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Union Station: Arkansas enacts bill prohibiting collective bargaining by state public-sector employees

Arkansas enacts bill prohibiting collective bargaining by state public-sector employees

Arkansas Senate Bill 341, which prohibits collective bargaining on the part of state public-sector employees, was enacted on April 8. 

About the bill 

The Republican-sponsored bill adds the following text to Arkansas Code Title 21:

(a) A public employer shall not recognize a labor union or other public employee association as a bargaining agent of public employees.

(b) A public employer shall not collectively bargain or enter into any collective bargaining contract with a labor union or other public employee association or its agents with respect to any matter relating to public employees, public employees’ employment with a public employer, or public employees’ tenure with a public employer.

The bill also makes public employee strikes illegal and requires public employers to fire an employee who strikes. It permits employee associations “for the purpose of promoting the public employees’ interests before a public employer.”

Public safety officers, including law enforcement and firefighters, and employees of Federal Transit Administration grant recipients are exempted from the law. 

The bill first passed the Senate 24-6 along party lines on March 9. On March 22, the House voted 62-22 in favor of the bill, with one Democrat supporting and four Republicans voting against it. After the Senate passed the amended House bill on April 5, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed it on April 8.       

Republicans have had trifecta control of Arkansas state government since 2015. 

North Carolina and South Carolina prohibit all public-sector collective bargaining. Like Arkansas, some states prohibit public-sector collective bargaining but make exceptions for police, firefighters, or teachers. 

Perspectives

Supporting

Bill sponsor Sen. Bob Ballinger (R) said, “If they are walking off the job, they are walking off the job that is basically tax payers. … If they are opposing something their employers do, they are actually opposing the tax payers.”

Rep. Jim Dotson (R) said, “This is specifically directed toward public employees who would try to physically impede … the activity or operations of a public employer and through that process strike, if they’re part of a union.”

Opposing 

Arkansas Education Association executive director Tracey-Ann Nelson said, “Already in this state we have limited access to bargaining. … Arkansas educators have been meeting what’s been asked of them for several years now and deserve to be treated as professionals. They deserve the same rights as other esteemed public employees and the same opportunity to have their voices heard.” 

Fayetteville Education Association president Anna Beaulieu said, “I have a lot of difficulty understanding why we would need legislation to keep educators from advocating for public schools, public education safe and fair working conditions.” 

What we’re 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. 

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. 

  • Arkansas SB341: This bill would prohibit collective bargaining on the part of public-sector employees. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Enacted April 8. 
  • Florida H0835: This bill would require that unions certified as bargaining agents for educational support employees include certain information in registration renewal applications. The bill would also require such unions whose full dues-paying membership is less than 50% to petition the state for recertification.   
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House State Affairs Committee reported favorably with committee substitute April 15. 
  • Florida H0947: This bill would require that public employees sign membership authorization cards in order to have dues deducted from their paychecks. It would also require a union to revoke that membership upon the employee’s request. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House State Affairs Committee reported favorably with committee substitute April 15. 
  • Florida S0078: This bill would require that public employees sign membership authorization cards in order to have dues deducted from their paychecks. It would also require a union to revoke that membership upon the employee’s request.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate Rules Committee hearing April 14. 
  • Florida S1014: This bill would require that unions certified as bargaining agents for educational support employees include certain information in registration renewal applications. The bill would also require such unions whose full dues-paying membership is less than 50% to petition the state for recertification.  
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate Rules Committee hearing April 14. 
  • Indiana SB0251: This bill would establish that a school employee can leave a union at any time. It would also require an employee to annually authorize any payroll deductions of union dues. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate president pro tempore signed April 12 and speaker of the House signed April 13. 
  • 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 hearing scheduled for April 23. 
  • Maryland SB138: This bill would extend collective bargaining rights to employees of the Baltimore County Public Library. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Passed both chambers April 12.
  • Maryland SB556: This bill would establish a separate collective bargaining unit for teachers at the Maryland School for the Deaf. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Passed both chambers April 12.
  • Nevada SB13: This bill would establish that local governments’ ending fund balances of up to 25% would not be subject to negotiation during collective bargaining.
    • Died April 10. 
  • Nevada SB373: This bill would authorize collective bargaining between state professional employers and professional employees. 
    • Referred to Senate Finance Committee April 12.
  • Tennessee HJR0072: A constitutional amendment that would bar any person, corporation, or governmental entity from denying employment due to an individual’s affiliation status with a union or other employee organization. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Finance, Ways, and Means Committee hearing scheduled for April 20. 
  • Washington SB5133: This bill amends the definition of a “confidential employee” for the purposes of collective bargaining.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate president signed April 10. 

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Union Station: Tenth Circuit rules in favor of AFSCME in union dues case

Tenth Circuit rules in favor of AFSCME in union dues case

On March 26, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit upheld the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico’s decision in Hendrickson v. AFSCME Council 18. The lower court had dismissed the suit, which alleged that the union’s policy of restricting membership resignation to certain opt-out windows and New Mexico statutes granting unions exclusive representation on matters of public policy violated the First Amendment.

Parties to the suit

The plaintiff was Brett Hendrickson, a quality control specialist employed by the New Mexico Human Services Department. The Liberty Justice Center, which says it “fights for the constitutional rights of American families, workers, advocates and entrepreneurs,” represented Hendrickson.

The defendants were American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 18 and New Mexico’s governor and attorney general in their official capacities.

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

Hendrickson filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico on Nov. 30, 2018. His attorneys said AFSCME Council 18 had “violated Hendrickson’s First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association by refusing to allow him to withdraw his membership until an arbitrary two-week window of time and by continuing to charge him union dues based solely on a union card which could not have constituted ‘affirmative consent’ because it was signed before the Janus decision.” Hendrickson’s suit also claimed that New Mexico statutes granting unions exclusive representation on matters of public policy violated the First Amendment. He sought declaratory and injunctive relief and damages “in the amount of all dues deducted and remitted to the Union since he became a member.”

On Jan. 22, 2020, Judge Robert Brack, a George W. Bush appointee, dismissed the lawsuit, citing several of Hendrickson’s claims as moot, and granted the AFSCME Council 18’s motion for summary judgment. Brack wrote:

Hendrickson fails to point to any decision that applied Janus to void a union membership contract under similar circumstances. On the contrary, each court that examined this issue has rejected the claim that Janus entitles union members to resign and stop paying dues on their own—rather than on the contract’s—terms… As part of the contract, he knowingly agreed that he could only revoke his dues deduction authorization during a two-week opt-out window. He does not allege that he was coerced, and the parties agree that he was not required by state law to join. He could have paid a lesser fair share fee as a nonmember, but instead, he chose to join the Union.

Hendrickson appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit on Feb. 19, 2020. 

How the Tenth Circuit ruled

The three-judge panel—Judges Scott Matheson, Carlos Lucero, and Carolyn McHugh—unanimously affirmed the district court’s ruling on March 26.

