Union members from across Pennsylvania traveled to York City on Wednesday to rally against a state House bill they say will crush unions and kill the middle class.
Dozens of Teamsters held signs in Cherry Lane Courtyard, announcing opposition to House Bill 1507. If passed, the bill would prohibit the automatic deduction of union dues and political contributions from the paychecks of public employees.
"If it goes through, it will slowly push unions out of Pennsylvania," said Jason Hagens, a Mount Wolf resident and corrections officer at York County Prison.
Hagens is a union steward for the corrections officers, who are part of a local Teamsters union that represents more than 8,500 union workers in York County.
Manchester resident Joe Thevenin is a trustee in that union, Teamsters Local 776, and said the bill affects the rights of unions collecting their dues.
Without the automatic deduction of dues in paychecks, union members will be responsible for mailing in their dues.
"It would be a lot harder for us to keep track of payments because 8,500 people is a lot of people to be collecting dues from," Thevenin said.
Teamsters Local 776 represents state, county and municipal employees, truck drivers, UPS workers, nurses and more.
"They're trying to bust our union with this bill," he said.
The proposal: The bill was introduced by state Rep. Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster County, and is co-sponsored by several other House Republicans, including local Reps. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, Ron Miller, R-Jacobus, and Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township. It is opposed by state Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D-York City, who hosted the rally.
Grove compared dues checkoff for public-sector employees to Bonusgate, in which some state lawmakers were jailed for using public money to fund campaigns.
"We had House members who were arrested for using taxpayer money for political activity. This is the same thing. The reality is dues collection is used for political purposes," he said.
Unions give money to political campaigns all the time, said Mickey Sgro, regional director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees - a union that represents more than 65,000 workers across the state.
"We give Republicans money, too. But any Republican that votes for this bill won't get our money or our votes," he said.
Miller said he supports the bill because he's heard from some union members who don't agree with the way dues are spent.
"They want to pay their base union dues, but they don't want to pay for political campaigns," he said.
Saylor did not return a call seeking comment.
The bill is in committee and is not slated for a vote on the floor.
-Reach Candy Woodall at firstname.lastname@example.org.