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Post-Janus Legislation Weakens Impact of Supreme Court’s Decision and Imposes Heightened Requirements on Public and Educational Employers

Labor & Employment Publications

Senate Bill 1784, which passed both houses of the General Assembly and was signed into law by Governor Pritzker on December 20, contains several provisions that weaken the impact of the United States Supreme Court’s Janus decision and are likely to increase a union’s ability to maintain or increase membership and limit an employee’s ability to opt-out of paying union dues. In Janus, the Court declared that fair share fees were unconstitutional, and an in-depth analysis of that decision can be found here. In the wake of that decision, several states, including California, Massachusetts, Washington State, Maryland, and Oregon, have enacted laws seeking to lessen the impact of Janus. Illinois is the latest to follow suit. 

Senate Bill 1784 requires public employers to provide specific employee information to labor organizations, provides for greater access rights for labor organizations, imposes limitations on information that can be shared with third parties, and requires employers to rely on information provided by labor organizations regarding payroll deductions related to union dues.  Senate Bill 1784 amends both the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act  (IPLRA) and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (IELRA). The key changes to these statutes that employers should be aware of in the event Senate Bill 1784 is signed into law are described in detail below.

Union Information Rights:

On a monthly basis, and within five days of a specific request, public employers are required to provide digital copies of the following information to the union that is the exclusive representative of the public employer’s employees:

  • Complete list of names and addresses of all employees in the bargaining unit;
  • Employee job titles;
  • Worksite locations;
  • Work telephone numbers;
  • Employee identification numbers;
  • Date of hire;
  • Work email address; and
  • Home and personal cellular phone numbers that the employer has on file.

Union Access Rights

 Additionally, Senate Bill 1784 requires public employers to allow exclusive representatives, as well as their agents and employees, access to their premises to meet with employees during work and non-work time in a manner that does not impede the employer’s normal operations. Specifically, the legislation defines these access rights to include the following:

  • Time to meet with newly hired employees on the employer’s premises for up to one hour during working time within the first two weeks of employment or at a later date if mutually agreed upon between the employer and union;
  • Access to the worksite during lunch and other non-working breaks or before or after the workday to conduct meetings with employees regarding collective bargaining negotiations, collective bargaining agreements, matters related to the duties of the exclusive representative, and internal union matters;
  • Access to the worksite during work hours to investigate and discuss grievances and workplace-related complaints without loss of pay or use of leave time of the employees;
  • Use of mailboxes and bulletin boards on the employer’s premises to communicate with bargaining unit employees about negotiations, the investigation of grievances, and workplace-related complaints and issues.

Limitations on Release of Information

Senate Bill 1784 amends the Freedom of Information Act to prohibit public employers from disclosing employee home addresses, dates of birth, home and personal cell phone numbers, personal email addresses, and any information that personally identifies employee membership in a labor organization or other voluntary association with a labor organization. Public employers would also be prohibited from disclosing email or other communications between a labor organization and its members. Senate Bill 1784 allows a public employee or exclusive bargaining representative to file an unfair labor practice charge or commence an action in circuit court against a public employer in the event of disclosure of any of the prohibited information.

Employer Neutrality Requirements and Limitations on Employees’ Revocation Rights

Senate Bill 1784 prohibits public employers from discouraging employees or applicants from becoming or remaining union members or authorizing dues deductions and prohibits employers from interfering with the relationship between employees and their exclusive representative. In addition, the legislation gives unions greater control over employee membership and dues deduction authorizations. It requires public employers to direct employee requests to authorize, revoke, change, or cancel dues authorization to the union unless otherwise mutually agreed upon by the public employer and union; the union also is responsible for processing and notifying the public employer of any employee requests to change the status of their membership. The legislation also requires unions to indemnify public employers for any damages or reasonable costs incurred as a result of any claims made by employees in connection with deductions that were made in good faith reliance on the information provided by the union. Specifically, it allows employees and the union to limit the employee’s right to revoke authorization of membership payments, including for a one-year period. Finally, the legislation allows for automatic renewal of membership payments, provided there is a minimum of a ten-day period during which employees can revoke their authorization.

If Senate Bill 1784 is signed into law, labor organizations that represent public employees under both the IPLRA and the IELRA will exert greater influence and control over internal union matters and dues deduction authorizations. There are several provisions of the legislation that will have immediate impact on public employers and their relationships with the labor organizations that represent their employees. We will continue to monitor the legislation and provide a detailed assessment of its implications if it is signed into law.