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Keller says ‘no’ to union bill

U.S. Rep. Fred Keller, R-Kreamer, has made it clear he opposes the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, a bill he claims would hurt both employers and employees.

The lawmaker huddled with local business leaders and others Tuesday during a roundtable discussion with the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce to express his problems with the legislation.

“I wanted to make you aware of what is in this bill,” he said. “Ultimately, I don’t support this bill.”

Provisions of the legislation are simply harmful to business, according to Keller, a former plant manager and business owner.

He said they include:

• Stripping away workers’ free choice in union elections.

• Curbing opportunities for people to work through independent contractor roles.

• Eliminating Right-To-Work protections for workers, including in Right-To-Work states.

• Interfering with attorney-client confidentiality and making it harder for businesses to secure legal advice labor laws.

• Prohibiting arbitration agreement in employment contracts.

• Infringing on the due process of employees.

• Stripping away secondary boycott protections that prevent unions from using their anti-trust exemptions and immunity from state laws to target businesses for anti-competitive purposes other than organizing.

Keller said the bill sets in place government policies that blur the lines between employers and employees.

Frank Lundy, of Lundy Construction, said he had problems with the legislation.

“It’s important to get ahead of this and crush it as soon as possible,” he said. “There is nothing here that is good for business.”

Keller said President Trump would veto the bill in the unlikely chance it is passed by the Senate.

He lamented that many Democrats support the legislation, which passed the House Education and Labor Committee, of which he is a member.

State Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, said, “You need to focus on why this is bad for business.”

Proponents of the bill, including U.S. Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Bobby Scott, D-Va., claim the legislation is an historic proposal that “restores fairness to the economy by strengthening the federal laws that protect workers’ right to organize a union and bargain for and negotiate higher wages and better benefits.”

They note wage growth of the bottom half of income earners grew by just 1 percent between 1980 and 2014. At the same time, the top 1 percent of wage earners grew by 205 percent.

Keller said, “Employees by and large like their employers. Employers are good people.”

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