Less than one year ago, the Supreme Court declared that public sector workers’ constitutional rights to free speech and association came before government unions’ desire to collect fees from those workers' paychecks. Now, employees who don't belong to a union can no longer be forced to pay union fees.
However, the Wolf administration isn't willing to tell liquor store workers about this landmark court decision, Janus v. AFSCME.
That concerns Mark Negra, a member of Pennsylvania’s Liquor Control Board (PLCB).
At a PLCB meeting on Wednesday, Mr. Negra made a motion to notify employees of their options. Another board member, Tim Holden, decided that the board would instead do nothing in order to maintain “neutrality.”
Allowing government unions to skirt a Supreme Court decision is not neutrality.
Before making this decision, Mr. Holden claimed the Janus ruling is an enormous “setback” for the labor community. That is, he opposes workers' rights. He opposes the ability of store clerks to make their own decisions about union membership and how to spend their paycheck.
Mr. Holden even suggested union leaders should be given more leeway to talk about the benefits of union membership.
Here's the discussion from Wednesday’s meeting:
Neither the PLCB nor the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the union representing PLCB liquor store workers, are known as champions of transparency or ethical behavior. In fact, the union was recently accused of misleading employees by telling them they had to join the union.
Using “neutrality” to rationalize not informing workers of their newly affirmed constitutional rights is not only disrespectful, it helps union leaders mislead their members. It is a decidedly unneutral decision to the detriment of the very people that they are supposed to represent and support.
Commonwealth Foundation Vice President Stephen Bloom put it this way:
Keeping workers in the dark about their constitutional rights isn’t ‘neutrality’. It’s handing an unfair advantage to government union leaders who apparently don’t want their own hardworking members to know their real options when it comes to union membership.
Every worker deserves to know his or her legal rights—especially after the Supreme Court’s Janus decision empowered workers with important new ones. The governor says he values transparency, so he and his administration should start encouraging, instead of suppressing, lawful efforts to provide union workers with all the information they need to make the decision that’s best for them.
The PLCB’s actions demonstrate the urgent need for legislation requiring state government to notify employees of their rights. Without legislative action, bureaucrats like Mr. Holden will continue to rationalize ways to keep public employees in the dark.
Rep. Kate Klunk plans to reintroduce legislation designed to inform all state workers of their rights under Janus. Common sense and common decency dictate that elected officials should enact this basic transparency legislation.