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Congressman Matt Cartwright

Representing the 8th District of Pennsylvania


Cartwright Announces Legislation to Protect Collective Bargaining Rights for Public Sector Unions

Jun 28, 2018
Press Release
After Supreme Court Deals Latest Blow to Organized Labor, Bill Aims to Strengthen Workers’ Rights

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright announced the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act, which protects the right of public employees to join unions and engage in collective bargaining on behalf of middle class workers. This is a crucial time when public sector unions are under attack; the latest being the Supreme Court’s serious setback to working people in the Janus v. AFSCME decision.

“This is not jurisprudence, this is bare-knuckle politics,” Rep. Cartwright said. “I will always fight to maintain collective bargaining rights for hard-working Americans, including my constituents in Northeastern Pennsylvania, where union rights are a time-honored tradition. Strong public and private sector unions built the middle class in our country, and we should not turn back the clock on those struggling families. I urge my Republican colleagues to join us and help pass this legislation that protects middle class American families.”

Organized labor is a main pillar of the strong America middle class. Research shows union members employed by a state government earn 17 percent more than their non-union counterparts, and union members employed by a local government earn 35 percent more than their non-union counterparts. Unfortunately, many states outright prohibit their public-sector employees from engaging in collective bargaining to improve wages or working conditions.

“The Supreme Court’s decision in Janus is just the latest blow in a decades-long attack on unions and their ability to lift American families into the middle class,” said Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), who announced a companion bill in the Senate. “Far-right groups like the Koch Brothers will continue this assault because they know that when public-sector employees are able to organize they stand as a powerful force to fight for American workers. We need to pass the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act to protect and strengthen the fundamental ability of unions to organize and collectively bargain for fair wages and working conditions that are critical to public-sector employees.”

Where states fail to provide basic collective bargaining rights for public sector employees, this bill empowers the Federal Labor Relations Authority to protect the rights of government employees.

The House bill is cosponsored by Representatives Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Jan Shakowsky (D-Ill.), Susan Bonamici (D-Ore.), Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Don Beyer (D-Va.), Stephen Cohen (D-Tenn.), Kurt Shrader  (D-Ore.), Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.).

The Senate bill is cosponsored by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).