Public employees in the Ocean State enjoy fewer freedoms than their counterparts in most other states
The state of Rhode Island scored a disappointing “D” on the annual 50 State Labor Report produced by the Commonwealth Foundation, entitled “The Battle for Worker Freedom in the States: Grading State Labor Laws.”
States that suffer from this D grade have collective bargaining that is either legal or required, and
often have some form of binding arbitration during contract negotiation impasses. Though
Janus greatly improved individual worker rights, other labor policies still undermine worker
and taxpayer rights and continue to merit a “D” grade. 14 other states joined Rhode Island at this grade level, including all other New England states.
Ocean State public employees can learn more about their rights at MyPayMySayRI.com .
In the four years following the Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the nation’s four largest government unions—AFSCME, SEIU, NEA, and AFT—have lost almost 219,000 union members, including an estimated 7000 members in Rhode Island. The Janus decision to end forced unionism for government workers accelerated an already existing long-term decline in government union membership.
The report grades each state on 11 labor policies. The grading system considers state laws, administrative codes, and regulations related to public sector collective bargaining. This approach goes beyond right-to-work status to reveal how each state protects the rights of individual workers, and shields taxpayers from overspending. For a full explanation of the grading rubric see the 3rd edition of our Grading State Public Sector Labor Laws report.
The Commonwealth Foundation report grades states on the legality of public sector bargaining and it scope. It also gives weight to issues like release time (union officials paid with taxpayer funds to do union work), strikes, transparency, the ease with which an employee may leave or opt-out of a union, and right-to-work.
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