Author

Jerrick Adams

Jerrick Adams is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at jerrick.adams@ballotpedia.org

Pennsylvania state employee files class-action lawsuit for refund of agency fees

On Aug. 7, Pennsylvania state employee Catherine Kioussis filed a class-action lawsuit against the Service Employees International Union Local 668 seeking restitution for agency fees paid to the union in 2017 and 2018.

Who are the parties to the suit?

Kioussis, the plaintiff, works for the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. She is represented by the Liberty Justice Center, a nonprofit public-interest law firm that represented Mark Janus in Janus v. AFSCME (2018). The defendant is the Service Employees International Union Local 668, which represents public- and private-sector social service workers at both the state and municipal levels of government. According to a federal disclosure report, SEIU Local 668 comprised 16,507 dues-paying members and 361 agency fee payers as of Dec. 31, 2018.

What’s at issue?

Kioussiss alleges “SEIU should have known that its seizure of [agency fees] from non-consenting employees likely violated the First Amendment.” Kioussiss seeks a refund of all agency fees she and other non-member employees paid to the union from Aug. 7, 2017, to June 27, 2018, the period permitted under Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations. According to the Liberty Justice Center, should the case be decided in Kioussiss’ favor, approximately 2,000 workers could receive as much as $1 million in restitution.

What are the reactions?

  • Brian Kelsey, an attorney with the Liberty Justice Center, said, “It’s unfortunate [Kioussiss’] constitutional rights were violated. We’re going to make sure she can get her money back now, or at least as much as we can gather that she paid over the last couple years.”
  • SEIU Local 669 President Steve Catanese said, “The Liberty Justice Center, along with other anti-union organizations such as the Fairness Center, is being funded by millions of dollars in dark money donations from billionaires and corporations. The sole purpose of these organizations and investments in them is to file frivolous litigation against labor unions and undermine the ability of workers to have a voice at the workplace.”

What comes next?

The case is pending before Judge John E. Jones III of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. President George W. Bush (R) appointed Jones in 2002. The case name and number are Kioussis v. Service Employees International Union Local 668, 1:19-cv-01367.

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 102 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.

Union Station map August 23, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart August 23, 2019.png

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

Union Station partisan chart August 23, 2019.png

Recent legislative actions

No legislative actions have occurred since our last issue.



Two public-sector labor bills vetoed by New Hampshire governor

On July 10 and July 12, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) vetoed two public-sector labor bills, SB18 and SB148.

  • What would the bills do?
    • SB18: This bill would allow public-sector employees to authorize voluntary wage deductions for insurance or employee benefits offered in conjunction with their membership in a recognized union. It would allow employees to withdraw authorization with 30 days written notice.
    • SB148: This bill would require unions to notify new public-sector employees of their right to join or refrain from joining a union. The notification would also include the estimated annual cost of union membership. This bill would also require employers to provide unions with certain personal information about the employees it represents.
  • Why did Sununu veto the bills?
    • In his veto statement for SB18, Sununu said, “Continuing the payroll deduction for a month after a worker has chosen not to continue union membership falls outside the spirit of the Janus ruling and could potentially expose the state, counties, and municipalities to litigation.”
    • In his veto statement for SB148, Sununu said, “Ensuring that public employees are informed of their options related to union membership is important. However, the other provisions laid out in this bill are items that should be negotiated through the collective bargaining process rather than enacted into law through the legislative process.”
  • What is the political makeup of New Hampshire’s state government? Democrats control 58 percent of all House seats and 58 percent of all Senate seats, falling short of the two-thirds majorities required in each chamber to override a veto. Sununu, a Republican, was first elected in 2016 with a margin of victory of 2.3 percent. Sununu was re-elected in 2018 with a margin of victory of 7 percent.
  • What comes next? Because they do not hold veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate, Democrats cannot act unilaterally to override Sununu’s vetoes. Lawmakers will not be able to consider a veto override until they reconvene in September.

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 102 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.

Union Station map August 16, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart August 16, 2019.png

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

Union Station partisan chart August 16, 2019.png

Recent legislative actions

No legislative actions have occurred since our last issue.



New Hampshire governor vetoes two public-sector labor bills

On July 10 and July 12, 2019, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) vetoed two public-sector labor bills, SB18 and SB148. Here’s what you need to know about them.
 
