union security agreement

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A union security agreement is an agreement between a labor union and an employer that the employer will require all employees to undertake a specified level of support for the union as a condition of employment. 

This level of support compels employees to become members of the labor union before a certain period of time, generally 30 days, has lapsed, as well as make certain payments or “agency fees” to the union and initiation fees as a condition of getting or keeping the job.

Through the Labor Management Relations Act of 1987 (“LMRA”) or better known as the Taft-Hartley Act, Congress “prohibited a ‘closed shop,’ a union security agreement whereby an employer agrees to employ only union members.” See: Morrisey v. W. Virginia AFL-CIO, 239 W. Va. 633, 804 S.E.2d 883 (2017). Instead, the LMRA “permits an employer and an exclusive bargaining representative to enter into an agreement requiring all employees in the bargaining unit to pay periodic union dues and initiation fees as a condition of continued employment, whether or not the employees otherwise wish to become union members.” See also: Commc'ns Workers of Am. v. Beck, 487 U.S. 735, 108 S. Ct. 2641, 101 L. Ed. 2d 634 (1988).

“Right-to-work” laws prohibit and invalidate union security agreements and union shops.

[Last updated in September of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]