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Post-Janus Legislation Succumbs to Partisan Animus in the Senate

The Worker Bee, June 7, 2019

HB 6935, legislation giving public sector unions and public sector workers new protections in the wake of last summer's U.S. Supreme Court's Janus v. AFSCME decision, died Wednesday night in the Senate.

The measure passed the House last week after just 20 minutes of floor debate. It was the product of bipartisan discussions largely between Representatives Michael D'Agostino (D) and Craig Fishbein (R).

Unfortunately Senate Republican leadership balked at passing a bill that would have benefited public sector workers and their unions. They filed 19 anti-worker, anti-union and anti-state employee amendments on the bill, impeding its chances for passage and declaring their intent to filibuster the bill until it was withdrawn. Power traditionally shifts to the minority party in the last days of any legislative session as members can delay passage or stop any bill by occupying precious remaining hours of the session.

Despite sincere overtures from the House chamber by Representative Fishbein, Senate Republican leadership was resolute in their determination to kill the bill. Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, apparently still grappling with the outcome of the 2018 legislative elections that yielded a net loss of four seats for his caucus and ended the power-sharing arrangement that existed with a tied Senate in the previous biennium, reportedly shared his discontent that unions were able to pass too many pieces of legislation this session. He objected to a number of Labor accomplishments, including raising the minimum wage, establishing paid family and medical leave and securing legislative approval for numerous state employee collective bargaining agreements and arbitration awards.

HB 6935 would have established requirements for public employers to provide public employee unions with lists of newly hired and current employees, access to employee orientations and access to public buildings to conduct union business. It also would have required public employers to take direction from the union about dues deduction authorizations and prohibited public employers from deterring or discouraging employees or job applicants from becoming or remaining members of a union.

Proponents of the bill vowed to reintroduce it during the next legislative session, beginning in February 2020.

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