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Hey Harrisburg: We can 'protect' our own paychecks!

The PA Senate wasted little time renewing attacks on teachers, nurses and other public sector employees, voting 28-22 to send paycheck "protection" legislation to the House.

So-called paycheck "protection" laws are designed to silence organized workers by removing automatic deduction of union dues. Two conservative Republican senators, John Eichelberger, Cumberland, and Scott Wagner, York, sponsored paycheck deception bills that single out organized workers while allowing big corporations to continue to benefit from the same automated deductions.

Dubbed “paycheck protection” by sponsors, these bills don’t protect workers or their paychecks. They are politically motivated attempts to interfere with the bargaining process, silence workers on legislation and public policy matters that affect our students and our work and ultimately undermine effective union representation for members who rely on their unions to monitor legislation, regulations and policies and alert members about issue that affect them.

  • Senate Bill 166 bars public employers from deducting union “political” contributions, which includes not only members’ voluntary contributions to their union’s political action committee. SB 166 expands the definition of political activity to include non-partisan voter registration drives, get out the vote programs, union legislative lobbying programs and “any other electoral, political or legislative purpose.” Only "fair share" fees could be deducted from members' paychecks. A similar bill passed the Senate 26-23 during the previous legislative session.
  • Senate Bill 167 uses a constitutional amendment to bar the state’s executive branch and school districts from deducting union dues, fair share or agency fees and political contributions from union employees' paychecks. The constitutional amendment would void existing contract language authorizing automatic payroll deductions. SB 167 did not come up for a Senate vote.

Both bills passed the Senate State Government Committee 7-5, with Democrats voting against the bills. Sen. Stuart Greenleaf, R-Philadelphia, joined Democrats opposing the bill. Senators could vote on the bills as early as Feb. 6. Click here to find out how your state senator voted on SB 166.

AFT Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO oppose paycheck “deception” laws, which are seen as the first step toward full-blown Right to Work laws, which undermine workers’ rights.

Why We Oppose Paycheck ‘Deception’

• SB 166 and 167 single out teachers, nurses, librarians, public safety and other public employees while allowing payroll deductions for insurance companies, banks, credit unions and charities – many of which also lobby legislators on issues of importance to them and contribute to candidates running for office.

• They want to silence teachers because teachers speak out for adequate and fair education funding. They want to silence public workers because they advocate on issues related to public safety. They want to silence nurses, child-care workers and others public servants so that they can't blow the whistle on the ways elected officials and their policies hurt children, as well as taxpayers and their families while showering generous tax breaks on wealthy individuals and big corporations.

Know the Facts

Automatic payroll deduction of dues is not mandated by law. Workers negotiate dues deduction with their employers in collective bargaining and set the terms for deductions.

There are no savings for taxpayers from eliminating payroll deductions. All types of payroll deductions (from union dues to insurance payments, bank and credit union deposits, loan payments and charitable deductions) are automated. There is no measurable additional cost associated with union payroll deductions.

Unions cannot use dues for political purposes under state and federal law. Unions may use only voluntary contributions by members for political campaigns and candidate contributions. Members must "opt in" to contribute voluntarily to union political action committees, and they may withhold the portion of dues used for political advocacy.

Anti-union laws don't only hurt union members

SB 166 and SB 167 hurt all workers by tipping the balance of power even further toward corporations and big business and away from middle-class, working people. Labor unions advocate for the public good. They are responsible for laws that regulate safety, health and fairness in the workplace. Unions advocate for better teaching and learning conditions in schools, for good healthcare, retirement security and adequate funding for early childhood education, public schools and universities. They advocate for fairness in the workplace. They fight for good jobs with family-sustaining salaries and oppose discrimination. They support transparency in government and accountability for all stakeholders.

Studies show that state with laws that undermine unions and worker rights have lower salaries and wages, fewer benefits, higher poverty rates and more on-the-job injuries. Don't let anti-worker laws get a foothold in Pennsylvania.

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