Governor Jay Nixon (D-Missouri) vetoed a right-to-work bill recently passed in the Missouri legislature. The bill would prevent workers from having to pay union dues as a requirement for employment. It also included a provision that would make any violation of it a misdemeanor, and make the violator subject to unlimited civil penalties. The legislature is not likely to have the necessary votes to override the veto.


United States Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) introduced legislation to amend the Labor-Management Relations Act (the Taft-Hartley Act). The Protecting Orderly and Responsible Transit of Shipments (PORTS) Act – SB 1519 – would give governors the same ability that the president has to intervene in port labor disputes that create a national emergency and would expand the current law to allow the president and governors to intervene in work slowdowns in addition to strikes and lockouts.


The Senate Indian Affairs Committee passed a bill (S. 248) would prevent the NLRA from applying to Indian-owned businesses on tribal lands, and would prevent the NLRB from exercising jurisdiction over employee claims. Bill sponsor, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), said that the bill is meant to resolve recent confusion over jurisdiction in labor disputes that was highlighted in Chickasaw Nation d/b/a Winstar World Casino and NLRB v. Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Tribal Government. In the oral vote, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) was the only Committee member voting to oppose.


Governor Brian Sandoval (R-Nevada) signed a law (SB 168) allowing Nevada government agencies to reopen union contracts for negotiations if it is declared a fiscal emergency. Opponents complain that collective bargaining agreements are being singled out in comparison to other types of contracts.


The National Mediation Board (NMB) is proposing changes to representation election procedures. A prominent new policy would require airlines and railroads to submit substantially accurate voter-eligibility lists of employees at the penalty of an election being set aside if such rule is not followed. This new policy is a change to the current policy that requires an official of the airline or railroad to attest that the list is accurate “to the best of his or her knowledge.” The other changes are to clarify current NMB policies.


The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved the Ports Performance Act (S. 1298), which would require the Department of Transportation to report the productivity and other information about ports during collective bargaining negotiations with unions on a monthly basis. Supporters of the bill argue that it will provide warning when different economic sectors will be interrupted by work stoppages. Some transportation unions and Democratic committee members are in opposition to the bill because they think it will cause undue federal interruption of union negotiations.


The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) lifted a freeze on contributions to political campaigns in order to prevent democrats from voting in support of free trade measures. The union agreed to lift the freeze, which it announced in March, after the Senate gave President Obama authority to finalize a Pacific Rim trade pact, which was strongly opposed by union members.