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NLRB EMPLOYERS MUST MAINTAIN DUES CHECKOFF AFTER CBA EXPIRATION





On October 3rd, 2022, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decided Valley Hospital Medical Center, Inc., holding that employers may not unilaterally stop dues checkoff (deducting union dues) after their collective bargaining agreement (CBA) expires.


The NLRB first decided this issue in 1962 in the Bethlehem Steel case. In that decision, the NLRB held that an employer may end dues checkoff when their CBA expired. The Board reasoned that an employer’s statutory obligation to conduct dues checkoff ends at the same time as their CBA. Thus, dues checkoff was deemed to not be a part of the National Labor Relations Act’s (NLRA) unilateral change rule, where employers maintain required items of employment, such as wages and hours, after the CBA expires until the items are negotiated on between the union and employer, or a valid bargaining impasse is reached.


After being precedent for over 50 years, the NLRB overruled Bethlehem Steel in 2015 under the Obama Board. In Lincoln Lutheran, the NLRB held dues checkoff to be included in the NLRA’s unilateral change rule. This decision was quickly reversed by the Trump Board in 2019 in its Valley Hospital I decision, returning to the standard in Bethlehem Steel. The Board distinguished dues checkoff from terms that need bargaining, such as wages and hours, and stated dues checkoff were terms assumed by the simple fact the parties entered the CBA. Thus, the Board carved an exception to the NLRA’s unilateral change rule for dues checkoff.


Now, the Biden Board has reversed the Trump Board’s decisions in Valley Hospital I and returned to the Lincoln Lutheran doctrine, where dues checkoff are included in the unilateral change rule. The Board’s reasoning for requiring employers to deduct union dues after a CBA expired was that this “better effectuates the Act’s Policy” by encouraging not only the practice, but the procedure of collective bargaining.


If you have questions concerning the Board’s recent decision, please feel free to contact one of our labor attorneys by calling (501) 371-9999

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