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Janie Valentine

Janie Valentine is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Nunn wins IA-03 Republican primary

Zach Nunn defeated Nicole Hasso and Gary Leffler in the Republican primary for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District on June 7, 2022. With more than 95% of precincts reporting, Nunn had received 66% of the vote to Hasso’s 19% and Leffler’s 15%.

Heading into the primary, Nunn and Hasso led in endorsements and fundraising. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), and Americans for Prosperity Action endorsed Nunn. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) endorsed Hasso. Nunn and Hasso both reported six-figure fundraising to the Federal Elections Commission, while Leffler did not report any contributions.

Nunn, an Iowa state senator and Air Force veteran, said he is running for Congress to “stand up for our brave men and women in uniform, fight for safe neighborhoods and to secure our border.” According to KCCI‘s Amanda Rooker, “[Nunn] says his mission is to strengthen the economy and national defense.”

Hasso, a financial services professional, said she ran “to support our police, protect innocent life, defend our right to keep and bear arms, fight for lower taxes, smaller government, and better opportunities for all Americans.” Rooker wrote, “[Hasso said] her top priorities are tackling inflation and securing the border.”

Democratic incumbent Cindy Axne was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, defeating incumbent David Young (R) 49.3%-47.1%. In a 2020 rematch, Axne defeated Young 48.9% to 47.5%.

As of May 31, major independent observers rated the general election as a toss-up. After Nunn won the Republican primary, Dave Wasserman—U.S. House editor for the Cook Political Report—and Kyle Kondik—managing editor of Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball—tweeted that their publications would change the rating of the general election in Iowa’s 3rd District from toss-up to lean Republican.

After redistricting, Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District gained nine counties that voted for former President Donald Trump (R) in the 2020 election. The district voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020.



Three candidates running for Republican nomination in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District

Nicole Hasso, Gary Leffler, and Zach Nunn are running in the Republican primary for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District on June 7, 2022. Hasso and Nunn lead in endorsements and fundraising.

According to the Des Moines Register’s Brianne Pfannenstiel, “It’s been a relatively low-key primary race ahead of what is expected to be one of the hottest general election contests in the country. The three Republicans have been quietly campaigning across the newly configured 3rd Congressional District and raising money, preferring to focus their ire on [Democratic incumbent Cindy Axne] than each other.”

Hasso, a financial services professional, said she is running “to support our police, protect innocent life, defend our right to keep and bear arms, fight for lower taxes, smaller government, and better opportunities for all Americans.” According to KCCI’s Amanda Rooker, “[Hasso] says her top priorities are tackling inflation and securing the border.” U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) endorsed Hasso in August 2021, calling her an “outsider who will take on the Washington swamp and will help fight back against the left’s extremist agenda.”

Nunn is an Iowa state senator and Air Force veteran who owns a marketing business and commands an intelligence squadron in the Iowa Air National Guard. Nunn said he is running to “stand up for our brave men and women in uniform, fight for safe neighborhoods and to secure our border.” According to Rooker, “[Nunn] says his mission is to strengthen the economy and national defense.” Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), and Americans for Prosperity Action endorsed Nunn. Crenshaw said, “I’m supporting Zach because I know that he’ll continue to defend our freedom and liberties as we both have done on the battlefield and now in public service.”

Axne was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, defeating incumbent David Young (R) 49%-47%. In a 2020 rematch, Axne won re-election with 49% of the vote to Young’s 48%.

Major independent observers rated the general election as a toss-up. After redistricting, Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District gained nine counties that voted for former President Donald Trump (R) in the 2020 election. The district voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020.



Department of Justice says National Guard members can unionize while on state active duty

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On May 17, the U.S. Department of Justice settled a lawsuit four unions filed asking a federal court to declare that a federal law prohibiting members of the armed forces from unionizing did not apply to members of the National Guard on state active duty. 

About the case

Four unions representing workers in Connecticut—American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 4, the Connecticut Police and Fire Union, the National Association of Government Employees, and Civil Service Employees International Union Local 2001—filed a lawsuit on Nov. 15, 2021, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut against U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Attorneys from Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic and Livingston, Adler, Pulda, Meiklejohn & Kelly represented the unions. 

A union representative said at the time, “We are bringing this lawsuit because Guard members on state orders should have the same opportunity to have a voice in their state workplace as the public employees with whom they work shoulder to shoulder.”

