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Union Station: Minnesota Court dismisses challenge to state collective bargaining agreement

Minnesota District Court dismisses Republican legislators’ challenge of state collective bargaining agreement   

On July 19, Minnesota’s Second Judicial District Court dismissed a lawsuit that two Minnesota Republicans brought against the state’s office of management and budget. The legislators alleged that the state’s collective bargaining agreement violated state law because it was implemented without being ratified by both chambers of the state legislature.    

Parties to the suit

The plaintiffs are Minnesota state Rep. Marion O’Neill (R) and state Sen. Mark Koran (R) in their official and individual capacities. Attorneys from the Upper Midwest Law Center (UMLC) represent the plaintiffs. The UMLC says its “mission is to initiate pro-freedom litigation to protect against government overreach, special interest agendas, Constitutional violations, and public union corruption and abuses.” 

The defendants are Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter in his official capacity and Minnesota Management and Budget, which is “responsible for producing the state budget, economic forecast, payroll, and human resource policies for the state enterprise.” State attorneys represented the defendants. 

What’s at issue 

The plaintiffs filed their complaint on December 30, 2020, in the Second Judicial District Court. The UMLC said: “Under Minnesota law, a majority vote of both the House and Senate must approve the state employee union bargaining agreements for them to be legally implemented. In this case, MMB implemented the agreement even though the Senate failed to approve the bill. Representative O’Neill and Senator Koran seek a writ of quo warranto or declaratory judgment to have the invalid bargaining agreements set aside.”

In a March 30 memorandum in support of their motion to dismiss, the defendants’ attorneys said, “Two legislators seek to overturn lawfully bargained-for and legislatively approved pay raises for approximately 50,000 State employees. … As a legal matter, however, this case is simple. Petitioners Representative Marion O’Neill and Senator Mark Koran do not have standing to pursue these claims.” State employee organizations filed an amicus curiae brief on April 7. The groups said that “by waiting until the challenged collective bargaining agreements (“CBAs”) have been in effect for many months before filing suit, Petitioners have ensured that granting the requested relief would have the maximum disruptive impact on established CBA terms and on the collective bargaining process under the Public Employment Labor Relations Act … Accordingly, Petitioners’ unreasonable delay in asserting their purported rights would result in significant prejudice to the bargaining parties and to the public if the requested relief were granted.” 

A hearing was held on April 27. 

How the court ruled

On July 19, Judge Lezlie Ott Marek, who Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) appointed in 2010, wrote:

Legislator standing is extremely narrow. Members of a legislature have standing to sue in their capacity as legislators only when they demonstrate injuries that are personal to them, as opposed to institutional injuries to the legislative body as whole. … Where a legislator fails to establish personal standing via vote nullification, the alleged injury is institutional. … Here, the Petitioners allege an injury that belongs to the legislature as whole—not to them as individuals. …

No Minnesota court has ever found that individual taxpayers have standing to seek an Order enjoining the implementation of negotiated collective bargaining agreements. Here, extending the doctrine of taxpayer standing on the facts of this case would make bad public policy on labor relations. The purpose of [the Public Employment Labor Relations Act] is to “promote orderly and constructive relationships between all public employers and their employees.” … The amicus brief filed by the unions correctly notes that allowing this lawsuit to proceed would interfere with the ”delineation of separate and distinct roles for the Commissioner and for the Legislature to establish an orderly and constructive system on collective bargaining.” …

For all of the reasons stated herein, Petitioners lack standing to bring this lawsuit, either as legislators or taxpayers, and the Petition must be dismissed on this threshold ground alone. Because the motion to dismiss has been granted, Petitioners’ motion for temporary injunction has been mooted and does not require ruling.

The case name and number are O’Neill v. Schowalter (62-CV-20-5865). Case documents can be viewed here.

Responses

Julie Bleyhl, executive director of AFSCME Council 5, said, “We are pleased that the courts have dismissed the harmful and egregious lawsuit … that would have directly harmed tens of thousands of state employees and our rights as workers. … As many thousands of our members are currently negotiating their next contract, it is clear that our union members will continue to fight for contracts that treat all workers with the respect and dignity they deserve and demand and lift up all workers throughout our state.”

James V. F. Dickey, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said, “We respectfully disagree with Judge Marek’s decision. … It’s unclear how any taxpayer in Minnesota could ever challenge illegal government spending based on the decision.” Dickey said the plaintiffs plan to appeal the ruling. An appeal would go to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  

About Minnesota’s Second Judicial District Court 

The Minnesota district court system handles criminal, civil and family cases in each of Minnesota’s 87 counties. The counties are divided into ten judicial districts. The Second Judicial District encompasses Ramsey County. There are 29 judges on the court. 

The Minnesota Court of Appeals hears appeals from the state’s district courts, and the Minnesota Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort.  

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 98 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. 

  • 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 applies only if the parties have not otherwise agreed in an earlier contract. This bill would eliminate that exception.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Carried over to the next session on July 19.
  • Maine LD555: This bill would grant most public-sector employees the right to strike. Select public safety and judicial employees would not be allowed to strike. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Carried over to the next session on July 19.



Union Station: Sixth Circuit rules Janus does not invalidate mandatory bar membership

Sixth Circuit rules Janus does not invalidate mandatory bar membership  

On July 15, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld a 2020 ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan which found that the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Janus v. AFSCME does not invalidate mandatory bar association membership. 

The Sixth Circuit’s decision is the fourth appellate ruling on mandatory bar membership in recent weeks. The Tenth Circuit ruled on a challenge to the Oklahoma Bar Association and the Fifth Circuit ruled on challenges to the Louisiana State Bar Association and the State Bar of Texas. 

