Three Pennsylvania public-sector unions amend contracts, allow members to opt out at any time
Three public-sector unions in Pennsylvania have recently ratified labor contracts allowing their members to resign at any time. Previously, these unions allowed members to resign during an annual 15-day window preceding the expiration of their labor contracts. This provision is referred to as a maintenance-of-membership clause.
Who are the unions, and who do they represent?
The three unions are the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 668, the Pennsylvania State Correctional Officers Association, and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1776. Together, these three unions represent approximately 22,500 public-sector workers.
What are the reactions?
- David Osborne, president and general counsel for the Fairness Center, said, “Maintenance of membership restrictions clearly violate our clients’ constitutional rights, and union officials should have dropped those restrictions a long time ago. It’s a big step in the right direction. Our clients had to sue to enforce their rights and the rights of those who are similarly situated, and only then did their union officials start to doubt their constitutional authority to keep members from resigning.” The Pennsylvania-based Fairness Center is a nonprofit law firm that, according to its website, “provides free legal services to those hurt by public-sector union officials.”
- The Fairness Center has filed multiple lawsuits challenging maintenance-of membership clauses since the Supreme Court issued its 2018 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME. The court found that compelling public-sector workers to give any financial support to a union violates workers’ First Amendment rights.
- Wendell Young IV, president of UFCW Local 1776, said, “There’s a very basic element of every contract our union has in both the public and private sector and that is if any provision is found to be inconsistent due to a change in the law or invalidated by changes in the law, they are considered invalidated. So Janus changed the law. The Supreme Court ruled and whether I like the ruling or not contracts have to conform to the law. That’s why we changed them.” This appears to be one of the first instances in which a union representative has indicated that membership opt-out windows are inconsistent with Janus.
What comes next?
According to Osborne, the suits filed by the Fairness Center will proceed because state law does not prohibit the inclusion of maintenance-of-membership clauses in labor contracts. “Our clients are pursuing a court ruling that, among other protections, strikes down the ‘maintenance of membership’ statute as unconstitutional,” he said. Unions are contesting these suits, which are listed below.
- Nguyen v. A&R Local 4200 (case number: 3:19-cv-01351-WWE; filed Sept. 2, 2019, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut)
- Weyandt v. PSCOA (case number: 3:02-at-06000; filed June 14, 2019, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania)
- Kabler v. UFCW, Local 1776 (case number: 1:19-cv-00395-UN1; filed March 6, 2019, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania)
- James v. SEIU, Local 668 (case number: 2:19-cv-00053-CB; filed Jan. 17, 2019, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania)
- Molina v. SEIU, Local 668 (case number: 1:19-cv-00019-YK; filed Jan. 7, 2019, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania)
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.
Number of relevant bills by current legislative status
Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)
Recent legislative actions
No legislative actions have occurred since our last issue.
SCOTUS to hear four cases this week
We #SCOTUS, so you don’t have to
The Supreme Court will hear arguments in four cases this week. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ current term.
In its October 2018 term, SCOTUS heard arguments in 69 cases. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ previous term.
Click the links below to read more about the specific cases SCOTUS will hear this week:
- Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico v. Aurelius Investment, LLC, concerns the U.S. Constitution’s Appointments Clause. The case is consolidated with Aurelius Investment, LLC v. Puerto Rico, Official Committee of Debtors v. Aurelius Investment, LLC, United States v. Aurelius Investment, LLC, and UTIER v. Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico.
In 2016, Congress enacted the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act. The act created the Financial Oversight and Management Board and authorized the board to begin debt adjustment proceedings on behalf of the Puerto Rico government. After the board began proceedings in 2017, Aurelius Investment, LLC, (“Aurelius”) and the Unión de Trabajadores de la Industria Eléctrica y Riego (“UTIER”) challenged the board’s authority in U.S. District Court, arguing the board members’ appointment violated the Constitution’s Appointments Clause. The District of Puerto Rico ruled against Aurelius and UTIER. On appeal, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court in part, holding the board members “must be, and were not, appointed in compliance with the Appointments Clause.”
The issue: Whether the Appointments Clause governs the appointment of members of the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico.
- In Kansas v. Garcia, Ramiro Garcia, Donaldo Morales, and Guadalupe Ochoa-Lara were convicted of identity theft in Johnson County, Kansas. In each case, prosecutors used Social Security numbers found on I-9 and W-4 employment forms. Garcia, Morales, and Ochoa-Lara appealed their convictions, arguing the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) preempted their prosecution. On appeal, the Kansas Supreme Court reversed the three convictions.
