Enforcement of Beck Rights Is Weak

Beck rights are not self-enforcing: It takes action on an employee's part to secure his rights. When a union resists an employee's attempts to hold it accountable, that employee must then turn to government labor regulatory agencies or the civil courts for help.

Governmental enforcement of Beck rights, however, has been virtually nonexistent. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which enforces Beck rights, has timidly approached its duty. For example, it took the NLRB over seven years from the Beck decision to issue its first case explaining its policy.3 Even then, the NLRB refused to extend4, and continues to deny, all of the procedural safeguards required under a similar U. S. Supreme Court case which extended dues protections to public employees.5

Outgoing NLRB Chairman William Gould even denounced California's Proposition 226—a ballot initiative designed to help workers limit their dues payments—as "deeply flawed" on constitutional and policy grounds.6

The U. S. Department of Labor has been similarly disinclined to honor Beck rights. President Bush required federal contractors, through the oversight of the Department of Labor, to post Beck notices to their employees, but President Clinton rescinded this action as one of his first official acts in office.

Such attitudes and actions from government officials and agencies do not bode well for workers who must rely on these institutions to neutrally and faithfully protect their rights against employer and union abuses.

Another difficulty in Beck enforcement arises from the structure of the law itself. The NLRB is not granted general regulatory authority over all industries, so it acts only on charges filed by individuals.7 Unions therefore often avoid Beck compliance by honoring their employees' individual rights only after charges have been filed and the NLRB "cops" show up. Employees left to seek redress through this system alone will not enjoy, on any large-scale basis, the rights which are fundamental to their union obligations.