While the courts’ decisions in those three cases addressed the bars’ political or ideological activities, the plaintiff in this case did not allege that the State Bar of Michigan had funded impermissible activity and relied solely on Janus to overturn the membership requirement. In Keller v. State Bar of California, a 1990 decision cited in each of these rulings, the U.S. Supreme Court held that state bars may “constitutionally fund activities germane to those goals out of the mandatory dues of all members” but may not “fund activities of an ideological nature which fall outside of those areas of activity.” 

Parties to the suit

The plaintiff is Lucille Taylor, a Michigan attorney. The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, which describes itself as a “public interest law firm that works to advance individual freedom and the rule of law in Michigan and across the country,” represents Taylor. The defendants are the president, president-elect, vice president, secretary, and treasurer of the State Bar of Michigan Board of Commissioners in their official capacities. Warner Norcross & Judd represents the defendants. 

What’s at issue, and how the lower court ruled

Taylor filed her lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan on Aug. 22, 2019. In the complaint, Taylor’s attorneys said, “In Janus, the Supreme Court stated that mandatory union dues or fees paid by public employees, which are similar to the bar dues at issue here, violated the employees’ free speech Rights … Previously, the United States Supreme Court upheld mandatory bar dues in Keller v. State Bar of California … relying on the reasoning of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education … However, Janus explicitly overruled Abood, calling into question Keller and other opinions that followed the reasoning of Abood.” Taylor asked the court to declare that mandatory bar membership violated her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. 

On Sep. 8, 2020, the district court ruled in favor of the defendants. Judge Robert Jonker, a George W. Bush (R) appointee, wrote:

[T]he Court is satisfied that whatever wading [into the issues] needs to be done must happen in a higher Court because the Supreme Court has squarely decided the issues framed here in favor of the defendants. …

Plaintiff accepts that Lathrop and Keller rejected the claims she is making here, but urges this Court to revisit them in light of a line of Supreme Court authority culminating in Janus that, according to Plaintiff, calls into question the continuing validity of the holdings. This Court has no power to do that. 

Taylor appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in October 2020. 

How the Sixth Circuit ruled

On July 15, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit—Senior Judge Eugene Siler, Judge Karen Moore, and Judge Amul Thapar—upheld the district court ruling. 

Moore wrote

To Taylor’s credit, she acknowledges that Lathrop and Keller are an insurmountable hurdle if they remain good law. Taylor concedes that her compulsory membership in the State Bar of Michigan does not offend the First Amendment under either case. … And while the State Bar of Michigan does engage in advocacy germane to the legal profession, Taylor concedes that its activities do not cross the line set in Keller. … Instead, Taylor argues that Lathrop and Keller no longer bind this court because of intervening precedent in the form of Janus

Our cases are clear that we may not disregard Supreme Court precedent unless and until it has been overruled by the Court itself. … Even where intervening Supreme Court decisions have undermined the reasoning of an earlier decision, we must continue to follow the earlier case if it “directly controls” until the Court has overruled it. …

Here, the district court correctly concluded that Lathrop and Keller continue to bind the lower courts despite the Court’s ruling in Janus.

George H.W. Bush (R) nominated Siler to the court, Bill Clinton (D) nominated Moore, and Donald Trump (R) nominated Thapar.  

The case name and number are Taylor v. Buchanan et. al (20-2002).

About the Sixth Circuit  

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit hears appeals from the district courts within its jurisdiction, which includes Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. The chief judge of the court is Jeffrey Sutton, a George W. Bush appointee. Of the court’s 16 active judges, Clinton appointed three, George W. Bush appointed five, Barack Obama (D) appointed two, and Trump appointed six.  

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 98 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. 

  • Massachusetts H1946: This bill would allow public-sector employees to strike.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Joint Labor and Workforce Development Committee hearing held July 13. 
  • Massachusetts H2038: This bill would amend the laws governing strikes by public-sector workers.
    • Bipartisan sponsorship.
    • Joint Labor and Workforce Development Committee hearing held July 13.
  • Massachusetts H2060, H2061: This bill would establish that the personal contact information of public-sector workers cannot be made public. It would allow such information to be disclosed to labor unions.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Joint Labor and Workforce Development Committee hearing held July 13. 
  • Massachusetts S1245: This bill would amend the laws governing strikes by public-sector workers. 
    • Bipartisan sponsorship.
    • Joint Labor and Workforce Development Committee hearing held July 13. 

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



Union Station: District court rulings on mandatory bar membership cases reversed

Fifth Circuit reverses district court rulings on two mandatory bar membership cases

On July 2, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in favor of plaintiffs challenging mandatory bar membership in Louisiana and Texas, two of 31 states that require lawyers to join the state bar association. 

Boudreaux v. Louisiana State Bar Association

About the case

The plaintiff is Randy Boudreaux, a Louisiana attorney. Attorneys from the Goldwater Institute, the Pelican Institute for Public Policy’s Center for Justice, Peragine Law Firm LLC, and Dane S. Ciolino LLC represent Boudreaux. The defendants are the Louisiana State Bar Association (LSBA), the Louisiana Supreme Court, and the justices of the Louisiana Supreme Court in their official capacities. Stanley, Reuter, Ross, Thornton & Alford LLC represent the defendants.     

On Aug. 1, 2019, Boudreaux filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana challenging the constitutionality of the LSBA’s mandatory dues and membership on the grounds that they violated attorneys’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Boudreaux said the LSBA lacked sufficient safeguards to ensure it did not use fees to fund political speech. 

On Jan. 13, 2020, the district court ruled in favor of the defendants, dismissing the case for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. Boudreaux appealed to the Fifth Circuit in February 2020. 

