How Unions Put the Squeeze on Pennsylvanians

TheSqueezeWe’ve talked before about how passing meaningful reform on anything from school choice to prevailing wage has been stymied not by a Democrat vs. Republican fight in Pennsylvania’s legislature, but by the real battle between the Union Party and the Taxpayer Party.

Now a comprehensive new policy report from the Commonwealth Foundation explains just how the Union Party got so powerful. Government unions, who represent half of Pennsylvania’s government workers, derive their strength from two legal privileges: They’re allowed to deduct union dues, at taxpayer expense, directly from payroll systems at schools and other government offices. Second, they can force even non-members to pay into the union just to keep their jobs.  That’s called paying a “fair share fee.”

Armed with automatic union dues and fair share fees from nearly 300,000 workers, Pennsylvania’s four main government unions spent $6.5 million on political activities and lobbying in 2010-11. That money goes toward enacting policies that create unsustainable salary, pension and benefit increases that will either bankrupt the state or lead to severe tax increases.

The Pennsylvania State Education Association, or PSEA, further hurts families and students by heartlessly thwarting school choice. And member dues also fund six-figure salaries for union bosses, frequent luxury outings and junkets. Whether you’re a taxpayer, parent or worker, unchecked union power is squeezing Pennsylvania dry. But lawmakers can change the rules in a fixed game by making unions collect their own dues, stopping the requirement that non-members pay “fair share fees,” and requiring unions to get their members’ permission before using dues for political activity.

Write your legislator now and tell them to release taxpayers from the grip of government unions.