Legislator advocates changes in labor law to public at Trout Run town hall

TROUT RUN – Legislation being reintroduced by state House Republicans to make Pennsylvania a right-to-work state was one of several topics discussed at state Rep. Garth Everett’s, R-Muncy, second of four town hall meetings in the 84th Legislative District.

Everett and other House Republicans are supporting a six-bill package to give workers the option not to be forced to join a labor union and pay dues.

Wisconsin and Michigan recently became the 23rd and 24th state, respectively, in the nation to approve right-to-work measures.

Everett said the proposal boils down to giving employees a choice.

“Why make people join unions?” he said.

He said the role of organized labor may have a place in some circumstances, but government provides many of the oversights – such as workplace safety – that unions once did.

Everett said it’s also about economic growth.

“The states that are doing the best with economic growth are right-to-work states,” he said.

In addition, workers don’t always approve of how their union dues are spent, including political campaigns, Everett added.

But Rose Valley resident John Horn told Everett that would discriminate against collective bargaining and take away workers’ rights to organize.

“Let’s face it folks, organized labor is what made this country what it is,” said Horn, who added that he works in a area non-union factory.

“I think any job is better than no job,” Everett responded. “I personally believe that we need to make Pennsylvania a more business-friendly place.”

Everett also touched on efforts to drill for natural gas in the Rock Run area in the Loyalsock State Forest. He told the audience of about 35 people who gathered at the Trout Run Volunteer Fire Co. that Anadarko Petroleum is still negotiating with the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources on a deal.

“Anadarko intends on developing that area,” he said.