Even as Pennsylvania’s public-sector unions suffer net losses of members and dues, these groups continue to ramp up political donations, according to a new analysis by the Harrisburg-based Commonwealth Foundation (CF).
According to the free-market nonprofit, spending from Keystone State government unions like the Pennsylvania State Education Association and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 13 totaled $6.34 million in the 2011-12 campaign cycle. That amount steadily rose over all gubernatorial and presidential cycles and reached a record $20.2 million in 2021-22.
Unions donated copiously to Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro (D) during last year’s gubernatorial campaign and they’ll reap a handsome reward if the legislature approves a particular item in Shapiro’s proposed budget.
The Fiscal Year 2023-24 spending plan includes a $1,274,000 initiative to increase by one-third the number of labor law compliance investigators at the commonwealth’s Department of Labor and Industry. The text of Shapiro’s proposal expresses concern that more labor cases need to be probed and that businesses need more education on workers’ right to organize.
The campaign for the constitutional “right-to-work” amendment appearing on this year’s Tennessee election ballot has garnered vocal opposition from labor unions and other left-wing thought leaders. Supporters could have expected that. Less predictably, a Nashville-based Associated Press reporter railed against the effort this week.
In a Twitter post, AP writer Kimberlee Kruesi opined strongly against Governor Bill Lee’s pronouncements on the issue, characterizing them as “false” and “outrageous spin.”
On Friday, Connecticut’s House of Representatives passed a bill prohibiting companies’ management from requiring workers to listen to discussions regarding labor organization, politics or religion.
The AFL-CIO, to which more than 200,000 Connecticut workers belong, lauded the move in favor of the policy — known as a “captive audience” restriction — which no other state except Oregon has enacted. Union leaders have denounced the kind of meetings banned by the legislation, complaining that such events are unfairly used to inveigh against union-organization efforts.
By a 22-13 vote, Connecticut’s state Senate on Friday ratified contracts with state workers estimated to cost taxpayers roughly $1.9 billion.
The Democrat-controlled state House of Representatives approved the agreements with the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) 96-52 the prior day. All House Democrats and only one House Republican, Thomas Delnicki (R-South Windsor), voted for the deals. The Senate vote came down along party lines.
In a rare moment of concord between industry and unions, representatives of both interests exhorted Pennsylvania state Senators on Tuesday to resist Pennsylvania’s entry into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
Eleven states in the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions have joined the pact to impose prices on carbon emissions for power plants. Unlike most member states, however, Pennsylvania entered into the agreement without legislative approval though an executive order by Gov. Tom Wolf (D) in 2019. The emissions pricing has not yet gone into effect; the governor wants to implement it in the next fiscal year.
According to a brochure distributed by Connecticut’s public-sector-labor coalition, Gov. Ned Lamont (D) and the state’s unionized employees have negotiated contracts that will cost taxpayers plenty if ratified.
Wins for each unionized worker would include $3,500 in bonuses and and three yearly wage hikes of 2.5 percent, which would be made retroactive to summer of 2021. About two-thirds of union-affiliated employees would also get “step” raises; i.e., elevation to the next pay rate. These bonuses and salary gains would also factor into future pension payments.
If Connecticut’s Democrat-run General Assembly and Governor Ned Lamont (D) approve a bill now before the Joint Committee on Labor and Public Employees, striking workers will gain the right to collect unemployment.
Current state law does not permit union strikers to collect jobless benefits, as eligibility requires having come into “unemployment through no fault of your own.” The legislation under consideration, sponsored by State Representatives Michael Winkler (D-Vernon), David Michel (D-Stamford) and Robyn Porter (D-Hamden) would, starting this October, allow strikers to get unemployment checks two weeks into a labor walkout.
A bill in the Connecticut House of Representatives would allow the state to effectively nullify worker-employer agreements designed to prevent lawsuits and let state officials bestow some monetary awards on unions.
The legislation, sponsored by State Representative Michael Winkler (D-Vernon), would evade what it refers to as “forced arbitration agreements” and “allow employees to sue employers on behalf of the state after having waived their personal rights to sue.”
Pennsylvania state Rep. Torren Ecker (R-Abbottstown) believes the guarantee of free and fair elections with secret balloting belongs not only in contests for public office but in votes over labor representation.
This week, he announced plans to introduce an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution intended to cement that guarantee in the Keystone State in anticipation of federal legislation aiming to strengthen labor unions.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s announcement this week that she is reinstating the state’s prevailing wage rules is drawing accusations that the move is nothing more than a sop to the governor’s extensive list of donors affiliated with organized labor.
“Governor Whitmer is putting campaign donors before Michigan’s hardworking taxpayers,” Eric Ventimiglia, executive director for Michigan Rising Action, said in a statement that included an extensive list of skilled trades unions that have contributed to the governor’s campaign war chest. “Hundreds of thousands of Michiganders worked to place this initiative in front of the legislature, and her unilateral decision to break the law is another example of Whitmer pandering to her highest donors.”
Among the donors listed by MRA are the Painters & Allied Trades Political Action Committee; Michigan Council of Carpenters PAC; Michigan State AFL-CIO; and several pipefitters unions.