By Bob Katzen
The House 155-1, approved and sent to the Senate a bill that would allow unions to charge non-members for the cost of some services and representation. The bill was filed as a response to a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that public employees cannot be forced to pay fees or dues to a union to which he or she does not belong. Freedom of speech advocates hailed the decision while labor advocates said it was an unjust attack on unions.
“Today the Massachusetts House of Representatives stood up for workers,” said Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman. “They stood up for workers and against the right-wing special interests that forced their anti-union views across the country through the misguided and political Janus Supreme Court ruling.”
“The union bosses just got the green light to harass and intimidate state workers who are not enrolled in a union,” said Paul Craney, spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. “They can flex their muscle as much as they want, to the detriment of our state workers, and Massachusetts can thank the 155 House lawmakers who voted for it.”
“This legislation is just one important step in the fight against anti-worker attacks,” said Peter MacKinnon, president of SEIU Local 509. “Even now, the labor movement is facing new legal threats designed to make their way through the courts to drain our resources and weaken our collective power. Our members, our legislators and our communities must stand united against those that attempt to divide us.”
“While I wasn’t opposed to the overall bill, I truly believe that personal privacy is a fundamental human right,” said Rep. Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk), the only member who voted against the bill. “And for the Legislature to create a law that takes away that right from a citizen is simply wrong. All I was asking is that the employee be given a choice if they wanted to share their private, personal information with the union. Maybe it is only a couple of people, but isn’t our duty to protect their privacy rights over the wants and desires of a trade organization? Obviously, I’m alone in this thinking, but I feel this is an extremely slippery slope and sets a dangerous precedent.”