New report argues it's time for public-sector union reform in Pennsylvania

(The Heart Sq.) – A new report from the Commonwealth Basis argues that Pennsylvania can enhance financial development and provides staff extra selection and freedom of their life – if the Common Meeting reforms its authorities union like Wisconsin did a decade in the past.

“Authorities unions have huge political energy in Pennsylvania, as a consequence of a number of particular authorized privileges granted in state regulation,” report authors Nathan Benefield and Elizabeth Stelle be aware. “Authorities union executives use this energy to lure authorities staff in unions, deny them different illustration, and foyer in opposition to fiscal and academic reforms wanted to make Pennsylvania extra affluent.”

Benefield and Stelle argue that Pennsylvania ought to change state regulation by:

  • Requiring common recertification elections. 

  • Banning the automated deduction of dues and PAC contributions from authorities staff’ paychecks.

  • Empowering authorities staff to decide on whether or not or to not belong to a union.

The report solely feedback on public sector unions, not personal sector unions.

“While you strengthen particular person employee rights, there’s a whole lot of different issues that come from that,” mentioned Stelle, director of coverage evaluation for the Commonwealth Basis. “What’s actually attention-grabbing about Wisconsin’s mannequin – these modifications modified tradition…you noticed some lasting everlasting modifications.”

When Wisconsin’s Act 10 handed, authorities staff might cease paying dues to the union and depart – and depart they did. “Between 2011 and 2020, authorities union membership fell by greater than half (from 187,000 to 84,000), and authorities union density – that’s, the proportion of presidency staff in unions – fell from 50 to 22 %,” the report famous.

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Whereas the report doesn’t advocate the entire Wisconsin reforms, reminiscent of reforming collective bargaining, the report focuses on increasing selection for staff.

“We aren’t calling for among the broad-based modifications to collective bargaining; we’re extra particular employee rights like having the ability to depart the union everytime you select, or having the ability to repeatedly elect the union that helps you,” Stelle mentioned.

A lot of Pennsylvania’s labor legal guidelines are in state statute, reasonably than guidelines written into collective bargaining contracts. Change would require the Common Meeting to switch the regulation, Stelle famous. Doing so would give staff extra flexibility, for selecting the union they need to belong to, for leaving a union if they like, and for rewards on the job reminiscent of merit-based pay.

“It is a actually good second for us to check out our public-sector labor legal guidelines and be sure that they’re empowering our particular person staff,” Stelle mentioned.