On July 2, 2021, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling and remanded the case to the lower court. Judge Don Willett, a Donald Trump (R) appointee, wrote

[Boudreaux] claims that compelled dues and membership violate his First Amendment rights, as does LSBA’s failure to ensure that his dues are not used to fund the bar’s political and ideological activities. The district court dismissed all of Boudreaux’s claims. We reverse. …

Discovery may bear out that LSBA does not actually engage in any non-germane activity. But at this stage, we take Boudreaux’s allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in his favor. Under that standard, dismissing his freedom of association claim as foreclosed by [Keller v. State Bar of California] was error. …

The Constitution requires that bar members be able to challenge expenditures as non-germane, but Boudreaux alleges he is unable to do so because of LSBA’s deficient notice process. His inability to identify non-germane expenditures is his injury, not the non-germane expenditures themselves. … By alleging that LSBA does not regularly provide notice of its expenditures with sufficient specificity, Boudreaux has pleaded an injury-in-fact for the claim he is pursuing. Dismissing his claim for lack of standing was therefore error.

Judges Jerry E. Smith, a Ronald Reagan (R) appointee, and Stuart Kyle Duncan, a Trump appointee, joined the opinion.   

The case name and number are Boudreaux v. Louisiana State Bar Association (20-30086).

Perspectives

  • Sarah Harbison, general counsel for the Pelican Institute, said: “Since at least 2007, the Bar has used member dues to take positions on bills related to civics curriculum, midwives, tort reform, and other issues. These issues are unrelated to the practice of law and lawyers should not be forced to subsidize this activity as a condition of practicing their chosen profession.”
  • Louisiana State Bar Association president H. Minor Pipes III said: “The LSBA for years has focused on ensuring that its activities and expenditures are germane to regulating or improving the legal profession. … Although we would have preferred an affirmation from the 5th Circuit, we are confident that the courts will confirm that our procedures safeguard against the Bar engaging in political and ideological activities. While we await further guidance from the Eastern District we will continue to work for the lawyers of Louisiana through our regulation of the practice of law and myriad member services and programs.”

McDonald v. Longley

About the case

The plaintiffs are Texas attorneys Tony McDonald, Joshua Hamme, and Mark Pulliam. Consovoy Mccarthy PLLC represents the plaintiffs. The defendants are Joe Longley, the immediate past president of the State Bar of Texas, Randall Sorrels, the president of the State Bar of Texas, and three members of the State Bar Board of Directors. Vinson & Elkins LLP represent the defendants.   

On March 6, 2019, the plaintiffs filed their complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, claiming mandatory membership in the State Bar of Texas violated their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and that the state bar’s “procedures are inadequate to  ensure that members are not coerced into funding the Bar’s political and ideological activities.”

On May 29, 2020, the district court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, stating: “[b]ecause the Bar has adequate procedural safeguards in place to protect against compelled speech and because mandatory Bar membership and compulsory fees do not otherwise violate the First Amendment, Plaintiffs’ claim that the Bar unconstitutionally coerces them into funding allegedly non-chargeable activities without a meaningful opportunity to object necessarily fails as a matter of law.” The plaintiffs appealed to the Fifth Circuit in June 2020.  

On July 2, 2021, the same Fifth Circuit panel ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, overturning the district court’s ruling, remanding the case back to the lower court, and blocking the state bar from requiring membership or dues of the plaintiffs while the case is pending in the lower court.  Judge Smith penned the opinion in this case. He wrote

In sum, the Bar is engaged in non-germane activities, so compelling the plaintiffs to join it violates their First Amendment rights. There are multiple other constitutional options: The Bar can cease engaging in non-germane activities; Texas can directly regulate the legal profession and create a voluntary bar association, like New York’s; or Texas can adopt a hybrid system, like California’s. But it may not continue mandating membership in the Bar as currently structured or engaging in its current activities. … 

The Bar’s procedures are inadequate under [Chicago Teachers Union, Local No. 1, AFT, AFL-CIO v. Hudson]. The Bar does not furnish Texas attorneys with meaningful notice regarding how their dues will be spent. Nor does it provide them with any breakdown of where their fees go. Instead, it places the onus on objecting attorneys to parse the Bar’s proposed budget—which only details expenses at the line-item level, often without significant explanation—to determine which activities might be objectionable. … 

The district court erred in its reading of [Lathrop v. Donohue] and Keller and in its application of Keller’s germaneness test to the Bar’s activities. We therefore VACATE the summary judgment, RENDER partial summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, and REMAND for the court to determine the full scope of relief to which plaintiffs are entitled. We additionally REVERSE the denial of plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction and RENDER a preliminary injunction preventing the Bar from requiring the plaintiffs to join or pay dues pending completion of the remedies phase.

The case name and number are McDonald v. Longley (20-50448).

Perspectives

  • The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, said: the State Bar of Texas “overstepped its constitutional bounds by delving into issues that neither regulated the legal profession nor improved the quality of legal services in the state,” and that the ruling provided “a glimmer of hope to lawyers across the country and a win for the free speech rights of Texas lawyers.” 
  • State Bar of Texas executive director Trey Apffel said: “We continue to believe the State Bar’s legislative program and all of its access to justice initiatives are germane to regulating the legal profession and improving the quality of legal services, and respectfully disagree with the panel’s contrary conclusion. We are assessing the bar’s next steps in light of the panel’s opinion.”

About the Fifth Circuit

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit hears appeals from the district courts within its jurisdiction, which includes Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The chief judge of the Fifth Circuit is Priscilla Owen, a George W. Bush (R) appointee. Of the court’s 17 active judges, Reagan appointed two, Bill Clinton (D) appointed two, George W. Bush appointed four, Barack Obama (D) appointed three, and Trump appointed six.  

