Communications Workers v. Beck Revitalized

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In Communications Workers v. Beck (1988), the Supreme Court held that the National Labor Relations Act “authorizes the exaction [from nonmember employees] of only those [union] fees and dues necessary to ‘performing the duties of an exclusive representative of the employees in dealing with the employer on labor-management issues.’”  But Beck did not flesh out precisely which union expenses were mandatory (“chargeable”) for nonmembers and which were not (“nonchargeable”), and the National Labor Relations Board and the courts have been slow to precisely denominate which union activities may be supported with nonmembers’ compelled fees.   

On March 1, 2019, in United Nurses and Allied Professional (Kent Hospital), the NLRB announced that unions may never charge nonmembers for union legislative or political lobbying, even if the subject of the lobbying “may in general relate to terms of employment or may incidentally affect collective bargaining.” According to the NLRB, “lobbying activity is not a representational function simply because the proposed legislation involves a matter that may also be the subject of collective bargaining.”  Kent Hospital is an important decision delineating limits for nonmember employees in the private sector who wish to disassociate from the union’s political and social activities.

Do these developments herald a new era of Beck enforcement and employee free choice in the private-sector workplace? Please join us for a discussion of these issues and trends with Glenn Taubman, a long-time attorney with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, who represents Jeanette Geary, the Charging Party in the Kent Hospital case.


Glenn Taubman, Staff Attorney, National Right to Work Legal Defense and Education Foundation


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