Recently, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals determined in Buzenius v NLRB114 that a union security clause requiring employees to become and remain "members of the Union in good standing" is inconsistent with an employee's right to refuse to join a union and pay full dues.
In this case, the collective bargaining agreement between the employer, Weyerhauser, and the union, United Paperworkers' International, required each employee to remain a "member in good standing" of the union as a condition of employment. In effect, Weyerhauser became the union enforcer by agreeing to fire anyone who failed to pay the union's required fees.
The Court's ruling that such contractual language misrepresented an employee's legal rights reinforced a long-standing national labor relations policy that union membership is completely optional.
In March 1998, the U. S. Supreme Court declined to review the Buzenius decision; it did, however, agree to hear another case involving the same issue. Marquez v Screen Actors Guild115, to be decided later this year, is a case worth watching for Michigan school districts because a substantial number of current bargaining agreements contain some of the same language that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals voided in Buzenius.