House Passes Employee Rights Legislation

House Passes Employee Rights Legislation

Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull) along with her colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives this week passed legislation to protect public sector employees’ rights following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus v. American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) ruling.

An Act relative to collective bargaining dues (H.3854) enables Massachusetts employee organizations to charge a non-member for the reasonable costs associated with legal representation in a grievance procedure.

“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.”

“I’m proud of the House for coming together this week to support laborers across the Commonwealth,” said Representative Meschino. “This legislation is important to support working class families with representation in the workplace to fight for fair wages and benefits.”

Additionally, the bill will:

  • Provide new hires with an opportunity to learn about the benefits and available services;
  • Protect worker organizations from coordinated 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 at scheduled times at the workplace provided they pay for any associated rental or maintenance fees.

In the Janus decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upended decades of well-settled law on labor practices when it ruled that agency service fees charged by public employee organizations to non-dues paying workers were unconstitutional.  Unlike its private sector counterparts, public sector labor unions are obligated to offer all employees, regardless of union membership, full and fair representation in all collective bargaining activities, employee discipline or grievance proceedings, and arbitration processes.  Despite this, the Janus decision curtailed the ability of public employee organizations to recoup the costs of representation from non-dues payers.

 The bill will now go to the Senate.