What would the bills do?
  • SB18 would allow public-sector employees to authorize voluntary wage deductions for insurance or employee benefits offered in conjunction with their membership in a recognized union. It would allow employees to withdraw authorization with 30 days written notice.
  • SB148 would require unions to notify new public-sector employees of their right to join or refrain from joining a union. The notification would also include the estimated annual cost of union membership. This bill would also require employers to provide unions with certain personal information about the employees it represents.
 
Why did Sununu veto the bills?
  • In his veto statement for SB18, Sununu said, “Continuing the payroll deduction for a month after a worker has chosen not to continue union membership falls outside the spirit of the Janus ruling and could potentially expose the state, counties, and municipalities to litigation.”
  • In his veto statement for SB148, Sununu said, “Ensuring that public employees are informed of their options related to union membership is important. However, the other provisions laid out in this bill are items that should be negotiated through the collective bargaining process rather than enacted into law through the legislative process.”
 
What is the political makeup of New Hampshire’s state government?
Democrats control 58 percent of all House seats and 58 percent of all Senate seats, falling short of the two-thirds majorities required in each chamber to override a veto. Sununu, a Republican, was first elected in 2016 with a margin of victory of 2.3 percent. Sununu was re-elected in 2018 with a margin of victory of 7 percent.
 
What comes next?
Because they do not hold veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate, Democrats cannot act unilaterally to override Sununu’s vetoes. Lawmakers will not be able to consider a veto override until they reconvene in September.
 


Massachusetts governor vetoes omnibus public-sector labor bill

On August 2, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R) vetoed an omnibus public-sector labor bill after the legislature declined to adopt amendments he had earlier proposed.

  • What does the bill propose? The legislature’s version of H3854 would authorize employers to disclose personal employee information to unions. It would also permit unions to require non-members to pay for the costs associated with grievance and arbitration proceedings. It would require employers to provide unions with access to employees, and it would allow for dues deduction authorizations to be irrevocable for a period of up to one year.
  • What were Baker’s amendments to the bill, and how did the legislature respond?
    • In a letter to state lawmakers dated July 15, Baker recommended the following changes:
      • Prevent unions from accessing employees’ personal cell phone numbers and using text messages to communicate with members without their written consent.
      • Require unions to give new employees written information explaining their rights to join or refrain from joining a union.
      • Require employees’ written consent before releasing certain information to unions.
      • Require unions to provide notice to state agencies before using buildings for union purposes.
    • On July 22, the House voted 128-29 to reject Baker’s amendments. The Senate followed suit on July 25 by a vote of 34-5. The House and Senate re-approved the legislation on July 31, sending it back to the governor for his action.
  • What are the reactions?
    • AFL-CIO president Steve Tolman said, “The legislation passed by both the House and Senate to ensure that public-sector unions remain a strong force for economic fairness in the wake of the Janus Supreme Court ruling received overwhelming bipartisan support after a thorough debate. We urge both branches to override Governor Baker’s veto.”
    • Christopher Carlozzi, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said, “The Governor offered a very common-sense amendment that provided labor unions an opportunity to collect their reasonable fees, while still protecting the rights of workers. The legislature chose to pacify a handful of labor leaders, rather than address serious privacy concerns for public employees.”
  • What is the political makeup of Massachusetts? Democrats control 79 percent of all House seats and 85 percent of all Senate seats, exceeding the two-thirds majorities required in each chamber to override a veto. Baker, a Republican, was first elected in 2014 with a margin of victory of 1.9 percent. Baker was re-elected in 2018 with a margin of victory of 32.5 percent.
  • What comes next? Because they hold veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate, Democrats could override Baker’s veto. Lawmakers will not be able to consider a veto override until they reconvene in September.

 

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 102 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.

Union Station map August 9, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart August 9, 2019.png

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

Union Station partisan chart August 9, 2019.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions on relevant bills since the beginning of the year. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state and then by bill number.

  • Michigan HB4821: This bill would allow public school employers to use public resources to collect union dues.
    • Introduced and referred to Education Committee Aug. 6.


