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Jerry Shenk

Labor Policies Threaten PA's Future

by Jerry Shenk

Pennsylvania is functionally, albeit unofficially, bankrupt. Local
governments, school districts and the Commonwealth have been impoverished,
partially because unions such as PSEA and dozens of others pour millions of dues-payers' dollars - aka, graft money -- into the campaigns of politicians who pass and preserve laws favoring unions and who approve government employee union members' pay, health and pension

Democratic icon and labor ally President Franklin Roosevelt described
public-sector unions as "unthinkable and intolerable."

"The process of collective bargaining.cannot be transplanted to public
service," Roosevelt said. "A strike of public employees manifests nothing
less than an intent on their part to obstruct or prevent the operations of
government until their demands are satisfied."

Some states, including traditionally labor-friendly Rust Belt states, are
dealing with their labor issues. In 2012, Michigan became a right-to-work
state, joining neighbors Wisconsin and Indiana and twenty-one others in
eliminating union membership as a condition of employment. West Virginia
ons> 's legislature is considering the same measure.

Pennsylvania unions jealously protect the labor policies which grant them
unique privileges at taxpayer expense. Commonwealth, county, municipal and
school district taxpayers bear the burden of forced unionization and
private-sector prevailing wage laws which artificially increase the costs of
labor without improving worker productivity. Labor monopolies have the same
impact on taxpayers as illegal private sector monopolies have on consumers.

Mandatory union participation has been in effect for so long that most
workers forced to join unions as a condition of employment never voted
for/against certifying the union which receives their dues. When running for
reelection every two or four years, Pennsylvania legislators must
re-convince constituents of their value as officeholders. Similarly, the
legislature should require unions to face their constituent members
periodically to demonstrate their value, and, using secret ballots,
guarantee workers the freedom to re-certify their bargaining units or to
decertify them without lengthy, expensive court challenges.

Right-to-work laws and periodic recertification are pro-labor, pro-personal
choice measures which are criticized as "anti-labor" only by the unions
which depend upon forced membership and by politicians whose campaigns
receive union cash. Right-to-work laws don't outlaw unions or prevent union
organization, and recertification only requires union managers to keep
earning their members' dues.

Former Gov. Tom Corbett supported a right-to-work bill, but remarked that
the Pennsylvania legislature "lacks the will" to pass one. Why? Public
records reveal millions

in generous union campaign contributions to Pennsylvania legislators (of
both parties) which explain lawmakers' antipathy to labor policy reform.

Accepting any amount of union campaign cash renders unpersuasive any
politician's protests that union money doesn't influence their votes. Talk
is cheap. It takes political courage to call or cast votes - and leave
records - on right-to-work, prevailing wages or pension reform.

Pennsylvania's passage of right-to-work legislation, suspension of
prevailing wage laws and, ultimately, meaningful pension reform may seem
politically improbable, but they're inevitable, because, otherwise,
Pennsylvania cannot meet its financial obligations. When state politicians
enact these reforms, preferably from conviction rather than as crisis
responses, Pennsylvania's recovery can begin.

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