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NLRB Sets Standards Affecting Beck Objectors, Union Lobbying Expenses Are Not Chargeable

Washington, DC—Nonmember objectors cannot be compelled to pay for union lobbying expenses, the National Labor Relations Board ruled today.  The Board majority held that lobbying activity, although sometimes relating to terms of employment or incidentally affecting collective bargaining, is not part of the union’s representational function, and therefore lobbying expenses are not chargeable to Beck objectors.  The ruling relies on relevant judicial precedent holding that a union violates its duty of fair representation if it charges agency fees that include expenses other than those necessary to perform its statutory representative functions.

The Board majority also held that it is not enough for a union to provide objecting nonmembers with assurances that its compilation of chargeable and nonchargeable expenses has been appropriately audited.  Citing the “basic considerations of fairness” standard adopted by the Supreme Court, the Board held that a union must provide independent verification that the audit had been performed.  Failure to do so violates the union’s duty of fair representation.  

The case, United Nurses & Allied Professionals (Kent Hospital), is the Board’s long-awaited decision affecting certain rights of nonmember objectors under the Supreme Court’s decision in Communications Workers of America v. Beck, 487 U.S. 735 (1988)In that decision, the Supreme Court held that private-sector nonmember employees subject to union security who object to the expenditure of their agency fees for activities other than collective bargaining, contract administration, or grievance adjustment can only be compelled to pay that portion of the agency fee necessary to the union’s performance of “the duties of an exclusive representative of employees in dealing with the employer on labor-management issues.” 

Chairman John F. Ring was joined by Members Marvin E. Kaplan and William J. Emanuel in the majority opinion.  Member Lauren McFerran dissented.       

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