Policy updates: the 2020 presidential election edition

2020 presidential election: policy update

Many of the laws governing presidential elections, including primary/caucus rules and ballot access procedures, are established and enforced at the state level. With the 2020 presidential campaign season well underway, let’s take a look at some noteworthy developments dealing with election law for presidential candidates.

California enacts law requiring presidential, gubernatorial candidates to disclose tax returns

On July 30, Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed SB 27 into law, requiring presidential and gubernatorial candidates to file copies of their last five federal income tax returns with the California secretary of state in order to qualify for the primary election ballot. The law took immediate effect.

  • In a statement, Newsom said, “The disclosure required by this bill will shed light on conflicts of interest, self-dealing, or influence from domestic and foreign business interests. The United States Constitution grants states the authority to determine how their electors are chosen, and California is well within its constitutional right to include this requirement.”
  • Also on July 30, Republican presidential candidate Roque De La Fuente sued Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) in U.S. District Court, alleging that SB 27 violated Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution, as well as the First and Fourteenth Amendments. On August 1, Judicial Watch, on behalf of four California voters, filed a separate federal suit challenging the law. On August 6, President Donald Trump and his campaign committee filed another separate suit challenging the law, as did the Republican National Committee and the California Republican Party.
  • Legal professionals have differed in their initial assessments of SB 27. Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said, “This new law raises some very interesting and novel constitutional issues. Because it is novel, it is hard to know how the courts would go, but there is plenty of reason to think courts will be hostile to California’s requirements.” Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, said, “Although most cases dealing with ballot access have involved state and local elections, the constitutional principles are the same: State governments may set conditions for being listed on the ballot so long as they serve important interests and do not discriminate based on wealth or ideology.” Gene Schaerr, a constitutional lawyer who has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, said, “I see it as a serious problem on both constitutional grounds and especially on policy. You can imagine a host of other disclosures that states might want to adopt. If California could do this, some people would undoubtedly want to know whether candidates have ever been treated for a mental illness or denied insurance.”

2020 presidential primary, caucus, and nominating convention schedule

The 2020 presidential primary, caucus, and nominating convention schedule is nearly complete. Listed below are noteworthy instances of states that changed either the dates or formats of their nominating contest in 2020.

  • California: Primary moved to March 3, 2020. In 2016, it was on June 7.
  • Colorado: Primary established to be conducted March 3, 2020. Colorado’s Democratic and Republican parties held caucuses in 2016.
  • Maine: Primary established to be conducted March 3, 2020. Maine’s Democratic and Republican parties held caucuses in 2016.
  • Minnesota: Primary established to be conducted March 3, 2020. Minnesota’s Democratic and Republican parties held caucuses in 2016.
  • Utah: Primary established to be conducted March 3, 2020. Utah’s Democratic and Republican parties held caucuses in 2016.

For a complete list of important dates in the 2020 presidential election cycle, see this article.

Legislation update: Redistricting, electoral systems, and primary systems bills

The maps below show which states are considering redistricting, electoral systems, and primary systems legislation. A darker shade of red indicates a greater number of relevant bills.

Redistricting legislation as of August 7, 2019

Map Redistricting legislation at the state and city levels in the United States

Electoral systems legislation as of August 7, 2019

Electoral systems August 2019 map

Primary systems legislation as of August 7, 2019

Primary systems August 2019 map


Ohio public-sector worker appeals decision denying a refund for previously paid union fees

On July 25, Nathaniel Ogle, an Ohio public-sector worker who is seeking a refund of previously paid union fees, appealed his case to U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit after a U.S. District Court ruled against him.

