By Andrew Staub
for The Pennsylvania Independent
HARRISBURG PA – The battle over so-called “paycheck protection legislation” has gone local in Pennsylvania.
About two weeks after hundreds of union workers flooded the state Capitol in Harrisburg to protest two bills that would force public-sector labor unions to collect their own dues, commissioners in Berks County approved a resolution supporting the state legislation.
Berks County Chairman Commissioner Christian Leinbach, a Republican, also serves as president of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania. He said he hopes to see that organization throw its support behind the legislation with a resolution of its own.
“There are other counties that are looking at it actively,” said Leinbach, who indicated he’s reached out to several county leaders.
Lehigh County commissioners went a step farther than Berks County. In late January, they requested their county executive negotiate an end to the government’s responsibility of collecting union dues.
“It prevents the government from sort of stepping out of the shadows and picking the pocket of the person who worked so hard to earn that pay,” Lehigh County Commissioner Scott Ott, a Republican, said last month.
The local moves build on the debate over the proposed legislation that flared up in late January after closed-door talks among lawmakers leaked out.
Labor unions quickly coalesced against the legislation, describing it as an attempt to silence labor unions and the working class. At about the same time a right-leaning think tank, the Commonwealth Foundation, began touting paycheck protection as a good-government reform that would prevent public resources from being used to collect money that unions could use for political purposes.