Guidance Outlines Rights of Public Sector Employers and Employees Regarding Collective Bargaining and Union Membership in Wake of Supreme Court Decision
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today directed the New York State Department of Labor to issue guidance on the recent Janus decision. On June 27, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a decision in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 that overturned decades of established law related to a public sector union's right to collect agency fees from non-union members. New York employees and employers alike have had many questions about what has actually changed in the wake of this controversial decision. The guidance clarifies that the Janus decision did not change or affect many of the rights of employees and obligations of employers.
"The Supreme Court's Janus decision is a direct attack on organized labor, and as long as I am Governor of New York, we will do everything in our power to protect union members and support the labor movement," Governor Cuomo said. "This guidance will inform employers of their obligations and employees of their rights so they know they remain protected under state law."
The Department of Labor is posting the information publicly and sending to all public employers, including local governments, public hospitals, school districts and colleges.
"While I vehemently disagree with the court's decision in this case, it is important that all New York's employers and workers understand how this impacts them," said New York State Commissioner of Labor Roberta Reardon. "New York is and always has been, a union state. We have the highest rate of union membership in the country - more than double the national rate, and our strong support of the labor movement will continue despite attacks from the federal level."
"The Supreme Court's Janus decision attacks hardworking men and women across the country," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "In New York, we're standing up for unions and fighting to protect workers' rights. Guidance issued by the State Department of Labor will help public employers and workers understand what the Janus decision means and how it will impact them."
Previously, Governor Cuomo signed an Executive Order to protect union members from harassment and intimidation, which was the first state action taken in response to the Supreme Court's Janus decision. The Executive Order prohibits State entities from disclosing personal contact information for state employees amid reports of individuals and organizations harassing union members or prospective union members.
The Janus decision overturned well-established law and practice relating to the right of a union to receive the payment of fair share agency fees from public sector employees who decline union membership. As a result, there has been much confusion and this guidance is intended to provide clarity to employers and employees.
The only change under Janus is that public employers may not deduct agency fees from a nonmember's wages, nor may a union otherwise collect agency fees from a nonmember, without the nonmember employee's affirmative consent. All other rights and obligations of public sector employers and employees under state law remain unchanged. For example, unions have, in the past, presented dues deduction cards, or other similar evidence of union membership such as membership lists, to public employers and those employers previously collected union dues from its employees on that basis. The decision in Janus does not require a union to obtain new dues deduction cards or obtain other evidence of union membership or remove a public employer's obligation to collect dues from members of a union. Public employee unions are not required to produce dues authorizations cards for members from whom the employer has previously deducted dues. More information is available here.