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Union Agency Fees & Lobbying

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In the 27 right to work states, currently in the country, union nonmembers may not be required to pay  fees to private sector unions as a condition to obtain or retain employment. In the rest of the states  – union security states –  private sector unions and employers may enter into agreements that require nonmembers to pay fees, called “agency fees,”  as a condition to obtain or retain employment. See Communications  Workers v. Beck, 487 U.S. 735 (1988); c.f.Janus v. AFSCME, 585 U.S. ___ (2018)(holding that public sector employees may not be required to pay  union agency fees) .

However, agency fees paid by nonmembers to private sector unions may be used only to fund  the unions’ “core functions,” such as collective bargaining expenses incurred in representing the employees.

Last week, in United Nurses & Allied Professionals (Kent Hospital), Case No. 1-CB-011135,  the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) held that, lobbying activities, like other “political activities,” do not constitute union “core functions.” Therefore unions can not use agency fees to fund lobbying activities.

In addition, the NLRB  held that, if unions collect agency fees from nonmembers, they  must provide the nonmembers with independent verifications of  audits, showing which expenses can be funded with agency fees and which can not be funded with said fees.