Union Security Agreements

The NLRA permits, under certain conditions, a union and an employer to make a union-security agreement, which requires employees to make certain payments to the union to retain their jobs.

A union-security agreement cannot require that applicants for employment be members of the union to be hired, and the agreement cannot require employees to actually join or maintain membership in the union to retain their jobs. Under a union-security agreement, individuals choosing to be dues-paying nonmembers may be required, as may employees who actually join the union, to pay full initiation fees and dues within a certain period of time (a grace period) after the collective bargaining contract takes effect, or after a new employee is hired.

However, if non-members object to the use of their payments for non-representational purposes, the most that can be required of them is that they would have to pay their share of the union’s costs relating to representational activities, such as collective bargaining, contract administration and grievance adjustment.

An employer's obligation under a contract provision requiring union dues checkoff terminates when the collective bargaining agreement expires, unlike most obligations which an employer is required by the NLRA to maintain as part of the status quo pending re-negotiation of the contract. The Biden Board recently returned to this position after a four-year period in which the Trump Board held dues checkoff was not part of the status quo that must be maintained.1

1. Valley Hospital Medical Center, 368 NLRB No. 139 (Dec. 16, 2019) overruled in Valley Hospital Medical Center II, 371 NLRB No. 160 (Sept. 30, 2022)