Writing for the court, Matheson said:

In Janus, the Court said the First Amendment right against compelled speech protects non-members of public sector unions from having to pay “agency” or “fair share” fees—fees that compensate the union for collective bargaining but not for partisan activity. Mr. Hendrickson contends that, under Janus, the Union cannot (1) retain dues that had been deducted from his paycheck, or (2) serve as his exclusive bargaining representative. The district court dismissed these claims. … 

We affirm the district court’s decisions to grant the Union’s motion for summary judgment and the New Mexico Defendants’ motion to dismiss. We remand to the district court with instructions to amend its judgment to reflect that (1) the dismissal of Mr. Hendrickson’s request for prospective relief on Count 1 as moot and (2) the dismissal of Count 2 against the New Mexico Defendants based on Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity, are both “without prejudice.” 

President Barack Obama appointed Matheson and McHugh to the court. President Bill Clinton appointed Lucero.

Hendrickson has 14 days to file a petition for rehearing.

The case name and number are Hendrickson v. AFSCME Council 18, et al. (20-2018). 

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 86 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. 

  • Arizona SB1268: This bill would establish annual disclosure requirements for public-sector unions.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • House Rules Committee hearing March 29.  
  • Arkansas SB341: This bill would prohibit collective bargaining on the part of public-sector employees.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Senate Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee hearing March 30. 
  • 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.
    • Referred to Office of Legislative Research and Office of Fiscal Analysis March 29. 
  • Florida H0835: This bill would require that unions certified as bargaining agents for educational support employees include certain information in registration renewal applications. The bill would also require such unions whose full dues-paying membership is less than 50 percent to petition the state for recertification. 
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Added to State Administration and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee agenda March 30.
  • Illinois HB0646: This bill would extend collective bargaining rights to legislative assistants.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Re-referred to House Rules Committee March 27. 
  • Illinois HB3891: This bill would establish that police union contracts no longer supersede state law.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Re-referred to House Rules Committee March 27.
  • Illinois HB3892: This bill would limit peace officer contract negotiations to the subject of wages only.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Re-referred to House Rules Committee March 27. 
  • Indiana SB0251: This bill would establish that a school employee can leave a union at any time. It would also require an employee to annually authorize any payroll deductions of union dues.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • House Employment, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing April 1. 
  • 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. 
    • Education and Cultural Affairs Committee hearing March 29. 
  • Maryland HB894: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for certain community college employees.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Passed both chambers as of March 29. 
  • Maryland SB138: This bill would extend collective bargaining rights to employees of the Baltimore County Public Library.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Re-referred to House Appropriations Committee March 30.
  • Maryland SB746: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for certain community college employees.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • House Appropriations Committee reported favorably March 30.  
  • Maryland SB9: This bill would make revisions to the collective bargaining process for employees of the University System of Maryland.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Appropriations Committee Hearing April 1. 
  • New Hampshire SB61: This bill would prohibit collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join a labor union.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee executive session March 30. 
  • Oregon HB3029: This bill would require the Employment Relations Board to develop procedures for authorizations designating bargaining unit representatives.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • House Business and Labor Committee work session scheduled for April 5. 
  • 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 Education Committee work session March 31. 
  • Washington SB5133: This bill amends the definition of a “confidential employee” for the purposes of collective bargaining.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Appropriations Committee executive session March 31. 



Teacher sues LA union over ‘defund the police’ stance

Teacher sues Los Angeles union over ‘defund the police’ stance

On March 16, a Los Angeles teacher filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against his former union over its support for removing school police officers.

Parties to the suit

The plaintiff is Los Angeles public school teacher Glenn Laird. Attorneys from the Freedom Foundation, which says its mission is “to advance individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited, accountable government,” represent the plaintiff. 

The defendants are United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), the Los Angeles Unified School District, and the attorney general of California. 

What is at issue

According to Laird’s complaint, UTLA “joined a public campaign to ‘defund the police’ and remove officers from campus,” a stance he morally opposed. Laird’s attorneys said he had “witnessed students strangled, stabbed, and even shot to death,” and that “[i]n many cases, the ready presence of campus police officers was the difference between life and death.” After one incident in which a student was killed, Laird “fiercely supported keeping a continued police presence on campus to be able to deal with threats to student safety on a moment’s notice.”

A June 2020 statement from the UTLA Board of Directors said: 

As the Board of Directors of UTLA, an ethnically and racially diverse body, we believe that we do not need armed police roaming our halls, we need counselors who are provided with resources, nurses with sufficient medical supplies, and librarians with enough books. That is why we voted to call for the elimination of the LAUSD school police budget and redirect resources to student needs, with a particular focus on the needs of Black students.

Laird, who had been a member of the union since 1983, attempted to resign his membership and end his dues authorization starting in June 2020. UTLA refused to end his membership until December 2020, during the union’s opt-out period, and continued collecting dues through January 2021. In February 2018, UTLA modified its authorization agreement to implement an opt-out window during which members could revoke deduction authorization. However, Laird’s attorneys argue that because he struck out the relevant portion of his authorization agreement, which UTLA accepted in 2018, the opt-out period did not apply to him. 

Laird’s attorneys argue that the union violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights and ask the court for declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and damages.   

Reactions to the suit

Freedom Foundation CEO Aaron Withe said, “We don’t believe the ‘escape window’ would be constitutional under any circumstances. … But it’s even more unenforceable if the worker clearly did not agree to be bound by it in the first place.”

UTLA officials have not commented publicly on the lawsuit.

What comes next? 

The case is currently assigned to Judge Fernando Aenlle-Rocha, a Donald Trump appointee. No hearings have been scheduled yet. The case name and number are Glenn Laird v. United Teachers Los Angeles et al., 2:21-cv-02313.   

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 84 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. 

  • Arizona SB1268: This bill would establish annual disclosure requirements for public-sector unions.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Commerce Committee reported favorably March 23.  
  • Arkansas SB341: This bill would prohibit collective bargaining on the part of public-sector employees.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House passed amended bill, transmitted back to the Senate and re-referred to Senate Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee March 22.    
  • Florida S1014: This bill would require that unions certified as bargaining agents for educational support employees include certain information in registration renewal applications. The bill would also require such unions whose full dues-paying membership is less than 50 percent to petition the state for recertification. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee substitute bill read for the first time March 23. 
  • 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 Labor and Commerce Committee hearing March 26. 
  • Illinois HB3891: This bill would establish that police union contracts no longer supersede state law.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Labor and Commerce Committee hearing March 26. 
  • Illinois HB3892: This bill would limit peace officer contract negotiations to the subject of wages only.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Labor and Commerce Committee hearing March 26. 
  • 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. 
    • Education and Cultural Affairs Committee hearing scheduled for March 29.  
  • Maine LD97: This bill would bar public-sector and private-sector employers from requiring employees to join or pay dues to a union as a condition of employment.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Labor and Housing Committee hearing March 24.  
  • Maryland SB138: This bill would extend collective bargaining rights to employees of the Baltimore County Public Library.  
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Second reading passed with amendments March 24. 
  • Maryland SB746: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for certain community college employees.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate passed March 19, referred to House Appropriations Committee March 20.  
  • Maryland SB9: This bill would make revisions to the collective bargaining process for employees of the University System of Maryland.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate passed March 18, House Appropriations Committee hearing scheduled for April 1.  
  • New Hampshire SB61: This bill would prohibit collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join a labor union.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee hearing March 25. Executive session scheduled for March 30.   
  • Oklahoma SB634: This bill would require annual authorizations for payroll dues deductions for school employees.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Second reading in the House March 22, referred to Rules Committee.  
  • Oregon HB3029: This bill would require the Employment Relations Board to develop procedures for authorizations designating bargaining unit representatives.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Business and Labor Committee work session scheduled for April 5. 
  • 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 Education Committee work session scheduled for March 31.   
  • Tennessee HJR0072: A constitutional amendment that would bar any person, corporation, or governmental entity from denying employment due to an individual’s affiliation status with a union or other employee organization.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Finance, Ways, and Means Subcommittee hearing March 24. 
  • Washington SB5133: This bill amends the definition of a “confidential employee” for the purposes of collective bargaining.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Appropriations Committee hearing scheduled for March 30.  



Public employee strike bill enacted

West Virginia public employee strike bill enacted without governor’s signature

West Virginia Senate Bill 11, which makes public employee strikes illegal, was enacted on March 16 without Gov. Jim Justice’s (R) signature. It will go into effect on June 2. 

About the bill

Senate Bill 11 codified the 1990 West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruling in Jefferson County Board of Education v. Jefferson County Education Association. That decision upheld a circuit court ruling that a Jefferson County public school teachers’ strike was illegal. The Supreme Court of Appeals concluded, “In short, we decline to alter the common law judicially. Public employees have no right to strike in the absence of express legislation or, at the very least, appropriate statutory provisions for collective bargaining, mediation, and arbitration. In view of our legislature’s silence on these complex issues, we decline to intervene.”  

In 2018, West Virginia teachers went on strike for nine days. A year later, teachers participated in a two-day strike.  

The newly-enacted law says, “Public employees in West Virginia have no right, statutory or otherwise, to engage in collective bargaining, mediation, or arbitration, and any work stoppage or strike by public employees is hereby declared to be unlawful.” The law says striking is grounds for termination and requires forfeiture of prorated pay to the county board of education. 

The Republican-sponsored bill first passed the Senate 20-12 on Feb. 22. An amended version passed the House 51-44 on March 2 with 23 Republicans voting against it. The Senate amended the House version and passed the bill a second time on March 3 by the same margin. The final version of the bill passed the House 53-42 on March 4, with two Republicans changing their votes to support the bill. 

The bill was sent to Gov. Justice on March 10. According to the state constitution, “Any bill which shall not be returned by the governor within five days, Sundays excepted, after it shall have been presented to him shall be a law, in the same manner as if he had signed it.” Without Justice’s signature or veto, the bill became law on March 16. 

Justice was first elected governor in 2016 as a Democrat. On August 3, 2017, he announced he was switching parties, giving Republicans trifecta control of the state. Republicans currently hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. 

Perspectives 

Supporting 

  • Sen. Patricia Rucker (R), the bill’s lead sponsor, said, “This bill simply clarifies work stoppages are illegal. This bill simply clarifies that it was not the legislature’s intent to facilitate illegal work stoppages. … This actually frees up the county boards of education to know how to act in the future. This is not a retaliatory bill.” 
  • Sen. Eric Tarr (R) said, “I’ve had parent after parent after parent reach out to me, through this pandemic especially, to say they’re worried for their kids. … They have not been able to get instruction in a consistent manner for four years. … This actually requires a superintendent to take pause — and do you automatically cave to organizations that cheer our teachers on to fail our children?”

Opposing 

  • Sen. Mike Caputo (D) said, “This bill does nothing to move West Virginia forward. It does nothing to further that profession. It’s mean-spirited — and I think it’s in retaliation for people standing up for what they believe in.”
  • American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia President Fred Albert said, “Not only is SB 11 a perfect example of [an attack against public education], it’s a redundant one at that. Public employee strikes are already illegal in West Virginia and have been for decades. The public doesn’t want retaliatory bills; they want to see the passage of bills that will positively affect our schools and help our students succeed.”

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 84 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. 

  • Arizona SB1268: This bill would establish annual disclosure requirements for public-sector unions. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Commerce Committee hearing scheduled for March 23.
  • Arkansas SB341: This bill would prohibit collective bargaining on the part of public-sector employees. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee reported favorably with amendment March 16. 
  • Florida S1014: This bill would require unions certified as bargaining agents for educational support employees include certain information in registration renewal applications. The bill would also require such unions whose full dues-paying membership is less than 50 percent to petition the state for recertification. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee reported favorably March 17.  
  • Illinois HB3891: This bill would establish that police union contracts no longer supersede state law. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Referred to House Labor and Commerce Committee March 16.
  • Illinois HB3892: This bill would limit peace officer contract negotiations to the subject of wages only. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Referred to House Labor and Commerce Committee March 16.
  • 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 hearing March 17. 
  • 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. 
    • Education and Cultural Affairs Committee hearing scheduled for March 29. 
  • Maryland HB1321: This bill would bar employers from requiring employees to become, remain, or refrain from becoming members of a union as a condition of employment.
    • Republian sponsorship.  
    • House Economic Matters Committee reported unfavorably March 17. 
  • Maryland HB894: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for certain community college employees. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Appropriations Committee reported favorably with amendment March 18. 
  • Maryland SB556: This bill would establish a separate collective bargaining unit for teachers at the Maryland School for the Deaf. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Passed second reading.
  • Maryland SB746: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for certain community college employees. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate Finance Committee reported favorably March 17. 
  • Maryland SB9: This bill would make revisions to the collective bargaining process for employees of the University System of Maryland. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Passed second reading. 
  • New Hampshire SB61: This bill would prohibit collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join a labor union. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services executive session scheduled for March 30. 
  • Oregon HB3029: This bill would require the Employment Relations Board to develop procedures for authorizations designating bargaining unit representatives. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Business and Labor Committee work session March 15. 
  • Tennessee HJR0072: A constitutional amendment that would bar any person, corporation, or governmental entity from denying employment due to an individual’s affiliation status with a union or other employee organization. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Commerce Committee reported favorably March 16. Referred to House Finance, Ways, and Means Committee.  
  • Washington SB5133: This bill amends the definition of a “confidential employee” for the purposes of collective bargaining. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee executive session March 19. 
  • West Virginia HB3124: This bill would permit collective bargaining by public-sector employees. 
    • Bipartisan sponsorship. 
    • Referred to House Government Organization Committee March 12. 
  • West Virginia SB11: This bill would prohibit public-sector employees from striking.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Enacted without governor’s signature March 16.  



Union Station: Three public-sector union bills advance from state senates

Three public-sector union bills advance from state senates

Since our last newsletter, three public-sector union bills have advanced from state senates in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. Of the 83 pieces of public-sector employee union legislation that we are currently tracking, eight have passed upper chambers so far this year. Here’s a run-down of the three most recent bills. 

Arkansas SB341

The Arkansas state Senate passed Republican-sponsored SB341 on March 9. This bill would prohibit collective bargaining for public-sector employees. 

