Worker Freedom in the States

Download PDF

Unprecedented labor issue activity has followed the 2018 Janus v. AFSCME ruling. In 2019, over 100 Janus-related state bills have been introduced and seven enacted, and public employees have filed dozens of lawsuits across the county. While pro-union forces have found more legislative success, Janus supporters have been more active in the courts.

Read a comprehensive report of these findings here, or download a PDF version of the following summary here

Union-strong states such as Washington, Oregon, and California have successfully implemented legislation to counteract Janus. This includes:

  • Protecting unions from refunding fair share fees (Washington and California) and instituting a form of fair share fee alternatives (Oregon and Rhode Island).
  • Codifying and expanding union privileges like paid “release time” for union officials to conduct union business during the work day (Oregon and California).
  • Requiring government to disclose to unions employees’ private information, such as cell phone numbers and personal e-mail addresses (Oregon and Massachusetts), and even prohibiting local private sector right-to-work (Illinois and New Mexico).
  • Similar legislation has been introduced, even in right-to-work states. This includes:
    • Attempting to roll back right-to-work laws (Arizona, Indiana, and Virginia) and replace secret ballot unionization votes with card check (Pennsylvania).
    • Expanding collective bargaining to new employees (successful in Nevada) or attempting to expand the scope of what can be bargained (Delaware, Maryland, Arizona, California, Michigan, Minnesota, and Washington). 

Janus supporters, those less legislatively active, have pushed reforms. This includes:

  • Attempting to require Janus rights notification to public employees in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Connecticut.
  • Allowing workers to resign outside previous union “opt-out” windows (Oklahoma), requiring union recertification (Florida), and enhancing contract negotiation transparency (Indiana). Missouri was notably successful in instituting comprehensive reforms, including union financial reporting requirements, release time prohibition, recertification requirements, and annual dues authorization.

Graphic: Janus-Related Legislation

Federal changes favor Janus advocates. In May 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services prohibited the “skimming” of union dues from the Medicaid-funded paychecks of some 3 million home care workers. Similarly, the National Labor Relations Board appears to be changing its operations. For instance, an April 2019 memo places the onus on unions to prove they are charging non-union member private sector workers a defensible amount in agency fees.

Workers and their allies filed dozens of lawsuits across the country. While the 23 non-right-to-work states are following the Janus ruling, fair share fee provisions remain largely untouched in state statute. Public employee lawsuits tend to either seek a refund of fees paid pre-Janus, overturn opt-out windows, or challenge exclusive representation. 


Graphic: Janus-Related Lawsuits