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Anti-union legislation being created for current session of Legislature


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

Anti-union legislation being created for current session of Legislature


REGION, January 25th- There will be many issues important to members of the labor community on the political agenda in Harrisburg during the current session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Pennsylvania Republican anti-union Governor Tom Corbett recently stated he will not push for passage in 2013 for the state 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 2012.

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) introduced a right-to-work measure called the “Open Workforce Initiative” Bill. 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.

Mr. Metcalfe stated what happen in Michigan and before that in Indiana created more energy for the anti-union forces in Pennsylvania to pass the no-rights-at-work legislation.

Before Indiana passed the anti-union legislation in 2011 and Michigan in 2012 the last state to successfully pass right-to-work laws was Oklahoma in 2001.

Democratic governors in New Hampshire, Kentucky and Missouri have stated they would veto the anti-union legislation should their legislators passed it. Also, Ohio pro-business legislators have pledged to attempt to make their state a no-rights-at-work state in 2013. Missouri is surrounded by six states that have no-rights-at-work laws on the books.

Labor organizations in Ohio have already began to rally their members and have pointed to their success in helping to overturn a Republican-backed law in 2011 that would have severely restricked public employees unions to negotiate contracts with government, both statewide and local.

Meanwhile, legislation that would ban Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s) on public construction projects such as schools and public office buildings; the privitization of the Pennsylvania Wine and Spirits Shops; and allowing the further expansion of charter schools, has been introduced or have been promised by anti-union, pro-business members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly during the 2013 session.

A PLA is a comprehensive agreement signed between 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 well trained 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.

On January 30th, Mr. Corbett unveiled yet another privitization plan of the state owned liquor and wine stores that if passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly would expand outlets where liquor is sold attempting to drive-up consumption throughout the state.

In his unveiling of the new privitization plan there was no mention why he believed making liquor more easily availible would be a good thing for the citizens of Pennsylvania.

Privitization of the Pennsylvania Wine and Spirits stores would likely replace good paying family sustaining jobs with lower paying jobs.