TagUnion Station

Tag for the Union Station newsletter

Michigan Civil Service Commission considers changing rules for deducting union dues from employee paychecks

Michigan Civil Service Commission considers changing rules for deducting union dues from employee paychecks                 

The Michigan Civil Service Commission is considering a proposal that would require unionized state employees to authorize union dues deductions from their paychecks on an annual basis. 

What is at issue?

Rule 6-7 of Michigan’s Civil Service Rules provides for the deduction of union dues from workers’ paychecks, subject to their consent. The rule does not establish an expiration date for dues deduction authorizations: 

“If agreed to in a collective bargaining agreement, the state may deduct the dues or service fee of a member of an exclusively represented bargaining unit through payroll deduction. An appointing authority cannot deduct membership dues or service fees unless the employee has made a voluntary authorization. The director shall establish the exclusive process for employees to authorize or deauthorize deduction of dues or fees.” 

Under the proposal pending before the commission, workers would have to renew their authorizations annually. 

What is the Michigan Civil Service Commission? 

The Michigan Civil Service Commission is a state agency that regulates all conditions of employment for classified state employees. The commission comprises four members appointed by the governor to staggered eight-year terms. All four current members of the commission were appointed by former Gov. Rick Snyder (R).

What are the reactions? 

Support

  • The Mackinac Center for Public Policy supports the proposed rule. Jarret Skorup, a spokesman for the Mackinac Center, said, “Michigan became a right-to-work state in 2013, meaning no worker can be forced to pay money to a union in order to keep their job. The Janus decision in 2018 goes further – it allows for workers to have union dues withheld but says they must give ‘clear and compelling evidence’ that they consent to this. It’s not an ‘attack’ to require a political organization to regularly have to get members to sign up to pay their dues.” 
  • The National Right to Work Foundation supports the proposal. In a statement, the group’s president, Mark Mix, said, “The commission is taking an important step to proactively protect the First Amendment right of government workers in Michigan, many of whom may have only authorized dues deductions before the Supreme Court recognized those rights in the 2018 Janus decision, with many likely signing such cards before the Wolverine State adopted right-to-work, when such payments were mandatory.” 

Opposition

  • Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) opposes the rule change: “We are in the middle of a global pandemic and the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes, and the notion that Civil Service Commission would choose this moment to take power away from our health care workers, road repair workers, corrections officers, and unemployment call center employees is unthinkable.” 
  • State Rep. Terry Sabo (D) opposes the proposed rule: “The union provides services to its members to provide better wages, benefits and working conditions and nobody should be allowed to freeload in receiving those services. What is the benefit of making union members authorize over and over again other than to continue adding hurdles to union membership?”


What comes next? 

The Michigan Civil Service Commission is set to take a vote on the proposal at its next public meeting, scheduled for 10 a.m. on July 13. 

What we’ve been 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.

  • California AB2850: This bill would specify that the Public Employment Relations Board has jurisdiction to enforce statutory provisions governing employer-employee relations within the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Amended and re-referred to Labor, Public Employment, and Retirement Committee on July 8.


Illinois Supreme Court rules that Chicago police disciplinary, misconduct records cannot be destroyed

On June 18, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that a provision of the contract between Chicago and the Fraternal Order of Police requiring the destruction of police disciplinary and investigatory records after five years violates public disclosure laws. The court also ruled that an arbitrator’s decisions upholding the contract provision cannot be enforced because the provision conflicts with state law. The supreme court’s decision affirmed a lower court’s ruling.

What was at issue?

Section 8.4 of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the city of Chicago and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Chicago Lodge No. 7, provides for the destruction of disciplinary and investigatory records (including, but not limited to, complaint records) after five years. This provision has been the subject of ongoing litigation and arbitration since 2011. The following is a timeline of major events:

  • 2011 and 2012: The FOP filed two grievances over the city’s failure to destroy complaint records predating the five-year threshold. The city rejected the grievances, and the FOP initiated arbitration proceedings.
  • October 2014: The city notified the FOP that it intended to fulfill a Freedom of Information Act request from the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times for complaint records dating back to 1967. The FOP asked a state circuit court for a preliminary injunction barring the city from disclosing the disputed records.
  • December 2014: The state circuit court issued the preliminary injunction, pending resolution of arbitration proceedings. The city and the Chicago Tribune appealed the decision.
  • May 2015: The state circuit court granted a second preliminary injunction barring the city from disclosing the disputed records.
  • December 2015: The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it had launched an investigation into the Chicago Police Department over allegations of excessive force and discriminatory policing tactics. The DOJ requested that the city preserve all existing complaint and misconduct records, including those that were the subject of ongoing arbitration proceedings. The city asked the arbitrator for guidance on how to respond to the request.
  • January 2016: The arbitrator issued an initial award finding that the city had violated Section 8.4 of its CBA with the FOP. The arbitrator directed the parties to meet and develop a procedure for destroying records subject to Section 8.4, excepting records related to ongoing litigation or arbitration.
  • February 2016: The DOJ directed the city and the Chicago Police Department to “preserve all existing documents related to all complaints of misconduct.”
  • April 2016: The arbitrator issued a second award denying the plaintiffs’ grievances “for the reasons of public policy involved in the request of the U.S. Department of Justice, and only for this reason.”
  • June 2016: The arbitrator issued a third award specifying that, upon completion of the DOJ investigation, the first opinion would be enforced.
  • July 2016: The state appellate court vacated the state circuit court’s 2014 and 2015 injunctions. The appellate court ruled that arbitration awards mandating enforcement of Section 8.4 would violate the state’s Freedom of Information Act. The city subsequently petitioned the circuit court to overturn the arbitration awards.
  • August 2016: The FOP asked the state circuit court to uphold the arbitration awards.
  • January 2017: The DOJ issued its report on the Chicago Police Department.
  • October 2017: The circuit court granted the city’s request to overturn the arbitration awards. The FOP appealed, and the appellate court affirmed the circuit court’s order.

How did the Illinois Supreme Court rule?

The court ruled that Section 8.4 of the CBA conflicted with portions of the Illinois Local Records Act, which provides for the disclosure of public records. Justice Lloyd Karmeier wrote the following in the court’s opinion:

While parties are generally free to make their own contracts, this court has long held that when a conflict exists between a contract provision and state law, as it clearly does in this case, state law prevails. … This doctrine is based on the common-law notion that courts will not lend judicial power to the enforcement of private agreements that are immoral or legal. That is the precise situation presented here where a provision in a CBA contravenes explicit law.[1]

Karmeijer added:

{{The FOP argues that section 15 of the Labor Act establishes a public policy in favor of enforcing labor arbitration awards over any other laws. As such, the FOP argues that, if this court finds a conflict between section 8.4 of the CBA and the provisions in the Local Records Act, the CBA prevails. We disagree. If section 15 of the Labor Act were read as the FOP advocates, the public-policy exception established and applied by this court in numerous decisions would cease to exist. That is so because no matter how offensive to public policy an arbitrator’s decision is – even if it violates state law – the arbitrator’s decision would stand.}}

Chief Justice Anne M. Burke and Justices Rita Garman, Mary Jane Theis, P. Scott Neville, and Michael Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Thomas Kilbride wrote the following in his dissent:

Based on the parties’ briefs and comments during oral argument, it is readily apparent that the parties are fully aware of the requirements of the Local Records Act, other applicable statutes, and the consent decree. Thus, we can safely assume that negotiations for the possible future destruction of any eligible discipline records would be done in full compliance with the consent decree and any other requirements under the law. I believe the parties should be allowed to meet and negotiate in accordance with the arbitrator’s directive.[1]

Justices on the state supreme court are elected to 10-year terms in partisan elections. Each justice represents one of five judicial districts (the first district, which encompasses Chicago and Cook County, elects three justices; the remaining four elect two each).

What are the reactions?

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) supported the decision: “For way too long, we have not been as transparent as we need to be in this city. We have to have accountability and legitimacy and that can’t come if we hide from the public documents that underscore what has happened with disciplinary investigations and records in our city.”

John Catanzara, president of the FOP, disagreed with the decision: “It goes against every ounce of logic there is. The contractual rights that were in our collective bargaining agreement for the better part of four decades were set in stone. … I think it’s nonsense, and we’re certainly not going to take it at face value.”

Case information

The case name and number are City of Chicago v. Fraternal Order of Police, Chicago Lodge No. 7 (124831). The full text of the state supreme court’s ruling can be accessed here.

