Legislation Moves to Enforce Workers’ Rights

In the first full session day after the landmark Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court decision, the state House Labor Committee passed legislation to protect the rights of public sector employees.

HB 2571

Sponsored by Rep. Kate Klunk, this bill simply aligns Pennsylvania state law with the Janus decision, which found fair share fees forced on non-members violates their free speech rights.

Pennsylvania laws still authorize fair share fees—HB 2571 removes these laws.

Further, the bill instructs public employers to notify nonunion workers that union payments are voluntary and require their consent. The bill also informs new employees they don’t have to join a union or pay union fees to keep their jobs.

This bill is hardly controversial—many public employers have already stopped deducting fair share fees from workers’ paycheck and a majority of voters and union members agree with the Janus ruling. Yet it is critical for informing the nearly one-third of public employees unaware of the Janus ruling.

The bill passed on a partisan vote of 16 to 11, with all members of the Democrat caucus walking out in the middle of the committee meeting.  

HB 2593

By invalidating fair share fees, Janus altered union membership conditions. Yet, workers still face unnecessary hurdles if they want to resign their membership. Many public sector workers cannot resign union membership until the 15-day window at the end of a union contract—typically once every four years—and only if they file the right paperwork via specific procedures.

Public employers and unions have no responsibility to alert workers of this window.

Rep. Fred Keller’s HB 2593 notifies workers of when they can resign, while also expanding the window from 15 to 45 days. Workers deserve a realistic opportunity to exercise their right to resign. 

The bill passed with 16 Republicans voting for the bill, and 11 Democrats not voting.

It’s crucial for the entire legislature to pass these reasonable reforms to ensure Pennsylvania laws are  constitutional, and public workers have the opportunity to exercise all of their workplace rights.

Public sector employees have waited long enough.