House passes legislation to support workers and organized labor

Representative Connolly recently joined his Cambridge and Somerville colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to pass H.3825- An Act Relative to Collective Bargaining Dues to protect public sector employees’ rights following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus v. American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) ruling.

The bill enables Massachusetts employee organizations to charge non-members the reasonable costs associated with representing them legally through the grievance process.

"The Janus decision is a grave threat to organized labor because it empowers free-loaders to profit off of the backs of dues paying workers. Workers’ rights are the result of hard fought victories from labor unions achieved across generations yet the Janus decision could seriously undercut those victories,” Rep. Connolly remarked, “Regardless of what attacks are coming from the right, in Washington, and everywhere else,  I was proud to cast my vote in support of working people in the Commonwealth."

Additionally, the bill will:

  • Provide new hires with an opportunity learn about the benefits and services available to them;
  • 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 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that agency service fees which public employee organizations charged non-dues paying workers were unconstitutional, upending decades of labor practices supported by previous court rulings. Unlike their private sector counterparts, public sector labor unions are obliged 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 employee organizations to recoup from non-dues payers the costs, which that representation incurs.

The state Senate recently passed similar legislation, and now the two branches will work to move a final version of the bill to the Governor's desk.