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For years, the workplace rights of nurses, teachers, firefighters, public safety officers, and other workers performing vital services to benefit the public have been under attack. Anti-worker politicians and their corporate donors have rigged the system to gut collective bargaining rights and go after health and safety requirements, staffing levels and more. These attacks on public employees cause harm to the quality of public services that state and local governments provide. In denying workers the freedom to organize, it makes it more likely that low-quality services will continue. 

Currently, there is no federal law that protects the freedom of state and local public service workers to join a union and collectively bargain. Numerous states have passed free rider so-called “right-to-work” laws that force unions to advocate on behalf of public service workers who haven’t paid their fair share for those services. Since the outrageous, anti-worker Supreme Court decision in Janus vs. AFSCME, public service workers across the country work under this unfair free rider law. It’s time to level the playing field by establishing federal protections to guarantee public service workers the right to join together and collectively bargain.

Members of Congress can help push back against these corporate efforts to destroy public sector workers’ rights by advancing H.R. 3463/S. 1970, the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act. When public service workers have the freedom to join a union and negotiate, they make improvements on the job and in their communities which benefit everyone.

The Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act gives dedicated public employees in every state the freedom to: 

  • Join together in a union selected by a majority of employees;
  • Collectively bargain over wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment;
  • Access dispute resolution mechanisms (such as mediation or arbitration);
  • Use voluntary payroll deduction for union dues;
  • Engage in other concerted activities related to collective bargaining and mutual aid;
  • Not have their union be subject to rigged recertification elections; and
  • Sue in court to enforce their labor rights. 

By standing together, union members earn higher wages and are more likely to have pensions, employer-provided health care, and benefits such as paid sick and family leave. Unions improve wages and benefits for all workers, not just union members. In order to create an economy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy few, it is important that workers have the freedom to join a union. The Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act would provide that right to public-sector employees nationally.