NLRB’s General Counsel Issues Memos on Union Obligations


The General Counsel (GC) of the National Labor Relations Board, Peter Robb, issued two General Counsel memos this month dealing primarily with unions’ obligations under the National Labor Relations Act (the Act). These memos recommend actions and positions to be taken by the Board, and technically speaking, may or may not be adopted by the Board. From a practical standpoint, the current GC and the Board majority are operating in sync, and we can expect the Board to adopt the GC’s recommended positions.

In GC 19-04, the GC announced two policy positions in situations where employees are subject to compulsory union dues payments pursuant to so-called union-security clauses. First, the GC will seek to overturn current Board law requiring unions to disclose only the percentage reduction of union dues for employees who wish to be non-members paying only the portion of dues for a union’s representational activities (i.e. Beck objectors).  The GC intends to ask the Board to extend a union’s obligation to disclosing the reduced amount of dues and fees for objectors when it notifies these employees of their legal right to be non-members.

Second, the GC directed the Board’s Regions to issue complaints where union dues-checkoff authorizations – an authorization allowing employers to deduct union dues from an employee’s pay, and remit the dues directly to the union – limit an employee’s right to revoke that authorization at contract expiration by imposing an earlier revocation window period. Typically, unions require dues checkoff authorizations to be revoked 60-75 days prior to a CBA’s expiration – a period often missed by unwitting employees.

The GC also directed the Regions to issue complaints against employers that continue to deduct an employee’s dues following receipt of an employee’s written revocation request made at or following expiration of a CBA – and also issue complaints against the union who continues receiving those dues.  In summary, if the GC’s policy positions become NLRB law, it appears that union coffers will likely take another hit.

Next, in GC 19-05, the GC clarified his earlier guidance concerning unions’ processing of grievances.  In an earlier memo, GC 19-01, the GC announced his position that a union violates the Act where it has lost track of or forgotten about a grievance, or has failed to communicate the status of a grievance or respond to inquiries concerning the status of the grievance.  In GC 19-05, the GC explained that his earlier memo did not alter the analysis concerning a union’s decision whether to pursue a grievance in the first place.