Heyl Royster

New Regulations on Public Employee Unions

september 6, 2018

Missouri’s Public Sector Labor Law continues to allow public employees to bargain collectively. However, the payment of “dues, agency shop fees, or any other fees” to a union by public sector employees must be voluntary and previously authorized in writing or electronically. Furthermore, all union dues authorizations must be renewed annually.

Public-safety employees (such as police, firefighters, registered nurses and physicians) are excluded from the legislation, as are employees of the Missouri Department of Corrections. The new carve-out of public safety labor organizations and members will prevent State Board of Mediation certification elections for public sector firefighters, ambulance personnel, dispatchers, registered nurses, physicians, and police.

The new statute also includes provisions that protect public-sector employers in the event of a “budget shortfall.” Specifically, public-sector employers now have the right to unilaterally implement “necessary adjustments” to the economic terms of a collective bargaining agreement with a public sector union if (1) there is a budget shortfall, (2) the employer provides notice to the union of its intent to make the necessary adjustments and tries to bargain a voluntary resolution over the course of 30 days, and (3) the employer shows good cause for the necessary adjustment.

Since it became law on August 28th of this year, the new Public Sector Labor Law is now being challenged as unconstitutional by labor unions in a Missouri circuit court lawsuit.

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