Under new law, Rhode Island unions can charge fees to non-members for grievance representation

On July 8, Governor Gina Raimondo (D) signed H5259 and S0712 into law. These companion bills authorize public-sector unions to impose fees on non-members who request union representation in grievance and/or arbitration proceedings. It requires public-sector employers to notify unions within five days of hiring new employees. It also requires employees to file written notice with the state controller in order to discontinue payroll deductions for union dues.

  • State political context: Rhode Island is a Democratic trifecta; since 2013, Democrats have controlled the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature.
  • State membership context: According to a report from the state department of administration, as of May 2019 there were 11,326 state employees in union positions. Of these, 702 were not union members, accounting for approximately 6.2 percent of the total.
  • National legislative context: As of July 12, four additional states have enacted five relevant bills this year:
    • Delaware SB8: Establishes compensation as a mandatory subject of collective bargaining efforts.
    • Nevada SB135: Provides for collective bargaining rights for state employees.
    • Oregon HB2016: Requires public employers to grant paid time to employees participating in certain union activities; requires employers to furnish unions with access to employees.
    • Oregon HB3009: Requires public employers to provide unions with access to new employees; permits individuals who are not union members to make payments in lieu of dues to unions.
    • Washington HB1575: Declares that public employers and public-sector unions are not liable for claims involving agency fees paid to unions prior to Janus; amends dues deduction authorization laws, allowing authorizations to be initiated via electronic, voice, or written communication and requiring authorizations to be discontinued by a written request made to the union.

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 101 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

Union Station map July 12, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart July 12, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

Union Station partisan chart July 12, 2019.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions on relevant bills since the beginning of the year. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state and then by bill number.

  • California AB314: This bill would require employers to grant employees paid time for certain union activities.
    • Referred to Senate Appropriations Committee suspense file July 8.
  • Massachusetts H3854: This bill would authorize employers to disclose personal employee information to unions. It would also permit unions to require non-members to pay for the costs associated with grievance and arbitration proceedings. It would require employers to provide unions with access to employees, and it would allow for dues deduction authorizations to be irrevocable for a period of up to one year.
    • Adopted by both House and Senate July 3.
  • Oregon HB2276: This bill would prohibit public employers and labor unions from entering into agreements authorizing the deduction of in-lieu-of-dues payments from public employee paychecks.
    • Died in committee upon adjournment June 30.
  • Oregon HB2567: This bill would require the state Employment Relations Board to conduct a study “relating to public employers subject to public employee collective bargaining act” and submit that study to the legislature by September 15, 2021.
    • Died in committee upon adjournment June 30.
  • Oregon HB2643: This bill would prohibit employers from requiring employees to pay dues or agency fees to unions if they choose not to become members. This bill would also establish the Employment Relations Protection Account and require public employers to pay assessments to this account. These assessments would then be distributed to unions.
    • Died in committee upon adjournment June 30.
  • Oregon HB2726: This bill would allow non-members to make voluntary contributions to labor unions via payroll deduction.
    • Died in committee upon adjournment June 30.
  • Oregon HB2775: This bill would permit public-sector employees to refrain from joining or paying dues to unions. This bill would also allow unions to choose not to represent non-members.
    • Died in committee upon adjournment June 30.
  • Oregon HB3072: This bill would allow employees to revoke authorizations for dues or fees deductions paid to unions.
    • Died in committee upon adjournment June 30.
  • Oregon HB3244: This bill would prohibit employers from requiring employees to become or remain union members as a condition of employment. This bill would also prohibit employers from requiring employees to pay fees to unions in lieu of dues as a condition of employment.
    • Died in committee upon adjournment June 30.
  • Oregon SB846: This bill would allow public employees to refrain from joining or paying dues to a union. This bill would also permit unions to refrain from representing employees who choose not to join or pay dues to the union.
    • Died in committee upon adjournment June 30.
  • Rhode Island H5259: This bill would authorize unions to impose fees on non-members to represent them in grievance and arbitration proceedings. It would require employers to notify unions within five days of hiring new employees. It would also require employees to file written notice with the state controller in order to discontinue dues payroll deductions. This is a companion bill to S0712.
    • Signed into law July 8.
  • Rhode Island S0712: This bill would authorize unions to impose fees on non-members to represent them in grievance and arbitration proceedings. It would require employers to notify unions within five days of hiring new employees. It would also require employees to file written notice with the state controller in order to discontinue dues payroll deductions. This is a companion bill to H5259.
    • Signed into law July 8.



About the author

Jerrick Adams

Jerrick Adams is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at jerrick.adams@ballotpedia.org

Bitnami