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.