Casey urges GOP leaders in Pa. Legislature to sidestep labor union limits bill
Stepping into a heated political battle, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is urging Republican leaders of Pennsylvania's Legislature not to move forward on a bill that would make it harder for labor unions to collect dues and political action contributions through payroll deductions.
In an interview with The Associated Press, the Democratic senator expressed concern that the legislation could be quickly pushed through in an election year with the support of conservative groups and major business associations.
In a letter on Wednesday to state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, and state House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, Casey said the bill could undermine unions' ability to bargain collectively.
“I think we have to be cognizant in states where this kind of threat was underestimated, it didn't turn out very well for workers,” Casey said, citing the cases of Michigan and Wisconsin, where GOP-controlled legislatures passed similar right-to-work laws. “The real goal here is political and ideological, to weaken workers' right to fight for better wages and benefits.
“It's an attempt to score a political point, and we need to be ready where we can push back in an instant,” he said.
The other U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, Republican Pat Toomey, has not spoken out on the issue.
The identical bills in the Pennsylvania House and Senate would prevent unions from negotiating the automatic deductions into labor contracts, forcing the unions to spend money and time collecting the tens of millions of dollars in contributions from hundreds of thousands of public-sector union members.
The issue has leaked into this year's hotly contested governor's race, with labor unions poised to marshal campaign cash to unseat Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who has pledged to sign the bill if passed.
The GOP leaders of the Pennsylvania Legislature have been publicly noncommittal, likely reflecting division among moderate Republicans. Pileggi has said he will bring it up for a vote if it can pass; Turzai has only indicated that the bill's aims are worthwhile and that supporters make a compelling case.
In recent weeks, the proposed legislation has drawn heavy protests in Harrisburg from labor unions and opposition from state Treasurer Rob McCord, a Democratic candidate for governor.
The issue occurs amid high-profile GOP victories in Northern industrial states, including Michigan and Wisconsin, part of a broader push of right-to-work laws to limit the power of labor unions, which tend to support Democrats overwhelmingly.
Democrats staunchly oppose the measure.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- ‘Tipping point’ near for Pa. government, conservative expert predicts at Freedom Forum
- As House looks to dismantle state stores, hybrid system might be option
- Liquor privatization bill clears Pennsylvania House panel
- Walking gets increasingly deadly for pedestrians in Pa.
- Cochranton farm specializes in growing out-of-season vegetables
- Pa. Senate approves ‘paycheck protection’ constitutional amendment
- Western Pennsylvania shivers toward record for coldest February