The unions’ lawsuit said

“While serving under the command of the Governor and pursuant to state law, Guard members work alongside other state and local employees. Yet unlike firefighters, healthcare workers, law enforcement, emergency medical technicians, and other state and local employees, members of the Connecticut National Guard have no labor organization that can represent them or advocate for their interests when in state status.

Section 976 of Title 10 of the U.S. Code makes it a felony for members of the armed forces—including members of the National Guard when activated to federal status—to join or attempt to form a labor organization. The same federal statute makes it a felony for unions such as Plaintiffs to support labor organizing in the armed forces, including by Guard members when activated to federal status.

“The plain language of this federal criminal statute, confirmed by its legislative

history, does not apply to members of the National Guard when they are mobilized by state governors under state law. 

“However, the statute’s serious criminal penalties—combined with the lack of

historical and legal precedent confirming that a Guard member in state service who joins or forms a labor organization will not be subjected to federal prosecution—has chilled the speech and associational activity of Guard members in state service, and of unions that they might otherwise seek to join.”

The unions asked the court to either declare the statute did not apply to Connecticut National Guard members attempting to organize while serving on state active duty, or to block the statute from being enforced against National Guard members on state active duty as a violation of the First and Tenth Amendments.

In January 2022, Garland and the DOJ sought to dismiss the case. Justice Department lawyers said, “Plaintiffs seek a declaration that ‘members of the armed forces’ does not include members of the Connecticut National Guard on state active duty or in the Inactive National Guard. But by its own terms, § 976 does not apply to Guard members on state active duty or in the Inactive National Guard. Indeed, at no point in the history of § 976 has any government entity ever interpreted the statute as such. Plaintiffs’ suit is thus not a case or controversy within the meaning of Article III of the United States Constitution.” 

Two settlement conferences were held in March, and Garland and the DOJ reached a settlement with the unions on May 17. According to a news release from Yale Law School, “As part of the settlement … the Department of Justice’s position on the ability of National Guard members on state orders to organize has been distributed to all 54 National Guard Human Resources departments.”

The case name and number are AFSCME Council 4 et al. v. Garland et al. (3:21-cv-01524).

What happens now

According to the Associated Press’s Dave Collins, “Connecticut Guard members were waiting for the agreement to be finalized before beginning unionizing efforts,” and National Guard officials said they were reviewing the case. 

However, Collins said, the DOJ’s statement in January encouraged a group of Texas National Guard members to join the Texas State Employees Union months before the case was settled. Jacobin’s Steve Early and Suzanne Gordon wrote, “Union goals include a guaranteed end date for all Guard members on state active duty, full restoration of tuition assistance slashed by [Gov. Greg Abbott (R)], and immediate access to the same health care coverage as other state employees, along with state subsidized coverage ‘for our families while on Texas Military state mobilization.’”  

According to Collins, “[A Connecticut National Guard spokesman] said he did not think the lawsuit settlement would have a major impact on the state Guard, because active duty state deployments are not common. But it could have a significant effect on other state Guards with ongoing state deployments, including Texas …” 

Perspectives

Support

A news release from Yale Law School said, “[U]nions around the country can now support National Guard members on state orders in organizing for better conditions of employment without fear of prosecution under federal law.” 

Opposition

The Freedom Foundation, which calls itself a “battle tank that’s battering the entrenched power of left-wing government union bosses,” said, “Unionization is fundamentally incompatible with military service of any kind. Unionizing National Guard units could erode discipline, dilute the chain of command, and undermine unit readiness.” 

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 143 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 since our last issue.

