NLRB: Union Dues Deductions Must Continue After Contract Terms Expire

For more than five decades, employers could cease their deduction of union dues from employees’ pay at the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement. On Monday, October 3, 2022, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) held that employers may not unilaterally stop deducting union dues (often referred to as due checkoff) after a collective bargaining agreement expires.

The NLRB’s initial decision on this issue, Bethlehem Steel (1962), held that an employer was free to end dues checkoff upon contract expiration. In so holding, the NLRB treated dues checkoff as an exception to the National Labor Relations Act’s unilateral change rule, which prohibits employers from changing mandatory subjects of bargaining, such as wages and hours, without giving unions the opportunity to negotiate over such changes.

Over 50 years later, in Lincoln Lutheran (2015), the NLRB held dues checkoff was subject to the statutory requirement that employers must maintain most terms and conditions of employment after a contract expires to facilitate bargaining for a new agreement. In Valley Hospital I (2019), the NLRB reversed Lincoln Lutheran, reverting back to the Bethlehem Steel doctrine that permitted employers to stop dues checkoff when a contract expires.

The latest decision reverses Valley Hospital I and returns to the rule of Lincoln Lutheran. Thus, following contract expiration, an employer must continue to honor a dues checkoff provision until either the parties have reached agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement or the employer has declared a valid bargaining impasse.

The NLRB applied this change in the law retroactively for all pending cases where dues checkoff is at issue.

The St. Louis employment attorneys at McMahon Berger have been representing employers across the country in labor and employment matters for over sixty years and are available to discuss these issues and others. As always, the foregoing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice regarding any particular situation as every situation must be evaluated on its own facts. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.