The Pennsylvania Labor Movement in 2014 has been defined by the fight against anti-union legislation that would interfere with negotiated dues deduction. Backed by out-of-state billionaires and corporate lobbyists, House Bill 1507 and Senate Bill 1034 would make it illegal for public sector unions to collectively bargain for automatic deduction of union dues. This is widely understood to be a critical step towards making Pennsylvania the next “Right to Work” state.
Over the past two months, union members and allies have taken this threat seriously. There have been hundreds of in-district meetings with legislators, thousands of doors knocked, and tens of thousands of letters delivered to State Senators and Representatives – and the intense focus on this issue seems to have at least temporarily stalled the bills at the state level.
But last week we raised the alarm about the fight against “Right to Work” heating up at the local level in Pennsylvania. This month, a few Republican-controlled counties passed resolutions in support of so-called “Paycheck Protection” legislation; then they took this local strategy to the next level. The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) met in Harrisburg this week for the Spring Conference Business Meeting. On the agenda – and recommended by the CCAP Resolutions Committee – was Resolution No. 1, which “supports legislation to prohibit the collection of membership dues, legal defense fund contributions or fees, and political/campaign contributions by government as a matter for collective bargaining with public sector unions.”
In Pennsylvania, 53 of our 67 counties are Republican controlled, but The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO led the charge, along with many affiliates, local unions, and Central Labor Councils across the state, and asked union members to reach out to their County Commissioners and ask them to oppose Resolution 1. Thousands of members responded, in what was an unprecedented Statewide effort to mobilize union members to lobby their local elected officials.
We are pleased to report that yesterday, the County Commissioner who introduced Resolution 1 chose to withdraw it from consideration, rather than allow it to be voted on by the body. Thank you to County leaders from across the Commonwealth for rejecting this misguided resolution.
“This week’s events further demonstrate the solidarity and engagement which have allowed Pennsylvania’s Labor Movement to hold off many of the most egregious attacks on our fundamental rights” said Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale. “Regardless of the strategies that the other side uses, the Labor Movement will not be divided, and we will not be caught off-guard, giving new meaning to ‘rapid response’,” added Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder.