International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers v. NLRB (California Saw)

133 F.3d 1012 (1998)

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International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers v. NLRB (California Saw)

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
133 F.3d 1012 (1998)

Facts

In Communication Workers of America v. Beck, the United States Supreme Court held that if the collective-bargaining agreement between an employer and a union contained a union-security clause requiring all employees—including nonunion employees—to pay union dues, the nonunion employees could be required to pay only dues and fees that were germane to the collective-bargaining process. Nonunion employees had the right under Beck to object to the use of their dues money for activities unrelated to collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) (defendant) was tasked with turning Beck into a workable system for unions and employers to determine and collect the necessary fees. Following Beck, the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM) (plaintiff), a machinists’ union, published a notice of employees’ Beck rights in the December 1991 issue of The Machinist, a union-published monthly newsletter mailed to all union and nonunion workers employed in bargaining units represented by IAM. The first page of the December issue featured an article about Democratic presidential candidates who were seeking union support, and the issue contained several other political articles that tended to support the Democratic party. The Beck notice appeared on half of the sixth page of the eight-page newsletter and gave detailed information about the fees payable by workers who did not want to belong to the union. There was no evidence that this notice was ineffective to convey the relevant information, and employees also had access to information about their Beck rights from other sources, including political discourse and the National Right to Work Foundation. Nevertheless, many nonunion machinists employed by California Saw & Knife Works (the machinists) (plaintiffs) objected to IAM’s Beck procedures, including the notice of Beck rights. The machinists claimed that the Beck notice in The Machinist was unsatisfactory because the Beck information was allegedly buried in a Democratic-leaning political issue, and the newsletter’s cover did not specifically indicate to nonunion workers that the Beck policy was discussed inside. The NLRB held that the publication of the Beck notice in The Machinist was sufficient to notify existing employees of their Beck rights but that newly hired nonunion employees needed to be given a letter informing them of their rights. The machinists challenged the notice portion of the NLRB’s order in federal appeals court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Posner, C.J.)

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