Under paycheck protection proposals, unions that compel dues and fees from workers must secure from each a prior, voluntary, written authorization to use any dues for non-collective bargaining activities.
"Paycheck protection" refers to those labor reform efforts initiated at the
state level which are designed to ensure maximum protection of workers' rights under Beck.
Paycheck protection—coupled with rigorous enforcement of the Beck
decision—guarantees to all workers forced to pay union dues their right to make their
own decisions about contributing to their union's political, social, and charitable
Paycheck protection avoids the practical problems present in the Beck decision
while carrying out its promise. Generally, paycheck protection is simple and
straightforward and puts all affected persons on clear notice as to what is required.
However, paycheck protection is not a cure-all for those workers who are trapped in
compulsory union arrangements. The law grants privileges to unions that subordinate the
individual rights of workers to the "collective good" of the union membership.
One of these privileges, which paycheck protection would balance out, is the union
Under union security agreements, employers agree to terminate any worker who refuses to
pay union dues or fees. Paycheck protection does not end this dues obligation, but it does
effectively free workers to withhold payment of dues money that is not spent on legitimate
Nor does paycheck protection necessarily resolve all dues disputes between unions and
employees. Workers who decide to withhold the percentage of their dues that the union
admits are unrelated to collective bargaining may decide to challenge the union figures
U. S. Supreme Court and other judicial decisions have established important rights in
First, nonunion members must be given adequate information about the basis for any
representation fee the union charges them.9 Workers who wish to object to their
fee assessments must be able to first determine if the assessments are objectionable. The
framework paycheck protection language on page 12 provides the basis for the exercise of
Second, the procedure for a worker's union fee challenge requires that 100 percent of
the disputed fee be placed into an interest-bearing escrow account, unless the initial
disclosure includes a CPA's verification of expenses. If a CPA verifies the fee schedule,
the union may escrow only that portion of expenditures that a worker could reasonably
Finally, the procedure must provide for a "reasonably prompt decision by an
impartial decision maker" to confirm the nature of the challenged union expenditures
and to guarantee that the dues have been used for permissible purposes.11
The U. S. Supreme Court has recently ruled that forced-union-fee payers who dispute
their assessed fees need not first exhaust a union-controlled arbitration procedure before
taking their disputes to a judicial forum.12 The Court held that there is no
legal basis for compelling an objector who does not agree to arbitration to submit a
dispute to that process, and that a federal court could serve as the "impartial
decision maker," provided that the litigation was expeditiously pursued.
Thus, Beck-type rights continue to be necessary to assist workers to test the
validity of the unions' dues calculations.
Under paycheck protection proposals—which may come via law or ballot
referendum—unions that compel dues and fees from workers must secure from each a
prior, voluntary, written authorization to use any dues for non-collective bargaining
activities. Workers are permitted to automatically shield their Beck dues up-front
when dues are collected, instead of having to jump through hoops to recover those dues
after they have been extracted.
Paycheck protection treats all workers equally, union members and nonmembers alike, in
their right to decide whether or not to support the union's nonbargaining agenda without
sacrificing their right to vote on critical workplace economic decisions. Votes to ratify
a collective agreement or authorize a union strike affect union "nonmembers" as
well; they should not be deprived of their right to decide matters which directly impact
their opportunities for workplace improvements.
Paycheck protection is not "anti-union" but rather a more balanced pro-worker
All workers are notified of their option to contribute or withhold dues money;
All employees continue to be represented by the union;
All workers are compelled to pay for union representation services from which they
The union is able to continue spending on matters it deems important—but only with
dues money consciously and voluntarily contributed by its dues payers.
Paycheck protection is fair to unions because they will continue to be able to solicit
money for their nonbargaining agenda, using the power of persuasion. What would change is
the current presumption that unions have the right to make those decisions for
workers—a presumption which clashes with a union's need to respect the personal
freedom, democratic governance, and voluntary cooperation of the people it claims to