U.S. Court of Appeals Holds that Wisconsin Cannot Regulate Duration of Dues Checkoff Agreements.

Nathan D. Eisenberg

US Court of Appeals BadgesOn September 13th, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued a decision prohibiting state regulation of dues checkoff agreements. These agreements provide a mechanism for union members to pay dues through payroll deductions. The agreements are a voluntary administrative tool used by parties to facilitate the payment of dues. Pursuant to Section 302(c)(4) of the Labor Management Relations Act unions may maintain dues checkoff authorizations, so long as the deductions are not “irrevocable [by the employee] for a period of more than one year.”

In 2015, as part of Wisconsin’s so-called “right to work” law, Wisconsin prohibited “dues checkoff authorizations” unless revocable upon 30 days’ notice by an employee. Wis. Stat. §111.06(1)(i). District 10 of the International Association of Machinists brought a legal challenge to the Wisconsin law arguing that this regulation was preempted by the one-year provision of federal law. In its 2-1 decision, the Court of Appeals agreed. The court found, based on long-standing precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court, that “the State’s attempt to add additional regulatory requirements for dues-checkoffs, and thus to change the scope of permissible collective bargaining, is preempted.” The decision affirms a lower court decision from 2015 which permanently enjoined that provision of the law.

The case was argued by Attorneys Nathan Eisenberg and Jill Hartley of The Previant Law Firm. The decision does not impact the other parts of the right-to-work law.