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Massachusetts Law About Unions and Collective Bargaining

Massachusetts Laws

Massachusetts Regulations

456 CMR: Department of Labor Relations

Federal Laws

29 USC 151-169: National Labor Relations Act.

Selected Case Law

Commonwealth v. Hunt, 45 Mass. 111, 4 Metcalf 111 (1842). Case is considered a landmark decision in the legalization of labor unions. For more information, see

Department of Labor Relations-Commonwealth Employment Relations Board Recent Decisions. 2011-2012.

14 Penn Plaza LLC v. Pyett, 556 US 247 (2009). "We hold that a collective-bargaining agreement that clearly and unmistakably requires union members to arbitrate ADEA claims is enforceable as a matter of federal law."

Boston Housing Authority v. National Conference of Firemen and Oilers, Local 3, 458 Mass. 155 (2010). An "evergreen clause" extending the terms of a lapsed contract during negotiation, "was rendered invalid by G. L. c. 150E, § 7 (a), which prohibits extending the duration of a CBA beyond three years."

Harris v. Quinn, 573 US __ (June 30, 2014). Limiting agency fee. In a case involving a narrow class of employees, who are considered state employees only for the purposes of collective bargaining, but are otherwise not state employees, the court held that the "First Amendment prohibits the collection of an agency fee from Rehabilitation Program PAs who do not want to join or support the union." New!

NLRB v. Weingarten, 420 US 251 (1975). Union members have a right to have a representative present if the interview may result in disciplinary consequences. "The right arises only in situations where the employee requests representation ."


Department of Labor Relations Forms and E-Filing, includes forms for: public employment, private employment, conciliation, mediation and arbitration.

Other Web Sources

FAQ:Massachusetts Public Employee Collective Bargaining law, Mass. Dept. of Labor Relations. "The Massachusetts public employee collective bargaining law (the 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." Just about everything you need to know about the law.

Guide for Hearing Officers in Representation and Section 10(k) Proceedings, National Labor Relations Board, 2003. Nearly 500 pages long. "The hearing officer must
ensure that the hearing is conducted in accord with Agency procedures and that the
resulting record is free of cumulative or irrelevant testimony yet sufficient to allow for an
informed determination of disputed issues by the Board or the Regional Director. The
Guide’s availability on the Agency’s website ( makes it particularly
valuable to practitioners inside and outside the Agency."

Memorandum Concerning Boston Housing Authority v. National Conference of Firemen and Oilers, Local 3, 458 Mass. 155 (2010), Chief Counsel Memorandum 2010-1, Department of Labor Relations, December 2, 2010.

NLRB Bench Book, National Labor Relations Board, 2010. This bench book "represents an effort to set forth Board precedent and other rulings and authorities on certain recurring procedural issues that may arise during the course of an NLRB trial. It is not a digest of substantive law. Nor should it be cited as precedent, or be considered a substitute for issue-specific research."

NLRB Casehandling Manual: Compliance Proceedings, National Labor Relations Board, 2011. Long (over 300 p.) document covers all facets of compliance proceedings.

NLRB Casehandling Manual: Representation Proceedings, National Labor Relations Board, 2007. Long (over 300 p.) document covers the whole process from pre-election through post-election.

NLRB Casehandling Manual: Unfair Labor Practice Proceedings, National Labor Relations Board, 2011. Extremely lengthy (over 300 p.) online version of book covers everything you need to know about unfair labor practice.

Representation Case Manual, Mass. Dept. of Labor Relations. Covers pre-election through post-election, with lots of references to primary law.

Selected Print Sources

"Enabling Employee Choice: A Structural Approach to the Rules of Union Organizing," by Benjamin I. Sachs, Harvard Law Review, Vol. 123, Issue 3 (January 2010), pp. 655-729. Also available online to library card holders through HeinOnline.

How to Take a Case Before the NLRB, BNA, 2008.

Labor and Employment in Massachusetts, Jeffrey L. Hirsch, LexisNexis, loose-leaf. Chapter 12: Unions and Collective Bargaining.

Massachusetts Employer's Guide, 9th ed., Ron Cresswell, Wolters Kluwer, loose-leaf. Chapter 10: Unions and Government Contractors.

Massachusetts Labor Cases, New England Legal Publishers, monthly.

Municipal Law and Practice, 5th ed (Mass. Practice v.18), Douglas A. Randall and Douglas E. Franklin, West, 2006 with supplement. Chapter 12: Labor Relations.


Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations

National Labor Relations Board