A contingent led by State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-12) introduced, this morning, Jan. 22, a series of bills that would boost the economy of Pennsylvania and returned needed money to the wallets of the rank and file worker.
One would think it would be a no-brainer for such legislation to pass but that is far from the case as the money to do this good thing would come from the wallets of the state’s union bosses and the campaign funds of the Democratic Party.
Metcalfe was joined on stage in the Capitol media center by at least 37 others including a nurse, a public school teacher and Majority House Whip Stan Saylor (R-94).
The six bills were introduced by their sponsors starting with Metcalfe and HB 50, the Freedom of Employment Act that would make employment no longer conditional upon union membership or paying dues to a union.
Following him was a representative of the Pennsylvania Right To Work who noted that 70 percent of the general public — and 40 percent of union households — supported a prohibition of automatically deducting union dues from workers paychecks which is what now occurs in the state.
State Rep. Fred Keller (R-85) was next with the introduction of his bill, HB 52, that would prohibit labor organizations from collecting compulsory union dues from non-union state workers. He said the loss to these workers is $600 a year, which over 10 years would cover a semester of tuition at a state university.
Kevin Shrivers of the National Federation of Independent Businesses -Pa. said with the recent passage of free employment laws in Michigan and Indiana, Pennsylvania must act quickly to avoid losing manufacturers to those states.
Kathy Rapp (R-65) introduced HB 51 that would prohibit labor unions from collecting compulsory union dues from non-union public school employees hence overturning Act 88 of 1988.
“Pennsylvania teachers deserve a better deal,” she said.
While she supports the bans on compulsory union dues, she noted she is not against collective bargaining.
She criticized, as many others later did, Gov. Tom Corbett for his coolness to the issue, and gave a dig to the Republican legislative leaders noting that they have yet to allow an up or down vote on the matter.
Neil Weidman, an English teacher at Garden Spot High School in Lancaster County, was next. He said his conscience prohibits him from joining the teachers union due to the political causes they support, and asked that it be stopped from taking money from his paycheck without his consent.
Gene Barr, who is president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber, addressed the “free rider” claim union leaders use to compel dues from non-members. He pointed out that his organization can’t and shouldn’t be allowed to compel dues from all businesses in the state but that all businesses benefit from the research and legal tasks his group performs.
Barr also described his own union background along with his family’s.
“It’s my view (that) it’s a pro worker (series of bills),” he said.
Justin Davis of the National Right to Work Committee spoke of the morality of changing the law.
“In a free society there is no natural right to compel membership in an organization,” he said.
He noted the bills are not anti-union.
“Good unions don’t need compulsive unionism and bad unions don’t deserve it.”
Simon Campbell, a director on the Pennsbury School Board in Bucks County and president of STOP Teacher Strikes, noted that there are 3,000 public school employees in Philadelphia who are not union members but still must pay union dues. He noted that the state government has 20,000 non-union employees who have to pay union dues.
He joined in the criticism of Gov. Corbett by pointing out that he kept the compulsory collection of union dues when the approved the contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees although he did not need to.
Rep. Jim Cox (R-129) described his bill, HB 53, that would prohibit labor organizations from collecting compulsory union dues from non-union local government employees.
David Taylor, executive director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association pointed out that $1.6 billion in new investment flowed into Indiana in just six months after it passed right to work legislation. He said it would be greatly disadvantageous to Pennsylvania if it let Ohio beat it in becoming right to work.
Barry Miller, president and CEO, of Associated Builders & Contractors, Keystone Chapter, also described the special advantages Pennsylvania would get if it became right to work.
“Over a third of the U.S. is within a days drive and there is not a right-to-work state connected to us,” he said.
He reiterated the point that compulsory dues don’t benefit workers.
“The only group that benefits from forced union dues is your bosses,” he said.
Rep. Jerry Knowles (R-124) introduced HB 54 which would prohibit private-sector employment from being conditional upon membership or non-union membership in a labor organization and prohibit compulsory dues for non-union members.
He said that 700,000 non-union manufacturing jobs were added to the U.S. economy between 2010 and 2012 while there was a loss of 60,000 union manufacturing jobs.
“I want to issue this challenge to the union bosses: prove your worth,” he said.
Dr. Catherine Fike, a director on the Southmoreland School Board, described the corruption caused by compulsory dues.
“Many of our elected leaders are afraid of angering (unions) because of the amount of money (the can funnel into elections). . . We the taxpayer directly subsidize (this corruption).
She offered a solution.
“To kill the monster cut off the head,” she said.
She said she came from a union background and that once unions were noble organizations.
Steve Bloom (R-199) introduced HB 250 that would give public employees the freedom to quit the union at anytime during the contract. Current law only allows employees to quit their union membership 15 days prior to the end of the contract.
David Nace, vice president of Wickersham Construction & Engineering Co., described first hand the adverse affect forced unionism had on people and how he had to leave western Pennsylvania for Lancaster County to find an entry level job as a young man.
Jennifer Stefano, state director of Americans for Prosperity, joined the criticism of Corbett for his lack of political will.
“You don’t build monuments to committees,” she said.
She explained how political will caused public sentiment to change in Michigan for a right to work law, and itemized examples of violence by local unions.
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