By Bob Katzen
The House 29-128, Senate 5-34, rejected Governor Charlie Baker’s amendments to a House and Senate-passed 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 the Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees 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.
In his message to the Legislature, Baker said his amendments would protect the privacy rights of public employees and correct statutory inconsistencies.
“Although a portion of this bill addresses issues raised in the Janus decision … other provisions in the bill go beyond what the Janus decision required,” said Baker in a message to the Legislature. “These provisions would jeopardize the privacy rights of public employees and prevent the commonwealth and public sector unions from negotiating certain terms and conditions of employment.”
“The House and Senate engaged in a serious debate regarding the substance of the governor’s amendments, and ultimately decided on a bipartisan basis to overwhelmingly support language which did not include them,” said Rep. Paul Brodeur (D-Melrose). “Ensuring that we do everything we can in Massachusetts to protect workers’ rights continues to be a top priority. I’m eager to have these worker protections become law.“
“The governor tried to strike a balance,” said Paul Craney, spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance which was in favor of the amendments. “House and Senate leaders unfortunately didn’t want to cooperate with those who raised serious privacy concerns. We are hopeful the governor will veto the legislation, it’s the only appropriate response at this point.”