HARRISBURG PA – A fight is brewing over new laws proposed in both houses of the Pennsylvania Legislature that would prohibit unions which represent public employees – those in school districts and government agencies, for example – from automatically deducting dues from their paychecks, The Pennsylvania Independent online news service reported Wednesday.
The two bills, one each in the House and Senate, would deny unions the ability to negotiate paycheck deductions into collective bargaining agreements. Lawmakers haven’t voted — both bills are still in committees – but rhetoric over the proposal flared during the past week as lawmakers’ held closed-door discussions about it, The Independent said.
The plan squelches the voice of organized labor, labor groups claim. “This is a vindictive, just ‘get-the-union’ kind of a piece of legislation,” said David Fillman, executive director of the state’s largest public-sector union, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 13.
On the other side of the argument The Commonwealth Foundation, a free-market think tank, contends that organized labor is fighting to keep using public resources for political purposes. The foundation has been one of the most vocal advocates of the so-called paycheck protection legislation.
The dues debate includes shades of the much larger battle that played out between organized labor and Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in 2011. Union membership has fallen sharply there after the state curbed the collective bargaining power of public-sector unions by requiring them to re-certify each year, and prohibiting employers from collecting dues, among other limitations.
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