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.

Union Station map June 26, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart June 26, 2020.png

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

Union Station partisan chart June 26, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue.

  • Massachusetts S2700: This bill would make it unlawful to file a civil action against any union for advising its members of their right to refuse to work “because of an abnormally dangerous condition at the place of employment.”
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • House concurred on June 22.


Indiana attorney general issues opinion stating public-sector workers must be notified of rights before dues can be deducted from paychecks

On June 17, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill (R) issued an opinion stating that, “to the extent the state of Indiana or its political subdivisions collect union dues from its employees, they must provide adequate notice of their employees’ First Amendment rights against compelled speech.”

Attorney general opinions are advisory. They do not constitute an enactment of state policy: “The Advisory Division [of the office of the Indiana attorney general] does not make or recommend policy. Rather, it guides officials in their efforts to understand specific state statutes, policies and procedures.”

What did Hill say in his opinion?

Hill wrote, “A public employer has an affirmative duty to make public employees aware of their First Amendment rights related to automatic payroll deduction for union purposes. An employee has a fundamental right to elect to financially support a union, thereby affiliating and promoting a union’s speech and platform, or an employee may retain his or her First Amendment right to not associate with a labor union.”

Hill said that an employee can only give voluntary consent to dues deduction if “he or she is adequately advised that paying unions dues is not a condition of employment and that agreeing to pay dues is a waiver of one’s First Amendment right.”

Hill discussed the times and methods for changing dues deduction arrangements:

“To ensure the deduction of union dues or fees from an employee comports with the Janus framework and does not occur without clear and compelling evidence that the employee freely consents to the deduction, the State and its political subdivisions must require that employees provide the necessary consent directly to them. To ensure an employee’s consent is up-to-date, as required for it be a valid waiver of the employee’s First Amendment rights, an employee must be provided a regular opportunity to opt-in and opt-out.” Hill said that the state and its political subdivisions must permit employees to opt out of dues deduction systems at any time. Employers must also provide for annual opt-in periods.

Have other attorneys general issued similar opinions?

Attorneys general in Alaska and Texas have issued similar opinions in the wake of Janus. In Alaska, Indiana, and Texas, the attorneys general are Republicans. The states’ governments are Republican triplexes (i.e., they have Republican governors, secretaries of state, and attorneys general) and trifectas (i.e., they have Republican governors and Republican majorities in both chambers of their respective state legislatures).

What we’ve been 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.

Union Station map June 19, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart June 19, 2020.png

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

Union Station partisan chart June 19, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue.

  • New Hampshire HB1290: This bill would require the state public employee labor relations board to permit employees to vote by mail in certification elections.
    • Bipartisan sponsorship.
    • Introduced in the Senate and laid on the table June 16.
  • New Hampshire HB1322: This bill would prohibit university system funds from being used to oppose the formation of unions.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Introduced in the Senate and laid on the table June 16.
  • New Hampshire HB1399: This bill would allow a bargaining unit to request certification of its union/representative.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Introduced in the Senate and laid on the table June 16.
  • New Hampshire SB448: This bill would require the state public employee labor relations board to certify a union as a bargaining unit’s exclusive representative if that union receives a “majority written authorization.”
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Vacated from committee and laid on the table June 16.


Rhode Island asks state employees for furlough volunteers

The Rhode Island Department of Administration asked last week for state executive branch employees to volunteer to participate in the state’s Department of Labor and Training WorkShare program in order to address a projected $800 million budget deficit. According to WPRI, program participants “would work 60% of their regular weekly hours and be eligible for unemployment benefits through the federal CARES act for the remaining hours, and also receive the $600 dollar a week WorkShare payment through the end of July.” The plan runs through Sept. 5.

According to the Taunton Gazette, the Department of Administration reached agreement with the “major unions representing eligible, executive branch employees” on June 3 for members to participate in the program. (To view a list of labor unions representing state employees, click here.)

Department of Administration Director Brett Smiley said, “While we await more news from Washington and Congress, this was a prudent strategy to accrue millions [in] savings over the summer in a manner that would enable a majority of our workforce to be held harmless economically.” According to the Taunton Gazette, Smiley estimates the state would save $4.7 million if 1,000 employees participate.

Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) said, “It’s a voluntary program but I am asking, encouraging, as many employees to participate as possible because that will enable us to maximize our savings.”

