January 28, 2014

Pennsylvania House Bill 1507 and Senate Bill 1034 Pose a Threat to Worker Rights

So-called “Paycheck Protection” legislation is merely a right-wing attempt to weaken unions’ ability to defend the middle class

“Current legislation under consideration, House Bill 1507 and Senate Bill 1034, are an unfair attempt by right-wing legislators and their out-of-state billionaire backers to weaken unions and make it harder for union members to collect their dues, fair share payments, and voluntary PAC contributions,” said Wayne Burton, President of the Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans, a retired professor of Political Science. “Thanks to unions, the middle class has been able to grow and improve its living conditions,” continued Burton.  “HB 1507 and SB 1034 are another sad attempt by some state legislators to reduce the voice of unions.  If these bills are passed, extreme politicians will make the middle class suffer.  This ‘right-to-work’-style legislation is actually designed to weaken the rights of workers by making it harder to run their organization.”

“There have been false claims that workers’ fair share deductions are going to political candidates that they do not support. This is a flat-out lie!  Legally unions can only spend voluntary donations to their political action committees on politics.  Furthermore, fair share payments cannot legally be spent on lobbying or even public relations.  Some politicians argue that taxpayer dollars are being spent to deduct union dues.  This rationale for HB 1507 and SB 1034 is false. Every time government workers are paid, computer programs deduct taxes, healthcare costs, retirement costs, United Way contributions and other items including union dues.  The bill’s proponents have not given an estimate of how much the bill would save because they know it would save virtually nothing.”

Jean Friday, President Emeritus of the Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans and a retired steelworker from Westmoreland County, shared her view on proposed HB 1507 and SB 1034. “Weakening a worker’s right to organize poses a threat to future retirees. The quality of life in retirement will decrease if these bills pass because the unions that work to protect our retirement security will be undermined.”

“Many retirees, both public sector and private, are currently enjoying pension and health benefits, along with the money that they were able to save thanks to the unions who fought and bargained for the rights of all workers.  Union members from many different backgrounds, such as the coal industry, steel mills, school teachers, nurses, and many other occupations pushed for safer working conditions and fair wages. The positive effects from these unions are even felt by non-union members.  I’m proud that the Alliance is standing up for these rights and standing up for the middle class by opposing HB 1507 and SB 1034.”

The Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans, led by President Wayne Burton of Chester County, has over 300,000 members and 149 local affiliates across the Commonwealth.  PARA’s mission is to educate seniors and the public about retiree issues, and organize seniors to advocate for their interests in Harrisburg and Washington.  To learn more, visit www.pennretiredamericans.org.


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