Today, labor leaders from across the Commonwealth expressed their opposition to the so-called “Right-To-Work” legislation introduced in the PA General Assembly. President Rick Bloomingdale and Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder were joined by union members from the public, private and building trades sectors, Tammy Geanangel (IUOE Local 66), Dean Showers (USW Local 6996) and Alison Ocmand (AFTPA). Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski hosted the event at the Capitol Media Center, joined by House Democratic Leader Rep. Frank Dermody and Rep. Gene DiGirolamo.
President Rick Bloomingdale opened up the press conference by correcting a falsehood, long perpetuated by the right-wing, stating. “No one is ever forced to join a union.” He went on to describe the effects of “right to work” policies in the public sector before Pennsylvania became a fair share state in 1988. “In my personal experience as a union member, when ‘right to work’ policies are enacted, they only serve to breed discord in the workplace. ‘Right to work’ policies do not improve economic opportunities for working people. In states that have enacted these policies wages are lower, benefits are fewer and poverty is higher. These policies destroy opportunity because they breakdown our ability to come together and demand better. These ‘right to work’ policies are wrong for Pennsylvania.”
Tammy Geanangel, graduate apprentice and a 30-year member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66, gave the much-needed perspective of a union organizer who often sees the devastation “right to work” policies have caused working people in our neighbor state of West Virginia. “As a 30-year member of the IUOE Local 66 and a woman in the construction trades, I have personally witnessed the impact Right to Work laws have on workers. Make no mistake, “right to work” has nothing to do with a worker’s right to work and everything to do with stripping workers of livable wages and benefits. Ultimately, it’s a race to the bottom!”
United Steelworkers Local 6996 President Dean Showers described how “right to work”, harms all workers. [Right to work] “is just another attack on workers, both union, and non-union. Weakened labor unions in the private sector mean lower wages and weakened benefits which all transfer a greater percentage of profits to shareholders and managers at the expense of those doing the daily work to make those profits.”
While supporters of “right to work” legislation often speak of ‘increasing economic opportunities”, but the reality is MUCH different. Alison Ocmand, Government Relations Director of AFT PA, discussed the economic consequences of “Right-To-Work” legislation in her remarks, highlighting that if greater economic opportunity for working people is the goal, then attacks on collective bargaining are certainly the wrong tactic. “What will the General Assembly do when they don’t have enough teachers, counselors, librarians, etc., to staff the Commonwealth’s public schools? Let’s spend our time on making sure that doesn’t happen—instead of wasting our time on anti-worker distractions.”
Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder closed out the press conference by exposing the corporate greed behind the push for this legislative package. “’Right to work’ legislation is 100% anti-worker and 100% anti-union being driven by the super-rich 1% who control a few foolhardy politicians. This package of bills is not about creating economic opportunity, it’s about destroying communities and we’re not about to let them get away with that.” Secretary-Treasurer Snyder also brought up the occasion of Equal Pay Day, the day of when a woman’s earnings catch up to that of a man working the same job. “Nowhere else are working people treated better and with more respect, than when they are represented by a union contract.”