The Providence Journal reported on June 11 that according to a Department of Administration spokeswoman, “So far over 1,000 state employees have volunteered to participate in the State’s WorkShare Program, representing 27 agencies, including Executive Branch agencies, URI, the Legislature, Office of Attorney General and Office of Secretary of State.”

What we’ve been 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.

Union Station map June 12, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart June 12, 2020.png

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

Union Station partisan chart June 12, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue.

  • California SB1173: Existing law requires public employers to provide unions with contact information for all employees within the bargaining unit. Existing law also requires that public employers provide unions with contact information for new employees within 30 days of hire. This bill would impose liability on employers who violate these provisions three or more times in a 12-month period.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Referred to Appropriations Committee June 8.


Ohio asks public-sector labor unions to meet with state officials on reducing personnel costs

On June 2, Kimberly Murnieks, Director of Ohio’s Office of Budget and Management, announced that the state is asking unions representing state workers to meet with officials to discuss reducing personnel costs. The move comes as the state faces an estimated $2.5 billion decrease in anticipated revenues. Murnieks also announced that the state would be reducing the salaries of non-union workers.

Budget background and salary cuts for non-union state workers

On March 22, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) and Amy Acton, Director of the Ohio Department of Health, issued a stay-at-home order, which directed residents to remain at home and closed or otherwise restricted the operations of non-essential businesses. This reduced income and sales tax receipts, which make up the bulk of the state’s revenues. As a result, budget officials now expect that state revenues in the 2020-2021 fiscal year will come in at $2.5 billion less than originally forecasted. The stay-at-home order expired on May 19.

Murnieks announced that approximately 16,000 non-union state workers will see salary reductions averaging out to a 3.8 percent cut. Actual salary reduction amounts will vary between groups of employees (for example, state cabinet directors will see a 4 percent reduction in pay). Murnieks estimates that this will save the state approximately $138 million.

What are the reactions?

DeWine said, “We’re trying to be as transparent and open with our employees as we are with the people of Ohio. The amount of money, the chunk of money set aside for the employees looking at that [3 percent] raise, that money’s not going to be there. We can’t print money in Ohio. We have to balance the budget. We intend to do that. We also have other obligations.”

Chris Mabe, president of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA), said, “We have had numerous conversations with the state about cost savings during this crisis. We’ve talked to them about voluntary cost-savings days, reigning in expensive contractors, restructuring management teams and saving money through long-term telework. But in times of crisis, Ohioans need public services the most. Now is the time for the administration to use the Rainy Day Fund for what it was intended: emergencies such as this.”

What comes next?

The state has asked public-sector labor unions to submit their suggestions about cutting personnel costs by June 15. The 2020-2021 fiscal year begins July 1.

What we’ve been 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.

Union Station map June 5, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart June 5, 2020.png

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

Union Station partisan chart June 5, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue.

  • California AB3096: Existing law prohibits public employers from deterring or discouraging public employees or applicants from becoming or remaining union members. This bill would extend that provision to the University of California.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Ordered to a third reading June 4.
  • California SB1173: Existing law requires public employers to provide unions with contact information for all employees within the bargaining unit. Existing law also requires that public employers provide unions with contact information for new employees within 30 days of hire. This bill would impose liability on employers who violate these provisions three or more times in a 12-month period.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Senate Appropriations Committee hearing scheduled for June 9.
  • Massachusetts H4744: This bill would make it unlawful to file a civil action against any union for advising its members of their right to refuse to work “because of an abnormally dangerous condition at the place of employment.”
    • Bipartisan sponsorship.
    • Joint Judiciary Committee hearing (written testimony only) June 5.
  • Massachusetts S2700: This bill would make it unlawful to file a civil action against any union for advising its members of their right to refuse to work “because of an abnormally dangerous condition at the place of employment.”
    • Bipartisan sponsorship.
    • Joint Judiciary Committee hearing (written testimony only) June 5.


