke the dues-checkoff authorizations:
- At least once per year, and
- Upon expiration of the applicable union contract
Importantly, the GC emphasizes that any dues-checkoff revocation procedures that in any way restrict the employees right to revoke the authorization upon the expiration of the union contract or during a period when the union contract is not in effect are unlawful. Restrictions that require employees to revoke only during a “window period” before the union contract expiration are unlawful, because they restrict the employees’ right to effectuate revocation immediately upon the expiration of the union contract. However, window period requirements with respect to anniversary dates on which the employees signed the authorizations are not unlawful.
The GC Memorandum also emphasizes that any impediments imposed on the revocation process, such as requiring that the employees send the revocation request by certified mail or that the union must also sign the request, restrain and coerce employees in their rights to revoke dues-checkoff authorizations and are therefore unlawful.
The GC directs the Regions to issue complaints against employers that continue to check-off union dues from employees that have given the employer written revocation requests at or following the expiration of the union contract. The Regions are also directed to issue complaints against unions that receive such dues.
In the Memorandum, the GC alerts the Regions that, when investigating the merits of unfair labor practice charges involving the appropriateness of union dues-checkoff authorizations or revocations, they should consider whether the employees were provided with information that clearly describes their rights with respect to authorization of the checkoff and of the exact dates when revocation requests can be submitted.
Employers negotiating union dues checkoff provisions or that have such provisions in the current union contracts should consider reviewing the same in the light of this recent GC Memorandum and consider consulting with legal counsel with respect to language that informs the employees of their above described rights.