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New Jersey Proposed Law Would Benefit Public Employee Unions

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(The Center Square) – The New Jersey Senate Labor Committee has advanced legislation that proponents say will strengthen unions, but a right-to-work organization believes the measure doubles down on “coercive tactics” to force public workers to join the union.

S-3810, the “Responsible Collective Negotiations Act,” would require public employers to obtain a union’s written agreement before changing the employment terms of an expiring or expired collective negotiations agreement.

The legislation follows the United States Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME. In that case, the nation’s highest court ruled the government cannot deduct union dues or fees without a worker’s affirmative consent or force workers to pay union fees as a stipulation of public service work.

“The Janus ruling was a direct assault on unions, their members and all of the employees who benefit from union protections,” Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland, said in a news release.

“We acted preemptively in advance of the anti-union ruling to help protect the rights of unions and workers,” Sweeney added. “We have now identified additional steps that need to be taken after the ruling to safeguard the rights of unions and the work they do on behalf of working people and their families.”

New Jersey is one of 22 states with “fair share” representation fees, which allow workers to pay reduced contributions if they want to benefit from union representation but not join it.

“It’s a shame that rather than simply work to secure the voluntary support of the workers they claim to ‘represent,’ with the help of their allies in Trenton, Garden State union bosses are now doubling down on their coercive tactics wielded against public employees who are already forced under union monopoly representation against their will,” National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Patrick Semmens said in an email.

Proponents of S-3810 say it builds on the “Workplace Democracy Enhancement Act,” a measure lawmakers passed in 2018 leading up to the Janus ruling.

Under S-3810, public employee unions can decline to represent employees in arbitration if they do not pay union dues. But a union can charge employees to represent them in arbitration proceedings if they do not pay union dues.

Additionally, it would allow electronic employee signatures for authorization cards and petitions to conduct union representation elections. Also, only the parties to a collective negotiations agreement can invoke the arbitration procedures of the agreement and be parties to the arbitration.

republished here with permission of The Center Square