Unions Won’t Like Having to Tell Objectors All this Detail about Where Union Dues Go

In March 2017 the National Labor Relations Board found that a Teamsters local violated the National Labor Relations Act by failing to provide sufficient information about the financial expenditures of the local and its affiliates to workers who exercised their rights to object to paying union dues and fees.

Specifically, the Board ruled that the Union failed to provide adequate and detailed financial disclosures because, in addition to providing the details about the local’s own expenditures of employees’ dues, the Board ruled the local must also provide details about its affiliates’ financials resulting from the local’s “per capita tax” expenditure – that is the portion of dues money that the local shares with its affiliates. For the Teamsters, the “per capita tax” is the amount that a local of the Teamsters union pays, using a portion of each employee members’ dues money, to three affiliated entities – the Teamsters International, the Conference of Teamsters, and the Teamsters Joint Council.

Unions are now required to provide Beck objectors with the following detailed expenditure information:

The major categories of its expenditures, the percentage of each category that it considers chargeable and nonchargeable, and a detailed explanation of how it calculates its allocation of expenditures; the names of its affiliates and other entities with which it shares income from dues and fees, the amounts of income shared, the major categories of expenditures of each affiliate or other entity and the percentages of each category those affiliates and other entities consider chargeable and nonchargeable, and a detailed explanation of how the affiliates and other entities calculated their expenditure allocation.

This holding essentially means that unions will have to disclose much more detailed financial information when employees exercise their Beck rights – information that unions will likely be far more resistant and hesitant to provide. With affiliates’ expenditures coming under greater scrutiny, it also makes it more likely that Beck dues objectors will seek to have less of their money going to the unions (and their affiliates) activities. With more Americans than ever choosing to be union-free and/or choosing not to be union members, this decision places much more power with individual employees, and emboldens their protected right to refrain from union activity, a right already afforded under the Act but often glossed over by unions.

Matt Austin owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm based in Ohio that limits its representation to employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 285-5342 or email him at Matt@MattAustinLaborLaw.com.

Employee Takes a Stand against His Union for Not Informing Him that He has a Right to Not Pay Full Union Dues

Are your employees fully informed of their Beck rights? Probably not. Unions hate Beck rights because employees can avoid paying a percentage of their union dues. This is oftentimes the only reprieve employees have in non-right-to-work states.

In Communication Workers of America v. Beck, the Supreme Court ruled that the National Labor Relations Act prohibited unions from collecting dues for political activities if a member chooses to opt out of the union. Unions can instead collect dues from non-members only for collective bargaining and other representational activities. Unions are required to prorate dues for these non-members. Of course, the devil is in the details as most unions claim most dues money goes towards non-political activity. Therefore, even when employees opt-out, they may still find themselves paying a larger portion of dues money than they anticipated.

Recently, a nurse’s aide in California alleged that he was not able to exercise his Beck rights because his union, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), failed to properly notify him of those rights when he started to work at a unionized hospital. He was not informed that he had a right to be a non-member of the union. Instead, the union gave the worker a letter upon his hiring that stated, “You are automatically a member of the union.”

The SEIU ignored employees’ Beck rights and forced all new employees into full dues-paying union ranks instead of giving them the option to be non-members paying lesser, pro-rated union dues. Beck rights are especially important in non-right-to-work states where employees can be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment. Companies in those states should consider informing their employees of their Beck rights during on-boarding and periodically throughout the year. We encourage companies to consult with competent legal counsel before educating employees of their Beck rights to avoid unintended unfair labor practice charges.

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 maustin@ralaw.com.