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New report analyzes public sector labor laws by state

The Commonwealth Foundation’s newest report, The Battle for Worker Freedom in the States: Grading State Public Sector Labor Laws, analyzes state changes to public sector labor laws since the 2018 Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court decision. The report grades each state from “A” to “F” based on how much freedom their labor laws provide workers.

The report explains that over the past four years and accelerated by Janus, the nation’s four largest government unions have lost almost 220,000 members. Government unions have responded with aggressive unionization campaigns. Those campaigns have been recently successful in Virginia and Colorado: Virginia’s score dropped from “A+” to “C” since Commonwealth Foundation’s last report.

On the other hand, West Virginia and Arkansas saw improvements to worker freedoms over the past few years with Arkansas banning collective bargaining and West Virginia passing a paycheck protection law. Arkansas’ score jumped from “C” to “A+”.

While legislative progress is mixed, litigation has been overall successful. In Pennsylvania and New York, lawsuits from public employees forced several major unions to remove problem language from contracts. The change protects over 550,000 employees from being trapped into union contracts.

More information and a state-by-state breakdown is available in the full report.

Isabel Blank

Isabel Blank is Communications Director at Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector employees offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Prior to joining Americans for Fair Treatment in 2021, Isabel worked in media relations at Travelers Insurance and held government affairs and communications roles with Yankee Institute. She has a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish, both from the University of Connecticut (Go Huskies!). Isabel loves Crossfit and supporting her local Connecticut breweries.