Navigating a new landscape in labor law
Court ruling hurts workers — Mass. has right idea in addressing it
The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling last year in Janus v. AFSCME drastically changed the landscape of state labor laws across the country, to the detriment of workers and their unions. The legislation passed this month by the Massachusetts House provides a number of sensible fixes in response to the post-Janus landscape, and sends a strong message from our elected officials that effective union representation is in the public interest.
In an editorial last week, the Globe took issue with a provision of the legislation that ensures that unions have access to the same contact information for bargaining unit members that employers have in their own records (“House gets it mostly right on labor law,” June 19). While some of the same groups that cheered on the Janus case have attempted to frame this as an invasion of privacy, it is anything but. It is simply an effort to provide the best possible representation, which is made substantially more difficult without accurate contact information. This provision exists without issue in countless collective bargaining agreements that are already in place.
Unfortunately, our state Legislature cannot reverse the Janus decision, but the House’s legislation represents one of the most comprehensive efforts in the country to ensure that unions remain a strong force for economic fairness.
Steven A. Tolman
Let there be a clean break between unions, nonmembers
The editorial “House gets it mostly right on labor law” misses the mark.
The primary provision of the bill that the Globe finds sensible — allowing unions to “charge nonmembers if they use union services” — is not the best solution available to fix Massachusetts’ labor law. However, there is a sensible avenue to solve the purported free-rider problem: Eliminate exclusive representation. Exclusive-representation laws force union representation on unwilling individuals, just because a majority of their colleagues voted for it in the past. Nonmembers are compelled to work under a union contract, the contents of which they have no say in.
There is a better way. Legislation, which could please all sides, should make a clean break between the union and nonmembers. Nonmembers should be free to negotiate directly with their employer and find their own representation during grievance procedures. This way, unions provide services only to workers who are full-fledged dues-paying members.
It is past time to stop forcing union representation on workers and provide individuals the freedom to choose how they are represented at the workplace.
Labor policy analyst
Competitive Enterprise Institute
The Competitive Enterprise Institute is a free-market public policy organization focused on regulatory reform issues.