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Editor’s Note: The following Op-Ed was submitted to the Beaver Countian for publication by the Beaver-Lawrence Central Labor Council.

Unions are the only organizations whose sole purpose is to advocate for and defend working people and their families. Whether you work in an industrial facility, on a construction site, a class room or an office, the institution of collective bargaining was conceived and implemented to raise your standard of living, not only directly for those represented by a union, but also indirectly for those not represented but whose income is benefited by the influence that unions exert on the labor market and the workers’ rights for which they fight. Over the decades since the passage of the National Labor Relations Act unions forged the American middle class, and that has been a good for working families.

Some people with a lot of money and power, though, see unions as an obstacle to them having even more money and power, and they actively seek to weaken and ultimately abolish unions. They use a number of stealth tactics to attain their goals. One of their favorite methods is to misrepresent the system and get some ethically challenged politician(s) to propose and support legislation that would weaken the voice of workers. Their strategy is to go to states that have a Governor and legislators who are willing to accept donations in return for doing their bidding. They dump in a ton of money, and they expect a return. It’s been seen across the country in states such as Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan, special interest groups funded by wealthy donors and corporations have waged an assault on workers’ rights to belong to and participate in a Union.

In the Pennsylvania House of Representative Jim Christiana is pushing House Bill 1507, a bill that would stop payroll deduction of union dues for public employees. He claims that he supports it for reasons of fairness and ethics. When one looks at Christiana’s history it becomes amusing that he would talk of ethical behavior. Christiana is among the politicians who are put into office by big donations from wealthy special interests. In April of last year the Beaver Countian ran an investigative article ( https://beavercountian.com/content/daily/representin-like-a-representative-campaign-cash-2012 ) that reported on some of these donations to Mr. Christiana and related the amazement of some local officials that someone so inexperienced as Christiana has attracted so much money from outside the state special interest groups.

Not only has he co-sponsored the bill for these out of state interest he seems to be leading the effort to mislead his own constituents on the issue. He would have us believe these deductions are costing the state scarce tax dollars and that the collected dues were given to politicians. Neither is true. Dues are deducted electronically. There is very little or no additional cost to the state to perform the function. A fact he conveniently leaves out of the conversation. As for the dues being used for political donations; it’s against the law. It has been law for many years that dues dollars cannot be contributed to political campaigns. Any money donated to candidates by Unions comes from the Union’s PAC funds. Those contributions are 100% voluntary.

Here are the facts about dues check-off: it is an agreement between unions and management that goes back several decades. It is a benefit workers bargain into their agreements to make dues payment more convenient. It’s no different than having health insurance premiums or a car payment automatically deducted. It is a stable, efficient and inexpensive system which allows the parties to focus their efforts on addressing both the competing and the mutual interests of employers and employees. It is actually a very conservative and effective approach that has produced some excellent results over the years. Asking a union to collect dues from each individual member would be no different from asking Christiana to collect his salary from each individual constituent.

Our representatives should publicize their positions on issues. They should do the best they can to inform voters on the issues. It is their responsibility to do so. Most importantly though they should inform their constituency of the facts and not some talking points that a political donor has handed them. In doing so they should at a minimum be honest.

They also should not waste the taxpayers’ money on efforts to attack law abiding organizations that will probably not stand legal challenges. In Alabama, Arizona, and Washington, these kinds bogus laws were ruled unconstitutional by state Supreme Courts. Despite the propaganda these extremist groups like to propagate, the courts have ruled such laws violate the first amendment rights of Union members.

Mr. Christiana needs to stand up for the working families in PA instead of out of state special interests.

– Rick Galiano, President Beaver-Lawrence Central Labor Council (BLCLC)
– Eric Hoover, Executive Vice President BLCLC
– Bernie Hall, Vice President BLCLC

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Justin Shuy
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Justin Shuy

To the author…You’re wrong. Auto deductions are THEFT and nothing more. They wouldn’t be doing this if they weren’t scared that people know BIG unions are about making those who run them and their political friends rich while stealing from the hard workers!!!!

John Churchin
Guest
John Churchin

Wow! Were you born clueless Justin or is it something you grew into?

Chad Lilly
Guest
Chad Lilly

I’m not sure if its funny or sad that a union affiliate would start off by accusing anyone of greasing political pockets. Compulsory union membership is legalized extortion. If unions are so necessary, why are the so afraid of me having a choice in belonging to one? This legislation doesn’t go nearly far enough to curb union strong-arming. Sell your BS elsewhere.

user
Member
user

This is the epitomy of hypocrisy. The large unions are ALSO large out of state organizations with deep pockets that buy elections when possible. Big unions are just as corrupt as big business. Maybe more so, because they lie to the working guy, take their dues (automatically, of course), and line their own pockets while giving a pittance to the members.
At least Christiana signed his name to legislation. You thieves cannot even put a name to this “letter”.
You want to be fair? Keep automatic deductions of dues for public workers, but make union membership voluntary. See how many stand with a union if they are not forced to do so.
I bet not many.

Ben Gini
Guest
Ben Gini

These are some things labor unions have made possible for workers

Ben Gini
Guest
Ben Gini

Weekends without work
All breaks at work, including your lunch breaks
Paid vacation
Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Sick leave
Social Security
Minimum wage
Civil Rights Act/Title VII – prohibits employer discrimination
8-hour work day
Overtime pay
Child labor laws
Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA)
40-hour work week
Workers’ compensation (workers’ comp)
Unemployment insurance
Pensions
Workplace safety standards and regulations
Employer health care insurance
Collective bargaining rights for employees
Wrongful termination laws
Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)
Whistleblower protection laws
Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) – prohibits employers from using a lie detector test on an employee
Veteran’s Employment and Training Services (VETS)
Compensation increases and evaluations (i.e. raises)
Sexual harassment laws
Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
Holiday pay
Employer dental, life, and vision insurance
Privacy rights
Pregnancy and parental leave
Military leave
The right to strike
Public education for children
Equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011 – requires employers pay men and women equally for the same amount of work
Laws ending sweatshops in the United States

Mark
Guest
Mark

I think you may want ot investigate some of your claims here. No one else but the unions made this possible? 40 hour work week is becoming a thing of the past because of the president you supported with MY union dues. Makes me sick!

jackson4570
Guest
jackson4570

I am thankful for what the labor movement has done to make our lives better.