New Orleans first responders not eligible for emergency pay, civil service commission rules

On May 26, the New Orleans Civil Service Commission ruled that the city’s first responders, including paramedics, fire fighters, and police officers, are not eligible for emergency pay for their work during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The city made the following statement on the commission’s decision: “Payment for our police officers and firefighters is governed by the rules of the Civil Service Commission. The Commission decided today, May 26, 2020, that the specific rule in this case (Civil Service Rule IV, Section 11.1(a)) does not apply to the current situation. That rule does not authorize ‘hazard pay;’ it provides a different ’emergency pay’ rate for essential personnel who are required to work while City offices are closed for a declared state of emergency. During this emergency situation, however, City government has remained open for business, and non-critical employees were instructed to continue working remotely if possible.”

What is the New Orleans Civil Service Commission?

The New Orleans Civil Service Commission is tasked with making policy and enforcing regulations for city personnel. The commission has five members, all of whom are appointed to six-year terms by the city council. When the commission enacts regulations or issues rulings on the implementation of those regulations, its decisions have the force of law.

What are the reactions?

Aaron Mischler, president of the New Orleans Fire Fighters Association, said, “We’re absolutely disappointed because what is the intent of the rule if not to pay the people who are working on the front lines and being exposed to these conditions? To me, that’s the nature of the rule itself.”

Donovan Livaccari, from the New Orleans Fraternal Order of Police, said, “It’s disappointing the commission didn’t see things the way that our members see it. The police officers in this city, the firemen, the EMS employees who are out there risking their safety everyday to provide to the city. We think the rules are pretty clear, in my opinion, and, I think they should follow the rules.”

What comes next?

The commission suggested other legislative bodies could appropriate funds for hazard pay: “This is the first of many conversations about emergency pay for our frontline employees. It is our goal and intention to do what is right for these employees through a thoughtful more comprehensive approach that includes an understanding of the emergency pay that may be awarded by other legislative bodies. It is important to us to understand that before making a decision of this magnitude.”

A representative for Mayor LaToya Cantrell said, “The City and our residents are deeply grateful for our front-line responders, and proud of their work. Unrelated to the issue of emergency pay, the City is currently exploring and advocating for additional funding options that may qualify under the CARES Act for our first responders, and it is our hope that this additional compensation will be approved.”

What we’ve been 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.

Union Station map May 29, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart May 29, 2020.png

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

Union Station partisan chart May 29, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue.

  • California SB1173: Existing law requires public employers to provide unions with contact information for all employees within the bargaining unit. Existing law also requires that public employers provide unions with contact information for new employees within 30 days of hire. This bill would impose liability on employers who violate these provisions 3 or more times in a 12-month period.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Senate Appropriations Hearing scheduled for June 1.


California governor’s revised budget proposes cuts to public-sector worker pay, education spending

On May 14, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) submitted his proposed budget revision to the state Legislature. He has proposed several spending reductions, including cuts to public-sector salaries and education spending, in an effort to close an estimated $54 billion budget deficit. That deficit has resulted, in large part, from the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

How have budget projections changed?

The May revision projects a $54 billion budget deficit: “Job losses and business closures are sharply reducing state revenues. Compared to the January forecast, General Fund revenues are projected to decline over $41 billion. This revenue drop, combined with increased costs in health and human services programs and the added costs to address COVID-19, leads to a projected budget deficit of approximately $54 billion before the changes proposed in the May revision.”

Newsom’s original budget proposal, released in January, called for approximately $222.2 billion in total state spending in the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Newsom’s May revision calls for $203.3 billion in spending, an 8.5 percent decrease. January revenue projections totaled $211.9 billion. May revenue projections total $181.8 billion, a 14.2 percent decrease.

Personal income tax revenue projections decreased 25.3 percent, from $105.3 billion in January to $78.7 billion in May. Sales and use tax revenue projections decreased 25.4 percent, from $41.0 billion to $30.6 billion.

What kinds of reductions are being proposed, and what are the reactions?

Newsom’s proposal incorporates a 10 percent pay cut for California’s 234,000 state employees: “Absent additional federal funds, the COVID-19 recession requires reductions necessary to balance the state budget. These reductions will be triggered off if the federal government provides sufficient funding to restore them. Savings in employee compensation will need to be part of the budget solution absent federal funds.” Newsom [https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/the-state-worker/article242745126.html said, “None of us in state government will be immune from tightening our belts and helping to support the cause and helping those most in need.”

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D) said, “I want to make sure that we are not only respecting state workers, but collective bargaining. I am concerned about the 10 percent cut. You are looking at workers who are already suffering, so I am going to make sure we go through those details.”

