In its 1988 Beck decision, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that non-union members who were part of a collective bargaining unit could not be assessed dues for purposes other than collective bargaining or other matters related to their personal interests as employees. Since this decision, federal courts and the National Labor Relations Board have addressed various union functions as consistent with or outside of employees’ Beck rights.
Last week, the NLRB dealt private sector unions another blow, concluding that non-member dues cannot be used against their objections for legislative lobbying by unions. In United Nurses & Allied Professionals (Kent Hospital), the NLRB upheld employee objections to assessments used for state legislature lobbying. The Board rejected the union’s argument that the subject legislation affected all employees’ collective bargaining rights. Even if accurate, the NLRB said that lobbying is beyond the union’s collective bargaining obligations to employees.
Last year in its Janus decision, the Supreme Court held that public-sector unions could not assess non-members over their objections for any reasons. While the NLRB did not apply that reasoning to private employer unions, the cumulative effect of these cases reduces the ability of unions to raise funds for traditional activities.