Janus Under Attack: MA Democrats Try to Undo Supreme Court Decision

Posted by Olivia Grady on Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 at 9:02 am - Permalink

Democrats in the Massachusetts Legislature have decided to curtail the First Amendment rights of workers and undermine a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in an effort to prop up their political donors: labor unions.

On May 30, 2019, the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development reported H. 3825 favorably and referred the bill to the House Ways and Means Committee. The Act is a new draft of S. 1043, H. 1596, H. 2363 and H. 2385 and relates to collective bargaining dues. This legislation has a number of provisions that would help labor union bosses at the expense of Massachusetts’s government workers.

The first provision of the bill would give “[t]he home address, personal email address and home telephone number or mobile telephone number” of the state’s government employees to labor unions. This provision would allow unions to contact workers incessantly through different methods. In fact, workers in other states where this is law have complained about hounding phone calls and home visits.

Another bad provision of the bill would allow unions to force non-members to pay union fees. This is contrary to the recent Janus v. AFSCME decision, a case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 27, 2018. The Supreme Court found in that case that forcing non-members to pay fees to unions violated their First Amendment rights. This part of the bill would undermine that Supreme Court decision.

Section 3 of the legislation would force the government to allow labor unions to meet with workers during the workday on the government’s property. The bill would also give labor unions the right to meet with new workers for at least 30 minutes while they are working and being paid. Finally, this provision would also force the government to give to a union the contact information of new employees in a spreadsheet file format and allow the union to use the taxpayer-funded email system of the government. However, the communications between the labor organizations and employees would not be public records. All parts of this section would thus allow unions to use taxpayer dollars to benefit themselves.

Finally, section 5 of the bill would allow the government to automatically deduct the union dues of government workers from their salaries. While the government would need the permission of the worker to automatically deduct dues, sometimes workers have been tricked into giving their permission. For example, the Center for Worker Freedom (CWF) has been helping home healthcare workers in Minnesota decertify from their union. Automatic dues deduction was allowed in Minnesota if these caretakers signed a card. However, these caretakers told CWF that their signatures had been forged on dues deduction authorization cards. Other caretakers also told CWF that they thought they were signing a card to learn more about the union, not authorizing automatic dues deduction.

This section of the bill would also restrict workers from ending automatic dues deduction. For example, if workers changed their minds about the dues deduction or did not understand the permission they had given for dues deduction, workers would not be able to stop this automatic deduction of dues for up to a year. In addition, these workers would have to follow the terms to opt-out of the deduction of union dues from their salaries. If the terms weren’t defined, workers would be required to give a 60 days notice in writing to their employers and the treasurers of the labor unions to stop the dues deduction.

Given the harm that workers would experience if this bill became law, Massachusetts legislators should stand up for their constituents, not labor union bosses, and vote against this legislation.