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 97 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. 

  • Massachusetts H2038: This bill would amend the laws governing strikes by public-sector workers.
    • Bipartisan sponsorship.
    • Joint Labor and Workforce Development Committee hearing July 13.
  • Massachusetts H2060: This bill would establish that the personal contact information of public-sector workers cannot be made public. It would allow such information to be disclosed to labor unions.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Joint Labor and Workforce Development Committee hearing July 13.
  • Massachusetts H2061: This bill would establish that the personal contact information of public-sector workers cannot be made public. It would allow such information to be disclosed to labor unions. 
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Joint Labor and Workforce Development Committee hearing July 13.
  • Massachusetts S1245: This bill would amend the laws governing strikes by public-sector workers. 
    • Bipartisan sponsorship.
    • Joint Labor and Workforce Development Committee hearing July 13.



Union Station: Ruling on Oklahoma Bar Association membership and dues challenge

Tenth Circuit rules on Oklahoma Bar Association membership and dues challenge  

On June 29, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled on a challenge to the constitutionality of mandatory bar membership and dues, affirming in part and reversing in part the district court’s decision. A majority of states have mandatory bar associations. 

Parties to the suit

The plaintiff is Mark Schell, an Oklahoma attorney. The Goldwater Institute, which describes itself as a “free-market public policy research and litigation organization,” is representing Schell, along with Jones Day and Charles S. Rogers. The defendants are the justices of the Oklahoma Supreme Court and the Oklahoma Bar Association’s board of governors and executive director. Attorneys from Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, Whitten Burrage, Phillips Murrah P.C., and Maye Law Firm represent the defendants.        

What’s at issue, and how the lower court ruled

Schell’s lawsuit, which was originally filed in March 2019, claimed that the Oklahoma Bar Association’s (OBA) compulsory membership and mandatory dues violated attorneys’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Schell asked the court to “declare Oklahoma’s bar membership requirement unconstitutional and order Defendants to stop forcing attorneys to subsidize the OBA’s speech without their affirmative consent, or, alternatively, to order Defendants to adopt procedures to protect attorneys from being forced to subsidize OBA speech and activities that are not germane to improving the quality of legal services and regulating the legal profession.”

On Sept. 18, 2019, Judge Joe Heaton of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma dismissed two of the plaintiff’s claims. Heaton, a George W. Bush (R) appointee, wrote:   

In light of the Supreme Court’s decisions in [Lathrop v. Donohue (1961)] and [Keller v. State Bar of Calif. (1990)], plaintiff’s claims directed to compelled membership in the OBA and to the collection and use of mandatory bar dues to fund activities germane to regulating the legal profession and improving legal services fail. To the extent that plaintiff contends the recent case of [Janus v. AFSCME (2018)] requires a different result, the court is unpersuaded. Janus involved the payment of agency fees by non-members of a public employee union. While there are some parallels between Janus and the circumstances here, there are also differences. There is also no suggestion in Janus that either Lathrop or Keller were overruled or otherwise called into question. In such circumstances, the court is obliged to follow the cases which most directly control, and therefore declines to speculate as to whether the Supreme Court might reach some different result if it were to revisit either Lathrop or Keller

In March 2020, the district court dismissed a third claim as moot and terminated the case. Schell appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. 

How the Tenth Circuit ruled

On June 29, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit unanimously affirmed the district court’s ruling that mandatory bar dues were not unconstitutional and reversed and remanded the district court’s ruling on mandatory bar membership, saying that the lower court “erred by relying upon Lathrop and Keller to dismiss Mr. Schell’s freedom of association claim.”

Judge Carolyn McHugh, a Barack Obama (D) appointee, wrote

Neither Lathrop nor Keller addressed a broad freedom of association challenge to mandatory bar membership where at least some of a state bar’s actions might not be germane to regulating the legal profession and improving the quality of legal services in the state. … Thus, the district court was incorrect to conclude Lathrop and Keller necessarily foreclosed Mr. Schell’s Count I claim. …

We affirm the district court’s dismissal of Count II of Mr. Schell’s Amended Complaint but reverse the district court’s dismissal of Mr. Schell’s Count I freedom of association claim. On remand, the district court shall permit Mr. Schell an opportunity to conduct discovery on that claim relative to the two potentially nongermane Oklahoma Bar Journal articles published within the statute-of-limitations period.

Judge Harris Hartz, appointed by W. Bush, and Senior Judge David Ebel, appointed by President Ronald Reagan (R), joined McHugh’s opinion.

The case name and number are Schell v. Oklahoma Supreme Court Justices, et al. (20-6044).  

About the Tenth Circuit  

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit hears appeals from the district courts within its jurisdiction, which includes Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming. The chief judge of the Tenth Circuit is Timothy Tymkovich, a W. Bush appointee. Of the court’s 10 active judges, W. Bush appointed three, Obama appointed five, and Donald Trump (R) appointed two. The court has two vacancies.  

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 96 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. 

  • Delaware HB237: This bill would grant select law enforcement officers the right of organization and representation.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Senate passed June 30. 
  • Illinois HB2521: This bill would allow electronic signatures on petitions submitted for selecting an exclusive bargaining representative. It would allow certification elections to be conducted electronically. It would also prohibit an employer from promising or taking action against an employee for participating in a strike.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) on June 28. 
  • Massachusetts H2038: This bill would amend the laws governing public-sector worker strikes.
    • Bipartisan sponsorship. 
    • Joint Labor and Workforce Development Committee hearing July 13.
  • Massachusetts H2060: This bill would establish that the personal contact information of public-sector workers cannot be made public. It would allow such information to be disclosed to labor unions.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Joint Labor and Workforce Development Committee hearing July 13.
  • Massachusetts H2061: This bill would establish that the personal contact information of public-sector workers cannot be made public. It would allow such information to be disclosed to labor unions. 
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Joint Labor and Workforce Development Committee hearing July 13.



