Pa. House moves Janus-enforcing bill, but a veto likely looms

Capitol Building, Harrisburg. (Kevin McCorry/WHYY)

Capitol Building, Harrisburg. (Kevin McCorry/WHYY)

For the second year in a row, state House Republicans are trying to pass a bill that would require union employers to let new hires know they can opt out of collective bargaining.

It’s a way to double down on last year’s Supreme Court decision forbidding unions from collecting dues from non-members.

The decision — commonly known as the Janus ruling — was bad news for unions, which have long maintained it is legitimate to collect fees from all the members of a unionized workplace since benefits like higher salaries are shared.

Supporters of Janus, like York County Republican Representative Kate Klunk, argue workers don’t always know that’s not the case anymore.

“Most people, they’re not familiar with their rights when they take a public sector job,” said Klunk, who is sponsoring the bill in question.

“It is not an anti-union bill,” she added. “New and returning public employees will be informed that it is the worker’s choice whether or not to join a union or donate to that union.”

The proposal passed out of the Labor and Industry Committee on party lines.

The Democrats, like minority chair Pat Harkins, all opposed it.

“I think this bill is a waste of time,” Harkins said. “I think it’s unnecessary.”

Governor Tom Wolf also opposes it.

In a statement, he echoed Harkins in saying Pennsylvania is already complying with the Janus ruling. He added that he takes issue with “any effort that discourages or seeks to hinder the ability of employees to come together and advocate for their collective rights.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.