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Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act Reintroduced in Congress

While the right to organize a union is protected under federal law for private sector workers, state and local public sector workers have no such protections at the federal level. Last week, Democratic lawmakers proposed legislation to remedy this problem. U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) introduced the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act (PSFNA), intended to protect workers looking to create or join a union.

The PSFNA would guarantee workers the right to join a union, engage in collective bargaining, and sue in court to enforce their labor rights. This legislation, if passed, would also allow workers to access dispute resolution mechanisms such as mediation or arbitration.

As of 2022, according to a press release from Senator Hirono, there were over 19 million public workers across the U.S.

Without union representation, public sector workers have less power to fight corporations and the politicians who do their bidding when they push to privatize and eliminate public services. This bill will improve public services by enforcing standards for worker safety, pay, and benefits, resulting in improved worker retention, lower training costs, and better communication between workers and their employers.

“The Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act will help ensure every public employee has their voice heard in the workplace, protecting their rights to organize for fair wages, benefits, and working conditions,” said Senator Hirono in a press release. “I’m proud to lead this legislation to preserve and strengthen the right to unionize for public sector workers who teach our children, protect our safety, and keep our communities moving forward.”


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