The amount of dues collected from employees represented by unions is subject to federal and state laws and court rulings. The NLRA allows unions and employers to enter into union-security agreements which require the payment of dues or dues equivalents as a condition of employment.
Federal law allows unions and employers to enter into "union-security" agreements which require all employees in a bargaining unit to become union members and begin paying union dues and fees within 30 days of being hired. Employees may choose not to become union members and pay dues, or opt to pay only that share of dues used directly for representation, such as collective bargaining and contract administration.
Known as objectors, they are no longer union members, but are still protected by the contract. Unions are obligated to tell all covered employees about this option, which was created by a Supreme Court ruling and is known as the Beck right.
Collective bargaining is the process by which workers join together to negotiate with employers for better pay and safer working conditions.
The union has a responsibility to represent all workers in the unit, union members and employees who decide not to join the union alike, and the employer has a duty to bargain with the union over employees’ wages and working conditions.
Workers who choose not to join their workplace’s union—but are covered by the union’s collective-bargaining agreement—do not pay union dues; instead they pay “fair share” fees to cover the basic costs that the union incurs representing them.
Employees who do not join the union but are part of the bargaining unit (employees in a bargaining unit but not union members are referred to as nonmembers).
Nonmembers’ fair share fees cover the union’s expenses related to collective bargaining and contract administration, but not expenses for political or ideological advocacy. These fair share or agency fees ensure that every employee represented by the union simply pays their fair share of the cost of representation.
The fees are calculated as a percentage of union dues. Fair share fees can only fund activities related to collective bargaining and contract administration and are expressly prohibited from funding the union’s political advocacy.