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Unions: Override Governor's Janus Veto!

The Massachusetts Governor has vetoed the pro-union Janus bill twice

Brian Young's picture
Aug 07, 2019

One year after the Janus decision, lawmakers in Massachusetts are trying to pass a law that will help to even the playing field for public sector unions. Following the lead of states like New York, the legislature passed a bill in the spring that would allow union officials access to new hires and non-union members in state and local government to talk with them about joining a union. It would also allow them to charge non-dues paying members for the cost of representing them through the grievance procedure.

While these changes may be simple they are being held up by Republican Governor Charlie Baker. The Governor has vetoed the bill twice and is demanding amendments before he will sign it. These changes include prohibiting the union from gaining a new hires cell phone number and other personal information, as well as allowing a new hire to opt-out of meeting with the union before the official sits down with them.

In a letter to lawmakers, Baker claimed that he supports public-sector unions but he won’t sign legislation "that compels state and municipal government to turn over the cell phone numbers of private citizens, who happen to be government employees, without their permission, to private organizations."

"Unions aren't looking to harass government workers at home or work," said Jim Durkin, a spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 93, which represents about 45,000 public sector employees in Massachusetts and three other states. "We simply want to be able to reach out to them to let them know about their rights."

The bill, which had overwhelming support in the Democratic-controlled legislature, appears to be stuck in limbo. Unions and union-friendly legislators don’t want to make amendments to the bill because these changes would do little to help unions continue to grow. At the same time, Governor Baker is digging in and refusing to sign the bill.

With a stalemate occurring, union leaders are urging the legislature to take the rare step of overriding the Governor’s veto. It would appear that both the House and the Senate have enough votes to override the veto since only one Senator, Ryan Fattman and one House member, Rep. Shawn Dooley voted against the original bill.

While an override is possible and likely, it probably won’t happen before September as the legislature is on vacation for the entire month of August. With a new school year and a new crop of teachers being hired, public sector unions like the Massachusetts Teachers Association will have to play by the old rules for at least a few more weeks.

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