Union Station: Federal appeals court rejects challenge to exclusive representation law

Federal appeals court rejects challenge to Minnesota exclusive representation law

A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit rejected a Minnesota professor’s challenge to state law allowing unions to become exclusive bargaining agents for public-sector employees in a June 16 ruling.

Parties to the suit

The plaintiff is Kathleen Uradnik, a political science professor at St. Cloud State University. Attorneys from The Buckeye Institute and Baker & Hostetler represent her. The Buckeye Institute describes itself as “an independent research and educational institution—a think tank—whose mission is to advance free-market public policy in the states.” 

The defendants are the Inter Faculty Organization (IFO), St. Cloud State University, and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees. Attorneys from Cummins & Cummins and the state attorney general’s office represent the defendants. 

What’s at issue, and how the lower court ruled

Uradnik’s original complaint, filed in July 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, claimed that by “designating the Union as the Plaintiff’s exclusive representative,

Minnesota law and the [IFO’s collective bargaining agreement] violate the Plaintiff’s rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.” Uradnik also claimed the union violated the First Amendment because it “[negotiates] special preferences for union members, including preferences that tilt the scales in union members’ favor in such matters as tenure and promotion decisions.”

Minnesota’s Public Employment Labor Relations Act allows for “an employee organization which has been certified by the commissioner … to meet and negotiate with the employer on behalf of all employees in the appropriate unit.”

In September 2018, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota denied Uradnik’s motion for a preliminary injunction. Uradnik appealed the decision to the Eighth Circuit, which affirmed the lower court’s ruling in December 2018, and then to the Supreme Court, which denied the appeal in April 2019. 

The case then resumed in the District of Minnesota, and the court ruled in favor of the defendants on Dec. 5, 2019. Judge Paul Magnuson, appointed by President Ronald Reagan (R), cited the Supreme Court’s decision in Minnesota State Board for Community Colleges v. Knight (1984). In that case, a group of non-union community college instructors objected to a Minnesota statute allowing an exclusive representative to speak on behalf of all of a bargaining unit’s employees at “meet and confer” sessions. The Supreme Court ruled Minnesota had “in no way restrained [the instructors’] freedom to speak … or their freedom to associate or not to associate with whom they please.” Magnuson said, “Knight and [Bierman v. Dayton] foreclose Plaintiff’s claims. No genuine dispute of material fact exists, and she cannot prevail on this issue. Defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” 

Uradnik then appealed the decision to the Eighth Circuit. 

How the Eighth Circuit ruled

The three-judge appellate panel unanimously affirmed the district court’s decision on June 16. Judge L. Steven Grasz, who was appointed to the court by President Donald Trump (R), wrote:

We review the district court’s grant of summary judgment de novo, viewing the record in the light most favorable to, and drawing all reasonable inferences for, Uradnik. … We review the district court’s decision to deny leave to amend for abuse of discretion and any underlying legal determinations de novo. … Because Uradnik properly concedes that the district court correctly rejected her compelled-speech claim (Count I), we affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment on her Count I claims. Like the district court, we are bound by precedent, and only the Supreme Court can provide the relief she seeks. …

Otherwise, Uradnik mainly focuses her brief on challenging the district court’s holding that she did not properly plead an unconstitutional-conditions claim in Count II of her complaint. We affirm the district court. 

Judges Raymond Gruender, appointed by President George W. Bush (R), and Jane Kelly, appointed by President Barack Obama (D), joined Grasz’s opinion. 

The case name and number are Kathleen Uradnik v. Inter Faculty Organization, et al. (19-03749).

About the Eighth Circuit

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit hears appeals from the district courts within its jurisdiction, which includes Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The chief judge of the Eighth Circuit is Lavenski Smith, a Bush appointee. Of the court’s 11 active judges, Bush appointed five, and Trump appointed four. George H.W. Bush (R) and Obama each appointed one judge to the court.    

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 94 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. 

  • Delaware HB237: This bill would grant select law enforcement officers the right of organization and representation.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House passed June 22, assigned to Senate Corrections and Public Safety Committee. Hearing scheduled for June 29.  
  • Oregon SB580: This bill would amend the law’s definition of “employment relations” to include class size and caseload limits as mandatory collective bargaining subjects for school districts.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House speaker signed June 21.



Union Station: Indiana unions sue over payroll deduction law

Join us on Wednesday, June 30, at noon Eastern Time for a webinar marking three years since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME. In this briefing, we will discuss how the ruling has affected union membership, the complexities involved in determining the ruling’s state-specific impacts, and how states are continuing to respond to Janus. Click here to register! 

Indiana unions sue over law requiring annual authorization for payroll deductions

Three Indiana teachers unions filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana to block Senate Enrolled Act 251 (SEA 251), which would require teachers to authorize union payroll deductions on a yearly basis, from taking effect on July 1.  

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed Republican-sponsored Senate Bill 251 on April 22. The law says, “Authorizations by a school employee for the withholding of school employee organization dues from the school employee’s pay shall not exceed one (1) year in duration and shall be subject to annual renewal.” The law requires school employees wanting to have union dues deducted from their paychecks to sign an authorization form acknowledging that union membership and dues are voluntary. Upon receiving an employee’s authorization form, the employer must email the employee and receive a response in confirmation of the authorization. 

About the lawsuit

The Anderson Federation of Teachers, Avon Federation of Teachers, Martinsville Classroom Teachers, and the three unions’ presidents filed their complaint on June 15. The unions claim the law violates the U.S. Constitution’s contract clause and the First Amendment. 

