Keep hands off

I’d like to respond to the letter by teacher Deb Kuhar, “The real story”. This was boilerplate disinformation. The whole of the 2-page bill, one in the House and one in the Senate, deals with this question, “Should taxpayer resources be used to collect union political money?” My answer is an emphatic no. In 2012, Pennsylvania government unions spent nearly $5 million from members’ dues on lobbying and politics and government union bosses gave nearly $4 million in campaign contributions via their PACs to candidates.

These expenditures do not require the approval of members and often advocate for policies counter to a teachers’ own beliefs. What is shocking is that these campaign contributions are collected for union leaders using public payroll systems at taxpayer expense. Taxpayer resources should not be used for political purposes.

Unlike voluntary deductions, union dues and PAC contributions are political, partisan and most importantly, involuntary. What the public unions like the NEA, SEIU, PSEA and others have lobbied heavily for, with the help of this taxpayer funding, was the Affordable Care Act, dishonest ads to protect the state liquor monopoly and teachers unions fighting to keep at-risk children in violent and failing schools. They have refused to contemplate public pension reform which has reached unsustainable levels, soon costing homeowners nearly $900 more in property taxes “each year” or the layoffs of nearly a third of all teachers.

Government union leaders operate with unfair political advantage collecting, at taxpayer expense, campaign dues and contributions used for lobbying and politics. Paycheck protection laws have nothing to do with workers’ ability to join a union, they simply prevent taxpayer resources from being used to collect political funds. Prohibiting the use of taxpayer resources for union use does not threaten the ability of unions to negotiate with government entities. Paycheck protection does not even touch the process of collective bargaining; unions would still be free to negotiate wages and benefits for their members. It simply requires unions to bear responsibility for collecting their own dues and PAC money. These are expenditures that do not require the approval of members and often advocate for policies counter to a teachers’ own beliefs.

The union rhetoric is due to a much larger battle that played out between organized labor and Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in 2011. Union membership has fallen sharply, as has dues money, after Wisconsin curbed the collective bargaining power of public-sector unions by requiring them to re-certify each year and prohibiting employers from collecting dues, among other limitations. Pennsylvania’s bills do none of this.

Carl Hiller

South Williamsport

Submitted by Virtual Newsroom