SB341 says in part:

(a) A public employer shall not recognize a labor union or other public employee association as a bargaining agent of public employees.

(b) A public employer shall not collectively bargain or enter into any collective bargaining contract with a labor union or other public employee association or its agents with respect to any matter relating to public employees, public employees’ employment with a public employer, or public employees’ tenure with a public employer.

The bill was referred to the Senate Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee in February and amended on March 4. The Senate passed the bill 24-6 along party lines. It was referred to the House Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee on March 9 and amended on March 11. To view the latest version of the bill, click here.

Republicans have had trifecta control of Arkansas state government since 2015.

Oklahoma SB634

The Oklahoma state Senate passed SB634 on March 4. This Republican-sponsored bill would require annual authorizations for payroll dues deductions for school employees. Employee authorization forms would state: 

I am aware that I have a First Amendment right, as recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court, to refrain from joining and paying dues or making political contributions to a professional employee organization. I further realize that membership and payment of dues or political contributions are voluntary and that I may not be discriminated against for my refusal to join or financially support a professional employee organization. I hereby authorize my employer to deduct dues and/or political contributions from my 

salary in the amounts specified in accordance with my professional employee organization’s bylaws. I understand that I may revoke this authorization at any time.

SB634 was referred to the Senate Education Committee at the beginning of February. The bill was then referred to the Judiciary Committee, where it was amended. To view the current text of the bill, click here.

The Senate approved SB634 25-21, with 12 Republicans voting against it. It was referred to the House on March 8.

Republicans have had a trifecta in Oklahoma since 2011. 

Tennessee SJR0002 

Republican-sponsored SJR0002, a proposed right to work constitutional amendment, passed the Tennessee state Senate on March 8. The amendment would add the following new section to Article XI of the state constitution:

It is unlawful for any person, corporation, association, or this state or its political subdivisions to deny or attempt to deny employment to any person by reason of the person’s membership in, affiliation with, resignation from, or refusal to join or affiliate with any labor union or employee organization.

The Senate Judiciary Committee recommended the bill for adoption on Feb. 9, and the Commerce And Labor Committee did the same on Feb. 23. The Senate passed the bill 24-7 on March 8. One Republican, Todd Gardenhire, voted against it. 

If the bill receives a two-thirds approval vote in the House, where Republicans hold a 73-26 majority, it will appear on the Nov. 8, 2022 ballot. The legislature passed the amendment in 2020 in the first part of the two-session amendment process, which required a simple majority vote in each chamber. 

Tennessee Republicans have had a trifecta in the state since 2011. 

In 2020, states passed five pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. By mid-March, four bills had passed lower chambers and three had passed both chambers.

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 83 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. 

  • Arizona SB1268: This bill would establish annual disclosure requirements for public-sector unions.
    •  Republican sponsorship. 
    •  House second reading March 9. 
  • Arkansas SB341: This bill would prohibit collective bargaining for public-sector employees.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate passed March 9. Referred to the House Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee.
  • Florida H0835: This bill would require that unions certified as bargaining agents for educational support employees include certain information in registration renewal applications. The bill would also require such unions whose full dues-paying membership is less than 50 percent to petition the state for recertification. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Government Operations Subcommittee reported favorably March 9.    
  • Florida H0947: This bill would require that public employees sign membership authorization cards in order to have dues deducted from their paychecks. It would also require a union to revoke that membership upon the employee’s request.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Government Operations Subcommittee reported favorably March 8, now in House State Affairs Committee.  
  • Idaho S1120: This bill would extend collective bargaining rights to peace officers.
    •  Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee hearing March 9. 
  • 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. 
    • Referred to House Labor and Commerce Committee March 9. 
  • Maine LD449: Current law says the obligation of a public employer and a bargaining agent to bargain collectively includes their mutual obligation to meet within 10 days after receipt of written notice from the other party requesting a meeting for collective bargaining purposes, as long as the parties have not otherwise agreed in an earlier written contract. This bill would eliminate that exception.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Labor and Housing Committee hearing scheduled for March 17. 
  • Maryland HB1321: This bill would bar employers from requiring employees to become, remain, or refrain from becoming members of a union as a condition of employment.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Economic Matters Committee hearing March 5.
  • New Hampshire HB206: This bill would establish that collective bargaining strategy discussions in which only one party is involved would not be subject to the state’s right-to-know law.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Judiciary Committee reported favorably March 9. 
  • New Hampshire SB61: This bill would prohibit collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join a labor union.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee executive session scheduled for March 30.    
  • Oklahoma SB634: This bill would require annual authorizations for payroll dues deductions for school employees.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate passed March 4. First reading in the House March 8.    
  • Oregon HB2061: This bill would prohibit public employers and unions from entering into fair-share agreements.
    • House Business and Labor Committee work session March 8.     
  • Oregon HB3300: This bill would prohibit public employers and unions from entering into fair-share agreements.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Referred to House Business and Labor Committee March 9.    
  • 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 Education Committee hearing March 10. 
  • Pennsylvania HB845: This bill would require any proposed public employee collective bargaining agreement to be made available on the public employers’ publicly accessible Internet website within 48 hours. This bill would also establish that proposed collective bargaining agreements and any documents presented by the public employer or received from the employee organization in the course of collective bargaining are to be public records subject to the state’s right-to-know law.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Referred to House Labor and Industry Committee March 9. 
  • Tennessee HJR0072: This bill proposes a constitutional amendment that would bar any person, corporation, or governmental entity from denying employment due to an individual’s affiliation status with a union or other employee organization. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Banking & Consumer Affairs Subcommittee reported favorably March 10. House Commerce Committee hearing scheduled for March 16.  
  • Tennessee SJR0002: This bill proposes a constitutional amendment that would bar any person, corporation, or governmental entity from denying employment due to an individual’s affiliation status with a union or other employee organization.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate passed March 8. 
  • Washington SB5055: This bill would establish an “arbitrator selection procedure for grievance arbitrations for law enforcement personnel that applies to all disciplinary grievance arbitrations.”
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee executive session scheduled for March 17. 



Union Station: Right to work amendment before Tennessee state House

Tennessee right to work amendment hearing scheduled in state House

The first hearing for Tennessee House Joint Resolution 72, a proposed right to work constitutional amendment, is scheduled for March 10.

About the amendment 

The Tennessee Right to Work Amendment would add the following new section to Article XI of the state constitution:

It is unlawful for any person, corporation, association, or this state or its political subdivisions to deny or attempt to deny employment to any person by reason of the person’s membership in, affiliation with, resignation from, or refusal to join or affiliate with any labor union or employee organization.

Tennessee has had a right to work law since 1947. One of the amendment’s sponsors, Sen. Brian Kelsey (R), said, “I think that this right is an important enough civil right that it belongs in our state constitution.”

In Tennessee, a legislatively referred constitutional amendment must be approved in each legislative chamber in two successive sessions with an election in between. During the first legislative session, the amendment needs to receive a simple majority vote in each chamber. During the second session, the amendment needs to receive a two-thirds vote in each chamber.

The amendment was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 648 on Jan. 8, 2020. The state Senate passed the bill 24-5 on Feb. 10, 2020. On June 17, the state House passed the bill 68-22.

Current status and what comes next 

On Jan. 12, 2021, the amendment was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 2. The Senate Judiciary Committee recommended the bill for adoption on Feb. 9, and the Commerce And Labor Committee did the same on Feb. 23. The bill is on the Senate calendar for March 8.   

House Joint Resolution 72 was introduced on Feb. 8 and referred to the Commerce Committee. A Banking & Consumer Affairs Subcommittee hearing is set for March 10. 

If the amendment receives a two-thirds vote in each chamber, it will appear on the ballot as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on Nov. 8, 2022. Republicans currently hold a 27-6 majority in the Senate and a 73-26 majority in the House.

There are currently 27 right to work states. Eighteen of those states, including Tennessee, have state right to work statutes without constitutional amendments. 

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 82 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. 
    • Labor and Housing Committee hearing March 1. 
  • Maryland HB1321: This bill would bar employers from requiring employees to become, remain, or refrain from becoming members of a union as a condition of employment.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Economic Matters Committee hearing March 5. 
  • Maryland SB746: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for certain community college employees.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Senate Finance Committee hearing March 4. 
  • Missouri SB118: This bill would bar employers from requiring employees to become, remain, or refrain from becoming members of a union as a condition of employment.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate General Laws Committee reported favorably March 2. 
  • Missouri SB244: This bill would require employees to authorize deductions before public employers begin deducting union dues or fees from employees’ paychecks. It would also require “clear and compelling evidence that the authorization was freely given.”
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Senate General Laws Committee reported favorably March 2. 
  • Montana HB251: This bill would bar employers from requiring employees to become, remain, or refrain from becoming members of a union as a condition of employment. It would also allow employees to revoke payroll deductions for union dues at any time with written notice. 
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Did not pass second reading in the House Business and Labor Committee March 2. 
  • Montana SB228: This bill would allow a public employee to withdraw from a union and cease paying dues by providing 14 days written notice. It would also prohibit an employee who withdraws from a union from rejoining that union for one year.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Second reading in the Senate State Administration Committee indefinitely postponed March 1. 
  • Montana SB89: This bill would require a public-sector union to allow its members to leave the union at any time. It would also prohibit employers from collecting dues on behalf of unions. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Second reading in the Senate State Administration Committee indefinitely postponed March 1. 
  • New Hampshire HB206: This bill would establish that collective bargaining strategy discussions in which only one party is involved would not be subject to the state’s right-to-know law.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • House Judiciary Committee executive session March 2. 
  • Oregon HB2061: This bill would prohibit public employers and unions from entering into fair-share agreements.
    • House Business and Labor Committee work session scheduled for March 8.
  • Oregon HB3029: This bill would require the Employment Relations Board to develop procedures for authorizations designating bargaining unit representatives.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Business and Labor Committee hearing March 1. 
  • Oregon HB3300: This bill would prohibit public employers and unions from entering into fair-share agreements.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Introduced March 2. 
  • 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 Education Committee hearing March 2.
  • Tennessee HJR0072: This bill proposes a constitutional amendment that would bar any person, corporation, or governmental entity from denying employment due to an individual’s affiliation status with a union or other employee organization.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Banking & Consumer Affairs Subcommittee hearing scheduled for March 10.    
  • Washington SB5055: This bill would prohibit law enforcement personnel from entering into collective bargaining agreements that prevent, prohibit, or otherwise alter local government ordinances or charters providing for “civilian review of law enforcement personnel.”
    •  Democratic sponsorship. 
    •  House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee hearing scheduled for March 10.  
  • Washington SB5133: This bill amends the definition of a “confidential employee” for the purposes of collective bargaining.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate passed March 2. Referred to House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee March 4. 



Three public-sector union bills have advanced from state senates so far this year

Three public-sector union bills have advanced from state senates so far this year

Ballotpedia is currently tracking 78 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. So far, state senates have passed three of those bills. Republicans sponsored two of the bills, and Democrats sponsored one. Here’s a run-down of the three bills. 

Washington SSB5055

The Washington state Senate passed SSB5055, a substitute bill for SB5055, on Feb. 18. Originally, this Democratic-sponsored bill amended state law to include the following: “Public employers of law enforcement personnel may not enter into a collective bargaining agreement that prevents the implementation of, alters, or suppresses a city or county ordinance or charter establishing civilian review of the discipline of law enforcement personnel.” 

The Senate Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs Committee passed a substitute bill on Feb. 3 that would instead “[establish] an arbitrator selection procedure for grievance arbitrations for law enforcement personnel that applies to all disciplinary grievance arbitrations heard on or after January 1, 2022,” and “[require] the Public Employment Relations Commission to appoint a roster of 9 to 18 arbitrators who hear disciplinary grievances for law enforcement personnel on a rotating basis.” To view the full text of the substitute bill, click here

The bill passed the Senate 41-8, with 13 Republicans supporting the bill and one Democrat voting against. It was referred to the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee on Feb. 24.

Democrats have held a trifecta in Washington since 2017. 

Indiana SB0251

The Indiana state Senate passed Republican-sponsored SB0251 on Feb. 18. This bill would allow a school employee to leave a union at any time. It would also require an employee to annually authorize any payroll deductions of union dues. The bill was referred to the Committee on Pensions and Labor in January and amended in committee. To view the latest version, click here.

The Senate passed the bill 27-22, with 12 Republicans voting against. It was referred to the House on Feb. 19. 

Republicans have held trifecta control of Indiana state government since 2011. 

New Hampshire SB61

The New Hampshire state Senate passed SB61 on Feb. 11. The Republican-sponsored bill says, in part, that “all persons shall have, and shall be protected in the exercise of, the right freely, and without fear of penalty or reprise, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, or to refrain from any such activity.” To view the full text of the bill, click here

The Senate approved the bill 13-11. One Republican, Sen. Sharon Carson, and all 10 Democrats voted against. The bill now goes to the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

Republicans won control of the state Senate in 2020, changing a 10-14 minority to a 14-10 majority. Republicans also gained a majority in the state House, resulting in a state government trifecta, as New Hampshirites re-elected Republican Gov. Chris Sununu. 

In 2020, states passed five bills in public-sector union policy, compared to nine in 2019 and 30 in 2018. 