Yvonne Walker, president of SEIU Local 1000, which represents 96,000 public-sector workers, said, “I just want to be clear. It is not a straight across-the-board pay cut. If we do nothing, that’s exactly what it comes to. But I have confidence in our bargaining team. I have confidence in our members.”

The budget revision also estimates a $19 billion decrease in the Proposition 98 guarantee of minimum funding levels for K-12 schools and community colleges, a 23 percent decrease compared to Proposition 98 funding in the 2019-2020 fiscal year budget. Newsom has proposed implementing temporary tax changes, using federal COVID-19 relief and emergency education relief funds, and reducing employer pension contributions to mitigate the shortfall.

The Education Coalition, a group of nine statewide teachers unions and other K-12 education associations, opposed the proposed reductions: “[The] May revision proposes drastic cuts to K-12 education at a time when schools face significant costs related to COVID-19 and as they prepare for re-opening in the fall. It is for these reasons that the Education Coalition must respectfully oppose the proposed cuts in the May Revision to K-12 education and ask that both the Administration and the Legislature look to alternate revenue sources to ensure K-12 schools can provide quality and safe educational environments for its six million students.”

In a statement on Newsom’s budget revision, Assembly Minority Leader Marie Waldron (R) called on the governor to ease restrictions on individuals and businesses implemented in response to the COVID-19 outbreak: “The best way to fix this budget crisis is by helping people get back to work safely. If we can get employees back to work safely, receive some help from the federal government and make government more efficient to withstand future downturns, we will be able to protect jobs and public health and put California back on a path to prosperity that works for everyone.”

What comes next?

Newsom’s proposal now goes before lawmakers, which must pass a balanced budget by June 15 or else forgo their salaries. California is a Democratic trifecta, with a Democratic governor and Democratic majorities in both chambers of the legislature.

What we’ve been reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 95 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 May 22, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart May 22, 2020.png

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

Union Station partisan chart May 22, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue.

  • California SB1173: Existing law requires public employers to provide unions with contact information for all employees within the bargaining unit. Existing law also requires that public employers provide unions with contact information for new employees within 30 days of hire. This bill would impose liability on employers who violate these provisions 3 or more times in a 12-month period.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Senate Labor, Public Employment, and Retirement Committee reported favorably on May 18. Re-referred to Appropriations Committee.

See also



Massachusetts state legislator proposes bill giving liability protections to unions during COVID-19 outbreak

On April 23, Sen. Paul Feeney (D) introduced S2700, which would grant liability protections to unions that advise their members of their right to refuse to work due to abnormally dangerous conditions.

What does the bill propose?

Section 2 of the bill proposes that “it shall be unlawful to file a civil action for damages against any employee organization or union for advising their bargaining unit members of their right to refuse to work because of an abnormally dangerous condition at the place of the employment.”

The legislation would also grant liability protections to construction contractors and sub-contractors. It would take effect immediately upon passage and apply retroactively to any claims arising during the COVID-19 state of emergency, which was declared by Gov. Charlie Baker (R) on March 10.

What comes next?

Both the upper and lower chambers of the Massachusetts General Court are considering the bill simultaneously. The bill has been referred to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, where it is awaiting action.

Political context: Massachusetts has a divided government. Gov. Charlie Baker is a Republican. Democrats, meanwhile, have veto-proof supermajorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

Minnesota public-sector workers sue for refunds of previously paid union fees

On May 8, six Minnesota state workers filed two class action lawsuits in U.S. district court against their unions. The plaintiffs want the unions to refund an estimated $19 million in fees paid before the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 Janus v. AFSCME decision.

Who are the parties to the suits?

  • Fellows v. MAPE (0:20-cv-01128):
    • Plaintiffs: Mark Fellows, a Department of Human Services employee; Catherine Wyatt, a former Department of Revenue employee; and Alicia Bonner, a Department of Employment and Economic Development employee.
      • Representation: Greenberg Traurig; LLP; Liberty Justice Center; National Right to Work Foundation; Upper Midwest Law Center.
    • Defendant: Minnesota Association of Professional Employees
      • MAPE is a union representing about 12,500 professional public-sector employees..

What is at issue, and what comes next?

