UFCW Local 21 recently agreed to settle a case in which the union acknowledged that automatic dues deduction (i.e., dues checkoff) forms in use at one employer were unlawful. In settling with Region 19 of the National Labor Relations Board, the union agreed to discontinue collecting money under the unlawful forms.
Matt Lynch represented the employer in this case, which started when the employer filed two unfair labor practice charges against the union following the union’s attempt to force the employer to withhold dues from employee pay under dues checkoff forms signed by employees. The union created its current form in 2018 and most of the employer’s bargaining unit employees signed it. Another, older form was also in use. Matt argued to the NLRB region that both forms violated Section 302(c)(4) of the National Labor Relations Act, which permits an employer to deduct union membership dues from employees’ wages and remit those amounts to their exclusive collective-bargaining representative, ‘‘[p]rovided, [t]hat the employer has received from each employee, on whose account such deductions are made, a written assignment which shall not be irrevocable for a period of more than one year, or beyond the termination date of the applicable collective agreement, whichever occurs sooner.’’
The union’s new form contained an unlawful window period that limited an employee’s right to revoke the authorization at cessation of the contract term by imposing an earlier revocation window period. The union’s older form contained no provision allowing employees to revoke their authorization annually, as required by Section 302(c)(4). Rather than fight the employer’s charge, the union agreed to settle the case and to cease giving effect to the unlawful forms, and to discontinue its efforts to enforce the collection of dues under the unlawful forms.
The settlement effectively requires the union to develop a new, lawful dues checkoff form for employees to sign which will safeguard employee revocation rights. Other employers should take care to review the dues checkoff forms in use at their workplaces to ensure they comply with federal legal requirements protecting employee rights to revoke their dues checkoff authorizations.