Under a dues check off provision, employers deduct employees’ union dues from their paychecks and forward the money directly to the union. Employees never see, and thus never miss, the money that they pay for dues and unions are not tasked with collecting dues money from each employee individually after that money has hit their own bank accounts. This is a critical component of a collective bargaining agreement and unions will trade away a lot in exchange for this clause. In 1962, the NLRB held that an employer’s dues check off obligation terminates upon expiration of a contract. See, Bethlehem Steel. Since then, savvy labor negotiators have ceased automatic dues deduction as a way to place economic pressure on a union during negotiations.
But, in 2012, an unconstitutionally appointed NLRB decided to overrule this 50-year-old precedent. See, WKYC-TV. According to WKYC-TV, it became an unfair labor practice to cease dues deduction upon the expiration of the contract. However, since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Noel Canning that the NLRB was unconstitutionally appointed, the law reverted back to Bethlehem Steel and companies are once again permitted to stop dues deduction after the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement.
The reversion to Bethlehem Steel will likely be short-lived. In Lincoln Lutheran of Racine, an Administrative Law Judge, consistent with the law, followed Bethlehem Steel when approving the employer’s cessation of dues deduction. However, when the union appeals the ALJ’s decision, it is a foregone conclusion that the current Board will endorse the rulings of the invalid Board and once again overturn Bethlehem Steel. Lincoln Lutheran is set to be the case to accomplish the Board’s goal.