A group of Republican Pennsylvania House members has introduced a package of bills that would make Pennsylvania a Right To Work State. The “Pennsylvania Open Workforce Initiative” includes House Bills 50-53. The first bill would eliminate the ability to make employment conditional on union membership. In other words, if passed, the bill would make union membership an option even at workplaces where a collective barging agreement has been ratified. Labor leaders say such laws lead to lower wages, dangerous and unfair work rules and fewer employee benefits. Supporters say Right To Work States see job growth faster than other states. If passed, Pennsylvania would become the 23rd state to have such laws. State Representative Daryl Metcalf of Cranberry says, “Working men and women should have the freedom to join a union if they choose and to leave that union when it is in their best interest to do so.” He says if protecting a worker’s right to organize needs to be protected by law so must the right to not join a union. Supporters say jobs are already leaving Pennsylvania for Right To Work States and the flow must be stopped.
The three other bills in the package deal with more narrow union membership questions. One bill would allow teachers to not join a union if they choose. The two other bills would allow government workers to not pay union dues and to become members of other organizations. State Rep. Sam Rohrer of Reading says, “The freedom of association should not end when a teacher enters a school building or a local government worker enters a town hall or the county courthouse. In any other circumstance, we would find it unconscionable to even think about forcing someone to join a group with which they disagree. Compulsory participation in a private organization – which is what forced unionism amounts to – is contrary to the very foundation of personal liberty upon which our Commonwealth and our country are built.”