Evolution of Public Employee Collective Bargaining

The evolution of public employee collective bargaining

Table of Contents



The Wagner Act (National Labor Relations Act) is enacted, granting collective bargaining rights to private sector employees in companies engaged in interstate commerce.


M.G.L. c. 150A, a so-called "Baby Wagner Act," is enacted, extending bargaining rights to private sector employees within the Commonwealth. The Labor Relations Commission (LRC) is established to administer the new law. M.G.L. c. 23, § 90, et seq.


All public employees (except police officers) in Massachusetts are granted the right to join unions and to "present proposals" to public employers. M.G.L. c. 149, § 178D.


M.G.L. c. 40, § 4C is enacted, giving city and town employees the right to bargain, provided that the local city or town adopts the law. However, there are no specific procedures for elections and no provisions covering the subject matter or method of bargaining.


The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, the Massachusetts Port Authority, the Massachusetts Parking Authority, and the Woods Hole, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority become subject to the representation and unfair labor practice provisions of M.G.L. c. 150A. Section 760 of the Acts of 1962.


State employees are granted the right to bargain with respect to working conditions (but not wages). M.G.L. c. 149, § 178F.

Chapter 150A is amended to include private health care facilities as "employers" and nurses as "employees."


Municipal employees are granted the right to bargain about wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment. M.G.L. c. 149, §§ 178G-N (repealing Chapter 40, § 4C).


M.G.L. c. 150A is amended to expressly include private nonprofit institutions as "employers" and nonprofessional employees of a health care facility or of private nonprofit institutions (except members of religious orders) as "employees."


The Legislature establishes the Mendonca Commission to revise the public employee bargaining laws.


M.G.L. c. 150E is enacted, granting full collective bargaining rights to most state and municipal employees.

Binding arbitration of interest disputes is established for police and fire employees. Chapter 1078 of the Acts of 1973.


M.G.L. c. 150E is amended to: 1) strengthen the enforcement powers of the Labor Relations Commission; 2) modify union unfair labor practices; and 3) modify the standards for the exclusion of managerial employees.


The Labor Relations Commission issues standards for appropriate bargaining units affecting 55,000 state employees in more than 2,000 job classifications. Ten statewide units are created—five non-professional and five professional.

M.G.L. c. 150E is amended to provide for a separate bargaining unit for state police. Chapter 591 of the Acts of 1975.


M.G.L. c. 150E is extended to court employees in the judicial branch; two state-wide units are established for judicial branch employees (except court officers in Middlesex and Suffolk Counties). Chapter 278, § 3 of the Acts of 1977.

The Representation and prohibited practice provisions of M.G.L. c.150E are extended to housing authorities and their employees.

The Joint Labor-Management Committee is established to oversee collective bargaining negotiations and impasses involving municipal police officers or firefighters. Chapter 730 of the Acts and Resolves of 1977.

Agency service fee provisions are clarified to require that employee organizations provide a rebate procedure and to indicate which expenditures may be rebated to employees.


"Proposition 2 1/2" is enacted, repealing final and binding arbitration for police and firefighter contract negotiations.


The LRC issues comprehensive regulations setting forth agency service fee procedures, including requirements for unions to collect a fee pursuant to M.G.L. c. 150E, § 12 and for employees to challenge the amount or validity of the fee.


M.G.L. c. 150A is amended to specifically cover private vendors who contract with the state or its political subdivisions to provide certain social and other services.


M.G.L. c. 150E is amended to forbid employers from unilaterally changing employees' wages, hours and working conditions until the collective bargaining process (including mediation, fact-finding, and arbitration, if applicable) has been completed.


Interest arbitration is reinstituted for police and firefighter contract negotiations, with arbitration awards subject to funding by the legislative body.


LRC Revises Regulations.


The Education Reform Act of 1993 (Chapter 71 of the Acts of 1993) impacts public employees by making major changes concerning the demotion and dismissal of teachers and principals.


For cases in which the LRC issues a complaint of prohibited practice and orders a hearing, Chapter 151, § 577 of the Acts of 1996 allows the parties to elect to submit the case to arbitration at any time up to thirty days prior to the commencement of the hearing ordered by the Commission.


LRC Revises Regulations.


LRC Revises Regulations.


Chapter 268 of the Acts of 2006 defines personal care attendants (PCA) as public employees, employed by the PCA Quality Home Care Workforce Council, for certain limited purposes, including the right to organize and bargain under M.G.L. c. 150E.


Chapter 120 of the Acts of 2007 allows a majority of employees in an appropriate bargaining unit to designate an employee organization as its representative for the purpose of collective bargaining through written majority authorization.

Chapter 145 of the Acts of 2007 reorganizes the Commonwealth’s neutral labor relations agencies under the Division of Labor Relations (Division). The Division has all of the legal powers, authorities, responsibilities, duties, rights, and obligations previously conferred on the LRC, JLMC and BCA.


DLR revises regulations to implement M.G.L. c. 120 and M.G.L. c.145 of the Acts of 2007.


Chapter 3 of the Acts of 2011 changes the Division of Labor Relations’ name to the DLR.

M.G.L. c. 150E , § 7(a) is amended to allow an employer and exclusive representative to agree to extend a collective bargaining agreement beyond three years until a successor agreement is negotiated.


Chapter 189 of the Acts of 2012 defines qualified family child care providers who offer subsidized early education and child care services to children in the Commonwealth as public employees, giving them the right to organize and bargain with the state over subsidy rates, reimbursement and payment procedures, recruitment and retention of providers and professional development opportunities under M.G.L. c. 150E.


DLR revises Regulations.

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