On the enrollment form for the largest teachers union in Pennsylvania, you can check a box that allows an annual, automatic deduction from your paycheck to go to political action committees that support “friends of public education.”
The entire section would have to be erased under a proposal passed by the state Senate Wednesday and headed to the House for consideration. The approved measure would prohibit funneling an automatic deduction from a public employee’s wages to any political activity.
Republican supporters say a government payroll system shouldn’t be assisting in a money transfer that furthers political goals.
“They certainly can continue to collect money to represent these people in their role as a union,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. John Eichelberger, R-Blair, who has been a foe of labor unions. “Where we have to draw the line, which seems very reasonable, is that they cannot any longer collect political money.”
Democrats call the plan a cynical attempt to bust public worker unions, as the lack of automatic deductions is expected to make it harder for unions to collect full dues and political contributions.
“Not only does it take away our rights to negotiate voluntary payroll deductions,” said a written statement from Rick Bloomingdale, president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, “it also prohibits counties, municipalities, and school districts from having the right to negotiate with their employees without interference from the state.”
The growth of the Republican caucus in the 2014 election was crucial to the bill’s passage in the Senate. A similar proposal failed last year.
Gov. Tom Wolf has said he opposes the measure.