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 78 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. 
    • Labor and Housing Committee hearing scheduled for March 1. 
  • 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. 
    • Introduced and referred to the Labor and Housing Committee on Feb. 22. 
  • Maryland HB1321: This bill would bar employers from requiring employees to become, remain, or refrain from becoming members of a union as a condition of employment.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Economic Matters Committee hearing scheduled for March 5. 
  • Maryland SB556: This bill would establish a separate collective bargaining unit for teachers at the Maryland School for the Deaf.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate Finance Committee hearing Feb. 25. 
  • Maryland SB746: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for certain community college employees.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate Finance Committee hearing scheduled for March 4. 
  • Missouri SB118: This bill would bar employers from requiring employees to become, remain, or refrain from becoming members of a union as a condition of employment.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate General Laws Committee hearing Feb. 23. 
  • Missouri SB244: This bill would require employees to authorize deductions before public employers begin deducting union dues or fees from employees’ paychecks. It would also require “clear and compelling evidence that the authorization was freely given.”
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate General Laws Committee hearing Feb. 23.
  • Montana SB228: This bill would allow a public employee to withdraw from a union and cease paying dues by providing 14 days’ written notice. It would also prohibit an employee who withdraws from a union from rejoining that union for one year.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate State Administration Committee hearing Feb. 24. 
  • New Hampshire HB206: This bill would establish that collective bargaining strategy discussions in which only one party is involved would not be subject to the state’s right-to-know law.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Judiciary Committee executive session scheduled for March 2. 
  • Oklahoma HB2747: This bill would eliminate the Public Employees Relations Board. It would direct municipal public employers to recognize unions as the exclusive bargaining agents for police officers or firefighters upon a majority vote of the members of the bargaining unit.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Rules Committee hearing Feb. 25. 
  • Oklahoma SB634: This bill would require annual authorizations for payroll dues deductions for school employees.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Senate Judiciary Committee reported favorably with amendment Feb. 23. 
  • 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 Education Committee scheduled for March 3. 
  • Tennessee SJR0002: A proposed constitutional amendment that would bar any person, corporation, or governmental entity from denying employment due to an individual’s affiliation status with a union or other employee organization.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate Commerce And Labor Committee reported favorably Feb. 23. 
  • Washington SB5055: This bill would prohibit law enforcement personnel from entering into collective bargaining agreements that prevent, prohibit, or otherwise alter local government ordinances or charters providing for “civilian review of law enforcement personnel.”
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Senate passed Feb. 18. Referred to House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee Feb. 24.


Federal judge rejects Minnesota teachers, transportation worker lawsuits seeking refund of union fees

Federal judge rejects Minnesota teachers, transportation worker lawsuits seeking refund of union fees

On Feb. 12, a U.S. district court judge ruled against three Minnesota teachers seeking refunds of fees they were required to pay to their union before Janus v. AFSCME. In Janus, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public sector unions cannot require non-member employees to pay agency fees covering the costs of non-political union activities. 


The district court ruling also applied to a Minnesota Department of Transportation employee’s suit against American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council No. 5.    

Parties to the suit

The plaintiffs in the first case were Minnesota public school teachers Linda Hoekman, Mary Dee Buros, and Paul Hanson. Douglas Seaton and James Dickey of the Upper Midwest Law Center, Jonathan F. Mitchell, and Talcott Franklin represented the plaintiffs. The Upper Midwest Law Center states in its mission that it “fights to limit governmental, special interest, and public union overreach.”

The defendants were the labor unions Education Minnesota, Anoka Hennepin Education Minnesota, National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, and Shakopee Education Association. Attorneys from Altshuler Berzon LLP and Education Minnesota represented the defendants. 

In the second case, the plaintiff was Thomas Piekarski, a Minnesota Department of Transportation employee. The defendant was AFSCME Council No. 5. 

What’s at issue

In the first case, Hoekman and teacher Deborah York filed a class action complaint on June 18, 2018, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. The suit sought refunds for non-union member fair-share fees, as well as union dues collected from union members who would not have joined the union if non-members were not charged fair-share fees. Plaintiffs also asked the court to prevent the unions from collecting dues without employees’ written consent and require the unions to respect membership resignation requests regardless of time of year. An amended complaint including additional plaintiffs was filed on Oct. 1, 2018. (Six plaintiffs, including York, were dismissed from the suit on July 1, 2019.) 

On Nov. 30, 2018, the defendants filed a brief saying that they acted in good faith under the law at the time of collection and that the Janus decision should not be applied retroactively.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson denied the plaintiffs’ request to certify the lawsuit as a class action on May 27, 2020.

The original plaintiff in the second case, Jayme Prokes, submitted her class action complaint on Aug. 14, 2018.

How the court ruled

On Feb. 12, Nelson ruled in favor of the defendants in both cases. She wrote: “Like every court to consider the issue, the Court finds that the good faith defense bars Hoekman and Hanson’s § 1983 claims for a refund of fair-share fees paid prior to Janus.” Further, “[b]ecause the Defendants have ceased deducting fair-share fees from Plaintiffs’ paychecks and have averred that Plaintiffs will not be required to pay union fees unless they voluntarily rejoin their unions, Plaintiffs do not have standing for prospective relief.” 

President Barack Obama (D) appointed Neson to the court in 2013.

What comes next

After the ruling, the Upper Midwest Law Center said: “… our public employee clients immediately appealed on February 16, 2021 to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. We are hopeful that the Eighth Circuit will reverse these decisions and reinstate our public employee clients’ claims for recovery of unconstitutionally withheld dues payments to government unions. These cases and several others around the country could ultimately be decided by the United States Supreme Court.” 

Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota, said: “We anticipate this case, and similar cases around the country, will be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court with the goal of getting a ruling that would financially cripple the union movement in the United States. … Our union is ready to stand with other unions of working people to make our case in any courtroom.”

The case name and number is Hoekman v. Education Minnesota, 0:18-cv-01686. 

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 75 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 LD97: This bill would bar public-sector and private-sector employers from requiring employees to join or pay dues to a union as a condition of employment.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Labor and Housing Committee hearing Feb. 17.
  • 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 hearing scheduled for March 1. 
  • Maryland HB1321: This bill would bar employers from requiring employees to become, remain, or refrain from becoming members of a union as a condition of employment.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • House Economic Matters Committee hearing scheduled for March 5.
  • Maryland SB521: This bill would extend collective bargaining rights to certain graduate students within the University System of Maryland, Morgan State University, or St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Senate Finance Committee hearing Feb. 18.
  • Maryland SB556: This bill would establish a separate collective bargaining unit for teachers at the Maryland School for the Deaf.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Senate Finance Committee hearing scheduled for Feb. 25.
  • Maryland SB746: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for certain community college employees.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate Finance Committee hearing scheduled for March 4.
  • Missouri SB118: This bill would bar employers from requiring employees to become, remain, or refrain from becoming members of a union as a condition of employment.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Senate General Laws Committee hearing scheduled for Feb. 23. 
  • Missouri SB244: This bill would require authorizations be given before public employers begin deducting union dues or fees from employees’ paychecks. It would also require “clear and compelling evidence that the authorization was freely given.”
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate General Laws Committee hearing scheduled for Feb. 23. 
  • Montana HB251: This bill would bar employers from requiring employees to become, remain, or refrain from becoming members of a union as a condition of employment. It would also allow employees to revoke payroll deductions for union dues at any time with written notice. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Business and Labor Committee hearing Feb. 16.
  • Montana SB228: This bill would allow a public employee to withdraw from a union and cease paying dues by providing 14 days written notice. It would also prohibit an employee who withdraws from a union from rejoining that union for one year.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate State Administration Committee hearing scheduled for Feb. 24. 
  • New Hampshire HB206: This bill would establish that collective bargaining strategy discussions in which only one party is involved would not be subject to the state’s right-to-know law.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • House Judiciary committee hearing Feb. 19. 
  • New Hampshire HB348: This bill would require a public employer to provide notice of a new or amended collective bargaining agreement.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee reported favorably with amendment Feb. 17.
  • 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 Education Committee hearing scheduled for March 3.
  • Tennessee SJR0002: This bill proposes a constitutional amendment that would bar any person, corporation, or governmental entity from denying employment due to an individual’s affiliation status with a union or other employee organization.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate Commerce And Labor Committee hearing scheduled for Feb. 23.
  • Washington SB5055: This bill would prohibit law enforcement personnel from entering into collective bargaining agreements that prevent, prohibit, or otherwise alter local government ordinances or charters providing for “civilian review of law enforcement personnel.”
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate passed Feb. 18.



