By:  Jason Silver

Seyfarth Synopsis: A mere six weeks after the Supreme Court held that fair share or agency fees for public-sector unions are unconstitutional in Janus v. AFSCME, Pennsylvania introduces a bill that would require public-sector unions to obtain a majority vote of all employees, including non-union employees, to authorize a strike.

On August 7, 2018 republican representatives in Pennsylvania introduced and referred to the committee on labor and industry House Bill No. 2586, which would require public-sector unions to conduct a vote by secret ballot and win approval from a majority of all employees, both union and non-union, to authorize a strike.

Nearly half of all government workers in Pennsylvania are dues paying union members and the state leads the nation in teacher strikes, according to the Commonwealth Foundation, a free-market think tank.

House Bill No. 2586 would amend Pennsylvania’s Public Employee Relations Act, which allows public-sector union employees to authorize a strike as an economic weapon during collective bargaining. As it currently stands, non-union members in the public-sector generally do not have the authority to participate in a strike vote conducted by union members, even if they perform the same work. The proposed bill would change that, and allow public-sector non-union employees to have a voice in the workplace if union members were to ever contemplate authorizing a strike in response to stalled collective bargaining.

With public-sectors unions across the country set to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in fair share or agency fees, without an adequate plan on how to recoup those monies, Pennsylvania presents another challenge by introducing a bill that would grant all employees the right to vote on a strike. Whether the bill makes its way through the legislature is to be determined. However, the proposed bill sends a message that Pennsylvania is following the letter and spirit of Janus in an attempt to provide all public-sector employees with unencumbered free choice.

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Howard is an associate in the Labor and Employment group in Seyfarth Shaw’s New York office. His practice includes the representation of management in employment litigation matters before state and federal courts, at trial and appellate levels, as well as federal and state agencies, including the National Labor Relations Board, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Department of Labor, New York State Division of Human Rights, New Jersey Division on Civil Rights and the New York State Public Employment Relations Board.  In this role, Mr. Wexler has extensive experience defending both single and multi-plaintiff discrimination/harassment cases, class and/or collective actions, as well as lawsuits initiated by the EEOC.  He has represented employers in class and collective actions and multi-plaintiff claims involving discrimination/harassment on the basis of age, race, gender, national origin, and other protected classifications. His wage-and-hour experience includes the defense of major class action claims involving meal breaks, rest breaks, misclassification, and work-off-the-clock allegations.