  • California AB1577: This bill would allow state legislative employees to organize and bargain collectively.
    • Bipartisan sponsorship.
    • Senate read second time, amended, and sent back to Senate Appropriations Committee May 24. Sent to Senate Rules Committee May 25.
  • California SB931: This bill would allow a union to bring a claim before the Public Employment Relations Board against a public employer allegedly in violation of California Government Code Section 3550 and sets civil penalties for violations. Section 3550 prohibits public employers from discouraging union membership.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Senate read third time, passed, ordered to the Assembly May 24. Assembly read first time, held at desk May 25.
  • California SB1313: This bill would prohibit Los Angeles County from discriminating against union members by limiting employee health benefits.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Senate read third time, passed, ordered to the Assembly May 24. Assembly read first time, held at desk May 25.
  • California SB1406: This bill would allow unions representing excluded state employees to request arbitration with the Department of Human Resources in certain circumstances.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Senate read third time, passed, ordered to the Assembly May 25.
  • Pennsylvania HB844: This bill would ban public employee social security numbers and personal contact information as subjects of collective bargaining.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Removed from the table May 24, laid on the table again.
  • Pennsylvania HB845: This bill would require any proposed public employee collective bargaining agreement to be published on the public employer’s website at least 14 days before the agreement is accepted. It would also make documents from the collective bargaining process into public records subject to the state’s right-to-know law.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Removed from the table May 24, laid on the table again.
  • Pennsylvania HB2042: This bill would require public employers to provide non-union members with an annual notification that they are not required to make payments to a union and to provide new and returning employees with a notification that they do not have to join a union.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Removed from the table May 24, laid on the table again.
  • Pennsylvania HB2048: This bill would prohibit collective bargaining agreements from authorizing the deduction of political contributions from public employee wages.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Removed from the table May 24, laid on the table again.


Anaheim mayor Harry Sidhu resigns

Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu announced on May 23 that he would resign after information about an ongoing federal corruption investigation was made public earlier this month. Sidhu’s resignation was effective May 24.

According to a May 12 affidavit, the purpose of the FBI investigation is to determine whether Sidhu “shared privileged and confidential information with the [Los Angeles Angels] during stadium sale negotiations, actively concealed same from a Grand Jury inquiry, and expects to receive campaign contributions as a result.”

Sidhu’s attorney, Paul Meyer, said Sidhu resigned to “allow [Anaheim] to move forward without distraction.” Meyer said a “fair and thorough investigation will prove [Sidhu] did not leak secret information in hopes of a later political campaign contribution.”

Mayor Pro Tem Trevor O’Neil and members of the Anaheim City Council asked Sidhu to resign on May 18. A timeline of the city’s responses can be viewed here.

The city council has 60 days to fill the vacancy by appointment. Otherwise, the city charter requires a special election to be held. Anaheim is holding a regular general election for mayor on Nov. 8. A news release from the city said, “Given proximity to November’s election, where the mayor’s seat is set to go before voters, an election to fill the seat could be held at the same time.”

Municipal elections in Anaheim are nonpartisan. Sidhu previously ran for state office as a Republican.

Twenty-four of the 100 largest U.S. cities, including Anaheim, are holding mayoral elections in 2022. In the four elections that have taken place so far, no partisan changes have occurred.

The mayors of 62 of the country’s 100 largest cities are affiliated with the Democratic Party. Republicans hold 25 mayoral offices, independents hold four, and seven mayors are nonpartisan. One mayor’s partisan affiliation is unknown, and following Sidhu’s resignation, there is one vacancy.

Ballotpedia uses one or more of the following sources to identify each officeholder’s partisan affiliation: (1) direct communication from the officeholder, (2) current or previous candidacy for partisan office, or (3) identification of partisan affiliation by multiple media outlets.

Additional reading:



CMS rule allows states to deduct union dues, benefits from Medicaid payments

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On May 12, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a rule allowing states to make Medicaid payments to third parties, such as for union dues or benefits, on behalf of individual home care providers.

About the rule

The final rule “explicitly authorizes States to make payments to third parties on behalf of individual practitioners, for individual practitioners’ health insurance and welfare benefits, skills training, and other benefits customary for employees, if the individual practitioner consents to such payments on their behalf.” The rule was published in the Federal Register on May 16.

The rule “reinterprets the scope” of Section 1902(a)(32) of the Social Security Act, which says, “[N]o payment under the plan for any care or service provided to an individual shall be made to anyone other than such individual or the person or institution providing such care or service,” with certain exceptions.

According to Bloomberg Law‘s Christopher Brown, “Medicaid has become increasingly reliant on the home health workforce in recent years as federal health-care policy has shifted to encourage care in the home and community rather than in institutions. Over 50% of Medicaid spending on long-term care now takes place in the home and communities, up from less than 10% in the 1980s.” Brown said that of the 3.4 million individual practitioners in the country, at least 800,000 belong to a union. 