  • Who are the parties to the suit? Ogle is the plaintiff. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTWLDF) represents him in the case. The defendant is the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA), an affiliate of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association represents approximately 30,000 state and local government employees.
  • What is at issue? Ogle’s attorneys, citing Janus, argue union fees previously deducted from his and other employees’ paychecks should be refunded. Janus established that compelling public-sector workers to pay union dues and/or fees violates their free-speech and associational rights under the United States Constitution.
  • How did the lower court rule? On July 17, U.S. District Court Judge George Smith ruled the union had acted in good faith when it collected fees from Ogle and other employees because, before Janus, judicial precedent had upheld the legality of compulsory fees. Smith wrote, “Because OCSEA collected fees under a presumptively valid statute and pursuant to then-valid Supreme Court precedent, there is no way that OCSEA ‘knew or should have known that the statute upon which they relied was unconstitutional.’ Put another way — OCSEA was simply following presumptively valid law.” Smith was appointed to the court by President Ronald Reagan (R).
  • What are the responses?
    • Mark Mix, NRTWLDF president, said, “In this case and others being litigated with Foundation legal aid, workers seek the return of just a few years’ worth of unconstitutionally seized forced union fees as the statutes of limitations permit, which represents just a fraction of the fees union bosses have illegally collected from workers for decades.”
    • In response to a request for comment by The Center Square, Sally Meckling, communications director for OCSEA, said she could not comment on ongoing litigation.
  • The case name and number are Ogle v. Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, AFSCME, Local 11 (2:18-cv-01227).

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 101 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.

Union Station map August 2, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart August 2, 2019.png

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

Union Station partisan chart August 2, 2019.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions on relevant bills since the beginning of the year. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state and then by bill number.

  • Massachusetts H3854: This bill would authorize employers to disclose personal employee information to unions. It would also permit unions to require non-members to pay for the costs associated with grievance and arbitration proceedings. It would require employers to provide unions with access to employees, and it would allow for dues deduction authorizations to be irrevocable for a period of up to one year.
    • House and Senate rejected governor’s proposed amendments. Returned to governor July 31.


California enacts law requiring presidential, gubernatorial candidates to disclose tax returns

On July 30, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed into law SB 27, requiring presidential and gubernatorial candidates to file copies of their last five federal income tax returns with the California secretary of state in order to qualify for placement on the primary election ballot. The law was set to take immediate effect.
 
In a statement, Newsom said, “The disclosure required by this bill will shed light on conflicts of interest, self-dealing, or influence from domestic and foreign business interest. The United States Constitution grants states the authority to determine how their electors are chosen, and California is well within its constitutional right to include this requirement.”
 
Later that day, Republican presidential candidate Roque De La Fuente filed suit against Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) in federal district court, alleging that SB 27 violated Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 and the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Jay Sekulow, an attorney for President Donald Trump (R), also suggested the possibility of further legal action, saying, “The State of California’s attempt to circumvent the Constitution will be answered in court.”
 
Legal professionals differed in their initial assessment of the legality of SB 27. Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said, “This new law raises some very interesting and novel constitutional issues. Because it is novel, it is hard to know how the courts would go, but there is plenty of reason to think courts will be hostile to California’s requirements.”
 
Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, said, “Although most cases dealing with ballot access have involved state and local elections, the constitutional principles are the same: State governments may set conditions for being listed on the ballot so long as they serve important interests and do not discriminate based on wealth or ideology.”
 
Gene Schaerr, a constitutional lawyer who has argued before the Supreme Court of the United States, said, “I see it as a serious problem on both constitutional grounds and especially on policy. You can imagine a host of other disclosures that states might want to adopt. If California could do this, some people would undoubtedly want to know whether candidates have ever been treated for a mental illness or denied insurance.”
 


New Jersey donor disclosure law faces legal challenges

New Jersey donor disclosure law faces legal challenges

On June 25, Americans for Prosperity filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging New Jersey S150, which amended the New Jersey Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Reporting Act, violates the First Amendment. 

  • Who are the parties to the suit?
    • Americans for Prosperity, the plaintiff, is a 501(c)(4) political advocacy group that describes itself as “an organization of grassroots leaders who engage citizens in the name of limited government and free markets on the local, state and federal levels.” The defendants are New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal (D) and the commissioners of the Election Law Enforcement Commission: Eric Jaso, Stephen Holden, and Marguerite Simon.
  • What is at issue?
    • Attorneys for Americans for Prosperity wrote. “The First Amendment safeguards individuals’ rights to associate privately and advocate anonymously throughout the United States. … Protecting the integrity of elections may be a sufficiently important reason to justify, under exacting scrutiny, regulation of electioneering communications, but the same is not true of issue advocacy. Rammed through in a rush to exact political revenge, [S150] obliterates this fundamental distinction and oversteps constitutional bounds by subjecting issue advocacy to the formidable regulations and burdens properly reserved for electioneering.”
  • What does the legislation do? 
    • S150 defines an independent expenditure committee as any person or group organized under sections 501(c)(4) or 527 of the Internal Revenue Code that spends $3,000 or more annually to influence or provide political information about any of the following:
      • “the outcome of any election or the nomination, election, or defeat of any person to any state or local elective public office”
      • “the passage or defeat of any public question, legislation, or regulation”
      • Independent expenditure committees will be required to disclose all expenditures exceeding $3,000. These committees will also be required to disclose the identities of their donors who contribute $10,000 or more.
      • Political context: New Jersey is a Democratic trifecta, meaning Democrats control the governorship and both chambers of the state Legislature.
  • How have the defendants responded?
    • Neither the attorney general nor the Election Law Enforcement Commission have commented publicly on the litigation. 
  • The case, Americans for Prosperity v. Grewal (case number 3:19-cv-14228), was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. 

