As reported by whyy.org, a bill advancing in the New Jersey Legislature would ensure that union representatives have greater access to the public employees they represent. Dubbed the Workplace Democracy Enhancement Act, the measure would allow unions to meet with employees during lunch and other breaks to talk about their issues and grievances. It would also mean that union representatives could meet with newly hired employees while they’re on the clock, said Eric Richard a representative of the state AFL-CIO.
Michael Vrancik, representing the New Jersey School Boards Association, sounded a note of caution. Public employers are already barred from interfering with union efforts to recruit members, he said. “This idea of expanding the access and creating almost unfettered access to school facilities — in particular at this time, when everybody has all kinds of security concerns — this creates a potentially disruptive process,” Vrancik said.
This bill comes at a time when public sector unions across New Jersey and the rest of the Country await the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, which involves a challenge to a 40-year-old precedent that permits public sector unions to charge non-members who benefit from collective bargaining. With this new measure, New Jersey State lawmakers appear to be preparing for an adverse decision in the Janus case, given that such a decision will inevitably create new challenges for public sector unions in terms of organizing strategy, political activity, and bargaining for workers.