2022 recap: Public-sector union legislation in the states

Happy New Year! In today’s Union Station, we’ll review public-sector union legislation from 2022. Next week, we’ll look at bills filed so far for 2023.


  • State legislators either introduced or carried over from earlier sessions 150 bills related to public-sector union policy in 2022.
  • Thirteen relevant bills were enacted. Republicans sponsored three of those bills, and Democrats or Democratic-led committees sponsored 10. 
  • Of the 150 bills Ballotpedia tracked in 2022, Democrats sponsored 92 bills to Republicans’ 46. The rest were bipartisan or committee bills.


The following map shows which states considered public-sector union legislation in 2022, with darker colors representing a higher number of bills.

Legislators in California and Maryland introduced the most public-sector union bills in 2022—13 each—followed by Minnesota with 12.

This chart shows the legislative status of each bill at the end of 2022:

Enacted legislation

States enacted the following 13 bills in 2022:

  • Arizona SB1166: Republican sponsorship. Prohibits public employers from spending public money on a union’s political or lobbying activities. Prohibits public employers from contracting with a public employee to perform a union’s political or lobbying activities. Also prohibits public employers from providing paid leave or other compensation to employees performing a union’s political or lobbying activities. Law enforcement and firefighters are exempt. Read more here.
  • California AB158: Introduced by Democratic-led committee. Budget-related. Includes a proposed tax credit for union dues. Read more here.
  • California AB2556: Democratic sponsorship. Changes the time for a public agency to implement its final offer after mediation from 10 to 15 days after the fact-finding panel has submitted its recommendation. Authorizes a union to charge certain employees under the Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights Act for the cost of requested representation if they decline union membership. Read more here.
  • California SB189: Introduced by Democratic-led committee. Budget-related. Includes an ongoing proposal for the creation of a tax credit for union dues. Read more here.
  • California SB931: Democratic sponsorship. Allows a union to bring a claim before the Public Employment Relations Board against a public employer the union alleges to be in violation of California Government Code Section 3550 and sets civil penalties for violations. Section 3550 prohibits public employers from discouraging union membership. Read more here.
  • Colorado SB230: Democratic sponsorship. Gives certain county employees the right to organize and bargain collectively beginning in 2023. Read more here, here, and here.
  • Indiana SB0297: Republican sponsorship. Amends the language of the authorization form school employees must sign before union dues may be deducted from their pay. Read more here.
  • Maine LD449: Democratic sponsorship. Existing law required public employers and collective bargaining agents to meet within 10 days of receiving written notice of a request for a bargaining meeting. This only applied if the parties had not otherwise agreed in an earlier contract. This bill eliminates that exception.
  • Maryland HB90: Democratic sponsorship. Extends collective bargaining rights to the deputy public defender, district public defenders, and assistant public defenders.
  • Maryland HB580: Democratic sponsorship. Extends collective bargaining rights to Maryland Transit Administration Police sergeants and supervisors. 
  • New Jersey S3810: Democratic sponsorship. Expands the terms and conditions negotiable between government employers and public-sector unions to those that “intimately and directly affect employee work and welfare,” with certain exceptions. It also allows a public-sector union to charge a non-dues-paying employee for the cost of representation in arbitration proceedings, and not to represent those who do not pay dues. 
  • Oklahoma SB1579: Republican sponsorship. Allows school boards to grant unpaid leaves of absence for employees to hold office in an employee association if certain criteria are met. An employee organization would be required to comply with this law in order to be recognized as the representative of a bargaining unit.
  • Washington HB2124: Democratic sponsorship. Gives state legislative branch employees the right to bargain collectively, creates an office of state legislative labor relations to “[e]xamine issues related to collective bargaining for employees of the house of representatives, the senate, and legislative agencies” and to “develop best practices and options for the legislature to consider in implementing and administering collective bargaining.” A final report is due to the legislature by Oct. 1, 2023. No collective bargaining agreement may take effect until July 1, 2025. Employees are not allowed to strike. Read more here.

Compared to years past

This chart shows the number of public-sector union bills Ballotpedia tracked each year from 2018 to 2022 and the number of those bills that were enacted each year: 

This chart shows a breakdown of the partisan affiliation of bill sponsors by year. 

To view spreadsheets with information about all of the public-sector union bills we’ve tracked since 2018, click here

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking nine 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. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

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

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken in the last week.

  • Washington HB1122 and Washington SB5141: These companion bills would remove statutory language excluding Washington management service members from collective bargaining units.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Prefiled for introduction on Jan. 4. 

Thank you for reading! Let us know what you think! Reply to this email with any feedback or recommendations.