grade state labor laws

The Battle for Worker Freedom in the States: Grading State Public Sector Labor Laws

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In the four years following the Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the nation’s four largest government unions—AFSCME, SEIU, NEA, and AFT—have lost almost 219,000 union members.

The Janus decision to end forced unionism for government workers accelerated a long-term decline in membership. In response, government unions are conducting aggressive campaigns to unionize new workers with recent successes in Virginia and Colorado.

On the other hand, Arkansas banned collective bargaining for most government workers, while West Virginia passed a version of paycheck protection in 2021.

While the legislative landscape is mixed, litigation efforts are making significant gains. For example, litigation brought by Pennsylvania government employees forced major unions including SEIU, PSCOA, UFCW, and AFSCME to drop resignation restrictions from state contracts. These unions represent 51,500 employees, nearly half of state employees.

Three states experienced major grade changes since our 2019 report. Virginia dropped from “A+” to “C” for instituting collective bargaining, while Arkansas jumped from “C” to “A+” for banning it. Missouri’s comprehensive labor reforms were officially struck down, moving the state back down from “B” to “C.”


Click here to see more on how your state ranks on labor freedom.