It’s no surprise that unions hate right-to-work laws, so it is also not surprising that their allies on the holdover Obama era National Labor Relations Board are doing everything they can to weaken those laws.
About two years ago, Wisconsin became the 25th right-to-work state when it enacted legislation that made it illegal for union security agreements to require that workers pay union dues as a condition of continuing their employment.
Since then, three more states have adopted RTW laws, and legislation to adopt such a law at the national level has been introduced in Congress.
A recent decision by an NLRB Administrative Law Judge holds that contractual dues checkoff provisions are not “union security devices” and thus may be enforceable in spite of the Wisconsin law.
The ALJ found that federal labor law pre-empts state law, so dues checkoff remains mandatory when part of a collective bargaining agreement, and a state RTW law cannot ban these fees being deducted from employees’ paychecks.
Unions have insisted that employees continue to pay dues even after they have opted out of union membership. They argue that these workers continue to benefit from union efforts on their behalf and should pay for that privilege.
Of course, not being able to collect dues could prove devastating to organized labor if enough employees choose to leave, as happened in Wisconsin to its teachers’ unions a few years ago.
“Although the Presidential election has led many to expect the labor law pendulum to swing quickly back toward a more pro-employer perspective, this decision reflects the reality that no such transition has yet occurred at the board,” observes attorney Alison Loomis of the Seyfarth Shaw law firm.