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house Bill H.R. 3463

Should Public Sector Employees Be Guaranteed the Right to Collectively Bargain?

Argument in favor

The 2018 Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, which held that public sector employees don’t have to pay their fair share into unions if they’re not members, severely weakened unions. This hurts American workers across the economy (even in non-union jobs). Requiring state governments to allow workers to unionize and negotiate with their unions will help many public servants negotiate for better pay, hours and benefits.

Mark's Opinion
···
07/07/2019
Just about every right and perk you have at work is because of the work that unions have done; 40 hour work week ,overtime , etc. nothing wrong with workers having protection and rights, if you disagree with that you no doubt are not part of the workforce. 30 year teamster here.
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IllWill's Opinion
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07/07/2019
Absolutely! And it’s not just public sector employees that need to have their right to collectively bargain protected. It’s also private sector employees! We need to get rid of right-to-work laws and strengthen workers’ rights!
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07/07/2019
Support Matt Cartwright ‘s bill to ensure collective bargaining for public sector employees.
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Argument opposed

The Janus decision was properly decided as a First Amendment issue: public sector employees shouldn’t be compelled to pay dues to a union which in turn uses those funds to advocate for political positions (both related and unrelated to their members’ day-to-day jobs) that they vehemently disagree with. Even labor-friendly FDR opposed collective bargaining by public sector unions.

AmericaIsARepublic's Opinion
···
07/07/2019
Abolish public sector unions! They are a greedy farce and are completely corrupt to the core. Make every state in this great country a right to work state.
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operaman's Opinion
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07/07/2019
Public Sector Employees should never be allowed to feed at the public trough.
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jimK's Opinion
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07/07/2019
If all state implementations of civil servant employment are substantially like federal civil servants employment, I have to say Nay. If different states each have different practices, I have to say Nay- Since a one-size-fits-all legislation would not be appropriate in all cases. Federal civil servants are greatly limited regarding any form of collective bargaining. This is the “price” paid for substantial civil service job protection, in place to prevent political hacks from directing civil servants to directly or indirectly support their politics. While private sector employees can be fired or disciplined at the discretion of the “boss”, federal civil servants cannot- at least not without clearcut and well documented cause. Federal civil servants can form unions, voluntarily joined, to challenge decisions made and potentially resolve conflicts (such as safety issues or unfair practices) through arbitration. They cannot advocate or bargain for changes in pay and/or benefits. If state civil servant employment entails substantially similar practices, I think that should be enough. Particular, since some states have retained indexed defined benefit retirement plans (which will ultimately pay out much more than paid in - at taxpayers expense). Most private sector employees cannot get this kind of retirement package anymore. (all federal civil servants hired after Reagan are on a 401-K type plan and funds already collected by payroll deductions are projected to be substantially in excess of any potential payout to those federal civil servants, hired before Reagan, who chose to stay with the prior plan).
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Education and Labor
    IntroducedJune 25th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 3463?

This bill — the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act of 2019 — would guarantee public sector employees the legal right to organize and collectively bargain for better wages and safer workplaces by superseding state laws restricting public sector unions. It would also require public employers to recognize their employees’ union and to commit to any agreements in a written contract. Finally, it would give the federal government the authority to intervene on public service workers’ behalf should states fail to meet the standards set forth in this bill. Additional specifics of this bill are outlined below. 

This bill’s broad specifics are:

  • This bill would set a minimum nationwide standard for collective bargaining rights that all states must provide to public sector workers (currently, 20 states don’t provide all state and local public sector workers the ability to collectively bargain for wages and benefits). 
  • The nationwide standard would include a requirement that public employers recognize employees’ labor unions that are freely chosen by a majority of the employees voting and negotiate with the unions over wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment.
  • The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), which administers the Federal Service Labor-Management Statute covering federal employees’ collective bargaining rights, would be charged with determining states’ compliance with the minimum nationwide standard and issuing regulations establishing collective bargaining procedures for employers, labor organizations and public and supervisory employees in states that it determines don’t meet the minimum requirements.
  • In states that fail to meet the minimum nationwide standard, the federal government would be authorized to intervene on public service workers’ behalf and ensure their rights to form a union and negotiate with their employers are protected.

The minimum nationwide standard that this bill would guarantee for public and supervisory employees of state, territorial and local governments comprises the following rights: 

  • To form, join, or assist a union, to bargain collectively, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid (including the filing of joint, class or collective legal claims) or protection.
  • To have their union recognized by their public employer if the union is freely chosen by a majority of employees, to bargain with the employer through the union, and to commit their collective-bargaining agreement to writing.
  • To be free from forced recertification elections of their already-recognized representative and decertification of their chosen representative within one year of an election or the expiration of a valid collective-bargaining agreement.
  • To have a procedure for resolving impasses in collective bargaining culminating in binding arbitration.
  • To authorize employers to deduct fees to the union from their payroll when employees consent to the extent permitted by law.

