A victory for labor: Supreme Court
declines to take up Branch case
T he U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal of a strong pro-labor decision in Branch v. Commonwealth Employment
Relations Board, a case brought against MTA
affiliates by the anti-union National Right to Work
Legal Defense Foundation.
The Branch case, decided by the Massachusetts
Supreme Judicial Court in April 2019, centered
on a First Amendment challenge to the concept of
“exclusive representation” and mandatory agency fee
provisions in the state’s collective bargaining statute,
MTA President Merrie Najimy welcomed the
Supreme Court’s Jan. 13 decision not to take up
the appeal. “We were confident that this right-wing
attack on workers and their unions was utterly
baseless,” Najimy said. “The state Supreme Judicial
Court understood that our public-sector unions
operate in accordance with the Constitution and are
grounded in the principles of democracy. Allowing
the SJC ruling to stand affirms workers’ rights to
In Branch, the National Right to Work Legal
Defense Foundation argued that a union cannot
exclude non-members from participating in internal
proposals and voting on whether to ratify a contract.
It argued that depriving non-members of “a voice
and a vote” in union matters is an even worse
violation of the First Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution than the collection of compelled agency
fees, which the Supreme Court struck down in the
Janus v. AFSCME case.
The SJC’s carefully reasoned decision rejected
all of the foundation’s arguments, including the
contention that state law allowing a member-based
union to serve as the “exclusive representative” of
all bargaining unit employees — members and non-members alike — violates the U.S. Constitution.
The SJC observed that all bargaining unit
employees are given a vote on whether to form a
union in the first place and that “those opposed to
having a union lost that vote.” Majority rule, the
court said, “is a fundamental aspect of American
“We were confident that this
right-wing attack on workers and
their unions was utterly baseless,”
said MTA President Merrie Najimy.
fair. Yet the district has proposed giving
teachers a bigger cost-of-living increase than
paraprofessionals and other staff.
Members signed a petition protesting
the disparate treatment and delivered it to the
School Committee. Regarding the raises, the
petition states, “Whether you are a custodian or
a paraprofessional or a teacher, your milk costs
the same. We all deserve raises to meet the rising
At that session, ATA members held up signs
in the hallway and during the meeting to show
their solidarity. This was a new kind of activism
for a local that traditionally has been quiet.
One member with a button-making machine
made buttons reflecting the union’s newfound
solidarity: Athol Teachers United.
Rami Bridge, president of the Somerville
Teachers Association, summed up why
locals like his should be fighting so hard for
paraprofessionals. In an op-ed for the local
newspaper, Bridge wrote, “No educator in a class
by themselves can give all their students the
support they need. It takes a team of dedicated
professionals. Paraprofessionals are the glue that
holds the team together. Our schools would not
Continued from Page 3
‘Paraprofessionals are the glue
that holds the team together’
Hertz, Dollar and Thrifty offer MTA members
exclusive rates and benefits.
Save up to 25% off the base rate* at participating
locations worldwide. Visit Hertz.com/MTA or use
CDP# 2151200 at time of booking.
Sign up for Hertz Gold Plus Rewards® with your
discount code and enjoy even more rewarding travel.
*Discount applies to pay-later base rate only. Taxes and fees excluded. Base rate includes time and mileage charges only. Taxes, fees
and options excluded. Advance reservation required. Blackout periods may apply. Always include your discount code CDP# in your
reservation to take advantage of this discount program. Discounts identified by your CDP# may not be combined or used with travel
industry discounts, prepay rates, tour rates or other discounts or rates not included in the discount program. Age, driver and credit
qualifications in effect at the time and place of rental apply. Additional terms apply.
Save 7% off the base rate* at participating
locations in the U.S. and Canada.