Lawmakers seek to bring right-to-work policies to state

A concerted effort by Republican lawmakers seeks to move Pennsylvania toward right-to-work status, with seven House bills, working to eliminate compulsory union status for state employees.

“This package of bills addressing compulsory payment of union dues are not anti-union – they are pro-worker and pro-jobs,” said state Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, who is sponsoring the Freedom of Employment Amendment.

This bill would make it Constitutionally unlawful in Pennsylvania for employment to be based on union membership or paying dues to unions, according to Everett.

The seven bills were introduced as part of the Pennsylvania Open Workforce Initiative in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, and they focus on eliminating mandatory dues to unions.

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry Township, is spearheading the initiative with his bill, the Freedom of Employment Act.

“With an ever-increasing majority of right-to-work states, there is no denying that job-creating businesses which pay family-sustaining wages consider right-to-work laws a non-negotiable factor in determining which states to locate and which states to leave,” Metcalfe said.

There are currently 28 right-to-work states. According to the lawmakers, from 2000 to 2015, populations increased by 22.3 percent in those states, but by 9.5 in other states. From July 2014 to July 2015, more than 480,000 people moved to right-to-work states.

“This is not a movement against unions, but rather a movement in favor of individual employee rights,” said Kauffman, chairman of the House Labor and Industry Committee. “It is time Pennsylvania moved away from its current antiquated system and started providing employees with the freedom to choose whether or not they wish to be part of a union.

According to Everett, union employees do not always agree with the political activity for which their union is advocating, however their mandatory fees to the union often go toward those political issues.

“If union members want their dues to be used for political activities, they can continue to pay their dues – those who disagree can send a message to their union leadership by withholding some or all of their dues,” Everett said.