Under this bill, states would have broad flexibility to write and administer their own labor laws tailored to their workforces’ unique needs, as long as they met this bill’s minimum standards. This bill wouldn’t apply to states that provide public employees with collective bargaining rights that meet or exceed the minimum federal standard. It also wouldn’t override state laws prohibiting strikes by police and emergency personnel.

Impact

Public sector employees; public sector employee unionization; public sector employee collective bargaining; public sector employers; states; states as employers; territorial governments; territorial governments as employers; Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA); Federal Service Labor-Management Statute; and Janus v. AFSCME decision.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 3463

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to protect public sector employees’ rights and ensure their fair treatment in the workplace by establishing public sector employees’ rights to join a union and bargain collectively

“This legislation will help teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other public employees who are vital to our American way of life. As many of them struggle just to put food on the table, we must protect their ability to bargain collectively for fair pay and workplace protections. I’m proud to stand with unions and their members, who have historically ensured basic rights such as a minimum wage standard, eight-hour workdays, and employer-sponsored health insurance.”

In the Weekly Democratic Address in late June 2018, Rep. Cartwright criticized the Janus decision: 

“The first responders, corrections officers, police officers, snow plow drivers and firefighters, teachers, sanitation workers — all public service workers, public servants — who go out there every single day for you, for me, for our kids. This 5–4 vote [in Janus], this decision, undermines their very freedom to negotiate for decent pay and fair workplaces… Forty years of the fabric of American law, torn up. This decision enables free-riding by those who benefit from union agreements but don’t want to pay their fair share… Let me be clear: Labor unions give workers a collective voice to regular people to gain better wages, better health care, and a better future with a secure retirement. Strong public unions built the middle class in our country and shaped the life of every American by negotiating worker rights.”

Opponents of this bill argue that the Court’s decision in Janus was correctly decided on First Amendment grounds. They contend that workers who politically disagree with the union that represents them shouldn’t be required to pay dues to subsidize the union’s speech (of the nearly $1.7 million AFSCME spent on 2016 congressional races, 99.7% went to Democratic candidates). In his majority opinion in Janus, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito took this view of the matter: 

“Compelling individuals to mouth support for views they find objectionable violates [the First Amendment], and in most contexts, any such effort would be universally condemned. Suppose, for example, that the State of Illinois required all residents to sign a document expressing support for a particular set of positions on controversial public issues — say, the platform of one of the major political parties. No one, we trust, would seriously argue that the First Amendment permits this. Perhaps because such compulsion so plainly violates the Constitution, most of our free speech cases have involved restrictions on what can be said, rather than laws compelling speech. But measures compelling speech are at least as threatening.”

A historically notable opponent of granting public sector unions the power to collectively bargain was Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who wrote in 1937:

“All government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with government organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.”

This bill has 29 Democratic House cosponsors in the 116th Congress. Its Senate companion bill, sponsored by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), has 35 Senate cosponsors, including 34 Democrats and one Independent. It also has the support of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Education Association (NEA), and the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers.

Last Congress, Rep. Cartwright introduced this bill with 47 bipartisan cosponsors (46 Democrats and one Republican) and it didn’t receive a committee vote. The Senate companion bill, sponsored by Sen. Hirono with 34 Senate cosponsors (33 Democrats and one Independent), also didn’t receive a committee vote.


Of NoteCurrently, three-fourths of U.S. states allow collective bargaining by public sector employees. However, Southern states have been resistant to granting public sector employees bargaining rights. Three states —  North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia — specifically ban all government employees from unionizing and two (Texas and Georgia) only allow police and firefighters to negotiate contracts together. In a handful of other states, public sector collective bargaining is neither explicitly banned nor explicitly allowed.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / martin-dm)

AKA

Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act of 2019

Official Title

To secure the rights of public employees to organize, act concertedly, and bargain collectively, which safeguard the public interest and promote the free and unobstructed flow of commerce, and for other purposes.

