FAQ - General Information

Frequently asked questions of public employee collective bargaining

Table of Contents

General information

What does the law do?

The Massachusetts public employee collective bargaining law gives most public employees at the state, county, and municipal levels the right to: (1) form, join, or participate in unions; (2) bargain collectively over terms and conditions of employment; (3) engage in other concerted activities for mutual aid and protection; and (4) refrain from participating in any or all of these activities.

When did the law take effect?

The law was signed on November 26, 1973, and became effective on July 1,1974.

Who administers the law?

The Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations (DLR), which has offices at 19 Staniford Street, 1st Floor, Boston, Massachusetts 02114 and 436 Dwight Street, Room 206, Springfield, Massachusetts 01103.

Who is covered by the law?

State, county and municipal employees in the executive and judicial branches of government and employees of certain Authorities. Managerial and confidential employees are specifically excluded from coverage. Employees may be designated as managerial only if they participate to a substantial degree in the formulation of policy; assist to a substantial degree in collective bargaining; or have a substantial, independent, appellate role in personnel or contract administration. Employees may be designated as confidential only if they directly assist and act in a confidential capacity to a person excluded from the Law's coverage.

What is the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board?

The Commonwealth Employment Relations Board (CERB) is the three-member appellate body within the DLR that was created as part of the 2007 reorganization of the Commonwealth’s labor relations agencies. The CERB consists of one full-time Chair and two per-diem members appointed by the governor from names submitted to the governor by the Advisory Council. The CERB is responsible for issuing decisions and final orders on appeal of dismissals of prohibited practice charges and hearing officer decisions. Depending on the posture of the case, the CERB also determines appropriate bargaining units in representation, written majority and CAS matters. M.G.L. c. 23, Section 9R.

What is the Advisory Council?

The Advisory Council advises the DLR concerning policies, practices and specific actions that the DLR might implement to better discharge its labor relations duties. It consists of 13 members appointed by the governor, five of whom shall be members or representatives of public sector labor unions, five of whom shall be representatives of public sector managers, including the director of employee relations for the Commonwealth, and three of whom shall be at-large members. M.G.L. c. 23, Section 9Q.

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