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Unilaterally Imposed Restrictions on Employees Right to Revoke Union Dues Deduction Authorizations (Checkoff) are Unlawful

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On May 8, 2018, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, by a unanimous panel, upheld the NLRB decision that restrictions imposed unilaterally by an IBEW local union on employees right to revoke union dues checkoff authorizations were unlawful. See Local 58 v. NLRB, No. 17-1058 (D.C. Cir.2018)

Section 302(c)(4) of the National Labor Relations Act (Act) permits the deduction of union dues from employees’ wages, provided that the employer has received from the employee a written assignment for such deductions, which shall not be irrevocable for a period of more than one year, or beyond the termination date of the applicable union agreement, whichever occurs sooner.

It is well established NLRB law that a deduction assignment (checkoff authorization) is a contract between the employee and his employer. Lockheed Space Operations, 302 NLRB 322,327.

In Paramount Industries, 365 NLRB No.30 (February 10, 2017), the union unilaterally imposed the requirement that any one that desired to revoke dues deduction authorizations “must do so in person at the Union Hall of IBEW Local 58 and show picture identification with a corresponding written request specifically indicating the intention of the member.”

An employee of Paramount Industries, who had given a checkoff authorization and who wanted to revoke it, filed an unfair labor practice charge against the union, alleging that such restriction on his right to revoke was unlawful. The Board agreed.

The Board held that by unilaterally imposing the requirement that  employees had to appear in person at the union hall with identification and a written statement indicating the decision to revoke the dues checkoff authorization, the union impermissibly restrained the employees  right, protected by Section 7 of the Act (29 U.S.C. Sec.158 (b)(1)(A)), to refrain from engaging in union activities.

Employers may want to ascertain whether, prior to making any deductions, they have written checkoff authorizations, that meet the above stated requirements, from each employee from whose wages such deductions are to be made.