Members File Opening Brief in Challenge to Union Backed Ballot Question

The Fiscal Alliance Foundation announced today that an Opening Brief was filed with the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) on behalf of three Massachusetts citizen voters—including Foundation board member Kristen Arute, spokesperson Paul Craney, and Michael Hruby —outlining their case against the ballot question titled an Initiative Petition for an Act Giving Transportation Network Drivers the Option to Form a Union and Bargain Collectively, from being allowed on the 2024 ballot.

The objectors are being represented by Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C., with Kevin McGinty serving as the lead attorney.

The brief focuses on the many ways that the complex ballot question, which is over 32 pages long, violates the relatedness clause of Article 48 of the state constitution. The relatedness clause requires that all parts of any ballot question put before the voters be related to, and mutually dependent on, each other. The question includes provisions that seek to allow Transportation Network Drivers (TND) to organize as a union, would give the Commonwealth of Massachusetts the authority to set wages and benefits, would create an entirely new classification of workers for labor law purposes that are allowed to partake in collective bargaining while being independent contractors, and would reduce the threshold of interest to call a vote to unionize from 30% to 2.5%

“At 32 pages long, the text of this question is long, complex, and blatantly combines four distinct policies into one ballot question. A reasonable person could have a differing opinion on any four of these various aspects of the question, the precise thing which Article 48 is there to prevent. Voters shouldn’t feel like they have to vote for a ballot question to get policy “A”, even though they oppose policy “B,” noted Craney, who in addition to being a plaintiff in this lawsuit is also a spokesman for the Fiscal Alliance Foundation.

The brief itself notes that, “The Petition bundles contradictory provisions that are neither mutually dependent nor operationally related, denying voters a meaningful choice to express a uniform public policy. And it presents these issues in a confusing manner that obscures the grant of government authority, with the attendant risk that voters will unintentionally adopt that policy in the mistaken belief that the Petition’s only purpose was to establish collective bargaining for TNDs.”

The brief also notes that at least two portions of the question, the provision allowing independent contractors to engage in collective bargaining and the provision that would lower the threshold to call a vote to unionize from 30% to 2.5%, are in direct contradiction with federal and state labor law.

“The Commonwealth has passed ballot questions that contradict federal law in the past and we’re still adjudicating those as we speak. If this question were allowed to move forward as written, we would be entering into a legal quagmire that could take decades to resolve,” noted Craney.

A full copy of the brief may be viewed here.

The Attorney General and the petition proponents, who have intervened in the suit, can respond by April 12th, and a reply to the Attorney General’s response is due on April 19th. Oral argument is scheduled to be heard on May 6.