Federal Labor Relations Authority submits brief defending rule on union dues

FLRA submits brief defending rule on union dues

On Feb. 5, the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), which administers the laws governing federal labor relations, submitted a brief defending a February 2020 decision permitting federal workers to stop paying union dues at any time after their first year of dues-paying membership. Before this, federal workers were only permitted to rescind their union-dues assignments at one-year intervals.  

What is at issue? 

Before 2020, the FLRA had interpreted Section 7115(a) of the Federal Service Labor‑Management Relations Statute to mean that dues deduction authorizations could only be revoked in one-year intervals. After the Supreme Court issued its decision in Janus v. AFSCME, ruling that public-sector unions could not compel non-members to pay fees, the Office of Personnel Management petitioned the FLRA for guidance on Janus’ applicability to § 7115(a).

On Feb. 14, 2020, the FLRA voted 2-1 to overturn the earlier interpretation, saying, “[N]otwithstanding previous assertions otherwise, § 7115(a) neither compels, nor even supports, the existing policy on annual revocation windows. Because it remains our privilege and responsibility to interpret the Statute in a manner that is consistent with an efficient and effective government, we cannot allow our decisions or statements of policy to merely rubber-stamp what was said in the past.” 

The final rule was published in July 2020. 

The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) submitted a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in July 2020.

FLRA brief & NTEU response 

The FLRA’s Feb. 5 brief cited Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, a 1984 Supreme Court case that established how much a federal court, in reviewing a federal government agency’s action, should defer to the agency’s interpretation of a law the agency administers. Click here to sign up for Ballotpedia’s Learning Journey on Chevron deference and explore the legal doctrine in depth.

According to the FLRA’s brief:     

The Authority’s well-reasoned interpretation of its Statute, which is owed Chevron deference, and prudent and lawful use of its broad rulemaking power warrant denial of the Petitions. The Unions’ strained arguments do not establish that the Authority’s decisions are based on an impermissible interpretation of the Statute, or that they are arbitrary or capricious. …

Ultimately, the Policy Statement and Final Rule are the product of the Authority’s measured and well-reasoned application of its statutory expertise.

Tony Reardon, NTEU president, said, “[s]ince the FLRA ruling one year ago, the leadership at OPM and the chairmanship of the FLRA has changed. We believe that the appellate court should reverse the FLRA decision, or this is a topic that the Authority should have an opportunity to revisit.”

The case name and number are National Treasury Employees Union, et al., v. Federal Labor Relations Authority (20-1038).

More about the Federal Labor Relations Authority: The Federal Labor Relations Authority administers the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, which permits certain non-postal federal employees to unionize and bargain collectively. The FLRA has three full-time members, each of whom is a presidential appointee. Members serve five-year terms. 

Colleen Duffy Kiko and James T. Abbott were both appointed by President Donald Trump (R) in 2017. Ernest DuBester was first appointed by President Barack Obama (D) in 2009. DuBester was subsequently re-appointed to second and third terms by Obama and Trump, respectively. In January 2021, President Joe Biden (D) designated DuBester as chairman of the authority. 

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 68 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 LD97: This bill would bar public-sector and private-sector employers from requiring employees to join or pay dues to a union as a condition of employment.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Labor and Housing Committee hearing scheduled for Feb. 17. 
  • Maryland HB1321: This bill would bar employers from requiring employees to become, remain, or refrain from becoming members of a union as a condition of employment.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Introduced Feb. 8. House Economic Matters Committee hearing scheduled for March 5. 
  • Maryland HB837: This bill would establish a separate collective bargaining unit for teachers at the Maryland School for the Deaf.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Appropriations Committee hearing Feb. 10. 
  • Maryland HB894: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for certain community college employees.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Appropriations Committee hearing Feb. 10. 
  • Maryland SB521: This bill would extend collective bargaining rights to certain graduate students within the University System of Maryland, Morgan State University, or St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate Finance Committee hearing scheduled for Feb. 18. 
  • Maryland SB556: This bill would establish a separate collective bargaining unit for teachers at the Maryland School for the Deaf.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate Finance Committee hearing scheduled for Feb. 25. 
  • Michigan HB4176: This bill would allow a public-sector union to require non-members it represents to pay a service fee to the union.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Introduced and referred to House Workforce, Trades, and Talent Committee Feb. 9. 
  • Montana HB251: This bill would bar employers from requiring employees to become, remain, or refrain from becoming members of a union as a condition of employment. It would also allow employees to revoke payroll deductions for union dues at any time with written notice. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Business and Labor Committee hearing scheduled for Feb. 16. 
  • Nebraska LB684: This bill would prohibit public school employers and unions from placing restrictions on when employees can join or leave unions.
    • Business and Labor Committee hearing Feb. 8. 
  • New Hampshire HB206: This bill would establish that collective bargaining strategy discussions in which only one party is involved would not be subject to the state’s right-to-know law.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for Feb. 19. 
  • New Hampshire HB348: This bill would require a public employer to provide notice of a new or amended collective bargaining agreement.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee hearing Feb. 11. 
  • Oregon HB3119: This bill would permit public employees to refrain from joining or paying dues to a labor union. It would also allow unions not to represent employees who choose not to join or pay dues to the union.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Introduced Feb. 9. 
  • Tennessee HJR0005: This bill proposes a constitutional amendment that would bar any person, corporation, or governmental entity from denying employment due to an individual’s affiliation status with a union or other employee organization.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Withdrawn from consideration Feb. 8.
  • Tennessee HJR0072: This bill proposes a constitutional amendment that would bar any person, corporation, or governmental entity from denying employment due to an individual’s affiliation status with a union or other employee organization.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Assigned to House Banking & Consumer Affairs Subcommittee on Feb. 10.
  • Tennessee SJR0002: This bill proposes a constitutional amendment that would bar any person, corporation, or governmental entity from denying employment due to an individual’s affiliation status with a union or other employee organization.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Senate Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for Feb. 16. 
  • Washington SB5133: This bill amends the definition of a “confidential employee” for the purposes of collective bargaining.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Substitute bill approved and sent to Senate Rules Committee for second reading Feb. 11.



Union representative salaries before the New Jersey Supreme Court

New Jersey Supreme Court reverses appellate division ruling on union representative salaries 

On Feb. 3, the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously reversed a 2019 appellate court ruling that said the Jersey City Board of Education could not pay salaries of union representatives.   

Parties to the suit

The plaintiffs were New Jersey taxpayers Moshe Rozenblit and Won Kyu Rim. The Goldwater Institute, which describes itself as a “free-market public policy research and litigation organization,” represented the plaintiffs. The defendants were the Jersey City Public Schools, the Jersey City Board of Education, and the Jersey City Education Association.

