Tag Archives: Indiana

Right-to-Work: Who’s Got Next?

Contributed by Beverly Alfon

Despite labor’s historical stronghold in the Midwest – Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Tennessee and now, Wisconsin – have become Right-to-Work (RTW) states.  Is Illinois next?  What does this mean for employers?

RTW In a Nutshell: Money and Power

In the 25 states that have not passed RTW laws, including Illinois and Missouri, a union security clause in a collective bargaining agreement requires all employees in the bargaining unit to either be a dues/fee-paying union member – or a non-member who pays “fair share” fees.  The battle is over the non-member “fair share” fees which are used to supplement dues cash flow used for, among other things, local and international officer salaries, overhead costs and political lobbying.

In the 25 states that have passed RTW laws, a non-member at a unionized workplace is no longer required to pay any fees to the union – even if s/he is benefitting from union representation.  Financially, RTW is a major blow to unions.  From an organizing standpoint, it is equally damning.  An individual is far less likely to become or remain a union member if s/he can benefit from representation without having to pay.  After all, a union owes a legal duty of fair representation to all individuals in the bargaining unit – regardless of member status.

Proponents of RTW laws argue that they attract new business and promote expansion of existing businesses because of the likely decline of union strength and numbers.  Opponents of RTW laws argue that employee wages, benefits and protections will deteriorate as a result of lower union representation.

The Pulse 

Missouri: Even if the RTW bill before the Missouri legislature fails this year, GOP representatives are celebrating.  Last month, in a 91-64 vote, the House approved a RTW bill.  Despite the possibility of defeat in the Senate and expected veto of Gov. Jay Nixon, the RTW movement has clearly gained significant ground.  It would only take 109 votes in the House to override a veto.

Illinois:  Last month, Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an executive order allowing state employees to opt out of paying union dues.  AFSCME, Illinois AFL-CIO and 25 other unions filed suit last week challenging the executive order.  Meanwhile, Rauner has filed his own lawsuit asking the courts to confirm his position that fair share fees violate workers’ First Amendment rights.

Wisconsin:  Last week, a group of unions filed suit to challenge the recently enacted RTW law.  Notably, union challenges to the constitutionality of RTW laws in Michigan and Indiana have failed.

Kentucky:  Under home rule, in December 2014, Warren County, Ky., adopted a countywide RTW ordinance after it became clear the state legislature was not going to pass a RTW bill.  Since last year, 11 counties have passed local RTW laws, including several along the Tennessee border.

What to Expect Right Now 

Expect an uptick in union activity as unions ramp up “internal organizing” to prove that membership has its benefits.  Frontline management will also likely receive increasing questions from employees about what all of this means.  Now is the time to consider re-training your supervisors and managers about what they can say and do when these discussions arise.  Finally, stay tuned as these legal and legislative battles continue to develop.

“Right-to-Work” Upheld in Indiana, Challenged in Michigan, But What Does It Really Mean?

Contributed by Suzanne Newcomb

On November 6, Indiana’s right-to-work law cleared its most recent major hurdle. The Indiana Supreme Court upheld the law overturning a Lake County decision declaring the law unconstitutional. The Seventh Circuit upheld the law in September. Meanwhile the Michigan Supreme Court announced it will hear argument in January on whether its state’s right-to-work laws properly apply to state employees.

So, Indiana and Michigan and twenty-two other states (the entire south plus several states in the west) now have right-to-work laws on the books and several others have considered similar legislation. But what does “right-to-work” really mean for employers?

Contrary to popular belief, right-to-work laws do not ban unions, displace employment-at-will or guarantee employees a “right” to continued employment. Rather, they prohibit “union security clauses” – provisions in union contracts and collective bargaining agreements that require union membership as a condition of employment. Indiana’s right-to-work law, for example, which is fairly typical, makes it unlawful to require an employee to: (1) join or remain a member of a union; (2) pay union dues, fees or assessments; or (3) make a charitable donation in lieu of paying union dues. The law also invalidates union agreements that violate the law and makes knowing violations a misdemeanor criminal offense.

The bottom line: In a right-to-work state, employees in union shops cannot be forced to join the union, but must be afforded the same wages and receive the same benefits and terms and conditions of employment as their union-member co-workers. Under federal law, once a union is recognized as a unit’s exclusive bargaining agent, the union must bargain on behalf of all employees in that unit, even those who choose not to join the union.

Paid Sick Leave? Ban The Box? Pregnancy? Equal Pay? Smoker Retaliation Poster? Here’s Your State Employment Law Update

Contributed by Heather Bailey

Reminder: EEO-1 Surveys Due To Be Filed By September 30th! 

