ALLOW UNIONS TO CHARGE NON-UNION MEMBERS FOR SOME COSTS BILL APPROVED

By Bob Katzen

The House 156-1 approved (Senate approved on a voice vote without a roll call) and sent to Gov. Baker a bill that would allow unions to charge non-members for the cost of some services and representation. The measure would also give unions several new rights including access to state workers’ personal contact information including their home address, home and cell phone number and personal e-mail address.

The governor vetoed the bill. It will now take a two-thirds vote in each branch to override the veto and put the bill on the lawbooks. It’s certain the Legislature will override the veto because the measure was approved with veto-proof margins including last week’s 156-1 vote in the House and a 38-1 vote in the Senate in June.

The bill was filed as a response to a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees case 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 union.

“While I have supported changing Massachusetts law to address recent changes in how public sector unions work with non-union members, including allowing public sector unions to charge non-members for costs associated with representation in grievances and updating some of the rules of engagement between state employees and public employee union, I refuse to sign legislation that compels state and municipal government to turn over the cellphone numbers of private citizens, who happen to be government employees, without their permission, to private organizations,” Baker said in a very long sentence in his veto message to the Legislature.

“The legislation passed by both the House and Senate to ensure that public sector unions remain a strong force for economic fairness in the wake of the Janus Supreme Court ruling received overwhelming bipartisan support after a thorough debate,” AFL-CIO President Steve Tolman said in a statement. “We urge both branches to override Gov. Baker’s veto.”

“The governor responded in the only appropriate way, veto a bill that would violate the personal privacy of countless state workers,” said Paul Craney, spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. “State workers can enjoy the weekend knowing the governor has their back. Legislative leaders should get the message, the Janus ‘fix’ needs to be fixed. It went too far and only benefited union bosses at the expense of workers.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill. A “No” vote is against it.)

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