Issue to Watch: Collective Bargaining

By Melissa Maynard,

The past few years have been filled with high-profile labor battles that drew protestors by the thousands to statehouses around the country. Michigan and Indiana passed right-to-work legislation in 2012, which makes it illegal to require workers to pay union fees as a condition of employment, a year after Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker pushed through a law eliminating collective bargaining rights for most public employees.

This year’s legislative battles over collective bargaining rights are likely to be more subtle, but the legislation put forward would still have a significant impact on employer-labor relationships, if passed. The AFL-CIO, a federation of labor unions, expects 20 states to consider some type of restriction on payroll deductions of union dues by public employers.

Some of the measures in question would restrict the ways that payroll deductions could be used by unions — barring political activities — while others would prohibit public employers from participating in the process of dues-collection at all.  The AFL-CIO also expects 22 states to consider restrictions to the bargaining process, such as preventing particular types of government employees from joining bargaining units.

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