Volume 75, Number 3

June 2000

Section 302 of the LMRA: Make Way for the Employer-Paid Union Representative

Christopher J. Garofalo

In 1947, Congress enacted section 302 of the Labor Management Relations Act in order to regulate payments from employers to the union representatives of their employees. Whether originally intended by Congress or not, section 302 has been applied to the common labor practices of allowing employers to pay employees for part-time or full-time leave in order to work for their union. A split among the various circuit courts of appeals has developed as to whether these payments fall within an exception to section 302’s general prohibition and remains unresolved after the Supreme Court dismissed certiorari after the settlement of Caterpillar, Inc. v. International Union, UAW. In this Note, Christopher Garofalo argues that courts have struggled with the text of section 302 in order to allow payments for what, he argues, are beneficial and useful labor practices. However, Garofalo maintains that their interpretations of section 302 have created standards which are ultimately unworkable because they cannot distinguish beneficial from harmful practices in a principled way. Since the current statute’s textual limitations make it difficult to protect against conflicts of interest and corruption while allowing union representatives to be paid by employers, Garofalo concludes that a legislative solution is preferable to a judicial one and proposes an amendment to section 302 that constructively would resolve the issue.