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Thursday, March 8th, 2018
On behalf of 137,000 Americans for Prosperity activists across the Garden State, I write to you in strong opposition of Senate Bill 2137, the so-called “Workplace Democracy Enhancement Act” sponsored by Senate President Sweeney. Rather than improve workplace democracy, this bill would deprive public employees basic individual rights on the job and in many instances would do so at taxpayers’ expense.
It is difficult to choose which provision of this legislation is most objectionable, but perhaps it is the portion that places arbitrary limitations on the time period in which public employees are permitted to exercise their First Amendment right to opt out of union dues and membership. The bill states they should only be allowed to do so during the ten (10) days following the anniversary date of their hiring.
The right to opt out of union membership and dues has been guaranteed by the United States Supreme Court – it is likely to soon include agency fees as well – and the Michigan Court of Appeals just last year unanimously struck down a similar limitation on when workers should be able to exercise it. The court affirmed a previous unanimous ruling from the Michigan Employment Relations Commission that stated a Michigan teachers’ union committed an unfair labor practice by limiting the date of opt outs, and similar legal complaints are all but guaranteed in New Jersey if S-2137 becomes law.
The bill also deprives workers of individual rights by requiring public employers to hand over to unions the name, job title, worksite location, home address, work telephone number, date of hire, work email address, personal email address, and home and personal cell phone numbers of every employee within ten days of their hiring – all without receiving permission from the employees themselves.
That is an astounding invasion into personal, private information that could be used to harm workers – without legal repercussions because of existing loopholes in labor law – and it should not be shared without either first receiving permission from workers themselves or at the very least requiring unions to pursue the same OPRA process that every other organization must endure to access a fraction of that information.
Finally, this bill allows outside labor unions to invade the workplace and use taxpayer-funded work time to advance their own ends. Unions would be allowed to meet with workers during the work day to investigate and discuss any vaguely defined workplace issue, and with new hires on the job for at least 30 minutes within 30 days of their hiring to encourage unionization.
These provisions are all while employers themselves are banned from discouraging workers from unionizing – placing unions at a competitive advantage and taxpayers at a disadvantage.
This bill is an affront to taxpayers and workers, aimed solely at protecting the rigged status quo for organized labor executives it has enriched rather than protecting individual employees. It represents the worst of what New Jersey has become, and we urge lawmakers to reject it unequivocally.
Should you wish to discuss this legislation with AFP or national labor reform experts, please feel free to reach out directly at EJedynak@afphq.org or 862-229-4953.
New Jersey State Director
Americans for Prosperity
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