Late this afternoon, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, by an overwhelming majority, rejected a bare knuckled effort to crush collective bargaining rights for Pennsylvania Public Employees.
Our Pennsylvania Courts have long recognized that a Public Employer in Pennsylvania may not unilaterally declare an impasse over wages, hours or other terms and conditions of employment unless the workers have first been forced to strike. They must work through the collective bargaining process with the democratically designated representative of their employees. The Mayor of Philadelphia, however, attempted to use the extraordinary jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to secure Judicial Approval of his own unilateral version of what the terms of work for Philadelphia’s Municipal workers should be.
“We applaud the ruling of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court,” said Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale. “Mayor Nutter’s attempts to solve his budget problems on the backs of City workers is a heartless and foolish way to finance the services Philadelphia taxpayers need and deserve. Today the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stood with working families and the rule of law and we commend them. The members and leaders of AFSCME District Council 33 and their brothers and sisters from District Council 47 scored a major victory for the rights of workers to bargain collectively,”
Had Philadelphia’s Mayor prevailed, Collective Bargaining rights for Pennsylvania Public workers everywhere would have been left to the whim of Politicians who all too often place their personal political agendas ahead of the needs of the residents of the Communities they are elected to serve. This is a victory for all workers, public and private sector alike, and the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO is proud to have joined in the fight to protect Collective Bargaining by participating as A Friend of the Court on behalf of AFSCME District Council 33.
“For four long years these working men and women have served the people of Philadelphia without the security of a contract. The determination and solidarity they have displayed fighting for their rights is an example to be held high and valued by workers everywhere;” added Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder. “This is a victory for collective bargaining, not just for District Council 33, but for bus drivers, teachers, cafeteria workers, Wine and Spirits Shops employees, first responders, trash collectors, and many others who earn a living delivering the public services we need and expect. While truly significant, today’s win is only a step in the process. Our work is not over. We have miles to go before we sleep.”
While the Supreme Court decision today was a victory that reaffirms the rights of public employees to collectively bargain, there is still much work to do. The workers in Philadelphia are still without contracts, and the Mayor of Philadelphia is still pursuing legal options to try and unilaterally undermine the collective bargaining rights of the workers in Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO will continue to stand with our brothers and sisters and do all we can to support them through these ongoing battles.