Massachusetts governor vetoes omnibus public-sector labor bill

On August 2, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R) vetoed an omnibus public-sector labor bill after the legislature declined to adopt amendments he had earlier proposed.

  • What does the bill propose? The legislature’s version of H3854 would authorize employers to disclose personal employee information to unions. It would also permit unions to require non-members to pay for the costs associated with grievance and arbitration proceedings. It would require employers to provide unions with access to employees, and it would allow for dues deduction authorizations to be irrevocable for a period of up to one year.
  • What were Baker’s amendments to the bill, and how did the legislature respond?
    • In a letter to state lawmakers dated July 15, Baker recommended the following changes:
      • Prevent unions from accessing employees’ personal cell phone numbers and using text messages to communicate with members without their written consent.
      • Require unions to give new employees written information explaining their rights to join or refrain from joining a union.
      • Require employees’ written consent before releasing certain information to unions.
      • Require unions to provide notice to state agencies before using buildings for union purposes.
    • On July 22, the House voted 128-29 to reject Baker’s amendments. The Senate followed suit on July 25 by a vote of 34-5. The House and Senate re-approved the legislation on July 31, sending it back to the governor for his action.
  • What are the reactions?
    • AFL-CIO president Steve Tolman said, “The legislation passed by both the House and Senate to ensure that public-sector unions remain a strong force for economic fairness in the wake of the Janus Supreme Court ruling received overwhelming bipartisan support after a thorough debate. We urge both branches to override Governor Baker’s veto.”
    • Christopher Carlozzi, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said, “The Governor offered a very common-sense amendment that provided labor unions an opportunity to collect their reasonable fees, while still protecting the rights of workers. The legislature chose to pacify a handful of labor leaders, rather than address serious privacy concerns for public employees.”
  • What is the political makeup of Massachusetts? Democrats control 79 percent of all House seats and 85 percent of all Senate seats, exceeding the two-thirds majorities required in each chamber to override a veto. Baker, a Republican, was first elected in 2014 with a margin of victory of 1.9 percent. Baker was re-elected in 2018 with a margin of victory of 32.5 percent.
  • What comes next? Because they hold veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate, Democrats could override Baker’s veto. Lawmakers will not be able to consider a veto override until they reconvene in September.


The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 102 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

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Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

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Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

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Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions on relevant bills since the beginning of the year. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state and then by bill number.

  • Michigan HB4821: This bill would allow public school employers to use public resources to collect union dues.
    • Introduced and referred to Education Committee Aug. 6.