Indiana attorney general issues opinion stating public-sector workers must be notified of rights before dues can be deducted from paychecks

On June 17, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill (R) issued an opinion stating that, “to the extent the state of Indiana or its political subdivisions collect union dues from its employees, they must provide adequate notice of their employees’ First Amendment rights against compelled speech.”

Attorney general opinions are advisory. They do not constitute an enactment of state policy: “The Advisory Division [of the office of the Indiana attorney general] does not make or recommend policy. Rather, it guides officials in their efforts to understand specific state statutes, policies and procedures.”

What did Hill say in his opinion?

Hill wrote, “A public employer has an affirmative duty to make public employees aware of their First Amendment rights related to automatic payroll deduction for union purposes. An employee has a fundamental right to elect to financially support a union, thereby affiliating and promoting a union’s speech and platform, or an employee may retain his or her First Amendment right to not associate with a labor union.”

Hill said that an employee can only give voluntary consent to dues deduction if “he or she is adequately advised that paying unions dues is not a condition of employment and that agreeing to pay dues is a waiver of one’s First Amendment right.”

Hill discussed the times and methods for changing dues deduction arrangements:

“To ensure the deduction of union dues or fees from an employee comports with the Janus framework and does not occur without clear and compelling evidence that the employee freely consents to the deduction, the State and its political subdivisions must require that employees provide the necessary consent directly to them. To ensure an employee’s consent is up-to-date, as required for it be a valid waiver of the employee’s First Amendment rights, an employee must be provided a regular opportunity to opt-in and opt-out.” Hill said that the state and its political subdivisions must permit employees to opt out of dues deduction systems at any time. Employers must also provide for annual opt-in periods.

Have other attorneys general issued similar opinions?

Attorneys general in Alaska and Texas have issued similar opinions in the wake of Janus. In Alaska, Indiana, and Texas, the attorneys general are Republicans. The states’ governments are Republican triplexes (i.e., they have Republican governors, secretaries of state, and attorneys general) and trifectas (i.e., they have Republican governors and Republican majorities in both chambers of their respective state legislatures).

What we’ve been reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 96 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 relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue.

  • New Hampshire HB1290: This bill would require the state public employee labor relations board to permit employees to vote by mail in certification elections.
    • Bipartisan sponsorship.
    • Introduced in the Senate and laid on the table June 16.
  • New Hampshire HB1322: This bill would prohibit university system funds from being used to oppose the formation of unions.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Introduced in the Senate and laid on the table June 16.
  • New Hampshire HB1399: This bill would allow a bargaining unit to request certification of its union/representative.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Introduced in the Senate and laid on the table June 16.
  • New Hampshire SB448: This bill would require the state public employee labor relations board to certify a union as a bargaining unit’s exclusive representative if that union receives a “majority written authorization.”
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Vacated from committee and laid on the table June 16.