During the final hours of the legislative session, the Massachusetts Senate passed a bill that would give unions power to provide benefits only to their members, in a response to a recent Supreme Court decision.
Sen. Joseph Boncore, D-Winthrop, who sponsored the bill, S.2644, called the bill "the first step toward returning power to democracy, power to the workers, power to the unions."
Under the bill, which passed the Senate on a voice vote Tuesday night, a union would be required to represent everyone in a particular bargaining unit - such as workers in one state agency - only for purposes of negotiating a contract and enforcing the terms of an agreement with the employer. The union would then be allowed to provide additional "legal, economic or job-related services or benefits" to its members.
The union could charge non-members for costs incurred when the union is representing a non-member in a grievance or arbitration.
Boncore said that provides "a fair system for continued representation" of all workers.
The bill would also allow union representatives to meet with each new employee and give unions access to the addresses and phone numbers of all employees.
The Pioneer Institute, a free market think tank, wrote a response to a similar, though not identical, proposal last week. It said the bill: "would gut Massachusetts labor relations law," which currently prohibits public employers from discriminating against those who are not union members in hiring, tenure, or any term or condition of employment. The Pioneer Institute warned that employees could be intimidated or coerced into joining a union under these provisions.