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We’re currently tracking 72 pieces of legislation dealing with donor disclosure. 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 state

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

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

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

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions taken on relevant bills in the past two weeks. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number. Know of any legislation we’re missing? Please email us so we can include it on our tracking list.

  • New Hampshire SB105: This bill would establish disclosure requirements for certain contributions made to inaugural committees.
    • Enacted July 15.
  • New Hampshire SB156: This bill would require that political contributions made by limited liability companies be allocated to individual members in order to determine whether individuals have exceeded contribution limits.
    • Vetoed July 15.


Trump administration proposes union dues cancellation rule

TRUMP ADMIN. PROPOSES RULE EASING CANCELLATION OF UNION DUES

On July 3, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) asked the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) to issue a rule change that would allow federal employees to resign from their unions, and revoke dues payroll deductions, at any time after the first year of membership.  

  • What is the current policy? Section 7115(a) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute states any “written assignment which authorizes the agency to deduct from the pay of the employee amounts for the payment of regular and periodic dues” cannot be revoked for a period of one year. FLRA has construed this statute to mean that dues deductions can only be revoked at one-year intervals. 
     
  • What is the proposed policy? OPM has asked FLRA to issue the following statement of policy: 
     
    • “The constitutional principles clarified in Janus have general applicability to agencies and labor organizations in the area of federal employees’ requests to revoke union-dues assignments under Section 7115(a) of the Statute.”
       
    • “Consistent with Janus, upon receiving an employee’s request to revoke a previously authorized union-dues assignment, an agency should process the request as soon as administratively feasible, if at least one year has passed since the employee initially authorized union-dues assignment from the employee’s pay.”
       
  • What comes next? FLRA issued a request for comment on the proposed rule change in the July 12 edition of the Federal Register. Comments are due on or before Aug. 12, 2019. 

THE BIG PICTURE

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 101 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 legislative actions taken since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number. 

  • Massachusetts H3854: This bill would authorize employers to disclose personal employee information to unions. It would also permit unions to require non-members to pay for the costs associated with grievance and arbitration proceedings. It would require employers to provide unions with access to employees, and it would allow for dues deduction authorizations to be irrevocable for a period of up to one year. 
    • House rejected governor’s proposed amendments July 22.


Trump administration proposes rule easing cancellation of union dues

On July 3, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) asked the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) to issue a rule change that would allow federal employees to resign from their unions and revoke dues payroll deductions at any time after the first year of membership.
 
What is the current policy? Section 7115(a) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute states any “written assignment which authorizes the agency to deduct from the pay of the employee amounts for the payment of regular and periodic dues” cannot be revoked for a period of one year. FLRA has construed this statute to mean that dues deductions can only be revoked at one-year intervals.
 
What is the proposed policy? OPM has asked FLRA to issue the following statement of policy:
  • “The constitutional principles clarified in Janus have general applicability to agencies and labor organizations in the area of federal employees’ requests to revoke union-dues assignments under Section 7115(a) of the Statute.”
  • “Consistent with Janus, upon receiving an employee’s request to revoke a previously authorized union-dues assignment, an agency should process the request as soon as administratively feasible, if at least one year has passed since the employee initially authorized union-dues assignment from the employee’s pay.”
What comes next? FLRA issued a request for comment on the proposed rule change in the July 12 edition of the Federal Register. Comments are due on or before Aug. 12, 2019.


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