The backstory 

In a final rule document published in 2014, during the Obama administration, CMS said the goal of the statute in question was “not to preclude a Medicaid program that is functioning as the practitioner’s primary source of revenue from fulfilling the basic responsibilities that are associated with that role.” The 2014 rule made an exception allowing states to “enter into third party payment arrangements on behalf of individual practitioners for health and welfare benefit contributions, training costs, and other costs customary for employees.” 

In 2019, during the Trump administration, CMS published a final rule that removed the 2014 exception, saying, “[T]his provision [§ 447.10(g)(4)] is neither explicitly nor implicitly authorized by the statute, which identifies the only permissible exceptions to the rule that only a provider may receive Medicaid payments.“ 

Six states—California, Connecticut, Illinois, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Washington—challenged the 2019 rule with a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. In November 2020, the court struck the rule and sent it back to CMS for further assessment. The defendant, then-HHS Secretary Alex Azar, appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The case was temporarily suspended following the change in administrations and is currently on administrative hold through June 2022. 

In the May 2022 final rule document, CMS said

“Presently, as a result of the district court decision, the 2019 final rule is nullified and the 2014 final rule implementing § 447.10(g)(4) represents current policy. When the district court vacated the 2019 final rule and remanded the case to HHS for further proceedings, we had broad discretion as to how to address the remand. Because the vacatur reestablished the policy from the 2014 rule, we could have simply published a final rule in the Federal Register waiving notice of proposed rulemaking and public comment and informing the public that § 447.10(g)(4) was in effect due to the district court’s decision … We initially appealed, then chose to review the statute anew, eventually determining that the payments to third parties addressed in this rulemaking fall outside the scope of the statute.”

To read more about the rulemaking process and see comments CMS received about the most recent rule, click here.

About CMS

Part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), CMS administers public healthcare programs including Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the health insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act.  

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 142 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 since our last issue.

  • California AB1714: This bill would allow unions representing excluded state employees to request arbitration with the Department of Human Resources in certain circumstances. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Assembly Appropriations Committee hearing May 19. 
  • California AB2556: This bill would change the time frame for a local public agency employer to implement a final offer after a factfinders’ recommendation has been submitted in the case of a dispute between the employer and employee organization. 
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Referred to Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee May 18. 
  • California SB931: This bill would allow a union to bring a claim before the Public Employment Relations Board against a public employer allegedly in violation of California Government Code Section 3550 and sets civil penalties for violations. Section 3550 prohibits public employers from discouraging union membership.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Senate Appropriations Committee hearing May 19. 
  • California SB1313: This bill would prohibit Los Angeles County from discriminating against union members by limiting employee health benefits. 
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Senate Appropriations Committee hearing May 19.
  • California SB1406: This bill would allow unions representing excluded state employees to request arbitration with the Department of Human Resources in certain circumstances.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Senate Appropriations Committee hearing May 19.
  • Colorado SB230: This bill would give county employees the right to organize and bargain collectively beginning in 2023.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Speaker of the House and president of the Senate signed May 18. Bill sent to the governor.
  • Louisiana HB663: This bill would allow public employees to resign from union membership and revoke dues deduction authorizations at any time. It would require employees to annually renew dues deduction authorizations by signing a form described in the bill. The public employer would be required to confirm the authorization by email.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee hearing May 19. 
  • Missouri HB2121: This bill would establish the “Public Employee Janus Rights Act.” It would require public employees to give written, informed consent before union dues or fees may be withheld from their paychecks. Employees must also give written, informed consent for unions to use fees or dues for political purposes.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Referred to House Workforce Development Committee May 13.
  • Missouri HB2122: This bill would bar employers from requiring employees to become, remain, or refrain from becoming members of a union as a condition of employment.    
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Referred to House Workforce Development Committee May 13.


Little wins Republican primary for governor of Idaho

Incumbent Gov. Brad Little defeated seven other candidates in the Republican primary for governor of Idaho on May 17, 2022. With over 95% of precincts reporting, Little had received 53% of the vote to Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin’s 32%.

According to the Idaho Press‘s Betsy Russell, an incumbent Idaho governor had not been challenged in a primary by the lieutenant governor since 1938. Idaho is one of 17 states where the lieutenant governor is nominated in a separate primary and elected in a separate general election from the governor.

Steven Bradshaw, Ben Cannady, Ed Humphreys, Ashley Jackson, Lisa Marie, and Cody Usabel also ran in the primary.

