Charting a Course for a Proactive Worker Agenda at the 2019 Legislative Conference
On Tuesday, January 29, two hundred union delegates arrived in Harrisburg for the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO’s Biennial Legislative Conference at the Crowne Plaza Harrisburg-Hershey. President Rick Bloomingdale and Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder welcomed conference attendees and state legislators at a reception on Monday evening.
At our Legislative Conference, union members in PA came together for one of the first times since the five-weeks-long government shutdown which devastated so many of our brothers and sisters. Though there has been a temporary end to the federal government shutdown, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO held a food drive at the conference for local food banks. Federal workers had to rely on their unions and communities to support them throughout the shutdown, and members of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO sought to pay that gratitude forward.
This historic attack on the working civil servants of our federal government brought the urgency of solidarity to our 2019 Legislative Conference. 800,000 federal workers and subcontractors were held hostage during the shutdown, which was by no means the first attack on their economic rights. Federal workers, a third of whom are veterans, have had their collective bargaining rights undermined, their pay frozen (when it’s not being withheld), their staffing levels cut, etc. The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO asks, are you next?
The morning general session featured speakers from the state government including Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, and House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody. Through the Labor 2018 electoral campaign, Pennsylvania was able to send more pro-worker legislators to Harrisburg. Elections are never the end of our work in the fight for a pro-union, pro-worker state government. Over the next two years, it will be up to the Commonwealth’s union members to step up and demand action on the issues affecting working families.
It will be up to the Pennsylvania Union movement to ensure the right to organize and collectively bargain is upheld in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s workers will not be the next group taken hostage in a political attack. The union movement must remain vigilant in our fight for workers’ rights. We will not be next.