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

The plaintiffs filed a complaint in January 2017 challenging a section of the collective bargaining agreement between the Jersey City Board of Education and the Jersey City Education Association that requires the board to pay the salaries of two teachers working full-time as union representatives. The plaintiffs specifically alleged that this section of the agreement violated Article VIII, Section 3, Paragraph 3 of the state constitution: “No donation of land or appropriation of money shall be made by the State or any county or municipal corporation to or for the use of any society, association, or corporation whatever.” The defendants said the challenged provision was valid under Section 18A:30-7 of the New Jersey Statutes, which permits local boards of education to pay salaries in cases of absence not constituting sick leave. A lower state court upheld this provision of the collective bargaining agreement, prompting the plaintiffs to appeal.

On Aug. 21, 2019, a New Jersey appellate court ruled the Jersey City Board of Education could not use public funds to pay the salaries of union representatives.

How did the New Jersey Supreme Court rule? 

The New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously reversed the appellate court’s decision, reinstating an October 2017 trial court judgment. Writing for the court, Justice Anne Patterson said

We do not share the Appellate Division’s view that the Board’s agreement to the disputed provisions exceeded its statutory grant of authority. In the Education Code, the Legislature empowered boards of education to make rules governing the compensation of teachers, N.J.S.A. 18A:27-4, and to fix ‘the payment of salary in cases of absence not constituting sick leave,’ N.J.S.A. 18A:30-7. The Legislature thus authorized the Board to grant a paid leave to the releasees to allow them to attend to labor relations work pursuant to the CNA. Moreover, because the releasees’ efforts encourage cooperative labor relations and facilitate the early resolution of employer-employee disputes, the CNA’s release time provisions facilitate the Board’s management of the public schools pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:11-1(c). The releasees also further the mediation and resolution of labor disputes in accordance with N.J.S.A. 34:13A-2, a provision of the Employer-Employee Relations Act (EERA). We conclude that the Board’s payment of salaries and benefits to the releasees is within its statutory grant of authority.

The case name and number are Rozenblit v. Lyles, 083434.

What are the responses? 

  • New Jersey Education Association Communications Director Steve Baker said, “We’re pleased that the Supreme Court upheld the principle of collective bargaining in New Jersey. … New Jersey public employees and employers have had the right to collectively bargain the terms and conditions of employment for 52 years. It’s a longstanding practice, and the Supreme Court’s ruling upheld that and affirmed that that right still exists in New Jersey.” 
  • Goldwater Institute Director of National Litigation Jon Riches said, “Public resources should be put to public use, not to advance the private interests of labor organizations. … And we stand ready to work with policymakers in New Jersey and elsewhere to eliminate this taxpayer abuse and require that government employees perform the jobs they were hired to perform, rather than work to advance special interests at taxpayer expense.”

Bureau of Labor Statistics releases annual union membership estimates

On Jan. 22, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its annual estimates of union membership in the United States. The full press release and data set can be found here.

  • The BLS estimates that 34.8% of public-sector workers nationwide were union members in 2020, roughly five and a half times the membership rate in the private sector (6.3%). In 2019, public-sector union membership was estimated at 33.6%.
  • Local government workers were unionized at an estimated rate of 41.7% in 2020, up from 39.4% in 2019.
  • State workers were unionized at a rate of 29.9% in 2020, up from 29.4% in 2019.
  • Federal workers were unionized at a rate of 26.0% in 2020, up from 25.6% in 2019.

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 55 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. 

  • Kentucky SB142: This bill would require that employees give written consent, revocable at any time, to have union dues withheld from their paychecks. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Introduced Feb. 2. 
  • Maine LD97: This bill would bar public-sector and private-sector employers from requiring employees to join or pay dues to a union as a condition of employment. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Labor and Housing Committee hearing scheduled for Feb. 17. 
  • Maryland HB486: This bill would make revisions to the collective bargaining process for employees of the University System of Maryland.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Appropriations Committee hearing Feb. 3. 
  • Maryland HB837: This bill would establish a separate collective bargaining unit for teachers at the Maryland School for the Deaf.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Appropriations Committee hearing scheduled for Feb. 10.
  • Maryland HB894: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for certain community college employees.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Appropriations Committee hearing scheduled for Feb. 10.
  • Maryland SB9: This bill would make revisions to the collective bargaining process for employees of the University System of Maryland.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate Finance Committee hearing Feb. 4. 
  • Maryland SB138: This bill would extend collective bargaining rights to employees of the Baltimore County Public Library.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate Finance Committee hearing Feb. 4. 
  • Maryland SB521: This bill would extend collective bargaining rights to certain graduate students within the University System of Maryland, Morgan State University, or St. Mary’s College of Maryland. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate Finance Committee hearing scheduled for Feb. 18. 
  • Maryland SB556: This bill would establish a separate collective bargaining unit for teachers at the Maryland School for the Deaf. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate Finance Committee hearing scheduled for Feb. 25. 
  • Montana HB251: This bill would bar employers from requiring employees to become, remain, or refrain from becoming members of a union as a condition of employment. It would also allow employees to revoke payroll deductions for union dues at any time with written notice. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Business and Labor Committee hearing scheduled for Feb. 11. 
  • Nevada SB13: This bill would establish that local governments’ ending fund balances of up to 25 percent would not be subject to negotiation during collective bargaining.
    • Referred to Senate Government Affairs Committee Feb. 1. 
  • New Hampshire HB348: This bill would require a public employer to provide notice of a new or amended collective bargaining agreement. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee hearing scheduled for Feb. 11. 
  • New Hampshire SB61: This bill would prohibit collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join a labor union.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate Commerce Committee reported favorably Feb. 1. 
  • Oklahoma HB1985: This bill would require that school employee unions submit to secret-ballot elections in order to continue on as collective bargaining agents.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Introduced Feb. 1. Referred to House Common Education Committee Feb. 2. 
  • Oklahoma HB2747: This bill would eliminate the Public Employees Relations Board. It would direct municipal public employers to recognize unions as the exclusive bargaining agents for police officers or firefighters upon a majority vote of the members of the bargaining unit.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Introduced Feb. 1. Referred to House County and Municipal Government Committee Feb. 2. 
  • Oklahoma SB634: This bill would require annual authorizations for payroll dues deductions for school employees.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Introduced Feb. 1. Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee Feb. 2. 
  • Tennessee SJR0002: This bill proposes a constitutional amendment that would bar any person, corporation, or governmental entity from denying employment due to an individual’s affiliation status with a union or other employee organization.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for Feb. 9. 
  • Washington SB5055: This bill would prohibit law enforcement personnel from entering into collective bargaining agreements that prevent, prohibit, or otherwise alter local government ordinances or charters providing for “civilian review of law enforcement personnel.”
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate Labor, Commerce, and Tribal Affairs Committee hearing Feb. 3.
  • Washington SB5133: This bill amends the definition of a “confidential employee” for the purposes of collective bargaining.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate Ways and Means Committee hearing scheduled for Feb. 11.