Little ran on his record, saying that his first term was “marked by historic tax relief, unparalleled red tape reduction, extraordinary economic growth, and unprecedented investments in education.” He said, “During my first term, together, we achieved billions in historic tax relief, record investments in transportation, and continued our strong support for education in Idaho.”

McGeachin said she ran for governor “to restore the principles that have Made Idaho Great — individual liberty, state sovereignty, and traditional conservative values.” Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed McGeachin in November 2021. McGeachin said, “My campaign has been endorsed by President Trump because I stand for America First policies including individual liberty, election integrity, a strong and secure border, school choice, energy independence, reducing taxes and regulations, and supporting American businesses.”

Major independent observers rate the general election as Solid or Safe Republican. Republicans have had trifecta control of Idaho state government since 1995.



Incumbent Merriweather defeats Emry in Mecklenburg County district attorney race

Incumbent Spencer Merriweather defeated Tim Emry in the May 17 Democratic primary for district attorney of North Carolina’s 26th Prosecutorial District in Mecklenburg County. Merriweather received 71% of the vote to Emry’s 29%.

No Republicans ran for the office.

Merriweather said that under his leadership, the district attorney’s office had “focused on the most serious and violent offenses” and that he had “implemented new strategies to confront violent crime … creating special units that prioritize the prosecution of gun crimes, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence.” The Charlotte Observer’s Michael Gordon wrote, “Asked what distinguishes him from Emry, Merriweather describes himself as a proven reformer who remains committed to the law, a safer community and building on what he describes as ‘a career of experience serving victims.'”

The Charlotte Post, which endorsed Merriweather, described him as a “thoughtful pragmatist who has balanced policy reforms and alternatives to prosecution with efforts to keep a growing urban community safe.” The Black Political Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg also endorsed Merriweather.

Emry, a criminal defense attorney and former Mecklenburg County assistant public defender, said, “The number one pillar of our campaign is holding the police accountable when they break the law.” Emry said another priority would be to “immediately stop the mass incarceration policies of the current DA’s office and begin to pursue racial justice.” He also said he would “never seek the death penalty,” saying, “Too often in this country, we have sentenced the wrong people to death. … Well, my opponent supports the death penalty.”

Real Justice PAC, which says it “has been at the forefront of local elections, ushering in prosecutors who have promised to transform a criminal legal system that is racist, oppressive, and preys on the poor and marginalized,” endorsed Emry. The group’s endorsement said Emry ran “as a progressive challenge to the left of the incumbent” and that he ran to “bring genuine change to the criminal justice system in Mecklenburg and to end the failed status quo policies.”



U.S. House of Representatives votes to let staff bargain collectively

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U.S. House of Representatives votes to let staff bargain collectively 

The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to allow staff to unionize and bargain collectively. 

About the resolution

Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) sponsored House Resolution 1096, which was introduced and passed on May 10. The House voted 217-202 along party lines to adopt the resolution. 

H.Res.1096 says: “The requirements and exemptions of [United States Code, Title 5, Chapter 71] as made applicable by section 220 of the [Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 (CAA)], shall apply to covered employees who are employed in the offices listed in section H2472.1 in the same manner and to the same extent as those requirements and exemptions are applied to other covered employees.” 

The employing offices listed in section H2472.1 of the resolution include “the personal office of any member of the House of Representatives or of any Senator,” “a standing select, special, permanent, temporary, or other committee of the Senate or House of Representatives,” and six other categories of offices. 

Part of the law to which section 220 of the CAA refers—United States Code, Title 5, Section 7102—says the following:

“Each employee shall have the right to form, join, or assist any labor organization, or to refrain from any such activity, freely and without fear of penalty or reprisal, and each employee shall be protected in the exercise of such right. Except as otherwise provided under this chapter, such right includes the right— (1) to act for a labor organization in the capacity of a representative and the right, in that capacity, to present the views of the labor organization to heads of agencies and other officials of the executive branch of the Government, the Congress, or other appropriate authorities, and (2) to engage in collective bargaining with respect to conditions of employment through representatives chosen by employees under this chapter.” 

