Reps. Fitzpatrick, Cartwright introduce bill to protect public employees’ right to unionize

U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Matt Cartwright (D-PA) introduced legislation that seeks to protect the right of public employees to join unions and engage in collective bargaining on behalf of middle-class workers.

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In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) to overturn more than 40 years of legal precedent, effectively public employee unions of their ability to collect fees for representation they are legally required to provide workers. Since that Janus ruling many states have passed laws threatening workers’ rights and weakening unions.

Fitzpatrick and Cartwright’s bill, the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act, would establish a minimum standard of collective bargaining rights that states and localities must provide.

“Our public servants at every level of government are crucial to ensuring that the important functions of our nation are carried out each day,” Fitzpatrick said. “Beyond being grateful for their dedication, Congress must guarantee the rights of these employees to organize and collectively bargain. I am proud to co-lead the bipartisan Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act which will do just that, expanding protections for those who work tirelessly for the benefit of my constituents in Bucks and Montgomery Counties and for communities across the country.”

Specifically, this bill would empower the Federal Labor Relations Authority to protect the rights of state, territorial, and local government employees to:

• Form, join, or assist unions, to bargain collectively, and to join together to engage in other activities to improve their working conditions;
• Have their union recognized by their public employer through democratic procedures;
• Have a procedure for resolving impasses in collective bargaining; and
• Authorize the deduction of fees to support the union to the extent permitted by law.

“I will always fight to maintain collective bargaining rights for hard-working Americans, including my constituents in Northeastern Pennsylvania, where union rights are a time-honored tradition,” Cartwright said. “Strong public and private sector unions built the middle class in our country. With all of the progress workers of all stripes have made, now is not the time to turn back the clock on fair pay and workplace protections when struggling families need it the most.”

This legislation is endorsed by the AFL-CIO, Amalgamated Transit Union, AFSCME, American Federation of Teachers, Communications Workers of America, Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, International Union of Painters & Allied Trades, Transport Workers Union of America, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, United Steelworkers, Utility Workers Union of America, United Automobile Workers, Laborers’ International Union of North America, and the International Union of Police Associations.