Four Reasons to Notify Public Workers of Their Rights

Until recently, public sector employees (such as state and local government workers, teachers, and public safety officers) could be forced to pay hundreds of dollars in “fair share fees” to unions they never joined in order to keep their jobs.

A June 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Janus v. AFSCME, ruled this coercive practice was unconstitutional. However, nearly one-third of impacted workers are unaware of this decision.  

In response, HB 785 can require the government to inform workers about their rights. Here’s why this reform is crucial:

  1. Government workers deserve the facts. This simple and cost-effective reform instructs employers to tell new and non-union employees they are not required to become a union member or pay fees to keep their job. Notification requirements are just that: a notification akin to the workplace rights notices public employers already post at minimal (if any) cost to taxpayers.
  2. It’s the law. Pennsylvania still has laws authorizing these fees—in direct violation of the U.S. Supreme Court decision. This fosters confusion, particularly as unions and public employers negotiate hundreds of contracts across Pennsylvania every year. Leaving an unconstitutional provision in state laws could even expose taxpayer-funded public employers to costly lawsuits.
  3. Union members and the public support it. National polling shows an overwhelming majority of voters agree with the Supreme Court’s ruling on Janus. In fact, the majority of union members also agree, according to a nationwide study.
  4. It protects workers' First Amendment rights. In Janus, the court ruled all money collected by government unions is political because it takes tax dollars from other government functions—and can be used by union leaders to advocate for politicized stances. If workers continue to pay dues because they don't know they can resign without paying a fair share fee, they are unwillingly supporting politics with which they may disagree. That's simply unfair.

Pennsylvania workers deserve to be fully informed of their options when deciding what organizations to join and support. Let your lawmakers know you support notification here: