Battle looms over union deductions from Pa. paychecks

    A rhetorical fight is brewing over whether public employee unions in Pennsylvania should be able to automatically deduct union dues and voluntary political contributions from workers’ pay.

    A measure that hasn’t even been put on a voting schedule has become the subject of indignant speeches from pro-union and anti-union groups alike.

    The fact that union dues and a voluntary political contribution can be deducted from a public worker’s wage is a “glaring ethical problem” for state government, said state Rep. Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster.

    “Individuals as taxpayers would raise the concern of, well it just doesn’t look right,” he said. “And that, to me, is a problem.”

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    Cutler spoke Monday from a stage festooned with campaign ads for President Barack Obama that were paid for the state’s largest teachers union.

    But the problem is not how unions are spending political contributions, but that automatic deductions make governments the middlemen, he insisted.

    The state AFL-CIO president, however, said the measure is an attempt to squash unions’ political activity.

    When other state legislatures have passed similar legislation it has greatly reduced the political money collected by unions, according to one Republican consultant.

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