    Just about every right and perk you have at work is because of the work that unions have done; 40 hour work week ,overtime , etc. nothing wrong with workers having protection and rights, if you disagree with that you no doubt are not part of the workforce. 30 year teamster here.
    Like (150)
    Follow
    Share
    Abolish public sector unions! They are a greedy farce and are completely corrupt to the core. Make every state in this great country a right to work state.
    Like (47)
    Follow
    Share
    Absolutely! And it’s not just public sector employees that need to have their right to collectively bargain protected. It’s also private sector employees! We need to get rid of right-to-work laws and strengthen workers’ rights!
    Like (70)
    Follow
    Share
    Support Matt Cartwright ‘s bill to ensure collective bargaining for public sector employees.
    Like (50)
    Follow
    Share
    Benefits and pay were better when more employees had the power of collective bargaining! The middle class was stronger.
    Like (43)
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    Share
    Yes, collective bargaining improves working conditions for everyone so everyone should contribute. Paying dues is the price for better and safer conditions.
    Like (31)
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    Public Sector Employees should never be allowed to feed at the public trough.
    Like (30)
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    If all state implementations of civil servant employment are substantially like federal civil servants employment, I have to say Nay. If different states each have different practices, I have to say Nay- Since a one-size-fits-all legislation would not be appropriate in all cases. Federal civil servants are greatly limited regarding any form of collective bargaining. This is the “price” paid for substantial civil service job protection, in place to prevent political hacks from directing civil servants to directly or indirectly support their politics. While private sector employees can be fired or disciplined at the discretion of the “boss”, federal civil servants cannot- at least not without clearcut and well documented cause. Federal civil servants can form unions, voluntarily joined, to challenge decisions made and potentially resolve conflicts (such as safety issues or unfair practices) through arbitration. They cannot advocate or bargain for changes in pay and/or benefits. If state civil servant employment entails substantially similar practices, I think that should be enough. Particular, since some states have retained indexed defined benefit retirement plans (which will ultimately pay out much more than paid in - at taxpayers expense). Most private sector employees cannot get this kind of retirement package anymore. (all federal civil servants hired after Reagan are on a 401-K type plan and funds already collected by payroll deductions are projected to be substantially in excess of any potential payout to those federal civil servants, hired before Reagan, who chose to stay with the prior plan).
    Like (27)
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    Having lived and worked Union and non union jobs in both strong union and “right to work” states, life is better all around with strong unions. “Right to work” really just means “right to exploit”. It doesn’t protect anyone but the corporations. I support labor unions and the right to collective bargaining. They are not perfect, but life is better off with them than without them.
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    Unions made this country better There are excesses on both sides, so we need to be vigilant.
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    This should be a given, regardless of where you work.
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    Absolutely! How else will they have decent wages, sick and vacation time, as well as, possibly, some form of healthcare? You idiots that see Unions as bad have NO IDEA HOW BAD IT WAS BEFORE UNIONS. I admit that Unions have some problems that need to be addressed, but without them ALL workers are screwed! Wake up, you fools!
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    We need to get rid of unions completely! I don’t need someone speaking for me, I’ll do it myself. The safer work place aspect has gotten way out of hand, almost every place I go I have to put on a clown suit to walk in the door, ridiculous. Take some damn responsibility for yourself. All unions do is feed democrats money and push socialism!
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    Both proponents and opponents of labor unions have relevant points when it comes to labor unions. These organizations have a number of benefits to offer members but there are also economists who don’t completely agree that it is what the economy needs and in the U.S., unions have become unpopular with the private sector. These types of organizations have advantages and disadvantages that should be taken in consideration by the government and voters alike. The important thing is for any employee to know and understand the policies of a certain labor union before he or she joins one. The Janus decision was properly decided as a First Amendment issue: public sector employees shouldn’t be compelled to pay dues to a union which in turn uses those funds to advocate for political positions (both related and unrelated to their members’ day-to-day jobs) that they vehemently disagree with. Even labor-friendly FDR opposed collective bargaining by public sector unions. SneakyPete..... 👎🏻👎🏻👎🏻👎🏻. 7.7.19.....
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    Unions are necessary for employees to have any say in how they are treated. Collective power and majority rule is the only way to be heard in America, except for the few in positions of power. It is not in employees' best interest to throw that away simply because not every person agrees with every action taken.
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    Unions fought and died to give us freedom from child labor, sweatshops, and extremely dangerous workplaces that maimed and killed thousands. Thanks to unions, we have a minimum wage, retirement plans, a 40 hour work week, sick leave, and paid holidays. The Republican war on unions is a war against working families and the common good.
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    Unions are what gave us a strong middle class. They brought us 40 hour work weeks, weekends, safe working conditions, paid sick and vacation time to name a few. Without collective bargaining & unions we would go back to the dark ages!!!
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    Yes. Although the GOP hates collective bargaining, unions and any other attempt to strengthen protections for American workers and limit the greed at the top. This is particularly true of my pathetic senators-tillis and burr (GOP NC). They are disgusting, greedy individuals that do not now nor have ever represented the great state of NC with any grace, humility or accuracy. They are appalling senators and people.
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    NO. Public sector/government employees already get better benefits than private industry and nearly-guaranteed job security even if displaying incompetence. That’s good enough. I’ve worked in both government and private industry - public sector/government employees have a sweet deal.
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    Too many unions. This is why budgets and costs are so high. Have council to negotiate salaries and benefits
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