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House and Senate

Beacon Hill Roll Call records local representatives’ and senators’ votes on roll calls from the week of June 3-7.

• Allow unions to charge non-union members for some costs (H 3854)

House 155-1, approved and sent to the Senate a bill that would allow unions to charge non-members for the cost of some services and representation.

The bill was filed as a response to a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that public employees cannot be forced to pay fees or dues to a union to which he or she does not belong.

Freedom of speech advocates hailed the decision while labor advocates said it was an unjust attack on unions.

“Today the Massachusetts House of Representatives stood up for workers,” said Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman. “They stood up for workers and against the right-wing special interests that forced their anti-union views across the country through the misguided and political Janus Supreme Court ruling.”

“The union bosses just got the green light to harass and intimidate state workers who are not enrolled in a union,” said Paul Craney, spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. “They can flex their muscle as much as they want, to the detriment of our state workers, and Massachusetts can thank the 155 House lawmakers who voted for it.”

“This legislation is just one important step in the fight against anti-worker attacks,” said Peter MacKinnon, president of SEIU Local 509. “Even now, the labor movement is facing new legal threats designed to make their way through the courts to drain our resources and weaken our collective power. Our members, our legislators and our communities must stand united against those that attempt to divide us.”

“While I wasn’t opposed to the overall bill, I truly believe that personal privacy is a fundamental human right,” said Rep. Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk), the only member who voted against the bill. “And for the Legislature to create a law that takes away that right from a citizen is simply wrong. All I was asking is that the employee be given a choice if they wanted to share their private, personal information with the union. Maybe it is only a couple of people, but isn’t our duty to protect their privacy rights over the wants and desires of a trade organization? Obviously, I’m alone in this thinking, but I feel this is an extremely slippery slope and sets a dangerous precedent.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill. A “No” vote is against it.)

Rep. Jennifer Benson, Yes; Rep. Sheila Harrington, Didn’t Vote

• Personal info (H 3854)

House 31-125, rejected an amendment that would eliminate the requirement that employees give the union their home address, home and cell phone number and personal e-mail address.

The amendment would leave in place the requirement that the employee provide his or her work telephone number and work e-mail address.

Amendment supporters said that requiring personal information is an invasion of the employee’s privacy.

They noted that unions have enough ways to contact new employees without using personal information.

“It is more than reasonable to expect that unions, who will be representing individuals in their work interest, should contact those prospective members at their place of work,” said Dooley the sponsor of the amendment. “This amendment would ensure that unions, whose reputation has not always been sterling, cannot use unnecessarily coercive or harassing tactics to impose on someone’s privacy at their home or on their cell phone in order to pressure them into union membership.”

Amendment opponents said laws have to keep up with the times. They noted that today’s communication is done via cell phone and personal e-mail address, not home address and landline phone.

(Please read carefully what a “Yes” and a “No” vote mean. On this roll call, the vote can easily be misinterpreted. A “Yes” vote is against requiring that employees give the union their home address, home and cell phone number and personal e-mail address. A “No” vote is for requiring it.)

Rep. Jennifer Benson, No; Rep. Sheila Harrington, Didn’t Vote

• Breach of info (H 3854)

House 28-128, rejected an amendment that would require unions to provide the state with a bond with sufficient surety to provide credit monitoring and identity theft protection services to all union members in the event of a data breach.

The amendment also would hold the union liable for any damage or injury that results from the disclosure of any employee contact information to a third party.

“Seemingly weekly we read news of yet another large-scale data breach of individuals’ personal data,” said Rep. Dooley. “It is reasonable to assume that a union with whom we entrust such personal information to, shall take the necessary steps to prevent and secure against identity theft.

If they violate this law and illegally share the personal information they have collected from an employee, it is only logical that they should be held liable for any damage or injury that results.”

Amendment opponents said credit monitoring and identity theft protection services would already be provided to each employee under a law passed last year that applies to not just union workers, but to all workers.

(A “Yes” vote is for the amendment. A “No” vote is against it.)

Rep. Jennifer Benson, No; Rep. Sheila Harrington, Didn’t Vote

• Employer must give employee the option to opt out (H 3854)

House 27-129, rejected an amendment that would require an employer to meet with a newly hired employee and inform the employee he or she has the option not to join the union.

“It is entirely possible, if not likely, that a new employee may not be aware that under [the Supreme Court decision] they have the right to choose not to join a union and to pay union dues,” said Dooley. “However, asking an employee who may not even be aware of that right to decline when sitting across the table from a union representative does not give that employee the ability to make that decision free from all pressure or coercion. It is right and fair that an employer should provide their employees with all information pertaining to their rights, and the ability to choose to opt out while not being pressured by a union rep.”

Amendment opponents offered no arguments during the debate.

Despite repeated requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call for a comment from three representatives who voted against the amendment, none of them responded including Rep. Tackey Chan (D-Quincy), Dan Ryan (D- Charlestown) and Bud Williams (D-Springfield).

(A “Yes” vote is for the amendment. A “No” vote is against it.)