Americans for Fair Treatment
Contact: Rebecca Whalen, 717-216-4756, rlw@americansforfairtreatment.org

Lawmakers’ Move to Give Public Workers a Bigger Voice in Their Unions

March 18, 2019, Harrisburg, Pa. — New legislation that would require new and non-union public-sector workers are notified of their rights regarding union membership was passed by the Pa. House Labor and Industry Committee, today.

The Employee Rights Notification Act (HB 785), which would also repeal state laws that violate the Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court Decision, addresses an often-ignored problem within the culture of government unions.

Public workers too often have no voice within the very organization that was meant to give them a voice — their union,” said Director of Outreach for Americans For Fair Treatment (AFFT) Keith Williams. “This law will ensure that they at least know what their options are, which is no small thing when so many live under the assumption that their job depends on the money coming out of their paycheck and going to the union every month. It’s fantastic to see politicians finally recognized this hidden reality.”

Williams, a 21-year public school teacher who worked for most of his career at Conewago Valley School District, now travels the state to meet with public-sector workers and to provide support for them “in that moment where the union is overstepping,” he says.

“I believe it’s very important for employees to be aware of their rights,” said Doug Snyder, a teacher in Reading School District and AFFT member. “Quite frankly, many people are scared, and it’s because of lack of information. Union leadership does everything to convince you that membership is an absolute requirement, especially if you are falsely accused of something in the classroom. But that’s just not true. Employees should feel empowered and not scared or uncertain about their legal rights. I hope the legislature does something about it with this law.”

Mike Rossi, a 40-year union president, says he’s personally experienced the problems that this legislation would fix.

“In my opinion, unions today are not our father’s unions,” said Rossi. “I’ve fought hard to ensure my local represented our members first and not the people in charge at the state and national level. Now, it’s all about the hierarchy and money, not the actual working people. About 10 years ago we found out that a big portion of our dues go straight to the big boys in Harrisburg and D.C. Imagine how that makes the average member feel. Making sure members have options now and that they are in the driver’s seat in their career and in their union will be a welcome bit of news to so many people.”

The Employee Rights Notification Act will now be sent to the full house for a vote.

“I hope that our legislative leaders realize that the union lobbyists telling them that this is an “anti-union” bill realize that people who’ve been paid through compulsory dues don’t represent the actual voice of every-day workers,” Williams continued. “Most of the people I meet across the state love their local and feel a sense of pride in their union. But the reason they call me up and the reason I’m on the road every day meeting with public workers is because they feel like the people in charge in the union’s big buildings in Harrisburg and D.C. don’t care about them. They just care that the monthly dues keep coming in. It’s time change the dynamic by letting workers know they have a choice and a voice.”

Keith Williams is available for comment. To schedule an interview contact Rebecca Whalen, 717-216-4756, rlw@americansforfairtreatment.org

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