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Rep. Cartwright, Rep. Bass, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Legislation To Strengthen Public Workers’ Organizing Rights

October 26, 2021
Press Release
Today, U.S. Representatives Matt Cartwright (PA-08), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Frederica Wilson (FL-24) and Karen Bass (CA-37) introduced the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act, bipartisan legislation to establish in law the right of public sector employees to join a union and bargain collectively.

In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME to overturn more than 40 years of legal precedent and strip public employee unions of their ability to collect fees for representation they are legally required to provide workers. The Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act would help to level the playing field for those essential workers by establishing a minimum standard of collective bargaining rights that states and localities must provide. Roughly half of all states deny public sector workers – the same everyday heroes who kept our communities safe and running through the pandemic – the freedom to collectively bargain for better wages, safe working conditions and more.

The Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act was introduced with more than 150 co-sponsors, both Democratic and Republican.

Key Measures of the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act

Where states fail to provide basic collective bargaining rights for public sector employees, this bill empowers 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;
  • To have their union recognized by their public employer through democratic procedures;
  • To have a procedure for resolving impasses in collective bargaining; and
  • To authorize the deduction of fees to support the union to the extent permitted by law.

A section-by-section summary is HERE. Bill text is HERE.

This legislation is endorsed by AFL-CIO, AFSCME, AFT, NEA, SEIU, Communications Workers of America (CWA), International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) and Transport Workers Union (TWU).