The American Prospect’s Jarod Facundo wrote that the resolution would allow “nearly 10,000 House staffers to organize under the 1995 Congressional Accountability Act (CAA) … The resolution implements a provision of the CAA that’s been dormant for congressional staffers since 1996, when lawmakers allowed federal employees to unionize, but not their staffers.” According to CBS News’ Rebecca Kaplan and Kathryn Watson, “Congress approved the framework for Hill staffers to unionize … but never followed up by formally passing a set of regulations to allow staffers to begin the process.” 

An organization of staffers called the Congressional Workers Union, which says it has a “dedicated organizing committee that is focused on organizing Congress,” supported the resolution. Ahead of the vote, the group said, “With this vote, every member of Congress will have the opportunity to grant their own workers the right to organize and bargain collectively, free from retaliation. … We expect that every member who has stood up for workers’ rights will vote for our right to form a union.” A member of the group said, “We came to the Hill wanting to get involved in good public policy. … In personal offices [the pay] is devastatingly low, and there are stories of folks living in affordable housing struggling to make ends meet. And then on top of that, with wild hours, you have this burnout… [and] there’s so much incentive because of that burnout to go into lobbying work.” 

Vox’s Li Zhou wrote, “While CWU has gotten interest from Republican staffers … its work has predominantly been driven by Democratic ones.” 

According to the Associated Press’ Kevin Freking, “Collective bargaining would take place at the employing office level, which means that it will be done separately between members and House committees and their staffs. There will not be one bargaining unit covering most or all House employees.” Roll Call’s Chris Cioffi wrote, “For House staff, the future is in the hands of [the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights (OCWR)], which would certify and supervise the results of a secret ballot election for the ‘bargaining unit’ seeking to unionize. The vote would require a majority of an office’s staff to be in favor of a labor organization becoming their representative. … Staffers might face limits on what they could negotiate on benefits and wages unless new legislation changing those stipulations were passed.” 

A simple resolution affects only the operation of the chamber that initiated it. According to Congress.gov, “A matter concerning the rules, the operation, or the opinion of either House alone is initiated by a simple resolution. … Simple resolutions are considered only by the body in which they were introduced. Upon adoption, simple resolutions are attested to by the Clerk of the House of Representatives or the Secretary of the Senate and are published in the Congressional Record.” 

Perspectives

Support

The Congressional Workers Union said the vote was an “historic moment for thousands of congressional workers who have won basic labor protections to organize and bargain collectively without fear of retaliation. … For 26 years, Congress has had the opportunity to pass this resolution but has failed to act, until our collective demands were too loud for them to ignore. Tonight is a reminder of the power of collective action and what the freedom to form a union truly means — democracy not just in our elections, but in our workplaces too.”

Everett Kelley, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said, “Just three months after announcing their efforts to organize a union, House congressional staff have won an historic vote by the U.S. House that grants them the right to form a union and bargain over working conditions. … While there is much work to do before House staff can begin reaping the benefits of unionization, this is a historic achievement that paves the way for House staff to begin that process.”

Opposition 

Americans for Fair Treatment senior writer and researcher Suzanne Bates said, “This expansion on Capitol Hill is about unions building their political capital. It isn’t about the working class and what they need. … Can you imagine what union meddling could mean for a congressional committee or office?” 

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) said, “Not only do most congressional staff already have the benefits most unions fight for … [unionization] would create serious problems and lead to even more dysfunction in Washington. … Congress’ unique office structure, fluctuating partisan balance, unpredictable schedule changes, and unavoidable turnover due to elections make unions impractical in our offices and committees.” 

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 142 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 since our last issue.

  • California AB2556: This bill would change the time frame for a local public agency employer to implement a final offer after a factfinders’ recommendation has been submitted in the case of a dispute between the employer and employee organization.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Read third time in Assembly, passed, ordered to Senate May 9. Read first time in Senate, referred to Senate Rules Committee for assignment May 10.
  • Colorado SB230: This bill would give county employees the right to organize and bargain collectively beginning in 2023.  
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Appropriations Committee amended, referred to House May 6. House second reading passed with amendments May 6. House third reading passed with amendments May 11. Senate concurred with House amendments and re-passed May 11.
  • Maine LD449: Existing law requires public employers and collective bargaining agents to meet within 10 days of receiving written notice of a request for a bargaining meeting. This only applies if the parties have not otherwise agreed in an earlier contract. This bill would eliminate that exception.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Enacted without the governor’s signature May 8.


