PHILADELPHIA– On the heels of a mass mobilization of workers at the state Capitol, City Council today passed a resolution against a politically-motivated state legislative attempt to silence working families and weaken unions.
The Councilman Kenney-sponsored resolution opposes H.B. 1507 and S.B. 1034, purportedly regarding deduction of union dues, promoted by out-of-state special interests like the Koch brothers who have set their sights on Pennsylvania.
“This legislation is funded by the same groups that led the attack on public sector unions in Wisconsin just a few years ago,” said Councilman Jim Kenney. “Laws that affect Pennsylvania families should be written by leaders our people choose, not by out of state corporate special interests like the Koch brothers.”
Union members and leaders testified today in support of the resolution.
“Being part of a union gives us a voice for the students,” said Philadelphia School District maintenance mechanic and 32BJ SEIU member, Tom McGanan. “My union gives me the protection to speak out and make sure the job is done right for the safety of the kids.”
“This is a blatant and transparent attack on organized labor in Pennsylvania. Although police and fire fighters are exempt from this bill, this is obviously the first step in attacking all public and private sector unions,” said International Association of Fire Fighters Local 22 president, Joe Schulle.
Similar laws have been promoted across the country as part of a larger plan to push forward policies that would destroy unions and silence working families. In a 2013 fundraising letter to supporters, Senator Pat Toomey described the Commonwealth Foundation’s “Project Goliath” plan to “slay” Pennsylvania unions.
Supreme Courts in Alabama, Arizona, and Washington ruled that “paycheck deception” laws are unconstitutional because they violate the first amendment.
“This legislation isn’t designed to protect union members,” added McGanan. “This legislation is designed to silence working families and protect corporate special interests like the Koch brothers.”
With 145,000 members in nine states and Washington, D.C., including 22,000 in Pennsylvania, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.
Full text of the resolution:
City of Philadelphia
RESOLUTION NO. 140021
Introduced January 23, 2014
Councilmembers Kenney, Reynolds Brown, Greenlee, Henon, Squilla and Blackwell
Urging the members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly to oppose all efforts by anonymously funded groups to attack the collective bargaining rights of public sector union workers through House Bill 1507 and Senate Bill 1034.
WHEREAS, House Bill 1507 and Senate Bill 1034, spuriously known in Harrisburg as “Paycheck Protection” legislation, aim to take away the ability of public sector unions to collectively bargain for the employer to make automatic deductions of union dues and other fees from the worker’s paycheck; and
WHEREAS, These payroll deductions have been in place for years, and are often one of the first agreements made by the parties in collective bargaining; and
WHEREAS, Proponents of the legislation continue to mislead the public and members of the General Assembly by not differentiating “fair share” deductions and political deductions. The union is tasked with representing all workers whether they pay dues or not, and this money can only be used for union activities such as contract negotiation and providing legal representation in the grievance process; and
WHEREAS, Supporters of this legislation claim government money is being used to help fund union political activities, which is highly farcical. First, all union political deductions are voluntary, so if the worker chooses they do not have to contribute. Second, the payroll system is nearly completely automated and with the number of deductions already being made for medical insurance, retirement accounts and other things at the request of the employee or employer, the added costs for the deductions of political contributions is miniscule;
WHEREAS, One of the groups behind this attack on collective bargaining rights is the Commonwealth Foundation. Commonwealth bills itself as a “free-market think-tank”, but in reality is just a right-wing group trying to undermine worker rights; and
WHEREAS, The Commonwealth Foundation refuses to release its funding sources, but the group has been linked with David and Charles Koch and their foundations. The Koch brothers led the attack on worker’s rights in Wisconsin and they apparently see Pennsylvania as their next battleground; now, therefore, be it RESOLVED, BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, That the members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly are urged to oppose all efforts by anonymously funded groups to attack the collective bargaining rights of public sector union workers through House Bill 1507 and Senate Bill 1034.