By Bob Katzen
The Senate 38-1, approved a bill that would allow public sector 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 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 Sen. 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 Boston Globe’s editorial on the Janus fix was spot on,” said Rep. Ryan Fattman (R-Webster), the only senator who voted against the bill. “I agreed with the underlying legislation, however as the Boston Globe pointed out, the Senate had the opportunity to protect private information including the personal cell phone, email, and birth dates of the employee and their family members who chose not to be part of a union. We failed to do so. I believe if you choose to opt out of union membership your personal and private information should be exactly that: personal and private. These employees should not be compelled to turn over that private information to anyone. It is because of this privacy concern that I voted no.”
“I urge my colleagues to reject all the amendments that would undermine the principles set forth in this underlying bill and adopt a bill that will, again, ensure workers can come together, can organize together, can work together,” said Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton), during Senate debate on the floor. “[And] to have a voice that will help each and every one of us as citizens of this commonwealth and, at the end of the day, help to continue to improve the economy in a way that is more equitable for all people.”
“Legislators today voted against amendments that sought to educate workers on their rights regarding union membership, to give employees control over their private and personal information, and to protect that personal information once it is in the hands of union bosses,” said Paul Craney, spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. “One thing is absolutely clear—this legislation has nothing to do with protecting employees. It is entirely about protecting union bosses and advancing their power over the workers. The legitimate concerns over protecting people’s right to privacy were completely swept under the rug by lawmakers beholden to union bosses. We urge the governor to veto the bill when it lands on his desk.”