Factbox: Several U.S. states consider union limits

CHICAGO Fri Feb 25, 2011 6:47pm EST

CHICAGO (Reuters)- Wisconsin is grabbing most of the headlines in the past two weeks for Governor Scott Walker's proposal to limit collective bargaining rights for state workers. But legislators in several other states are considering proposals to curb these rights.

Public unions have the right to collectively bargain in about 30 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

In some states in the south and west, public employees do not have the right to collectively bargain, and in Virginia and Texas, it is illegal to enter into a formal bargaining relationship with the public sector, according to Paul Secunda, Marquette University law professor.

The following are seven states where curbs on union power have been introduced:

* WISCONSIN: Wisconsin's Walker wants to limit collective bargaining to wages, and cap increases to the rate of inflation, with a voter referendum needed for bigger increases. Walker's proposal also would prohibit employer collection of union dues and members of collective bargaining units would not be required to pay dues. Contracts would be limited to one year, and collective bargaining units must take annual votes to maintain certification as a union. Local police, fire and state patrol would be exempted from the changes. The Wisconsin state Assembly approved the bill Friday, but Democrats have fled the state to avoid action in the Senate.

* OHIO: Ohio's bill goes farther than Wisconsin's, prohibiting collective bargaining for 42,000 state workers plus 19,500 college system workers. For local governments, bargaining with unions representing some 300,000 workers including police, firefighters, and public school teachers, the bill takes health care and some other benefits out of the negotiating process. Some Republicans have expressed concerns about the bill, and it will likely be softened by amendments over the weekend, said senate Democrat Joe Schiavoni. The bill may go to the floor for a vote next Wednesday.

* TENNESSEE: A Republican-backed state bill would end teachers' rights to negotiate their working conditions with boards of education through collective bargaining. The bill has passed through the Senate Education Committee.

* IDAHO: The Idaho Senate on Thursday approved legislation that limits collective bargaining by public school teachers. The measure restricts collective bargaining to salaries and benefits, removing from negotiations such provisions as class sizes, teacher workload and promotions. The legislation now heads to the House, where passage is expected.

* INDIANA: Republican state lawmakers are pushing several measures that curb organized labor influence. The state Senate passed a bill that will narrow the scope of public school teachers' collective bargaining rights. The measure still needs to be approved by the state House. House Democrats have left the state to avoid voting on a variety of bills they say restrict workers' rights.

* IOWA: A bill curbing collective bargaining rights for public workers in Iowa passed the House labor committee early Friday and will go to the full house. The bill would exclude health insurance from the scope of collective bargaining, along with other changes.

* KANSAS: The Kansas House passed a bill Thursday that would outlaw employee payroll deductions for union dues and political action committees.

Limits on public worker collective bargaining have been introduced in several other states as of last week, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. These include Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Washington.

(Writing by Mary Wisniewski, with reporting by Tim Ghianni, Andrew Stern, Kay Henderson, Kevin Murphy, Laura Zuckerman and Susan Guyett; Editing by Greg McCune)