BOSTON – State Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg) voted with the House of Representatives on Wednesday to pass legislation protecting public sector workers’ rights following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus v. American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) ruling.
The bill (H.3854) will enable Massachusetts unions to charge non-members the reasonable costs associated with representing them in the grievance and bargaining process.
“This legislation – which builds on the House’s long-standing support of labor – sends a clear message that Massachusetts will work to secure protections for the working men and women of the Commonwealth,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “This bill represents a consensus position not realized from last session, and I thank Chair Brodeur for his hard work to move this issue forward.”
“The U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus decision was a serious setback for organized labor at the federal level,” said Representative Benson. “By passing this legislation, we can ensure that in Massachusetts, unions will still have the resources they need to advocate on behalf of public sector workers, including our teachers, law enforcement, and municipal professionals.”
Additionally, the bill will:
- Provide new hires with opportunities learn about benefits and services available to them;
- Protect worker organizations from outside attacks by empowering them to set policies regarding dues and membership;
- Ensure that employee organizations are able to provide confidential legal advice and other communications by providing up to date employee contact information; and
- Enable employee organizations to conduct meetings in the workplace.
In their decision in Janus v. AFSCME, the Supreme Court ruled that fees which public employee organizations charged non-dues paying workers were unconstitutional, reversing decades of precedent supported by previous court rulings.
The bill will now go to the Senate.