The issue: (1) Whether IRCA expressly preempts states from using any information entered on or appended to a federal Form I-9. This includes common information such as name, date of birth, and Social Security number, in a prosecution of any person (citizen or alien) when that same, commonly used information also appears in non-IRCA documents, such as state tax forms, leases, and credit applications. (2) Whether the Immigration Reform and Control Act indirectly preempts Kansas’ prosecution of Garcia, Morales, and Ochoa-Lara.
- In Rotkiske v. Klemm, Kevin Rotkiske accumulated credit card debt between 2003 and 2005. Rotkiske’s bank referred the matter to Klemm & Associates (Klemm) for collection. Someone accepted service for a debt collection lawsuit on Rotkiske’s behalf without his knowledge. Klemm obtained a default judgment of approximately $1,500. Rotkiske sued Klemm for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), arguing the statute of limitations to file a suit begins when the plaintiff knows of his injury. On appeal, the 3rd Circuit rejected Rotkiske’s argument, affirming the ruling of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and holding that the statute of limitations begins to run when the defendant allegedly violates the FDCPA.
The issue: Whether the one-year limitation period on a statute of limitations begins to run when a potential plaintiff violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, as the 3rd Circuit has held, or begins to run when a potential plaintiff discovers a violation, as the 4th and 9th Circuits have held.
- In Mathena v. Malvo, Lee Boyd Malvo was convicted in 2004 of committing homicides in 2002, when he was 17 years old. Malvo was sentenced to four life terms without parole. In 2012, SCOTUS held in Miller v. Alabama that juvenile defendants could not be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. In 2016, SCOTUS held in Montgomery v. Louisiana that the rule it established in Miller was retroactive. After Malvo filed applications for writs of habeas corpus relief, the district court vacated the four terms of life imprisonment and remanded the case for resentencing. On appeal, the 4th Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling. The issue: Did the 4th Circuit err in concluding—in direct conflict with Virginia’s highest court and other courts—that a juvenile sentenced to life without parole is entitled to a new sentencing proceeding following SCOTUS’ 2016 decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana?
Upcoming SCOTUS dates
Here are the upcoming dates of interest in October:
- October 15:
- SCOTUS will hear arguments in one case.
- SCOTUS will release orders.
- October 16: SCOTUS will hear arguments in three cases.
- October 18: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices.
- October 21: SCOTUS will release orders.
Parties petition SCOTUS to hear a case if they are not satisfied with a lower court’s decision. What do the parties petition the court to grant?
Choose an answer to find out!
Federal court action
The Senate has not confirmed any nominees since our October 7 issue.
The Senate has confirmed 152 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—105 district court judges, 43 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices—since January 2017.
President Trump has not announced any new Article III nominees since our October 7 edition.
The president has announced 224 Article III judicial nominations since taking office Jan. 20, 2017. The president named 69 judicial nominees in 2017 and 92 in 2018. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.
The federal judiciary currently has 107 vacancies. As of publication, there were 40 pending nominations.
According to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, an additional 16 judges have announced their intention to leave active judicial status during Trump’s first term.
For more information on judicial vacancies during Trump’s first term, click here.
Vacancies on the Circuit Courts
The following table lists the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals from President Trump’s inauguration to the date of publication.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has not reported any new nominees out of committee since our October 7 edition.
Do you love judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? We figured you might. Our monthly Federal Vacancy Count, published at the start of each month, monitors all the faces and places moving in, moving out, and moving on in the federal judiciary. Click here for our most current count.
Need a daily fix of judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? Click here for continuing updates on the status of all federal judicial nominees.
Or, if you prefer, we also maintain a list of individuals President Trump has nominated.
Court in the spotlight
In each issue of Bold Justice, we highlight a federal court you should know more about. Right now, we’re taking a closer look at the 94 U.S. District Courts. The district courts are the general trial courts of the U.S. federal court system.
There is at least one judicial district for each state, and one each for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.
In this edition, we’re placing a spotlight on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York. The Northern District of New York has original jurisdiction over cases filed in the following counties in the northern part of the state:
Decisions of the court may be appealed to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Northern District of New York has five authorized judgeships. There is currently one vacancy. The breakdown of current active judges by appointing president is:
- Barack Obama (D): Two judges
- George W. Bush (R): One judge
- Bill Clinton (D): One judge
Ballotpedia’s Weekly Presidential News Briefing: October 7-11, 2019
Candidates release policy proposals on housing, foster care, and LGBT issues
Nine candidates to participate in CNN LGBTQ town hall
Booker, Steyer, and Yang bring November debate total (so far) to eight, DNC sets date
How did the 2010 elections affect the last redistricting cycle?
Trifecta control changed in 12 states in 2010 where state legislatures were responsible for redistricting
Eleven states are holding gubernatorial elections in 2020, and 44 are holding state legislative elections. In a majority of these states, the officials elected in 2020 will play a part in redrawing legislative maps governing elections for the subsequent 10 years.
The process by which legislative district boundaries are drawn is called redistricting. Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau delivers detailed population datasets to the states. Redistricting authorities in the states use these datasets to redraw congressional, state legislative, and even local district maps.
In 34 states holding state legislative elections in 2020, the legislatures themselves will play a significant role in that state’s 2020 redistricting. In eight of next year’s gubernatorial elections, the winner will have veto authority over the state legislative or congressional district plans approved by legislatures.
Redistricting authorities in the United States
The 2010 election and redistricting cycle illustrate how elections can affect the redistricting process.
Trifecta control—where one party controls the governorship and both chambers of a state’s legislature— changed as a result of the 2010 elections in 12 states where legislatures were responsible for redistricting. Prior to these elections, seven of the 12 were Democratic trifectas and the rest had divided governments.
- Six states changed from a Democratic trifecta to divided government—Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Wisconsin.
- Five states changed from divided government to a Republican trifecta—Alabama, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania.
- One state—Maine—changed from a Democratic to Republican trifecta.
Of the 12 states which saw trifecta control change in 2010, three—Alabama, Indiana, and Ohio—are currently Republican trifectas. Three states have become Democratic trifectas—Colorado, Oregon, and Maine. The rest are divided governments.
Our briefing yesterday discussed which states have changed their redistricting processes since the 2010 cycle, recent federal and state court decisions regarding partisan gerrymandering, and the upcoming 2020 Census. If you weren’t able to attend, click here to view the recording.
At Ballotpedia, we provide election coverage of all officeholders in the nation’s 100 largest cities—including mayors, city council members, and other municipal officers. We also cover every election on the ballot in these cities, such as county officials and local ballot measures.
Here’s our weekly summary of the local news we’re covering. Email me to suggest some interesting local election coverage in your area—I’d love to hear about it!
Raleigh, North Carolina
Former at-large councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin finished first with 38% of the vote and attorney Charles Francis finished second with 31% in Raleigh’s mayoral general election October 8. Since no candidate received a majority of the vote in the six-candidate field, a runoff will be held on November 5 if Francis requests it. Second-place finishers have until October 17 to ask for a runoff.
Raleigh also held elections for all seven city council seats—two at-large and five district seats. Six of seven incumbents ran for re-election. Three incumbents won outright in the primary, one was defeated, and two incumbents—at-large councilman Russ Stephenson and District D councilwoman Kay Crowder—qualified for a runoff. Neither Stephenson nor Crowder has said whether they will request a runoff.
Two incumbent Birmingham City Council members appeared to win special elections October 8 and a third incumbent advanced to a November 19 runoff. The three incumbents had all been appointed by the council in 2018 to fill vacancies after the previous members had resigned. The winners of these elections will serve until all nine council seats will next be up for regular election in 2021.
Vote counting on election night was delayed because voting machine memory cards that contained results were inadvertently placed in sealed boxes with paper ballots in certain precincts. The results on those cards were tabulated after the sealed boxes were opened the following day after a judge’s order.
Voters also appeared to approve three ballot measures renewing property taxes for the city’s public schools. Election night results showed all three measures ahead with about 90 percent of voters approving them. The total tax rate renewed by the propositions was $0.98 per $100 of taxable property for 25 years. Birmingham City Schools reported that the taxes generate about $32 million per year—14% of its annual budget. The taxes were last approved in 1991 and were set to expire in September 2021.
Quiz: How many Louisiana state legislative seats switched partisan control in 2015?
Our Brew story Tuesday previewing Louisiana’s October 12 state legislative primary elections—happening alongside the gubernatorial and other state executive primaries—said that contested elections will be held in 94 seats this year, more than either the 2011 or 2015 election cycles. There were 70 contested state legislative elections in 2015 and 81 in 2011.
Louisiana voters will elect all 144 members of the state legislature—39 state Senators and 105 state Representatives—using what’s known as a blanket primary, where all candidates appear on the ballot, regardless of party. Any candidate that receives more than 50 percent of the primary vote wins the election outright. If not, a general election will be held for the top two finishers Nov. 16.
This caused me to wonder—and quiz our Brew readers—how many Louisiana state legislative seats switched partisan control in 2015?
California had the fewest propositions this decade in the state’s history
This decade featured the fewest California ballot propositions in the state’s history
Since California has finalized its 2019 general election ballot, I wanted to share the results of our analysis of the number of ballot measures in the state this decade.
- Between 2010 and 2019, there were 69 statewide ballot measures in California, which means this decade featured the fewest number of measures since voters adopted the initiative process in 1911.
- The number of citizen-initiated measures—51—was the third-most over the previous 11 decades.
