Brazilian Supreme Court changes position on the collection of union assistance contributions


In brief

On September 11, 2023, the Brazilian Supreme Court (“STF”) issued a significant ruling concerning the constitutionality of clauses within collective agreements, such as collective bargaining agreements and agreements between companies and Workers’ Unions.

In more detail

The STF’s decision declares that clauses establishing mandatory union assistance contributions, applicable to both employees and companies, including those not affiliated with the union, are considered valid as long as they include provisions allowing individuals to opt out.

Previously, the STF’s position was that union assistance contributions specified in collective agreements could only be imposed on affiliated employees.

However, a shift in this stance was anticipated for 2023 due to the number of Justices who had already voted for reevaluating the Court’s position (“Theme 935”).

This change is expected to encourage union entities to incorporate or reinforce provisions regarding union assistance contributions in their collective agreements, including on the procedure for employees to exercise their right to opt out. It is important to distinguish the union assistance contribution from the compulsory union dues, which were modified by the Labor Reform (Law 13,467/2017). The latter does not allow employees to opt out and, since November 2017, requires written authorization from employees for deductions by employers.

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