Jim Pillen wins Republican primary for Nebraska governor

Jim Pillen defeated eight other candidates in the Republican Party primary for governor of Nebraska on May 10. Incumbent Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) was term-limited.

Along with Pillen, Charles Herbster and Brett Lindstrom led the primary field in endorsements, funding, and media attention. The Lincoln Journal Star’s Don Walton wrote on May 1 that the primary had “developed into a fluid and unpredictable [race],” which he said “[appeared] to be tightening with three candidates moving within grasp of victory.” With over 95% of precincts reporting, Pillen had received 34% of the vote to Herbster’s 30% and Lindstrom’s 26%.

Pillen, a University of Nebraska Regent, veterinarian, and the owner of Pillen Family Farms, said, “I will work to grow our economy and give every child the chance to pursue their dreams right here in Nebraska. We have to fix our broken property tax system and cut taxes. We need to modernize our tax structure, expand broadband access, and improve infrastructure across our state.” Ricketts endorsed Pillen in Jan. 2022, and the Nebraska Farm Bureau endorsed Pillen in February.

Herbster, who served as the chairman of former President Donald Trump’s (R) Agriculture and Rural Advisory Committee, described himself as a “political outsider, businessman, and fifth-generation farmer and rancher” and said it was “time for a Nebraska farmer and rancher to lead our great state toward successful solutions.” Herbster said, “America is in trouble, and if America is in trouble, Nebraska is in trouble. … Governors moving forward will have two jobs: to lead their state and to pushback against government overreach that’s coming out of Washington like a tsunami.” Trump endorsed Herbster in October 2021, and Lt. Gov. Mike Foley (R) endorsed Herbster in March 2022.

The Nebraska Examiner’s Aaron Sanderford reported on April 14 that eight women, including state Sen. Julie Slama (R), had accused Herbster of sexual misconduct occurring between 2017 and 2022. Herbster denied the allegations and said they were “part of a greater scheme calculated to try and defeat [his] candidacy.”

Trump spoke at a May 1 rally for Herbster and said he was “a fine man and … innocent of these despicable charges.”

Lindstrom, a member of the Nebraska State Senate, said he had “been at the forefront of tax reform, economic development and family issues” and had “passed legislation to make college more affordable for Nebraskans, defended the unborn, and led the fight against the opioid epidemic.”

According to Walton, Lindstrom “suggested he has the ability to connect with the next generation of leadership while also bringing valuable legislative experience to the governor’s office.” Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and the Nebraska State Education Association endorsed Lindstrom in April 2022.

Donna Nicole Carpenter, Michael Connely, Lela McNinch, Breland Ridenour, Theresa Thibodeau, and Troy Wentz also ran in the primary.

Major independent observers rate the general election as Solid or Safe Republican. Republicans have held trifecta control of Nebraska state government since 1999.



Ninth Circuit panel issues decisions in three public-sector union cases

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On April 28, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued decisions in three cases we’re tracking related to public-sector union policy. In each case, the judges upheld the decision of the district court. 

About the cases 

The panel—Senior U.S. Circuit Judge Richard Paez, U.S. Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen, and Chief U.S. District Judge for the District of Minnesota John Tunheim—heard oral arguments for all three cases on Feb. 8. The three judges also heard arguments in six other relevant cases in which decisions have not yet been issued. At least three other appellate cases are on hold pending the outcome of cases heard on Feb. 8.

Here’s a rundown of the three decisions: 

Cooley v. California Statewide Law Enforcement Association

  • Appeal from: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California 
  • Original complaint: Nov. 13, 2018
  • Plaintiff’s representation: Benbrook Law Group, Mitchell Law, and Talcott Franklin  
  • District judge: John A. Mendez
  • District court ruling: July 9, 2019
  • Summary of the appeal: “Appeal from the dismissal of an action alleging First Amendment violations in connection with plaintiff’s attempts to resign from his union membership.” 
  • From the panel’s decision: “The district court properly found that Cooley’s membership application met the essential elements of a contract. …The district court properly found Cooley was bound to maintain union membership until June 1, 2019 under the maintenance of membership provision in the CBA. … The district court properly concluded that Cooley does not have a First Amendment right to resign from his union. Although the freedom of association contained within the First Amendment includes the freedom against compelled associations, none of the cases cited to the district court or to this Court establish that there is a constitutional right to end voluntary contractual associations. … Cooley agreed to become a member of CSLEA subject to the stated membership resignation limitations and the First Amendment cannot and does not erase that voluntary Association.”  