In both suits, attorneys for the plaintiffs argue the unions illegally compelled employees within their bargaining units to pay union fees. They argue that, after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Harris v. Quinn in 2014, the unions “should have known that [their] agency fee seizures may violate public employees’ First Amendment rights.” In Harris v. Quinn, the court struck down an Illinois statute compelling a specific class of home healthcare workers to pay fees to the Service Employees International Union.

The cases are both pending adjudication in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.

What we’ve been reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 95 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 May 15, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart May 15, 2020.png

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

Union Station partisan chart May 15, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state, then by bill number. The partisan affiliation of bill sponsor(s) is also provided.

  • California SB1173: Existing law requires public employers to provide unions with contact information for all employees within the bargaining unit. Existing law also requires that public employers provide unions with contact information for new employees within 30 days of hire. This bill would impose liability on employers who violate these provisions 3 or more times in a 12-month period.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Senate Labor, Public Employment, and Retirement Committee hearing scheduled May 14.
  • Louisiana HB572: This bill would allow teachers and other school employees to cease withholding union dues from their wages at any time upon submitting a written or email request.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • House Labor Committee hearing scheduled May 14.
  • Massachusetts S2700: This bill would make it unlawful to file a civil action against any union for advising its members of their right to refuse to work “because of an abnormally dangerous condition at the place of employment.”
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Referred to Joint Judiciary Committee May 7.


Federal judge rejects public school teachers’ attempt to obtain refund of union fees

On April 30, a U.S. district court judge rejected an attempt by two New York state public school teachers to obtain refunds of fees they were required to pay to their union prior to Janus v. AFSCME. In Janus, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that compelling public-sector employees who are not union members to pay union fees (known as agency fees) constitutes a violation of their free-speech and associational rights under the First Amendment.

Who were the parties to the suit?

The plaintiffs were Scott Pellegrino and Christine VanOstrand, both of whom are public school teachers in New York state. Pellegrino was a dues-paying member of his union, but VanOstrand was not. The defendants were the New York State United Teachers, the United Teachers of Northport, the Northport-East Northport Union Free School District, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), Attorney General Letitia James (D), and John Wirenius (chair of the state public employment relations board).

The New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) is the New York affiliate of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers’ union. On its website, NYSUT says it represents more than 600,000 current and former employees of the state’s schools, colleges, and healthcare facilities. The United Teachers of Northport (UTN) is an affiliate of NYSUT.

What was at issue?

On June 13, 2018, the plaintiffs filed suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. They sought the following from the court:

  1. A declaration that the plaintiffs had a constitutional right to refrain from joining, or giving financial support to, a union as a condition of employment
  2. A declaration that the state law allowing for the collection of agency fees was unconstitutional
  3. An injunction barring the union from collecting further agency fees
  4. Refunds of previously paid agency fees
  5. For Pellegrino, a refund of the portion of his previously paid dues equal to what he would have paid in agency fees had he not voluntarily joined the union

After the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Janus, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their claims on points 1, 2, and 3, as they were rendered moot.

How did the court rule?

Judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled against the plaintiffs, citing the April 15 ruling of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Wholean v. CSEA SEIU Local 2001. Garaufis wrote, “Because Wholean is nearly identical to the case at hand, its holding–’that a party who complied with a directly controlling Supreme Court precedent in collecting fair-share fees cannot be held liable for monetary damages under § 1983’–completely forecloses Plaintiffs’ only remaining claim.”

Garaufis was appointed to the court by President Bill Clinton (D).

What are the reactions, and what comes next?

Andy Pallotta, president of NYSUT, approved of the decision and criticized the parties behind this and similar lawsuits, saying, “These suits are part of a larger coordinated effort by anti-labor groups that want unions to spend the time and money to defend them so they can defund and distract us.”

Neither the plaintiffs nor their attorneys have commented publicly on the decision. It is unclear whether they will appeal.

The case name and number are Pellegrino v. New York State United Teachers (2:18-cv-03439).

What we’ve been 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.

Union Station map May 8, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart May 8, 2020.png

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

Union Station partisan chart May 8, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state, then by bill number. The partisan affiliation of bill sponsor(s) is also provided.