The complaint states

After July 1, 2021, SEA 251 forbids dues deductions from occurring without the authorizing process described therein, without exception for dues deductions performed through existing authorizations. SEA 251 therefore has the effect of terminating existing dues authorization contracts and related collective bargaining agreement obligations governing dues deductions. … SEA 251 therefore impairs the existing dues authorization contracts in violation of Article I, Section 10 of the United States Constitution. …

Members of teachers’ unions are the only individuals in the state required to go through the cumbersome process for dues deductions, as well as the only individuals in the state whose dues authorizations are limited to one year. Placing a burden on teachers when they band together to financially support their exclusive representative while placing none on all employees who make wage assignments for individual purposes is clearly a restraint on the First Amendment right of association.

By requiring teachers to use dues deduction authorization agreements that contain State-dictated language concerning their constitutional rights to refrain from joining a union or paying union dues, SEA 251 compels teachers to speak a content-based message in violation of their First Amendment freedom of speech.

According to the Princeton Daily Clarion, Magistrate Judge Debra McVicker Lynch will likely issue a ruling by June 30. 

The case name and number are Anderson Federation of Teachers et al. v. Rokita et al. (No. 1:21-cv-01767). 

Perspectives

Opposing the law

Jeff Macey, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said, “Why are teachers being singled out for these onerous restrictions? … No other union, no other charity, no other organization in the state has to do this to assign a portion of your wages to (them).” 

Avon Federation of Teachers president Suzy Lebo said, “It’s a stunt by the Indiana legislators to try to keep teachers unions from happening. … It’s not like we’re holding anybody hostage. I’m not sure what they’re after, except punishing us.”

Supporting the law

Attorney General Todd Rokita (R), a defendant in the suit, said, “Indiana’s status as a ‘right-to-work’ state was reaffirmed by the Indiana General Assembly this year with the passage of Senate Enrolled Act 251 … I will always stand up to protect the individual liberties of hard-working Hoosiers – and that includes fighting to defend teachers’ right to choose how they spend their hard-earned money.” 

Sen. Phil Boots (R) said, “If a teacher wishes to be a member of a union, this law will not hinder their ability to do so. … This legislation was introduced after lawmakers heard from teachers who felt they were not given an appropriate amount of flexibility.” 

Update to last week’s story: On June 15, a West Virginia circuit court temporarily blocked a law from going into effect that would have prohibited public-sector union members from having dues withdrawn from their paychecks after 12 unions filed a lawsuit claiming the law was unconstitutional.

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 94 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. 

  • 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 applies only if the parties have not otherwise agreed in an earlier contract. This bill would eliminate that exception.
    • Democratic sponsorship.  
    • Senate passed June 14, House passed June 15. 
  • Oregon SB580: This bill would amend the law’s definition of “employment relations” to include class size and caseload limits as mandatory collective bargaining subjects for school districts. 
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Senate president signed June 15. 



Union Station: Missouri Supreme Court voids public-sector collective bargaining law

Missouri Supreme Court voids public-sector collective bargaining law 

On June 1, the Missouri Supreme Court voted 5-2 to uphold a lower court ruling overturning a 2018 state law that exempted public safety labor unions from new requirements applying to other public-sector unions. 

House Bill No.1413 was a Republican-sponsored public-sector collective bargaining law that exempted public safety and department of corrections unions and employees from regulations such as requiring unions to obtain annual authorization from employees before withholding union dues. The bill was enacted in June 2018 with an effective date of Aug. 28. 

On Aug. 27, 2018, seven public-sector unions sued to block the new law, arguing that it was unconstitutional. On Jan. 27, 2020, St. Louis County Circuit Judge Joseph Walsh declared the law void and prohibited the state from enforcing it. According to the Supreme Court’s summary:

The circuit court granted summary judgment in the labor unions’ favor, finding various provisions of HB 1413 violated public-sector employees’ constitutional rights to collective bargaining and free speech and could not be severed from the remainder of the bill. The circuit court, therefore, permanently enjoined enforcement of HB 1413 in its entirety.

The state appealed the decision to the Missouri Supreme Court in March 2020. The court heard arguments in November 2020 and issued its decision on June 1. Writing for the court, Judge Mary R. Russell said:

The exemption of public safety labor organizations violates principles of equal protection. The exemption of public safety labor organizations permeates throughout HB 1413 and reaches all provisions. The operation of this exemption forces this Court to declare HB 1413 void in its entirety rather than sever the offending provision. The circuit court’s judgment is affirmed.

Russell, who joined the court in 2004 after being appointed by Gov. Bob Holden (D), was joined by Chief Justice George Draper (appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon (D) in 2011), Judge Paul Wilson (appointed by Nixon in 2012), Judge Patricia Breckenridge (appointed by Gov. Matt Blunt (R) in 2007), and former Judge Laura Denvir Stith (appointed by Holden in 2001).

Judges W. Brent Powell and Zel Fischer dissented. Gov. Eric Greitens (R) appointed Powell to the court in 2017. Blunt appointed Fischer in 2008. 

Powell wrote:

This Court’s role is not to determine whether the solution raised by the legislature is perfectly suited to the problem it purports to solve; rather, as long as the reason for distinguishing between public safety and non-public safety unions is plausible, there exists a rational basis for treating these labor organizations differently under the law. … Here, the distinctions between the public employees the separate labor groups wholly or primarily serve provides plausible explanations and justifications for the dissimilar regulatory framework for public safety and nonpublic safety labor groups and is not unconstitutional.

