June 26, 2019

Cortez Masto Cosponsors Legislation to Strengthen Rights of Public Sector Workers to Join Unions, Bargain Collectively

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Democratic colleagues in introducing bicameral legislation that will guarantee the right of public employees to organize, act concertedly and bargain collectively in states that currently do not afford these basic protections. The Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act is a response to the absence of a federal law protecting the freedom of public sector workers to join a union and collectively bargain for fair wages, benefits and improved working conditions.

“Hardworking teachers, firefighters, nurses, police officers and public servants are the backbone of Nevada’s workforce. Public workers deserve the right to negotiate for better wages, benefits and health care, and unions are a critical avenue for them to advocate for safe working conditions and fair benefits. Since no federal law exists to protect basic labor rights for public employees, I’m proud to support this bill that is so crucial to securing public workers’ ability to organize and bargain effectively.”

In addition to Senators Cortez Masto and Hirono, Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.),  Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) also cosponsored this bill.

Representatives Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Full text of the bill is available here.


The Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act of 2019 provides the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) with the authority to determine whether a state, territory or locality provides public employees and supervisors the right:

  • To form, join, or assist a union, to bargain collectively, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid (including the filing of joint, class or collective legal claims) or protection;
  • To have their union recognized by their public employer if the union is freely chosen by a majority of employees, to bargain with the employer through the union, and to commit their collective-bargaining agreement to writing;
  • To be free from forced recertification elections of their already-recognized representative and decertification of their chosen representative within one year of an election or the expiration of a valid collective bargaining agreement;
  • To have a procedure for resolving impasses in collective bargaining culminating in binding arbitration; and
  • To authorize employers to deduct fees to the union from their payroll when employees consent.