O’Callaghan v. Napolitano

  • Appeal from: U.S. District Court for the Central District of California 
  • Original complaint: March 27, 2019
  • Plaintiffs’ representation: Law Office of Mark W. Bucher and Liberty Justice Center
  • District judge: James V. Selna 
  • District court ruling: Sept. 30, 2019
  • Summary of the appeal: “An appeal from the district court’s dismissal of an action brought by two employees of the University of California alleging that the continued deduction of their union dues violated their First Amendment rights.” 
  • From the panel’s decision: “The trial court correctly determined that the Defendants did not violate Appellants’ First Amendment rights. Although the First Amendment protects against compelled association, it does not permit one to renege on voluntary agreements. … Appellants affirmatively agreed to join the Union and authorized the University to deduct dues from their wages pursuant to the terms of their agreements, including terms limiting when they could withdraw authorization. … The district court correctly held that exclusive Union representation does not violate Appellants’ First Amendment right to freely associate. Janus prohibited the collection of agency fees from nonmembers; it did not render unions’ service as exclusive bargaining agents unconstitutional.” 

Savas v. California State Law Enforcement Agency

  • Appeal from: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California 
  • Original complaint: Jan. 6, 2020
  • Plaintiffs’ representation: Freedom Foundation 
  • District judge: Dana M. Sabraw
  • District court ruling: Sept. 9, 2020
  • Summary of the appeal: “Appeal from the dismissal of an action alleging First Amendment violations in connection with plaintiffs’ attempts to resign from their union membership.” 
  • From the panel’s decision: “The district court correctly concluded that the holding in Janus applied to nonunion members only and because [the plaintiffs-appellants] are union members, Janus is inapplicable here. … The [plaintiffs-appellants] cannot escape this conclusion by arguing they become nonmembers once they make their resignation known to the union. A member of a union continues to be bound by the requirements of their membership application, including their duty to pay dues, even if they decide that they no longer want the benefits of union membership. … Though the [plaintiffs-appellants] had to choose, at the time they joined, between an agency fee and union membership, the [plaintiffs-appellants] still made the affirmative choice to become members.”

Once an appellate panel has published its decision, parties may file a petition for a panel rehearing or rehearing en banc within 14 days or a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court within 90 days. 

President Bill Clinton (D) nominated Paez to the Ninth Circuit, and President Barack Obama (D) nominated Nguyen. Clinton nominated Tunheim to the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.

About the Ninth Circuit 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit hears appeals from the district courts within its jurisdiction, which includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. The chief judge of the court is Mary Murguia, an Obama appointee. Of the court’s 29 active judges, Clinton nominated five, George W. Bush (R) nominated three, Obama nominated seven, Donald Trump (R) nominated 10, and Joe Biden (D) nominated four.  

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 142 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 since our last issue.

  • California SB931: This bill would allow a union to bring a claim before the Public Employment Relations Board against a public employer allegedly in violation of California Government Code Section 3550 and sets civil penalties for violations. Section 3550 prohibits public employers from discouraging union membership. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate Appropriations Committee hearing held May 2, bill placed on Appropriations Suspense File.  
  • California SB1313: This bill would prohibit Los Angeles County from discriminating against union members by limiting employee health benefits.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate Appropriations Committee hearing held May 2, bill placed on Appropriations Suspense File.
  • California SB1406: This bill would allow unions representing excluded state employees to request arbitration with the Department of Human Resources in certain circumstances.  
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate Appropriations Committee hearing held May 2, bill placed on Appropriations Suspense File. 
  • Colorado SB230: This bill would give county employees the right to organize and bargain collectively beginning in 2023. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate Appropriations Committee hearing held April 29, adopted amendment, referred to Senate. Senate second reading April 29, passed with amendments. Senate third reading May 2, passed without amendment. Introduced in House, referred to House State, Civic, Military, & Veterans Affairs Committee May 2. Committee hearing May 5.
  • Minnesota SF4574: This bill would eliminate the requirement for the legislature to approve negotiated collective bargaining agreements and arbitration awards for state employees.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Introduced and referred to Senate State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee May 4. 
  • Oklahoma SB1579: This bill would allow 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.     
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Governor signed into law on April 29.