The opposition for Pennsylvania House Bill 1507 just became much more organized.
That’s because the Harrisburg-based Teamsters Local 776 have joined a growing bi-partisan base that has rallied against HB 1507, introduced by State Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster).
Cutler explained the purpose and thrust of HB 1507 in a memo circulated to and among House peers.
“[My] legislation amends the Public Employee Relations Act (Act 195 of 1970) to eliminate the ability of public employers and representative unions to negotiate clauses in collective bargaining agreements which requires the deduction of union dues or political contributions from paychecks. It is important to note that several groups such as prison guards, firemen and policemen will not be affected by this proposal,” read a portion of Cutler’s memo. “Since some of this money is used for political purposes we do not believe that the public employers funded by tax dollars should be in the business of collecting these fees for representative unions. Our legislation takes the public employer out of the ‘loop’ when collecting such fees against non-members, and requires that the representative union collect these fees directly for their members.”
Teamsters Local 776 leaders were quick to respond, blasting Cutler’s legislation, terming it the “Paycheck Deception Bill.”
“This bill is nothing more that a flat-out attack on workers’ rights. Attacking middle-class families should never be a partisan issue,” said Teamsters Local 776 President Fred Wilson. “Paycheck deception is the product of the Koch Brothers, the same guys who have been weakening workers’ rights throughout the country to hurt the struggling American middle-class and outsource our jobs overseas.”
Cutler contended that he was not out to hurt Pennsylvanian – and by extension, American – workers; instead, Cutler said, HB 1507 is more about protecting the workers from having deductions taken from their checks with the worker having little if no say in the matter.
“Currently, public employee unions can collect dues directly out of paychecks with no questions asked. A portion of that money is spent on political activity, and there is a clear issue with any portion of public funds being used to collect money for political gains,” Cutler said. “For me, the entire bill is about one fundamental question: Should government stop collecting political money?
“My legislation makes no attempt to limit the power of unions; it only asks that they collect dues and political money directly from their own members, and not by paycheck deduction,” Cutler adds. “No other organization, business or club has the power to use public assets for political purposes to collect money directly out of paychecks. I believe it’s time we drop the rhetoric and answer the one question I’ve always [asked]: Should government be in the business of collecting political money? For me the answer is a clear and convincing no. People are in prison for using public assets for political purposes, and it’s time our laws are updated to treat this kind of activity for what it is; clear cut political activity.”
The leadership team of Teamsters Local 776 certainly doesn’t see it that way. To them, HB 1507 equates to a full frontal attack on their membership and unions on a whole.
“HB 1507 has one purpose and only one purpose,” said Danny Grace, secretary of Philadelphia-based Teamsters Local 776, “to weaken unions and lower our wages.”