Most of the Presidents and Business Agents of District Council 33 Local Unions attended the Biennial Legislative Conference of the PA AFL-CIO in Harrisburg on Monday, February 13th, and Tuesday, February 14th.
The focus of the conference was on the large number of anti-union bills being introduced and moving through the State House of Representatives and the State Senate. Included in these legislative attempts to destroy unions are the so-called “Paycheck Protection” bills mentioned in my previous article (see it on the left), as well as other efforts to eliminate prevailing wage, undercut teachers by defunding public education, and other attempts to introduce and pass “Right-to-Work for Less” bills that seek to eliminate a union’s ability to collect dues.
It was clear from all of the briefings and workshops District Council 33 officers attended that the threat against all unions, and particularly public sector unions like ours, is very serious and will require a great deal of effort to defeat.
The one good part of the conference was when Governor Tom Wolf spoke and pledged that he would veto any bill the Legislature passes that would harm unions and their members.
If bills like this get passed, reach the Governor's desk, and he vetoes them, we will still have to fight to make sure that we get enough Republicans in the Senate on our side so that his veto cannot be overridden.
You will be hearing more about the need to pay attention to what is happening in Harrisburg, because the anti-union Republicans have a majority and they are dedicated to destroying unions like ours.
That is why we must stay engaged, through our PEOPLE Committee contributions and by calling our elected representatives, every time a bill that threatens our wages, benefits, and working conditions starts to move in the legislative process.
Check with your local union officers for more details on what you can do to help us protect your job.
By Pete Matthews, President
For quite a few months, I have been reporting that elected officials in Washington, DC, and in Harrisburg are ramping up their attacks on public sector workers.
Now that Trump is President and the Republicans control the Congress in Washington, we may see him appoint another anti-union Supreme Court justice who will, if confirmed by the Senate, cause the Supreme Court to move anti-union issues like the Friedrichs case forward, which will harm all public sector unions.
We have a real serious fight coming up in Washington!
The Republican majority in Harrisburg is also attacking unions, with a specific target being public sector unions.
Two so-called “Paycheck Protection” bills (Senate Bill 166 and Senate Bill 167) have been introduced.
The State Senate has passed Senate Bill 166, a piece of “paycheck protection” legislation introduced by Senator John Eichelberger, in a vote of 28-22. Senator Scott Wagner’s similar bill, Senate Bill 167, did not receive a vote in the chamber this week. Senate Bill 166 will proceed to the State House in March.
Senate Bill 166 seeks to silence police officers, firefighters, teachers and other government employees, and weaken their ability to advocate for safer work conditions, better resources, and decent benefits. Instead of paycheck “protection,” this bill is really paycheck DECEPTION.
Both Senate Bill 166 and 167 have NOTHING to do with protecting you, your pay or your health and pension benefits. In fact, they are specifically designed to make it harder for your union to collect dues and lobby government on your behalf.
They are “Right-to-Work for Less” bills designed to destroy your union. No Union, no contract, no benefits, and no protection!
If these bills pass, it would mean that your contract and your union would be destroyed and we would have no ability to protect you.
That is just what happened in Wisconsin, where AFSCME was founded in Madison in 1936. AFSCME membership went from 63,000 in 2011 to less than 20,000 in 2015. This was four years after Governor Scott Walker signed Act 10, the bill that crippled public sector unions in that state.
That is why I am asking every District Council 33 member to call your State Senator, and every member of the State Senate, and ask him or her to VOTE NO on Senate Bill 167.
In addition, I am asking every District Council 33 member to also call your State Representative and ask him or her to VOTE NO on Senate Bill 166.
To find the telephone number of your State Senator or State Representative, all you have to do is click the box below that says "Find Your Representative." Then just enter your voting address, and you will see the contact information and the numbers to call in Harrisburg and in the local Senate district.
You can then click on each State Senator or State Representative’s page and their contact information will be displayed.
Call right away and make your voice heard!
By Pete Matthews, President
the palm card
For public employees, the people we elect determine the quality of our lives and our livelihood. Our wages, benefits, working conditions, health and safety, and even whether we have jobs at all, are in the hands of officials who influence our future. Unless, that is, we hold them accountable. Our activism in politics is incredibly important.
Through PEOPLE, we help elect candidates who stand for what matters to AFSCME members:
Politics is part of AFSCME's DNA. Federal election law and some state laws prohibit using dues for campaign contributions and other political activities. AFSCME PEOPLE enables our union to be strong politically and help enact legislative programs that protect our jobs.
Through PEOPLE, thousands of AFSCME members help get out the vote for candidates who support working families and public services. We make phone calls, knock on doors, and do whatever it takes to turn out more voters. Be a part of history and join us.
Contributions or gifts to AFSCME PEOPLE are not deductible for federal income tax purposes. All contributions to AFSCME PEOPLE are voluntary and will be used for political purposes. Contributions are not a condition of membership or employment and refusal to contribute is free of reprisal. In accordance with federal law, AFSCME PEOPLE accepts contributions only from AFSCME members, executive and administrative personnel, and their families. Contributions from other persons will be returned.
The future of AFSCME depends on our ability to identify and activate new young member leaders to fill the gap when seasoned activists move on. Over half of AFSCME
members are over the age of 50 and will be
eligible to retire within the next 10 years.
This will leave a huge leadership gap and
loss of institutional memory.
Through Next Wave, we want to introduce
our newest members to the value and role
of our Union. We host fun and purposeful events
to engage our young members and get them excited about AFSCME. Next Wave members are energized and inspired to be active participants in our Union.
During the 2008 primary elections, 6.5 million young people voted. This is an important constituency that needs to be educated, mobilized and organized!
To join Next Wave, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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