Thousands jam Pennsylvania’s capital to protest union-killing bill

HARRISBURG, Pa.– Thousands jammed the streets around the State Capitol building here today to protest the latest in a sting of attempts by state Republicans to kill union rights for public workers and eventually all workers in Pennsylvania.

Busload after busload of workers arrived from around the state, filled the streets and marched into the Capitol building itself where, reminiscent of the historic Wisconsin protests, they packed the rotunda in the center of the building.

They protested House Bill 1507, what the right wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Koch brothers call a “Paycheck Protection” bill. They have already been targeting direct mail into the state to spread lies in support of this bill, claiming that taxpayers are paying for union dues collection for public employees, and that teachers and state workers are forced to contribute to political and legislative activism.

The facts are clear, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO says, even though you won’t hear them in the commercials that the Koch brothers are financing. Automatic payroll deduction of dues is not mandated by any law, rather it is bargained for during contract negotiations. This deduction does not cost taxpayers money. Unions already agreed to reimburse the state for costs associated with deductions of PAC funds, but according to the State of Pennsylvania, there is no measurable cost to be reimbursed.

The Republican goal is obvious, unions say. The legislation would force unions to spend resources to collect union dues, and make it nearly impossible to collect the fair share fees that non-members must pay to cover their union representation. At the end of the day that means unions will be weakened, and have less ability to advocate for employees in the workplace and in the legislature. This would open the floodgates for a wide range of anti-worker legislation that would be sure to follow.

“There is no doubt that the passage of HB 1507 would mean that Pennsylvania would become the next right to work state” the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO said in a statement it issued. ” Don’t be silent on this issue. We expect this bill to move very quickly, with significant resources flooding into Pennsylvania to back this latest attack on the middle class.”

Photo: Frank Snyder, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO