- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey Leads Multistate Effort Defending Employers’ Ability to Collect Union Membership Dues
Boston — Attorney General Maura Healey today co-led with Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro a coalition of nine state attorneys general in sending a letter to the Liberty Justice Center reaffirming the right of public sector employers to continue collecting union membership dues and censuring the Center for spreading misleading information about the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME.
“The Liberty Justice Center is misleading public employees about their rights to collectively bargain for basic workplace rights and protections,” said AG Healey. “We are sending this letter to make it clear that my office will never stop defending the rights of workers to organize.”
In today’s multistate letter, the attorneys general assert that cease and desist letters the Liberty Justice Center, a litigation center that represented the plaintiff in Janus, sent to government employers in September misstated the Court’s decision in Janus to undermine the rights of public employees to organize, join unions, and engage in collective action for mutual aid and protection.
Through their letter, the attorneys general rejected the Liberty Justice Center’s request to stop collecting union dues because the Janus decision does not affect a public employer’s ability to withhold union dues from union members’ wages. Public employers must continue to withhold membership dues as required by specific collective bargaining agreements, consistent with state laws.
In the 5 to 4 ruling in Janus, the Court overturned decades of well-established law and practice relating to the right of a union to require the payment of fair share agency fees from public sector employees who decline union membership. Under Janus, public employers may no longer deduct agency fees from a nonmember’s wages without the employee’s consent. Consistent with the Janus decision, States and other governmental employers have made appropriate changes and are no longer deducting agency fees from employees who are not union members.
In July, the AG’s Office issued an advisory reaffirming public employee rights and employer obligations under state law in response to Janus. The advisory highlights existing state laws that protect employee rights to organize and to act collectively, free of interference or discrimination by an employer. It also clarifies that the decision has no effect on existing membership agreements between a union and its members regarding union dues and does not change any laws that protect access to public employee’s personal information. Twelve states have issued similar advisories since the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus.
Workers who believe their rights have been violated in their workplace are encouraged to file a complaint at www.mass.gov/ago/wagetheft. For information about the state’s wage and hour laws, workers may call the Office’s Fair Labor Hotline at 617-727-3465 or go to the Attorney General’s new Workplace Rights website www.mass.gov/ago/fairlabor for materials in multiple languages.
Joining AG Healey and AG Shapiro in today’s coalition are state attorneys general from Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.