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A system whereby an employer regularly deducts a portion of an employee's wages to pay union dues or initiation fees.
The checkoff system is very attractive to a union since the collection of dues can be costly and time-consuming. It prescribes the manner in which dues are paid by deductions in earnings rather than through individual checks sent directly to the union. Unions are thereby assured of the regular receipt of their dues.
A dues checkoff system is only lawful when voluntarily authorized by an employee. Unions have attempted to make alternatives to checkoff more onerous by requiring such practices as in-person delivery of dues checks to out-of-state locations. The national labor relations board has held that this type of inducement to checkoff is unlawful, however, as is the attempt by a union to collect assessments extending beyond periodic dues.