APRIL 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News
Labor continues to lobby legislators for the defeat of anti-union legislation
BY PAUL TUCKER
REGION, March 20th- The labor community continues to lobby legislators against a proposal that if passed would ban payroll deduction clauses in labor agreements in all levels of governments. The attempt includes contacting union members at their homes by phone and requesting they call their state representatives requesting they not support the legislation.
Anti-union groups have spent thousands of dollars on mailings and lobbying to attempt to get House Bill (HB 1507) and Senate Bill (SB 1034) passed by the legislature that would prohibit the payroll deduction of union members and fair-share fees of government workers. Should the legislation pass, the bill will force unions to represent non-members without any meaningful way to collect fees for the service of representation.
House Bill 1507 is being called by anti-union forces the “Payroll Protection” bill. The groups have been claiming, without facts, that taxpayers are paying for union dues collection for public employees and that teachers and state workers are being forced to contribute to political and legislative activism.
However, automatic payroll deduction of union dues is not mandated by any law rather it is bargained for during labor contract negotiations, the same as any other provision within a collective bargaining agreement.
Corporate interests are now working in Harrisburg to get commitments from legislators on the legislation.
The anti-union group, the Commonwealth Foundation, has falsely stated in newspaper editorials publiched across the state, that union households agree that taxpayer resources should not be used to collect political campaign contributions.
However, under the terms and conditions of the collective bargaining agreements between labor organizations and governments in Pennsylvania, any financial cost occured by any government for the collection of political contributions by union members is eimbursed by the union. The Commonwealth Foundation is stating union households agree with them that the paycheck protection legislation would empower individual public workers to have greater control over how their money is spent on politics.
But, before money contributions are deducted for political purposes by any labor organization in Pennsylvania, the individual public employee must first sign a authorization card requesting the contribution be taken from their paycheck. Meaning, the claim made by the Commonwealth Foundation is inaccurate.
The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg is optimistic that the anti-union groups that are financing the campaign the pass the anti-union legislation will not be successful as many state legislators have indicated they do not support HB 1507 and SB 1034.
Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Richard Bloomingdale stated the bills are designed to destroy negotiated payroll deductions, and are a part of a national right-wing, anti-union campaign brought to Pennsylvania by out-of-state corporate interests, to weaken unions by denying workers their voice on the job.
Mr. Bloomingdale added that the big money anti-union groups appear to have a duel objective, to pass legislation that will significantly hamper public employee unions; and to use this as a litmus test for anti-union legislation they wish to target in the future.
President Bloomingdale is a member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union, which represents thousands of workers employed in local, state, and county governments in Pennsylvania.
If the legislation became law all other paycheck deductions, such as donations to the United Way, the purchasing of U.S. Savings Bonds, pension contributions, and all others, would still be allowed. Therefore, the legislation would only ban the automatic paycheck deduction of a workers’ union dues.