Recently, the Massachusetts Legislature enacted House Bill 3854, over the Governor’s veto. This brand new law was passed specifically to respond to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME. The legislation allows unions to require non-dues paying members to pay in advance for expected costs and attorneys fees in certain matters brought on behalf those non-dues payers. Importantly, the bill went further to create new union rights, including the right to:
• Meet with employees on the employer’s premises during the workday to investigate and/or discuss work related issues, grievances, etc.
• Conduct worksite meetings during breaks and before and after the workday to discuss workplace issues, collective bargaining negotiations, the administration of collective bargaining agreements and other matters related to internal union matters;
• Meet with newly hired employees without charge to the pay or leave time of the employees for a minimum of 30 minutes (i.e. can be longer) within the first ten (10) calendar days after the date of hire, during new employee orientation or, if the employer does not have a new orientation, at individual or group meetings;
• Use public employer email systems for union-related matters, provided doing so does not create an unreasonable burden on network capability or system administration (remember there remains no expectation of privacy, however); and
• Use government buildings and other facilities that are owned or leased by government entities to conduct meetings with members regarding collective bargaining negotiations, the administration of collective bargaining agreements, the administration of any investigation of grievances, other workplace related complaints and issues and internal union matters involving governance or business of the union.
Public employer’s that refuse to allow unions the above rights and benefits will be in violation of the collective bargaining law, GL c. 150E, for failing to bargain in good faith.