According to research published in Ballotpedia Courts: Determiners and Dissenters, judges Powell and Fisher were the two judges who allied most often with each other in 2020, agreeing in 52 of the 58 cases the court decided that year. 

In Missouri, the governor, with the assistance of a nominating commission, appoints judges to 12-year terms. After serving at least one year on the court, appointed judges must stand for election to remain on the bench.

The case name and number are Missouri National Education Association, et al. v. Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, et al., Ferguson-Florissant School District, et al. (No. SC98412). 

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 92 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. 

  • Illinois HB2521: This bill would allow electronic signatures on petitions submitted for selecting an exclusive bargaining representative. It would allow certification elections to be conducted electronically. It would also prohibit an employer from promising or taking action against an employee for participating in a strike.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • House passed May 30.  
  • Maryland HB894: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for certain community college employees.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Gov. Larry Hogan (R) vetoed May 28. 
  • Maryland SB746: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for certain community college employees.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Gov. Larry Hogan (R) vetoed May 28. 
  • Maryland SB9: This bill would make revisions to the collective bargaining process for employees of the University System of Maryland.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Gov. Larry Hogan (R) vetoed May 28. 
  • Oregon SB580: This bill would amend the law’s definition of “employment relations” to include class size and caseload limits as mandatory collective bargaining subjects for school districts.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Second reading in House June 1. 



Union Station: Collective bargaining amendment on the 2022 Illinois ballot

Illinois legislature refers collective bargaining amendment to 2022 ballot  

The Illinois General Assembly referred a constitutional amendment to the 2022 ballot that would guarantee employees the right to organize and bargain collectively.

About the amendment 

The proposed amendment would add the following language to Article I of the Illinois Constitution:

  1. Employees shall have the fundamental right to organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing for the purpose of negotiating wages, hours, and working conditions, and to protect their economic welfare and safety at work. No law shall be passed that interferes with, negates, or diminishes the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively over their wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment and work place safety, including any law or ordinance that prohibits the execution or application of agreements between employers and labor organizations that represent employees requiring membership in an organization as a condition of employment.
  1. The provisions of this Section are controlling over those of Section 6 of Article VII.

Rep. Marcus Evans (D) said the constitutional amendment would prohibit right-to-work laws on the state and local level in Illinois and “[prevent] the passage of any future law or ordinance that may diminish collective bargaining rights.”

In Illinois, a legislatively referred constitutional amendment requires 60% of the members of both houses of the General Assembly vote to put it on the ballot. The amendment was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 11 on May 7, 2021. The Senate passed the bill 49-7 on May 21. On May 26, the House passed the bill 80-30. No Democrats voted against the bill. In the Senate, Republicans supported the bill 11-7. Nine House Republicans supported the bill and 30 voted against it.  

For the amendment to be adopted, the ballot measure must be approved by 60% of those voting on the question or a majority vote of those who cast a ballot for any office in the Nov. 8, 2022, election.

Perspectives 

Support

Rep. Lance Yednock (D) said, “One of the most diabolical ways to limit collective bargaining is through so called right-to-work laws. … States that limit collective bargaining see declines in wages, benefits, training, and safety standards. And it’s a losing proposition for all workers.”

Sen. Robert Peters (D) said, “Labor rights are intertwined with race, class, and gender struggles, and we must always fight to preserve them. … Declaring a worker’s right to collective bargain as a fundamental right guaranteed to everyone who works in Illinois is a major step toward winning the real safety and justice in our communities that we’ve been fighting to secure for generations.”

Opposition

Rep. Deanne Mazzochi (R) said, “Normally at the federal level, managers who are employees don’t have the right to collectively bargain. … People who are CEOs don’t have the right to collectively bargain. People who are in very sensitive positions don’t have the right to collectively bargain. And yet here, we’re not doing the same sort of refined, nuanced type of meaning of employees that you have in a federal statute.”

Mailee Smith, staff attorney and director of labor policy at Illinois Policy, said, “A constitutional amendment enshrining current labor provisions as ‘fundamental rights’ would mean lawmakers are handing over power to unelected, unaccountable union bosses. … Illinois’ government workers don’t need this amendment. They are already granted broad rights through the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, for public education employees, and the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act, for other state and local government employees.” 

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 92 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. 

  • Connecticut SB00908: This bill would require public employers to furnish unions with personal contact information of employees belonging to the bargaining unit the union represents. It would also require employers to grant unions access to new employee orientations.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House passed as amended. Senate in concurrence May 25. 
  • Illinois HB2521: This bill would allow electronic signatures on petitions submitted for selecting an exclusive bargaining representative. It would allow certification elections to be conducted electronically. It would also prohibit an employer from promising or taking action against an employee for participating in a strike.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate passed as amended May 26. House Rules Committee recommended adoption of Senate amendment May 27. 
  • Maine LD555: This bill would grant most public-sector employees the right to strike. Select public safety and judicial employees would not be allowed to strike. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Carry over requested May 21. 
  • Oregon SB580: This bill would amend the law’s definition of “employment relations” to include class size and caseload limits as mandatory collective bargaining subjects for school districts.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Business and Labor Committee work session held May 24. Recommended “do pass with amendments” May 27.


Union Station: Connecticut State Senate passes bill to increase union access to public employees

Connecticut State Senate passes bill to increase union access to public employees 

The Connecticut state Senate passed a bill on May 13 that would require public employers to provide unions with increased information about and access to public employees. It would also prohibit employers from discouraging union membership. 

About the bill

The Connecticut state Senate passed Senate Bill 908 on May 13. The vote was 22-13, with all 12 Senate Republicans and one Democrat voting against the bill. 

The bill would require public employers to provide unions with contact information for employees, give unions access to new employee orientations, and allow unions to meet with employees on workplace premises.  

