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Laws Supporting Public Unions Gaining Traction in Light of Anticipated Janus Decision

On April 12, 2018, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that allows unions to avoid being forced to provide the full benefits of membership to bargaining unit members that chose to not pay union dues. While unions will still have to serve all those in the bargaining units they represent, they will not have to provide the full benefits of membership to non-paying employees. This bill was passed while the Supreme Court decision’s in Janus is still pending. Janus threatens to upend 40 years of history allowing public employee unions to require non-members to pay agency fees. If a decision is rendered in Janus that is adverse to public unions, this could result in the prohibition on public unions charging non-members agency fees. To read more about the Janus case, read HERE and HERE.

According to the N.Y. Governor’s office, this new legislation will take the following actions to strengthen public unions in New York.

“[T]he legislation strengthens unions by requiring public employers to:

Notify the relevant union within 30 days of a new employee being hired, rehired or promoted into a bargaining unit represented by that union;

Provide the new employee's name, address, work location to the union; and

Permit union representatives to meet with new employees within 30 days, for a reasonable amount of time, and without charge to leave credits.

. . .

The legislation also supports unions by:

Ensuring union membership is maintained so workers' benefits are protected if they take leave;

Enabling unions to send dues deductions to employers electronically, which makes it easier and faster for unions to receive dues; and

Requiring dues to be reinstated automatically if a union member employee leaves service, but is reinstated to a position with the same employer and covered by the same bargaining unit within one year.”

New Jersey is likewise taking steps to try to strengthen public unions in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus. More specifically, the Workplace Democracy Enhancement Act was signed by Gov. Murphy. This law requires public employers to provide unions representing its employees with access to individual members of bargaining units at the employer’s premises, during the work day, so they can meet to discuss workplace issues. Unions must also be given the right, among other things, to conduct work site meetings during lunch and work breaks, and meet with newly hired employees for a minimum of 30 minutes within 30 days of the date of hire. It also gives public unions the right to use the public employers’ email systems to communicate with members. And it provides that if an employee wishes to withdraw authorization of payroll deductions for dues or fees to public unions, written notice must be given by the employee to the employer during the 10 day window following each anniversary date of the employee’s employment, and the union must be so notified.

The Firm will provide an update on the outcome of Janus case once the Supreme Court renders a decision.

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