Wyatt Employment Law Report

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Federal Judge Blocks New Idaho State Law Which Would Have Limited Unions

By Edwin S. Hopson

On July 6, 2011, the Associated Press and Times News Magic Valley in Boise, Idaho, reported that a federal district judge in Idaho issued an injunction on July 1, 2011, blocking implementation of a part of a new Idaho law called the Fairness in Contracting Act that sought to limit the power of labor unions, ruling the measure conflicted with federal law.  The law, among other things, would have prevented unions from using union dues to help union contractors submit winning bids on construction projects.

The state law in question was passed during the 2011 session of the Idaho Legislature and was to have gone into effect on July 1.  It was passed despite an opinion from the Idaho Attorney General who found the proposed legislation illegal. According to the Associated Press, “U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill issued a preliminary injunction on Friday after unions sued, agreeing they had a good chance of succeeding.”  The unions had argued the law, which prohibited  “job-targeting programs” using union dues, was unconstitutional and preempted by the federal National Labor Relations Act.

The unions also challenged the portion of the that prohibited “project labor agreements” that require contractors to sign agreements with unions as a condition of winning state government construction jobs.  However, the unions did not request that Judge Winmill block that portion of the new law.