The Honorable Karen E. Spilka, Senate President
The Honorable Robert A. DeLeo, Speaker of the House
State House, Boston

Dear Madam President and Mr. Speaker,

On behalf of the cities and towns of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Municipal Association is writing to express concerns regarding H. 3825, An Act relative to collective bargaining dues, which the House will debate on Wednesday, June 6. We understand the Legislature’s desire to address the U.S. Supreme Court’s union agency fee decision in Janus v. AFSCME, yet H. 3825 would make significant changes to our state’s collective bargaining laws beyond the Janus issue, and could disadvantage public managers and agencies. At the expense of public employers, the bill would transform a number of matters that are currently issues that are subject to bargaining into codified rights for unions. As a result, the bill would grant a significant bargaining advantage to unions, without incorporating important management concerns. This could disadvantage cities, towns and state agencies as they seek to manage the delivery of services and implement balanced personnel and labor policies. We urge you to amend this bill so that its scope is limited to addressing the Janus decision.

Our main concerns lie with several provisions in the bill that would interfere with the workday and with managerial rights to control the workplace. We propose the following changes to Section 3, which begins on line 36 of the bill, and seeks to amend Chapter 150E by adding Section 5A:

● In subsection (i), the union’s right to meet with individual employees on the job site and during the workday to investigate and discuss grievances, workplace-related complaints and other workplace issues should be subject to an agreement between the employer and the employee organization with respect to meeting times so as not to disrupt the workplace.

● In subsection (ii), the right to conduct worksite meetings during lunch breaks and other non-work breaks before and after the workday and on the employer’s premises should be subject to an agreement between the employer and the employee organization with respect to meeting times, and subject to employer policies for use of government buildings.

● In subsection (iii), the right to meet with newly hired employees for a minimum of 30 minutes should have the added language “unless the parties agree otherwise”.

● In subsection (iii)(b), the requirement for the employer to provide employee contact information to employee organizations in other than a spreadsheet file format should be subject to an agreement between both the employer and the employee organization.

● In subsection (d), the union’s right to use the public employer’s email system to communicate with bargaining unit employees should be subject to any policy the employer may have regarding employee use of the email system or computers.

● In subsection (e), the union’s right to use government buildings should be subject to any employer policy for using and scheduling the use of such buildings.

Subsection (f) should be struck from the bill because Chapter 150E, which the section amends, already includes recourse for an employer’s failure to comply under Section 10(a)(1), allowing an employee to file an unfair labor practice charge if an employer interferes with, restrains or coerces any employee in the exercise of any right guaranteed under the chapter.

In the absence of tailoring the bill to address solely the Janus agency fee decision, we believe these changes would preserve the intent of the bill while addressing important management concerns. We would be happy to work with your office regarding these proposed changes.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to have your office contact me, MMA Senior Legislative Analyst Lisa Adams, or MMA Legislative Director John Robertson at 617-426-7272 at any time.

Thank you very much for your consideration of these concerns.

Sincerely,

Geoffrey C. Beckwith
Executive Director & CEO