The bill also says: 

A public employer shall not deter or discourage public employees or applicants for public employee positions from becoming or remaining members of a public employee organization, or from authorizing representation by a public employee organization, or from authorizing dues or deductions to a public employee organization. …

It shall be a prohibited practice for a public employer to: (1) Encourage an employee to resign or decline to obtain membership in a public employee organization, (2) encourage an employee to revoke authorization for a payroll deduction of dues to a public employee organization, (3) knowingly aid any such effort by any other entity, or (4) permit use of the employer’s electronic mail system by any entity to discourage membership in a public employee organization or discourage authorization of payroll deduction of dues to a public employee organization.

The bill would not repeal or amend existing law as it establishes these requirements for employers. To view a bill analysis from the Office of Legislative Research, click here.

Sen. Martin Looney (D), one of three Democratic co-sponsors of the legislation, said the bill is “an effort to mitigate as far as we can, as a matter of law, the unfortunate and corrosive U.S Supreme Court decision in Janus.”

The Labor and Public Employees Committee, a joint standing committee of the Connecticut General Assembly, introduced the bill. 

What comes next

The bill was added to the House calendar on May 14. Democrats have a 97-54 majority in the House. 

Perspectives

Supporting

Sen. Julie Kushner (D), another of the bill’s co-sponsors, said, “I believe the most important aspect of this bill is to ensure that every worker has equal opportunity to hear both from the employer and from the union. … [I]t is really important that people have information from the union to really understand what it is about.”

Sen. Jorge Cabrera (D) said, “This is a good bill that puts several needed standards in place for employees and unions and I am proud to support it. … It is one of my top priorities to support and empower workers and this legislation provides employees with information about union membership and improves communication between public employees and unions on several fronts.”

Opposing

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities said, “Connecticut has been successful in achieving a positive working relationship between municipal employers and unions, and the requirements mandated in SB 908 harm the relationship between management and labor. The Janus vs. AFSCME Supreme Court decision has not eroded union membership and CCM views the bill as a terrible solution in search of a nonexistent problem.”

John Kalb, vice president of the National Right to Work Committee, said, “Instead of respecting the Supreme Court’s Janus decision, Big Labor’s allies in the Connecticut Senate are granting union bosses a host of privileges so they can manipulate more and more Connecticut public servants into paying them dues while keeping them in the dark about their First Amendment right to abstain from union financial support.”

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 92 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. 

  • Connecticut SB00908: This bill would require public employers to furnish unions with personal contact information of employees belonging to the bargaining unit the union represents. It would also require employers to grant unions access to new employee orientations.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate passed as amended May 13. Added to House calendar May 14. 
  • Illinois HB2521: This bill would allow electronic signatures on petitions submitted for selecting an exclusive bargaining representative. It would allow certification elections to be conducted electronically. It would also prohibit an employer from promising or taking action against an employee for participating in a strike.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Executive Committee hearing May 19. 
  • 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 applies only if the parties have not otherwise agreed in an earlier contract. This bill would eliminate that exception.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Labor and Housing Committee reported “ought to pass as amended” May 17. Moved to unfinished business on May 19. 
  • Maine LD52: This bill would allow educational policies related to preparation and planning time and transfer of teachers to be subjects of collective bargaining negotiations.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate passed as amended May 19.  
  • Maine LD555: This bill would grant most public-sector employees the right to strike. Select public safety and judicial employees would not be allowed to strike. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Labor and Housing Committee hearing May 21. 
  • Maine LD1402: This bill would remove the authority to require public employees who do not join a union to pay service fees to the union.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Labor and Housing Committee reported “ought not to pass” May 18. 
  • Oregon SB580: This bill would amend the law’s definition of “employment relations” to include class size and caseload limits as mandatory collective bargaining subjects for school districts.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Business and Labor Committee work session scheduled for May 24. 



Union Station: A breakdown of public-sector union litigation in the federal courts

Today’s newsletter marks the third anniversary of Union Station. Our first edition launched in May 2018 in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME. Thank you for joining us as we’ve followed developments in public-sector union policy, litigation, and national debate since then.

A breakdown of public-sector union litigation in the federal courts

Since late 2019, Ballotpedia has tracked 130 federal lawsuits related to public-sector labor laws. Let’s take a quick look at the breakdown.

These lawsuits address one or more of the following types of questions (some cases are counted twice in the list below): 

  • Whether public-sector unions can be held liable for refunding agency fees paid before the Janus v. AFSCME ruling (82 cases), 
  • Whether public-sector unions may continue to collect union dues after union membership withdrawal if there is a pre-existing agreement for fees deduction throughout a given time period (58 cases), or 
  • Whether exclusive bargaining representation laws violate non-union members’ First Amendment rights (23 cases). 

United States federal courts decide disputes involving the Constitution and laws passed by Congress. There are 94 district courts, which are general trial courts that fall into 12 geographically-defined federal appellate circuits (the thirteenth court being the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit). Appeals courts can hear appeals from the district courts within their judicial circuits, and appeals court decisions can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Of the 130 cases we’ve tracked, 43 are pending or were resolved in U.S. district courts, and 70 are pending or were resolved in appellate courts. Seventeen cases have been appealed to the Supreme Court, which has denied petitions in nine of those cases so far. Seven are pending, and Janus is the only case in which a ruling has been issued.  

The chart below compares the volume of lawsuits that have originated in each federal circuit. We’ve tracked 57 cases originating in the Ninth Circuit, compared to only one case in the Eleventh Circuit.

In the majority of cases that have been decided so far, rulings have favored union and state defendants.   

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 92 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 relevant legislative actions have taken place since our last issue.