  • California AB3096: Existing law prohibits public employers from deterring or discouraging public employees or applicants from becoming or remaining members of a union. This bill would extend that provision to the University of California.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Assembly Public Employment and Retirement Committee reported favorably and re-referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee May 5.
  • New Jersey A3987: This bill would authorize public employers to grant unpaid leaves of absence to employees who are elected or appointed to service as union officers, if such leave is provided for in collective bargaining agreements. It would also authorize public employers to grant paid leaves of absence for this purpose, if such leave is provided for in collective bargaining agreements.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Introduced and referred to Assembly State and Local Government Committee.


COVID-19 and public-sector labor policy

The COVID-19 outbreak, and the debate surrounding governmental responses to it, has understandably dominated the news cycle in recent weeks. The outbreak has touched every aspect of American life, and public-sector labor policy is no exception. This week, we take a look at some noteworthy recent events in which COVID-19 and public-sector labor policy have intersected.

Local governments in Nevada suspend public-sector union contracts in response to COVID-19

Local governments in Nevada have suspended more than 25 public-sector collective bargaining agreements in the past month in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The suspensions have affected at least 18,000 public-sector workers, including all unionized employees of Clark County and the city of Las Vegas.

Michael Urban, an SEIU negotiator, said the union was “clearly prepared to take legal action” over the contract suspensions. Urban added, “But that’s not what we should be concentrating on in these bad times. We should be concentrating on working together to try to get a resolution that saves jobs and protects the health and safety of workers.”

On April 8, the Clark County Commission informed SEIU Local 1107 that “employee protections such as whistleblower laws and the Merit Personnel System will stay in place, labor-management committees may continue to meet as long as social distancing practices are adhered to, and contract provisions will be followed in the event of layoffs, according to a copy of the letter.” Commissioner Justin Jones said, “We wanted to make it very clear that if there are economic considerations in regards to people’s employment or layoffs that those aren’t going to be done under the auspices of the suspension that was put in place last week.”

SEIU Local 1107 Executive Director Grace Vergara-Mactal and President Brenda Marzan said, “Now, thousands of frontline healthcare and public sector workers can go to work with peace of mind that their wages, benefits, and majority of their job protections are secure.”

Freedom Foundation urges governors in five states to suspend collection of public-sector union dues

In late March, the Freedom Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, issued letters and press statements calling on the governors of California, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington to suspend the collection of public-sector union dues for a period of three months in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.

The group argued that “a temporary, three-month dues suspension would allow public employees” to retain the money normally deducted from their paychecks to pay union dues. “That money would then be spent on goods and services, supporting local businesses and creating jobs, at no cost to taxpayers.”

Four of the five states – California, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington – are Democratic trifectas, meaning Democrats in each state control the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the legislature. Ohio is a Republican trifecta.

Last summer, Ballotpedia collected membership data for each state’s most prominent public-sector unions, enabling us to determine relative union presence in each state. In our study (the full results of which are available here), we found that these five states ranked as follows with respect to public-sector union membership:

The governors of the five states have not commented publicly on the issue, nor have the major public-sector unions in those states.

State judge rejects Alaska State Employees Association request for court order for COVID-19 guideline compliance

On March 31, Anchorage Superior Court Judge Thomas Matthews rejected a request by the Alaska State Employees Association (ASEA), an affiliate of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, seeking an injunction regarding the state’s COVID-19 guidelines for government workers.

The ASEA informed members on March 23 it would seek a court order requiring the state to “comply with social distancing federal and state guidelines for those employees who are essential, provide proper equipment for employees who interface with the public, and allow those non-essential state employees to telework.” The union filed a motion for a temporary restraining order on March 24.

According to a press release from the Alaska Department of Law, Attorney General Kevin Clarkson (R) approved of Matthews’ ruling, saying, “These are unprecedented times and we must all step up to do what we can to get through this pandemic, while still keeping the State functioning to provide essential services to Alaskans.”

ASEA Executive Director Jake Metcalfe said, “Without the Administration taking action and adhering to the strictest measures and precautions, we risk our entire workforce for state government falling ill or becoming carriers of this novel coronavirus which could overwhelm our healthcare infrastructure and shut government down. … ASEA is going to review the order and decide what it may do next.”

What we’ve been reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 93 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 May 1, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart May 1, 2020.png

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

Union Station partisan chart May 1, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

No legislative actions have been taken on relevant bills since our last issue.



Bitnami