GOVERNOR PATRICK SIGNS LAW TO BENEFIT MASSACHUSETTS WORKERS
Action supports workers' rights to collective bargaining and employment protections
Joined by Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Suzanne M. Bump, AFL-CIO President Robert J. Haynes and legislative leaders, Governor Patrick signed the legislation at the AFL-CIO's 50th convention celebration.
"This bill is about leveling the playing field between labor and management," Governor Patrick said. "It affirms the Commonwealth's policy of supporting workers who should be able to bargain collectively for fair wages, decent health care and on the job protections."
The Majority Authorization bill permits public sector employees to become unionized through a "card check" written option instead of only through secret ballot elections. The law in Massachusetts is a modified state version of the national Employee Free Choice Act, which is sponsored by Senator Edward Kennedy. The Free Choice Act recently failed to gain Senate approval in a bid to become law in the U.S. Governor Patrick signaled his support for the Free Choice Act in a letter to the U.S. Congress earlier this summer.
"One of the fundamental rights we have protected since the labor movement began in this country is the right of workers to organize and collectively bargain with their employer," said House Ways and Means Chairman Robert A. DeLeo, lead sponsor of the bill in the House. "This right is fundamental to ensure working men and women are treated fairly and equitably throughout the economy. I sponsored this bill because I believe public employees who want to organize should be allowed to do so without impediment. With this signed in to law, we create an efficient and fair way they can make their will a reality."
"At a time when the purchasing power of the paychecks of most working men and women is decreasing, it is important that we allow people to exercise their rights to join unions," said Senator Robert O'Leary, lead Senate sponsor. "By giving individuals the ability to join a union confidentially, without the fear of repercussions, this legislation enables working Americans to more freely assert their legal rights."
Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Robert J. Haynes said, "This is why working people fought so hard to elect a Governor who would take our concerns to heart. We now have a new Governor in Deval Patrick, who has pledged to sign the bill and is committed to improving the quality of life of working people, and together with the Legislature, we have won a major victory for workers in Massachusetts. Before the ink dries on the Governor's signature, working people's chances for a better life in Massachusetts will already be improved."