Massachusetts Passes Collective Bargaining Legislation

The Massachusetts Senate today passed An Act Relative to Collective Bargaining Dues, which helps protect a public unions’ ability to effectively represent all workers in labor agreements following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case Janus v. AFSCME.

“Today’s vote, which comes exactly one year after the misguided Janus ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, makes clear that the Senate will always put hardworking families of Massachusetts first,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “Public workers are the backbone of our economy and deserve the ability to fight for fair wages, access affordable health care and work in safe conditions. I look forward to seeing this legislation become law.”

In its 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court weakened the ability of public sector unions to advocate for workers — both members and non-members — in contractual and collective bargaining activities. The decision significantly limited a union’s authority to charge fees of non-members, potentially cutting off critical resources used in the effort to fairly represent all workers at the negotiating table.

“Today we protect the right of unions to be able to make the case for membership to new hires, and to be compensated for representation they offer,” said Labor and Workforce Development Committee Chair Senator Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville). “Unions have benefited all of us. They helped build the middle class, and they are now our main protection against its erosion. This bill is an important step in the fight against the rising tide of inequality, and it will safeguard the support that unions have provided for generations to workers across the Commonwealth.”

“The Constitutional right to organize and collectively bargain is a basic tenant of our democracy. Last year, conservative activists on the Supreme Court curbed this right in the Janus decision,” said Transportation Committee Chair Senator Joseph Boncore (D-Winthrop), who sponsored a version of the legislation last session. “Today, the Senate corrected this injustice and took action to ensure workers across the Commonwealth have the ability to fight for a better quality of life for their families.”

An Act Relative to Collective Bargaining Dues would enable public sector unions to charge reasonable fees of non-members for costs related to representation. The decision to charge workers who choose not to pay union dues would be optional and left to the organization’s discretion. The legislation would also ensure the union has access to appropriate worker contact information and codifies a union’s ability to meet with newly hired employees on worksites.   After enactment by the House and Senate, the legislation moves on to the Governor’s desk.

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Sarah Bldogett