Illinois House approves changes to state public-sector labor relations law

On Oct. 29, the Illinois House of Representatives approved SB1784, legislation proposing a series of changes to the state’s public-sector labor relations laws.

What does the bill propose?
As originally introduced on Feb. 16, SB1784 did not have any bearing on public-sector unions. Instead, it dealt with state government ethics. The House amended the bill to make the following changes to the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act:

  • Require public employers to furnish unions with a complete list of the names and addresses of the public-sector workers in their bargaining units.
  • Prohibit employers from discouraging employees from participating in unions.
  • Permits union representatives to meet with new employees during working hours.
  • Permits unions to limit the time periods during which members can resign or rescind their dues deductions.
  • Declares that public employers and public-sector unions cannot be held liable for claims involving the payment of dues or agency fees before June 27, 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Janus v. AFSCME.
    • In Janus, the high court held that compelling workers to pay dues or fees to a union violates workers’ First Amendment rights.

What are the reactions?

  • Rep. Jay Hoffmann (D), who voted in favor of the bill, said, “This is an attempt to restore employee rights and lay out what public employers in Illinois can and cannot do with regard to union representation and an employee joining a union. This does not overturn the Janus decision, this is post-Janus.”
  • Joe Tabor, a policy analyst for Illinois Policy, said, “Public employees are ill-served by SB1784, which would restrict the exercise of their constitutional rights to distance themselves from unions and their politics. It would empower unions to indoctrinate new employees and call workers’ cell phones. It tries to legislate after the fact by stopping litigation to recover workers’ money that should never have been taken from them, which is sure to draw court challenges.”

What comes next?
The House voted 93-23 to approve SB1784, with 73 Democrats and 20 Republicans voting in favor of the bill. Because the House amended the bill as passed by the Senate, it must now return to the Senate for a concurrence vote. If the Senate approves the amended legislation, it will then go to Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D). In the House, Democrats hold 74 of 118 seats. In the Senate, they hold 40 of 59 seats.

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 105 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.

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Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

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

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Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions taken since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number.

  • Illinois SB1784: This bill would require that public-sector union representatives be granted an opportunity to meet with new hires. It would require employers to furnish unions with worker information, including addresses, contact numbers, and email addresses. It would also permit unions to limit the period during which members can resign and rescind dues deduction authorizations.
    • House amended and passed Oct. 29. Sent to Senate for concurrence.
  • New Hampshire SB19: This bill would prohibit disclosure of information regarding a public employee’s home address, email address, or phone number. An exemption would be made for unions.
    • Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services work session schedule Oct. 30.