US Map

Arizona:  In July, the Attorney General confirmed that the AZ smoking restrictions do not apply to e-cigs.

California: Employers, get ready to start having to offer paid sick leave beginning July 1, 2015 if you aren’t already!  See our September 16, 2014 post for more details.  Also, beginning January 1, 2015, unpaid interns and volunteers are getting the same nondiscrimination and harassment treatment as paid workers, including non-harassment training.

Connecticut:  Starting October 1, 2014, workers may obtain certificates of rehabilitation related to their arrests and convictions of which employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees and applicants when they present one for initial or continuing employment.

Delaware:  Your minimum wage increased to $7.75 per hour on June 1, 2014!

Illinois:  In case you missed our other blog posts, effective January 1 2015, Illinois joined the ranks of the “Ban the Box” campaign, which prohibits employers (with 15 or more employees) from asking applicants about criminal records on a job application.  You cannot do so until they have either been selected for an interview or been given a conditional offer of employment (with a few select exceptions).  Also effective January 1, the Illinois Human Rights Act related to pregnancy was expanded (more than any other state) so employers must now reasonably accommodate any condition related to pregnancy.

Indiana:  On September 2, 2014, the right to work law was upheld once again – this time by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

MassachusettsPlease note your minimum wage hikes: January 1, 2015, $9 per hour ($3 an hour for tipped employees); $10 an hour ($3.35 for tipped employees) on January 1, 2016, and to $11 ($3.75 for tipped) beginning January 1, 2017.

Michigan: Your minimum wage increased to $8.15 per hour on September 1, 2014.

Missouri: The Missouri Supreme Court recently held that the state’s statutory cap on punitive damages is unconstitutional as is applied to certain common law claims. (Lewellen v. Franklin, case SC92871). The holding is limited to common law causes of action that existed when the Missouri Constitution was adopted in 1820.  In the short-term, this decision may raise the cost of litigation as plaintiff’s attorneys will undoubtedly try to add common law claims to employment lawsuits hoping that the threat of unlimited punitive damages will result in more generous settlements.  However, given that traditional common law claims have been increasingly difficult to sustain in the employment context and have been largely supplanted by statutory and more recently-recognized common law actions, Lewellen is ultimately unlikely to raise the stakes for Missouri employers.  Read more about this here.

New Hampshire:  Beginning January 1, 2015, employers have a new mandatory poster requirement for equal pay and smoker rights non-retaliation, as well as, employers may not prohibit employees from discussing pay wages or retaliate against them for doing the same.

Oklahoma:  OK jumped on the band wagon by prohibiting employers from requiring employees to give up their personal social media log-ons and passwords, effective November 1, 2014.

Vermont: Vermont’s smoking ban includes at least 25 feet from buildings and entrances.  Your minimum wage obligations also increase: January 1, 2015 = $9.15 per hour; January 1, 2016 = $9.60; January 1, 2017 = $10 and January 1, 2018 = $10.50.  All tipped employees must be paid at least one-half of the minimum wage effective January 1, 2015.

What’s New Around The World In Your States’ Various Employment Laws

Contributed by Heather Bailey

FederalAll applicable federal contractors and subcontractors will be required to comply with new regulations for their Veterans and Disabled Affirmative Action Plans by now having to determine quantifiable hiring goals just like it has been for females and minorities.  Seek counsel assistance to make sure you’re ready and prepared for the approaching March 2014 compliance deadline.

Delaware: Effective September 6, 2013, volunteer emergency responders became a newly protected class from discrimination.

Illinois: Illinois amended its social media privacy law, and, effective January 1, 2014, employers may now request access from applicants and employees for “professional” social media accounts when the employer has a duty to screen the individual.  But be cautious, employers and their agents may now be sued for any illegal electronic communication monitoring of individuals, effective January 1 as well.

Indiana:  This state took one step forward and then one step back in September when it’s Right to Work law was found unconstitutional by a Lake County Circuit Court judge.  The judge found the law required the Union to work for free for union employees who did not pay dues, and, thus, did not pay “just compensation” for the Union’s services.  Comments have been made that the Attorney General will be appealing this decision to the Indiana Supreme Court.  Stay tuned.

New Jersey: NJ joined other states, like Illinois, by requiring unpaid leave, as of October 1, 2013, to those employees who are victims of domestic and/or sexual violence or have family members who are victims.  If you do not have such a policy in place, now is the time to draft one!  Also, effective December 1, 2013, employers will be prohibited from requiring employees to give their personal logins and passwords for their personal social media accounts. 

OregonMinimum wage increases to $9.10 per hour on January 1, 2014.