Tag Archives: Right-to-work law

The Status of Right-to-Work Laws in Select States

Contributed by Suzannah Overholt, June 25, 2019

Illinois recently enacted a Collective Bargaining Freedom Act which bars local governments from establishing “right-to-work” (“RTW”) laws or zones. This most recent piece of legislation serves as a timely reminder of the differing responses by states to the right-to-work movement. 

Section 14(b) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) gives states the discretion to pass laws limiting the ability of unions to collect dues from non-members, commonly referred to as RTW laws. Critics claim that such laws lower wages and benefits. Supporters argue that RTW laws and zones promote free choice by allowing workers to choose whether to financially support unions or not. 

Gavel on white background

Over the past several years states have passed more regulations addressing this issue, resulting in varying regulations from state to state.  In 2012, Indiana became the 23d state to enact a right-to-work law that stated a person could not require an individual to (1) become or remain a member of a union; (2) pay dues, fees or assessments or other charges to a union; or (3) pay a charity or third party an amount equal to or a pro rata amount of dues, fees, assessments or other charges for a union. Indiana Code 22-6-6-8. The law, codified at Indiana Code 22-6-6, et seq., applies to public and private sector employees and creates a mechanism for filing complaints with the Indiana attorney general, department of labor, or prosecuting attorney of the county in which the individual making the complaint is employed. A knowing violation is a Class A misdemeanor, and an individual who allegedly sustains an injury due to a violation may file a civil action. Indiana’s law has been upheld by both the Indiana Supreme Court  and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

In 2015, Wisconsin followed in Indiana’s footsteps, passing a law barring mandatory union membership and prohibiting unions or employers from requiring non-members to pay dues.  Wisconsin’s law was also challenged and upheld in both state and federal court.  (The aspect of the law changing the period in which an employee’s authorization for dues deductions is deemed irrevocable was found to be pre-empted by federal law.) The law, codified at Wisconsin Code 111.04, et seq., makes a violation an unfair labor practice.  

As we explained in our prior post, in 2018, the United States Supreme Court weighed in on the issue in Janus v. AFSCME. In that case, the Court overturned a prior Illinois law that required public sector, non-union employees to pay union dues.

llinois’ most recent law, signed in April, prohibits local right-to-work ordinances and imposes penalties for violations.  The law was passed in response to an ordinance passed by the town of Lincolnshire in 2015. Whether local governments may adopt such ordinances is not clear. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the Village of Lincolnshire’s RTW ordinance that prohibited any requirement that private sector workers join a union or compensate a union in order to keep their job in a unionized workforce or that employees be recommended, approved, referred or cleared for employment by or through a union. The Lincolnshire ordinance was headed to the Supreme Court for review, but the Court has now declined to hear the case.  

Like Illinois, Missouri has taken action against right-to-work measures.  In 2017, Missouri’s legislature passed a bill that would have allowed private sector workers to opt out of paying union dues.  However, a coalition of labor groups petitioned to put the measure to a vote, and it was defeated in a voter referendum the next year.   We will continue to monitor this evolving area of the law and provide any necessary updates.

Complimentary Webinar: Missouri Becomes the 28th Right-to-Work State: What You Need to Know!

Join Michael MacHarg and Patrick Sanders on Wednesday, April 19 at 12:00 PM CT for an hour long webinar as they discuss the nuts and bolts of the right-to-work (RTW) law. Last month, the Missouri governor signed into law a right-to-work bill, effective August 28, 2017, making Missouri the 28th RTW state. Right-to-work laws guarantee that no person can be compelled, as a condition of employment, to join or not to join, nor to pay dues to a labor union.

What does this mean for employers? Specifically, Jeff and Patrick will cover:

  • The law’s application and timelines
  • Types of actions the law prohibits
  • Penalties for violations
  • Potential effect on current and future collective bargaining and what new labor agreements will look like

Don’t miss this timely discussion and opportunity to submit questions on how the new provisions could impact your business!

Click here to register!

Missouri Has Become the 28th Right-to-Work State

Contributed by Beverly Alfon, February 10, 2017

On February 6, 2017, the newly elected GOP Governor Eric Greitens, signed into law a right-to-work (RTW) bill that passed the state’s Republican-controlled state legislature.

Nuts and Bolts of the Missouri RTW law

  • Effective date:  August 28, 2017
  • Who it applies to:  Both private and public sector employers (except those in the airline and railroad industries, as well as certain federal employers).
  • What it prohibits:
    • No employee can be required to become or remain a union member as a condition of employment.
    • No employee can be required to pay dues, fees or assessments of any kind to a union (or any equivalent of a dues payment to any charitable organization).
  • Penalties for violations:  Criminal sanctions – a violation is a class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $750 and up to 15 days in jail. Civil sanctions – private parties may obtain injunctive relief, damages and an award of attorneys’ fees.
  • Effect on collective bargaining agreements:  For collective bargaining agreements (CBA’s) entered into before August 28, 2017, the law has no effect. However, the law will apply to any CBA renewal, extension, amendment or modification after August 28, 2017. This will likely jolt Missouri unions to seek contract extensions of existing CBA’s in order to delay the impact of the law.

Unions Continue to Battle

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Flag of Missouri

The Missouri AFL-CIO has submitted different versions of a proposed initiative petition to the secretary of state’s office that is aimed at reversing the RTW law. Basically, with enough signatures, it would present the opportunity for Missouri voters to decide in 2018 whether to adopt a constitutional amendment that would protect contracts that require employees to pay union representation fees.

Perspective

Seven of eight states that surround Missouri have existing right-to-work laws, including Kentucky, which passed a right-to-work law last month. The current tally of RTW states includes: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina,  North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming. Just last week, the New Hampshire senate passed a RTW bill, which is awaiting passage by the state House.

On a federal level, two Republican Congressmen re-introduced the National Right to Work Act last week. The bill would amend the National Labor Relations Act and the Railway Labor Act to prohibit the use of union security clauses which require union membership and payment of dues and fees.

If there was any doubt, this flurry of activity confirms that the right-to-work movement is recharged.

“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.

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.