Coming up on the 5th anniversary of Janus

Welcome to the Tuesday, June 13, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Public-sector union legislation and lawsuits five years after Janus
  2. Voters in Augusta, Maine, to decide school district budget today
  3. 35 candidates filed for federal and statewide offices last week

Public-sector union legislation and lawsuits five years after Janus 

On June 27, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) held in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees that public-sector unions cannot require non-member employees to pay agency fees covering the costs of non-political union activities. The ruling, overturning a precedent established in 1977, was one of the most consequential public-sector union legal decisions in decades.

Over the last five years, we’ve been closely tracking public-sector union legislation and lawsuits in the (digital) pages of Union Station, a weekly newsletter. Last Friday, we released Union Station’s final issue, and devoted it to a retrospective on Janus and its reverberations. What follows is adapted from that final issue. As we say goodbye to Union Station, here’s a look back at some of the highlights from the past five years.

Public-sector union legislation five years after Janus

State lawmakers have introduced more public-sector union bills in 2023 than any year since 2018. We’re currently tracking 236 pieces of legislation related to public-sector union policy. We’ll continue tracking bills through the end of the year on Ballotpedia.

Over the past five years, trends in Democratic-sponsored bills have included applying collective bargaining rights to new groups of public employees, requiring public employers to provide employee information to public-sector unions, and allowing tax credits or deductions for union dues.

Trends in Republican-sponsored bills have included prohibiting payroll deductions for union dues or requiring written annual authorization for deductions, requiring public employees who want to belong to a union to sign membership authorization forms with certain acknowledgements, and requiring public-sector unions to allow employees to leave the union at any time. 

Here’s an updated breakdown of the number of bills introduced and enacted since 2018:

And the breakdown by sponsor party: 

Here are a few recent bills that have been enacted this year:

  • Florida S0256: This bill requires public employees who want to be union members to sign a membership authorization form including language specified in the bill. The bill requires unions to allow members to revoke membership at any time and prohibits public employers from collecting union dues from employees’ pay. The bill amends registration and renewal requirements for certified bargaining agents. Unions representing law enforcement officers, correctional officers, correctional probation officers, and firefighters are excepted from the provisions of the bill. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
  • Michigan HB4582: This bill repeals a section of law prohibiting public employees from being required to join or financially support a union. The bill stipulates, “[T]his act or any other law of this state does not preclude a public employer from making an agreement with an exclusive bargaining representative … to require as a condition of employment that all other employees in the bargaining unit pay to the exclusive bargaining representative a service fee equivalent to the amount of dues uniformly required of members of the exclusive bargaining representative.”
    • Democratic sponsorship.

Public-sector union litigation five years after Janus

Since 2019, we’ve tracked 191 federal lawsuits related to public-sector labor laws. Among the most common questions raised in these cases: 

  • Whether public-sector unions can be held liable for refunding agency fees paid before Janus
  • Whether public-sector unions may continue to collect union dues from an employee who leaves the union if there is a pre-existing agreement that membership or dues authorization may only be revoked during a certain window; 
  • Whether exclusive bargaining representation laws violate non-union members’ First Amendment rights; 
  • Whether mandatory bar association dues should be reconsidered in light of Janus.

We’ve also tracked lawsuits in which public-sector unions challenged state or federal laws.

To view a spreadsheet with information about all of these cases, click here.

Here’s a recent lawsuit related to public-sector unions. On May 18 in Ohio Adjutant General’s Department v. Federal Labor Relations Authority, the Supreme Court upheld a December 2021 decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit which found that the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) has jurisdiction over labor disputes between dual-status technicians and state National Guards. The Supreme Court’s decision was 7-2, with Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissenting. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion. Read more about that case here

Click below to learn more about public-sector union lawsuits and legislation. Although we’ve retired Union Station, you can click here to learn more about our other newsletters, which cover topics like education policy, ESG, and election administration. 

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Voters in Augusta, Maine, to decide school district budget  

Imagine if, in the next even-year election, voters were given the chance to cast a vote for or against the federal budget. That’s what generally happens in Maine—but for school district budgets. 

Today, voters in Augusta will be deciding Question 1, which would approve Augusta Public Schools’ budget for the 2023-2024 school year. This is a bit of a unique situation, because in most states voters indirectly influence district budgets through school board elections. But in many Maine school districts, voters are required to approve budgets through ballot measures (or for districts to issue new bonding and or bond taxes). If voters reject the budget, the board must propose another one for voters to decide. In other words, the school district budget is not just approved by the board but also by a majority of voters within that district (according to state law, voters have the opportunity to vote on the continued use of the budget validation referendum process every three years). 

Maine features several different types of school districts, which are organized in different ways. Some districts have budgets set on a triennial basis (every three years), while others approve their budgets annually.

Question 1 allows for $36.25 million for K-12 education for the 2023-2024 school year. That would be an increase of 4.79% from last year’s budget of $34.59 million.

Augusta voters approved the 2022-2023 school budget 72%-27% on June 14, 2022. In the previous year, on June 15, 2021, Augusta voters approved the 2021-2022 school budget 84%-15%.

Of the 14 local school budget questions Ballotpedia has tracked since 2020 (in the top 100 largest cities and state capitals), all were approved by voters. Three were approved in 2020, two were approved in 2021 and seven were approved in 2022. In 2023, voters have approved two. In 2022, the average “yes” vote percentage was 71.7% and the average “no” vote percentage was 28.3%.

Click below to learn more about Question 1. Click here to subscribe to Hall Pass, our weekly newsletter on school board politics and education policy. 

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35 candidates filed for federal and statewide offices last week

Last week, 35 candidates filed to run for congressional and state offices—including for elections in 2023, 2024, 2025, and 2026. That’s 27 fewer candidates than the number who declared for congressional and state offices two weeks ago.

This year, we’ve tracked 1,173 declared candidates for congressional and statewide offices. At this time in 2021, we had identified 2,255 declared candidates for 2022, 2023, and 2024 races.

Here’s a breakdown of the candidates who declared last week:

Of the partisan nature of the declared candidates: 

  • 13 are Democrats.
  • 16 are Republicans.
  • 6 are minor-party candidates.

Of the offices tracked:

  • 28 candidates filed for Congress.
  • 3 candidates filed for state legislature. 
  • 4 candidates filed for lower state executive offices.

Between April 3 and May 1, we tracked an average of 34 candidates who filed for congressional or state elections. Between May 1 and June 12, that average increased to 45 candidates.

We cover elections for tens of thousands of offices across the country, and part of that work includes keeping tabs on the candidates who file to run for those offices. We’ll periodically update you on how many candidates are signing up to run for state and congressional offices. We process both official and declared candidates.

Click here to read more about our definition of candidacy. Click the link below to see a list of all declared candidates for congressional elections in 2024. 

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