Election roundup for employers

Minimum wage, unions, right to work, and legal weed.

Apart from the "red tsunami" that turned into a "red trickle" (if that), there were measures on many state ballots that will affect employers. Here are the highlights:


Voters in Nebraska agreed to a proposal to raise the state minimum wage to $15 by 2026. In the District of Columbia, voters agreed to phase out the wage for tipped workers and start paying them the minimum in 2027. As we know, votes are still being counted (and counted, and counted, and counted) in Nevada, but that state had a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour. According to the latest news reports, we should know the outcome by Flag Day or thereabouts. 

Local wage initiatives in California and Maine failed, for the most part. The only exception was Inglewood City, California, where voters agreed to require hospitals and clinics in the private sector to pay a minimum of $25 an hour. A failed initiative in Portland, Maine, would have raised applicable minimum wages, phased out the tip credit for restaurants and other service employers, treated workers for rideshare and delivery app companies to be "employees" under Portland labor laws, and would have created a new agency to enforce minimum wage and other protections for workers in these industries.


In Illinois, voters approved an amendment to the state Constitution that would give workers a "fundamental right to organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing for the purpose of negotiating wages, hours, and working conditions." (Didn't they already have that right?) The amendment also prohibits the state from enacting a law that "interferes with, negates, or diminishes the right of employees to organize and bargain."

Tennessee voters went in the opposite direction, approving a constitutional amendment that makes Tennessee a right-to-work state. Under the Tennessee amendment, employers and political subdivisions are prohibited from requiring union membership as a condition of employment. The amendment makes it unlawful to deny or attempt to deny employment based on an individual's union membership or refusal to join a union.


Legal recreational use of marijuana was on the ballot in five states but had mixed results. The initiatives failed in Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota. They succeeded in Maryland and Missouri.

Image Credit: From flickr, Creative Commons license, by yaquina.

Robin Shea has 30 years' experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act). 
Continue Reading



Back to Page