Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Illinois Revamps Public Labor Laws

On December 20, 2019, the Illinois Governor signed into law PA 101-0620, thereby enacting a series of changes to Illinois’ labor laws, the Illinois Labor Relations Act (ILRA), and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (IELRA). P.A. 101-0620 grants public sector labor unions in Illinois greater access to employee information in their bargaining units. It also addresses a point of contention between non-union members, unions, and employers after the landmark 2018 Supreme Court decision Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31. The amendments became effective immediately.

P.A. 101-0620 broadens the reporting requirements of employee information by a public employer to bargaining unit representatives. Employers are obligated to provide union representatives with an employee’s job title, worksite location, work telephone numbers, work I.D. number (if available), any personal telephone numbers, date of hire, email address (if available), and work email address. The information listed above must also be disclosed for newly hired employees. Additionally, employers must not disclose to the public an employee’s personal information (date of birth and personal contact information) or information regarding any affiliation with a labor organization (membership status, voluntary association, and payment of dues). Violations of the new obligations are enforceable through filing an unfair labor practice complaint with the Labor Board.

P.A. 101-0620 also grants broader authority to public sector labor unions to represent employees in the workplace. Bargaining representatives may now meet with employees on the employer’s premises; conduct worksite meetings regarding representation or collective bargaining during breaks as well as before and after a shift on the employer’s premises; meet newly hired employees for up to one hour within the first two weeks of employment; and use employer mailboxes and bulletin boards to inform employees of rights under and administration of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), investigate grievances and work-related complaints, and governance of representation.

A key component to the new law is the codification of the practice that labor unions have established post-Janus for revocation or withdrawal of union membership. The bill specifically sanctions a minimum of 10 calendar days per year that an employee is allowed to revoke membership. The new law also provides a statutory framework for the collection of membership dues and a potential cause of action against the employer for not complying with the framework.

Lastly, the law addresses an often litigated issue arising from the 2018 Janus decision. Janus stated that public sector non-union employees no longer were mandated to pay “agency fees” under union security agreements (agreements between public employers and public employee bargaining representatives to have non-union employee administrative costs of representation to the union). P.A. 101-0620 shields employers and unions from claims for refunds by non-union members that paid agency fees before the decision.