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Anti-union legislation being proposed in Pennsylvania


MARCH 2011, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Anti-union legislation being proposed in Pennsylvania


REGION, February 17th- Pennsylvania could experience protest like those in Wisconsin by union workers due to anti-union legislation.

In Wisconsin, pro-union protesters have protested Republican efforts to force labor contract concessions on public employees unions, including teachers and other government workers, that would make them contribute more to their health care and pension costs and change many of the terms and conditions language of their contracts.

The Republican Governor, which was elected in November, 2010, set off the protests by pushing ahead with legislation requiring the concessions from government workers. The Republicans also have majorities in the Wisconsin House of Representatives and Senate. He says the concessions are needed to deal with a state deficit of $3.5 billion.

Wisconsin is one of nine states in the nation that are facing budget deficits and are proposing measures calling for concessions by government workers.

In Pennsylvania, several anti-union measures have been introduced in committee that if passed would hurt members of the labor community.

With the Republicans gaining control of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the Governors Mansion, anti-union legislation will likely be introduced in the upcoming session of the General Assembly, including a fourth try at banning the use of PLA’s on public construction projects. The GOP also controls the Senate.

Also, teacher unions in Pennsylvania are against legislation that would allow parents to receive vouchers to send their children to non-public schools.

A PLA is a comprehensive agreement signed by a builder and local craft unions under which a defined construction project is agreed to be completed by workers from local union halls, in return for the union’s guarantee of no strikes, a steady labor supply, and general labor peace. Under a PLA, a nonunion contractor could still be hired for a project, however if they are selected, local unionized workers must be hired.

The unions also fear legislation will be introduced on the floors of the General Assembly that would ban union security clauses in Pennsylvania. Such legislation is often referred to as “right-to-work.”

“The fact of the matter is that many non-union contractors here in Pennsylvania and all over the country bid on projects with PLA’s and win those bids. They then go on to complete those projects using local crafts people and still earn a reasonable profit. They do this because PLA’s work,” stated Frank Sirianni, President of the Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council in Harrisburg, which is a labor federation representing unions who members are employed within the construction industry.