|In the near future I plan to introduce legislation that would create a freestanding act known as the “Public Sector Transparency and Union Member Rights Act.”
The intent of this legislation is to formally establish basic rights for members of public sector unions, and to establish basic transparency requirements for use of union dues monies. It is important to note that the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act (Act 195 of 1970) regulates labor relations between public employers and unions; however, the act provides very little guidance for how public sector unions are to administer themselves. Congress took action in 1959 to regulate the internal operations of private sector unions with the passage of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA). I believe that the Commonwealth needs to establish its own basic standards for how our public sector unions operate.
This legislation would establish protection for the following basic rights for members of public sector unions:
- The fundamental right to free speech and assembly in union meetings. Modeled on language from LMRDA.
- The right for the conduct of fair elections of union officers. Modeled on language from LMRDA.
- The right for full accountability for the use of union dues. The legislation would require annual reports to PA Labor Relations Board from public sector unions modeled on annual reports that LMRDA requires. This legislation would also require quarterly reports from a union to its members concerning salaries of union officers and union officer travel expenses.
- The right to periodic elections to opt for different representation. The legislation would require that every six years a recertification election must be held under which collective bargaining members can opt to continue union representation, or opt to no longer be represented by a union.
- The right to be notified in timely manner of the right to resign from the union under the timeframe required under the Public Employee Relations Act. Current law only allows a union member the ability to resign from a union in the fifteen day period before a collective bargaining agreement ends. This legislation would require that all members be notified of this right at least thirty days prior to expiration of contract.
- The right to a secret ballot vote on proposals to increase union dues. The legislation would ensure that members have direct control over the amount of their dues.
- The right to a secret ballot vote to authorize a strike. The legislation would ensure that votes to authorize strikes be done via a secret ballot vote so as to eliminate any intimidation by leadership or coworkers. The legislation specifically requires that non-members of union (fair share members) be allowed to vote in a strike authorization vote.
- The right to directly vote (via secret ballot) on an employer’s last contract offer before any strike vote is taken. The legislation would ensure that a direct vote by all members is taken on a contract offer, instead of possible rejection by leadership only.
- The right to direct control over political donations made by a union member. The legislation prohibits public employers from deducting any political contributions from a member’s paycheck.
This legislation is unique in that I am not aware of any other state that has undertaken this type of legislation for its public sector unions. It is my view that the average “rank and file” public sector union member will be supportive of this legislation. Please consider sponsoring this rights-affirming legislation.
- The right to a super-majority (2/3 of those voting) among collective bargaining unit members before a strike can be authorized by collective bargaining unit members. Before public services can be disrupted, and many members go without a paycheck, there should be broad agreement among the membership of a collective bargaining unit that a strike must be conducted.