Sen. Lesser Votes to Pass Bill Defending Union Rights Following Supreme Court's "Janus v. AFSCME" Decision Rolling Back Collective Bargaining Rights for Public Sector Unions

“We all owe a debt of gratitude to unions,” said Sen. Lesser

BOSTON — Senator Eric P. Lesser voted to pass a bill defending public unions’ right to represent all workers in labor disagreements on Thursday. The bill is an effort to respond at the state level to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 decision that threatened the future of collective bargaining.

In its 5-4 decision in Janus v. AFSCME, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public sector employees could not be compelled to pay union fees even though they benefit from the contracts negotiated between unions representing workers and their employers.

In response, the bill passed by the Senate, An Act Relative to Collective Bargaining Dues, allows public unions to seek reimbursement from non-members for services like representation in grievance proceedings.

“Union organizers like my grandfather and father helped build America’s middle class. They fought with garment workers and longshoremen for fair pay, benefits like worker’s comp, and a reasonable work schedule. We all owe a debt of gratitude to unions. The Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME was a bad one for working families, and with this bill we in Massachusetts are repairing some of the damage it has done to workers who are just trying to make ends meet,” said Sen. Lesser.

The bill would enable public sector unions to charge reasonable fees of non-members for costs related to representation. The decision to charge workers who choose not to pay union dues would be optional and left to the organization’s discretion. The legislation would also ensure the union has access to appropriate worker contact information and codifies a union’s ability to meet with newly hired employees on worksites.

The bill passed by the Senate on Thursday passed the House on a 155-1 vote earlier this month, and will now go to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk.

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Ryan Migeed