May 5, 2023
Dear House and Senate Authors of the Labor Policy Omnibus Bill (S.F. 1384/H.F. 1522):
In the absence of appointees to a conference committee on the omnibus bill, the above four religious organizations write to request that you insert an exemption to a provision present in both versions of the bill: the employer speech prohibition found at section 23, lines 16.1-17.9 of the Second Engrossment of S.F. 1384.
The legislation forbids all employers from mandating the reception of communications or compelling attendance at events that pertain to “religious matters.” Oddly, the provision does not exempt religious employers and could, as a result, lead to the chilling of organizational speech, and unnecessary and costly litigation due to the penalties and remedies in the bill.
The amendment below will help strengthen the bill’s ability to withstand First Amendment legal challenges, as well as eliminate ambiguity about what does and does not pertain to communications by religious organizations “necessary for the employees to perform their lawfully required job duties,” and which are exempt from penalty.
The proposed amendment applies only to religious congregations and religious nonprofits. It will not prevent the bill from achieving its main goal of stopping union busting, and the requirements of the legislation would still apply to the overwhelming majority of employers.
At line 16.25, under subdivision 4 “Scope,” please add the following subsection (4):
Subd. 4. Scope. This section does not:
(1) prohibit communications of information that the employer is required by law to
communicate, but only to the extent of the lawful requirement;
(2) limit the rights of an employer or its agent, representative, or designee to conduct
meetings involving religious or political matters so long as attendance is wholly voluntary
or to engage in communications so long as receipt or listening is wholly voluntary; or
(3) limit the rights of an employer or its agent, representative, or designee from
communicating to its employees any information, or requiring employee attendance at
meetings and other events, that is necessary for the employees to perform their lawfully
required job duties.
(4) apply to religious organizations incorporated under chapters 315 or 317A pertaining to “religious matters” as defined in subdivision 5 of this statute.
Thank you for your consideration.
Jason Adkins, Minnesota Catholic Conference