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Massachusetts governor vetoes ‘Janus’ response bill

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Aug. 2 vetoed a bill that would allow unions to charge non-union employees fees for representing them in certain labor disputes, challenging the state House and Senate to override him in order to restore a key source of funding for public sector unions.

Baker supports allowing unions to charge nonmembers for representation in grievance and arbitration hearings, though not collective bargaining, but said the bill goes too far.

“While I have supported changing Massachusetts law to address recent changes in how public sector unions work with non-union members, including allowing public sector unions to charge nonmembers for costs associated with representation in grievances and updating some of the rules of engagement between state employees and public employee union, I refuse to sign legislation that compels state and municipal government to turn over the cellphone numbers of private citizens, who happen to be government employees, without their permission, to private organizations,” Baker wrote in a message to the state Legislature.

The bill was a response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision last summer that barred unions from charging nonmembers agency fees.

The court ruling undercut a key source of financing for public sector unions, and the AFL-CIO and other labor leaders have been pressuring the Legislature for over a year to come to their aid.

Leaders of the state’s Democrat-controlled House and Senate appear to have more than enough votes to override the governor’s veto. However, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and Senate President Karen E. Spilka will likely have to wait until the fall to bring the veto to the floor for an override vote after sending their members home for an August recess.

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