Beacon Hill Roll Call: July 1 to July 5, 2019

By Bob Katzen | July 9, 2019 

Beacon Hill Roll Call records local senators’ votes on roll calls from recent sessions. There were no roll calls in the House or Senate last week.

Allow unions to charge non-union members for some costs (S 2273)

The House and Senate approved on a voice vote without a roll call and sent to Gov. Charlie Baker a bill that would allow public sector 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.

“The bill levels the playing field for organized labor in the wake of recent Supreme court decisions,” said Rep. Paul Brodeur, D-Melrose, a key sponsor of the legislation. “Gov. Baker should sign it without amendments to protect collective bargaining rights and prevent free riding.”

“The Legislature sent the governor a bill that puts the interests of union bosses ahead of workers,” said Paul Craney, spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance which opposes the proposal. “The government has a responsibility to protect its workers and this bill exposes workers to harassment from union bosses and without their consent, provides the personal contact info of state workers to union bosses. The governor would be wise to veto it.”

Here are three roll calls from the recent debate on the union bill:

Use of employee’s e-mail (S 2273)

Senate 6 to 32 rejected an amendment that would require that all union e-mails to public employees are “consistent with any e-mail or information technology usage policies of the employer and consistent with all state and federal laws and regulations.”

Amendment supporters said it is important to avoid chaos and ensure that when unions use work e-mail addresses of employees, the union follows the same rules that the employers have instituted.

Amendment opponents said unions should be able to communicate with their members without interference by employers. They noted that nothing in the bill allows e-mail use by unions to violate state or federal laws.

A “no” vote is against the amendment.

Sen. Joanne Comerford — No

Sen. Adam Hinds — Didn’t vote

Give prior notice to use a government building (S 2273)

Senate 6 to 32 rejected an amendment to a section of the bill that allows unions to use government buildings to meet with union members.

The amendment would require that the union give reasonable prior notice to the government entity.

Amendment supporters said this will simply make the rules on using these government buildings the same as the rules that currently must be followed for usage of a room at the Statehouse.

Amendment opponents said the amendment is not necessary because the bill already requires that any use not interfere with governmental operations.

A “no” vote is against the amendment.

Sen. Joanne Comerford — No

Sen. Adam Hinds — Didn’t vote

Make providing personal contact info an option (S 2273)

Senate 6 to 32 rejected an amendment that would eliminate the requirement that employees give the union their home address, home and cellphone numbers, and personal e-mail address. Instead, the amendment gives new employees the option of providing the union with that personal information. The amendment would leave in place the requirement that the employee must provide his or her work telephone number and work e-mail address.

Amendment supporters said that requiring the employee’s personal information is an invasion of privacy. They noted that unions have many other ways to contact new employees without using personal information.

“The amendment ... allows a new hire to decide whether his or her personal information can be disclosed to the unions,” said Sen. Dean Tran, R-Leominster, the sponsor of the amendment. “This is an opt-in option for the new employee. (It is) a common sense amendment simply changing the language within the bill to ensure that personal info, such as an employee’s home address, cellphone number and personal e-mail are kept private, while still allowing union representation to access key work-related contact information.”

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

A “no” vote is for requiring the employee to provide the personal information.

Sen. Joanne Comerford — No

Sen. Adam Hinds — Didn’t vote


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