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Public employees pension debt, right-to-work to be huge topics during 2013


JANUARY 2013, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Public employees pension debt, right-to-work to be huge topics during 2013


REGION, January 2nd- Public sector unions in Pennsylvania are getting ready for another battle with Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett and conservatives in the state General Assembly in 2013 when they will attempt to cut retirement benefits.

Mike Crossey, the President of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), which represents approximately 190,000 active and retired school teachers and employees in Pennsylvania, reacted to the Keystone Pension Report which was released on December 3rd by Governor Corbett’s budget secretary.

Mr. Crossey noted that the report stated what PSEA has said all along, that the public employees of Pennsylvania and taxpayers did not create the pension problem.

Mike Crossey emphasized that teachers, nurses, and other public employees across the Commonwealth already pay for a significant portion of their pensions, and have made their contributions on time. The pension shortfall was caused by politicans who failed to make their appropriate contributions to the pension system.

“To blame Pennsylvania’s budget problems on debts employers owe to the pension systems is to make a scapegoat of working people who have contributed to their Pensions, year in and year out,” Mr. Crossey stated.

Mr. Crossey remarks on the pension issue comes on the heels a newly released study indicating the funding cuts to school districts have resulted in increased class sizes, eliminated program offerings, and shutting down tutoring programs for struggling students.

Overall, in the past two budgets Mr. Corbett has cut more than $1 billion in education funds which has caused havoc on Pennsylvania school districts, forcing them to dramatically reduce or eliminate student programs and causing them to raise property taxes.

Mr. Corbett also recently stated he will not push for passage in 2013 for Pennsylvania to become the twenty-fifth state that now has “right-to-work”, or “no-rights-at-work”, laws on the books. Michigan became the twenty-fourth state in the nation to pass the anti-union legislation in early December.

Mr. Corbett recently said other issues other than right-to-work were more pressing however, Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder also stated in 2012 he did not believe the legislation was important but signed the legislation into law only an hour after the Republican controlled legislature in Michigan passed it.

Anti-union Pennsylvania House of Representative Daryl Metcalfe (Republican-112th Legislative District) said he plans to introduce a right-to-work measure in the first quarter of 2013. The legislation would ban union security clauses in labor bargaining agreements.

Approximately 20 states have introduced “no-rights-at-work” bills in 2012 but most were bogged down in committees. However, banning of union security clauses in Michigan have given backers, mostly profiteers and their supporters in the legislature, renewed hope that similar legislation could be passed in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

For several years the National Right-to-Work Committee, a organization funded by multi-national corporations and other anti-union groups, has placed pro-right-to-work propaganda in the Union News wire racks that are placed throughout the region. The newspaper ask that any union member or reader discovering the material to remove it and place it in a proper garbage container.

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