- Over the last ten years, the state legislature passed fewer constitutional amendments, referred statutes, and general obligation bonds decided by voters.
After peaking at 142 ballot measures in the 1970s, the number of ballot measures appearing on the ballot in California has decreased each decade. The average decade featured 116 ballot propositions, of which 39 were citizen-initiated.
In 1912, California voters decided the first citizen-initiated measures. Since then, there have been 1,271 ballot measures. Of those, 428—or 34%—were put on the ballot through citizen petitions which came either through the initiative or the veto referendum process.
The approval rate for all ballot measures in California—citizen-initiated measures and legislative referrals—from 1912 to 2019 is 57%. The approval rate for citizen initiatives during this time is 36%.
Due to turnout in California’s 2018 gubernatorial election—which determines the number of signatures required for the two successive general elections—signature requirements increased by 70.3%. During the next two cycles—2020 and 2022—citizen-initiated measures will require the largest number of signatures to make the ballot in the state’s history. An initiated constitutional amendment will require 997,139 valid signatures and an initiated statute or veto referendum will require 623,212 valid signatures.
Louisiana’s 94 contested legislative elections this fall outpaces 2011 and 2015
Louisiana voters head to the polls October 12 (yes, this Saturday) to cast their ballots in the state’s legislative primaries. There are 94 contested legislative elections this year — more than there were in either the 2011 or 2015 election cycles.
There are 11 state Senate and 39 state House races that are uncontested in 2019, which is less than the number in the last two election cycles. In 2015, 21 Senate and 53 House races had a single candidate, while in 2011, 20 Senate and 43 House races had one candidate. In addition to elections for governor, six other statewide executive offices, and eight seats on the state board of education, Louisiana voters will elect all 39 members of the state Senate and 105 representatives in the state House. These are the first state legislative elections since 2015.
Louisiana uses what’s known as a blanket primary, where all candidates in any race appear on the ballot Oct. 12—regardless of party. A candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50 percent of the primary vote. If not, then a general election for the top two finishers will be held Nov. 16.
Here’s how many races were decided in the primary versus the general election in the last two cycles:
- There were 18 contested elections for state Senate seats in 2015. Fourteen races were decided in the primary and four in the general election.
- There were 19 contested state Senate elections in 2011—with 15 races decided in the primary and four in the general election.
- Fifty-two state House seats featured contested elections in 2015 with 37 races decided in the primary election and 15 in the general election.
- Of the 62 contested state House elections in 2011, 41 were decided in the primary election and 21 in the general election.
Republicans currently hold a 25-14 majority in the state Senate. There are 60 Republicans, 39 Democrats, and five independents—with one vacancy in the state House. Heading into the elections, Louisiana is under a divided government; Gov. John Bel Edwards is Democratic while Republicans control both legislative chambers.
Click the link below to learn more about Louisiana’s 2019 elections.
Warren leads Democratic presidential candidates in Ballotpedia pageviews for second consecutive week
As part of our coverage of the presidential race, we track and report the number of views the candidates’ 2020 presidential campaign pages receive to show who is getting our readers’ attention.
For the week ending Oct. 5, Elizabeth Warren’s campaign page on Ballotpedia received 3,071 pageviews, more than any other Democratic candidate. This was the second consecutive week Warren’s page received the most pageviews among the Democratic field.
Andrew Yang’s page had the second-most pageviews during this week and Joe Biden’s page was third. The only Democratic candidate to receive more pageviews last week than the week before was Tom Steyer, whose pageviews increased by 33.6%.
Andrew Yang remains the leader in overall pageviews among Democratic presidential candidates in 2019 with 124,790. He is followed by Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, and Warren. Those five candidates have each had more than 100,000 pageviews this year.
See the full data on all presidential candidates below.
Amy Klobuchar raised $4.8 million in Q3 2019
October 8, 2019: Amy Klobuchar’s campaign raised $4.8 million last quarter. Next Tuesday’s 12-candidate Democratic debate in Westerville, Ohio, will be the largest single primary debate ever.
In the past century, which presidential election had the highest estimated voter turnout?
“One thing we can say for sure is that something has changed in the race in the wake of Sanders’ heart attack. The burden of proof has now shifted directly to Sanders and, to a slightly lesser extent, Biden and Warren. Rather than their opponents needing to find some non-tacky way to raise the age question, that trio now has to find ways to address voter concerns about it. Which is a subtle but important shift — particularly given that it is very hard to ask questions about whether candidates are too old without getting major blowback.”
—Chris Cillizza, CNN
What We’re Reading
Flashback: October 8, 2015
CNN Business detailed then-candidate Donald Trump’s (R) efforts to prevent the use of his trademarked phrase “Make America Great Again” on merchandise sold by vendors other than his official campaign website.