Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Pre-Hire Agreement Definition:

An employer agrees to hire specific union members or their referrals for the purpose of working on anticipated jobs, within the construction industry, during the contract period.

In Sheet Metal Workers' International Association, Madam Justice Deanell Tacha of the United States Court of Appeals noted that:

"The National Labor Relations Act (of the United States of America) allows employers engaged primarily in the building and construction industry to enter into pre-hire agreements.

"In a pre-hire agreement, the employer agrees to hire union members or union referrals for the purpose of working on anticipated jobs during the contract period. A union and an employer typically sign a pre-hire agreement before the employer hires any employees and, therefore, in advance of any showing of union majority support.

"(The National Labor Relations Act at Chapter 29 of the United States Code) thus creates an exception to the ... general rule prohibiting a union and an employer from signing a collective bargaining agreement recognizing the union as the exclusive bargaining representative before a majority of employees have authorized the union to represent their interests. "

In M.R.S. Enterprises, Madam Colleen Justice Kollar-Kotelly of the United States District Court, District of Columbia wrote, at footnote #2:

"[P]re-hire agreements provide an exception to the general rule that an employer may not bargain with a union which does not represent a majority of its workforce. The exception applies only to employers engaged in construction work and allows the employer and a union to agree to a contract before the employees are hired. This exception is permitted in recognition that this type of employer does not have a permanent workforce and needs to be able to predict its labor costs when submitting bids on contracts."


  • M.R.S. Enterprises, Inc. v. Sheet Metal Workers' International Association, 429 F. Supp. 2d 72 (2006)
  • Sheet Metal Workers' International Association v. McElroy's, Inc., 500 F. 3d 1093 (2007)

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