About the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act

What would the bill do?

The Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act would set a minimum nationwide standard of collective bargaining rights that states must provide, including allowing public service workers to join together and have a voice on the job to improve both working conditions and the communities in which they live and work. The bill gives public service workers the freedom to:

  • Join together in a union selected by a majority of employees
  • Collectively bargain over wages, hours and terms and conditions of employment
  • Access dispute resolution mechanisms
  • Use voluntary payroll deduction for union dues
  • Engage in concerted activities related to collective bargaining and mutual aid
  • Have their union be free from requirements to hold rigged recertification elections
  • File suit in court to enforce their labor rights

How does the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act help workers?

This legislation gives public service workers the freedom to join together in a union to win respect and fair treatment on the job. By standing together, union members earn higher wages and are more likely to have employer-provided health care, pensions and benefits such as paid sick and family leave. Unions also help to secure needed safety standards, protections and the necessary resources for members to do their jobs well and to meet the needs of the communities they care about.

Why is the bill needed?

For years, anti-worker politicians and their corporate donors have rigged the system, undermining the freedom of working people to join strong unions. That’s because they understand that unions give workers the power in numbers they need to balance the scales. It’s time to level the playing field by establishing federal protections to guarantee public service workers the right to join together and collectively bargain. When public service workers have the freedom to negotiate, they make improvements on the job and in their communities which benefit everyone.

How do unions help women and people of color?

A majority of public service workers are women; one-third of public service workers are African American, Latino or Asian American and Pacific Islanders. Their union membership provides them with higher wages and results in their being more likely to have employer-provided health care, pensions and benefits such as paid sick and family leave than their non-union counterparts. Unions, through collective bargaining agreements and representation, also provide women and people of color with vital protections and support to effectively confront and address discrimination.

  • African American union members earn 19% more – and Latino union workers 28% more – than their nonunion counterparts.
  • Women represented by public service unions are paid 13% more – $6,000 more, on average, annually – than women in the public sector who are not represented by unions.
    • African American women who are members of a union earn 18.8% more than their non-union counterparts.
    • Latinas who are members of a union earn 28.2% more than their non-union counterparts.
  • Women represented by unions are more likely to have access to job-protected paid family, medical and sick leave. Unionized workplaces are 22% more likely than non-union workplaces to provide parental leave. Union workplaces are also 16% more likely to allow workers to take medical leave for their own illness and 19% more likely to allow workers to take leave for a family member’s illness.

Resources

Learn more about the differences unions make for working people. Use our fact sheet, letters of support from labor, women’s and civil rights groups to talk to your neighbors and representatives.

Or, you can even write a letter to the editor on why Congress needs to pass the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act!