Activities such as organizing employees of other employers, lobbying for labor legislation, or participating in social and political events cannot be charged to an objecting employee.
In the landmark decision, Communication Workers v Beck, 37 the
Court held that for workers covered by the NLRAwhich includes most private sector
workersthe "financial core" obligations of membership are limited to union
activities "germane to collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance
adjustment." 38 The Court held that the union could not collect dues
from objecting employees for the costs of organizing employees of other employers,
lobbying for labor legislation, or participating in social, charitable, or political
The Court in Beck recognized that the NLRA and RLA are essentially equivalent. 39
Consequently, the Court believed that the two sections of the law permitting union shop
agreements were enacted for the same purpose and that they should be interpreted in a
parallel manner. Therefore, the NLRA should also be interpreted to prohibit extracting and
expending funds collected from nonmembers on activities unrelated to collective
bargaining, contract administration and grievance adjustment.
In the Beck case, about 79% of the dues normally collected could not be
legitimately charged to objecting nonmembers. The district court in Lehnert (the
Ferris State University case) found that 90% of dues were being spent in furtherance of
nonchargeable activities and applied to public sector unionism the principles embodied in Beck.
Where a union security clause exists, the expenditure of dues over the objection of a
nonmember-unit employee violates the duty of fair representation that the union owes to
the dissenting employee. Activities such as organizing employees of other employers,
lobbying for labor legislation, or participating in social and political events cannot be
charged to the employee exercising rights pursuant to Supreme Court precedent.