With his approval ratings sagging and Pennsylvania ranking 46th in job growth, Gov. Tom Corbett needs to distract voters as he faces re-election. That seems to be at least part of his motivation for supporting bills in the Legislature that would prevent public workers like teachers, firefighters, nurses and others from voluntarily having their union dues deducted from their paychecks. What a crock.
Payroll deduction of union dues is easy, accomplished with almost zero cost. Yet, the bills' supporters are making the ridiculous claim that they are motivated by fiscal responsibility. And, contrary to misinformation spread by some of the bills' supporters, dues collected from public workers cannot be used to contribute to political campaigns or directly support candidates for public office.
So why are Corbett, some legislators and even some county commissioners spending so much time and effort trying to keep public employees from having their dues automatically deducted?
Maybe they want to please wealthy and powerful donors to their campaigns? Right-wing, out-of-state donors like the Koch brothers and groups like the Commonwealth Foundation have become notorious for writing bills to weaken the ability of workers in both the private and public sectors to protect their wages and benefits from being arbitrarily reduced by their employers, to have a voice on the job.
Of course, the bills won't touch deductions that are made to big banks, insurance companies and financial companies, even though they use the money to spend heavily on lobbying and politics. Gov. Corbett and his friends wouldn't want to alienate the wealthiest 1 percent of our population who have been the beneficiaries of all the income growth in Pennsylvania since 2008.
Most members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers are in the private sector. But we refuse to be silent as Gov. Corbett and his allies in the Legislature attempt to undermine dedicated public employees and their rights to collectively bargain by weakening their unions.
Rather than pushing this and other divisive measures that hurt the state's wage-earners like right-to-work laws, cuts in education funding and the privatization of the state's liquor stores, Gov. Corbett and his allies in the Legislature should reach out and bring citizens together.
Isn't that what we elect leaders to do?
DONALD C. SIEGEL
International vice president
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers