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New Connecticut Law Addresses Public Sector Employee Impacts of Janus v. AFSCME Council 31

By: Christopher R. Henderson, Esq.

A new Connecticut law aims to address the impacts of the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, that applies to public sector employers.

In Janus, the Court held that public sector unions cannot require employees, as a condition of an employment, to pay union dues or agency fees because doing so violates an employee’s First Amendment rights. Public sector unions have interpreted this as a major setback in efforts to organize new members and maintain dues authorizations for current employees.

For years, the Connecticut General Assembly has attempted to address the effects of the Supreme Court decision and in the recently concluded legislative session passed a comprehensive bill doing so.

The new law, Public Act 21-25, goes into effect October 1, 2021, and provides the following mandates for public sector employers:

  • Provide unions access to new employee orientations to allow the union to inform their members of their rights and benefits. If the employer and the union cannot come to terms on the time, manner, and structure of union access to employee orientations, such a dispute can be submitted to binding interest arbitration;
  • Provide unions with a list of member contact information to facilitate union-member communications;
  • Making dues authorization revocation a matter of state law whereas the terms of revocation of paying dues is determined by the language of the authorization or union card itself;
  • Allows unions to meet with their members during work hours to discuss grievances, complaints, and other union related matters;
  • Gives unions the right to use an employer’s electronic mail system to communicate with their members about union related matters; and
  • Mandates public employers refrain from deterring or otherwise discouraging employees from becoming or remaining members of the union.

While some collective bargaining agreements already contained similar provisions, all public employers will be required to comply with these requirements by October 1, 2021.

Our attorneys are ready to assist with all labor and employment matters, including compliance with with this new law.