Lawmakers and Union Leaders Attack Election Privacy

Today, Rep. Maureen Madden and Rep. Thomas Mehaffie introduced anti-worker legislation that would strip government workers of privacy rights in workplace elections and give union leaders workers’ personal information.

HB 2606 proposes a public “card-check” process for unionization votes in the public sector and provides union leaders with unprecedented access to workers’ private information, including:

  • Name
  • Job title
  • Department
  • Work location
  • Personal email address
  • Home address
  • Work, home, and personal cell phone numbers.

“This effort to roll back worker rights is among the most anti-worker proposals that could be considered by our legislature,” commented Nathan Benefield, vice president and COO for the Commonwealth Foundation. “It attacks worker’s privacy so that union leaders can pressure them into publicly signing unionization cards rather than casting a secret ballot.

“Workers deserve to have their voices and personal information protected. They deserve to vote to unionize without a threat of harassment or coercion. Even the slightest intellectual honesty requires acknowledgment that cards signed in public do not represent workers' freely considered choice.”

Among stated reasons for proposing HB 2606 is to “streamline the election process” by enabling groups of workers to “vote to join a union with a simple majority vote.” However, the reality is that groups of workers can already vote to join a union with a simple majority of votes by using the time-honored secret ballot.

Here’s how the current unionization voting process works:

  • Interest in unionizing from 30 percent of workers triggers an election. Employees cast anonymous ballots in a private election supervised by the Pennsylvania Labor Relation Board (PLRB).
  • A simple majority of ballots cast will certify a union. Meaning, once elected, the union negotiates compensation and working conditions for all workers, even if most employees did not vote or voted against representation.
  • Once elected, a government union never has to stand for re-election, and then enjoys the protections of an onerous decertification process. As a result, more than 99 percent of current Pennsylvania public school teachers have never had an opportunity to vote on what union, if any, represents them.

“If the secret ballot is good enough for our republic and for Rep. Madden and Rep. Mehaffie’s own elections, then it is good enough for a unionization vote,” continued Benefield.

Several other bills that passed the Labor and Industry Committee yesterday will actually help protect workers and strengthen their rights. Those include:

  •  HB 2571, sponsored by Rep. Kate Klunk. It repeals laws authorizing fair share fees in violation of the Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court ruling. It would also mandate that new workers and non-union members are notified that their union dues payments are voluntary, require their consent, and are not a condition of employment.
  • HB 2539, sponsored by Rep. Fred Keller. It ensures that government workers have a fair opportunity to resign.

“Pennsylvanian’s government workers deserve a fair, democratic, and anonymous voice in their workplace unionization vote,” said Benefield. “Sadly, the bill proposed today is unfair, undemocratic, and leaves workers subject to public scrutiny for their personal opinions.”

Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact Michael Torres 850-619-2737 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.

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