State republicans blow up unions, “woke up” historic markers | Information, sports activities, jobs
With prominent strikes underway and more threats across the country, Republicans in Harrisburg are trying to effectively weaken the unions, in one case by amending the state constitution.
Legislators have proposed several bills over the past two weeks that would put unions – particularly public sector unions – on the defensive. The move comes as the Democrats in Congress work to include their own labor law reforms on President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda.
On Monday, State MP Torren Ecker, R-New Oxford, told his colleagues that he would propose a constitutional amendment that would preventively prohibit so-called card controls. The change – which would have to be passed in two consecutive sessions before a public referendum can be passed – would require that all union elections be held by secret ballot.
“Just as citizens want elections to be free, fair and anonymous, workers who vote in company elections deserve the same right.” said Ecker.
Under current federal law, a percentage of workers who want to organize must collect signed IDs. Your employer has the option of recognizing the union immediately or applying for a secret ballot controlled by the government.
For decades, union activists have been pushing for a return to the old card control system, where workers could gain instant recognition by submitting enough signed cards. Full elections, on the other hand, are often delayed, giving employers time to run their own anti-union campaigns.
Other House bills could weaken the unions that represent public service workers.
One from Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, R-Lower Macungie Township, would prohibit the deduction of optional political donations from unions from government employees’ paychecks. Another from MP Kate Klunk, R-Hannover, demanded that state employees be regularly reminded of their right not to pay union dues even though they are represented at the negotiating table by unions.
MEP Dawn Keefer, R-Dillsburg, proposed a bill late last month that would require public unions to have a recertification vote every six years – a process that would regularly put organizers on the defensive.
The new wave of bills comes as the Democrats in Congress enact stricter rules on employers accused of violating workers’ organizing rights. Bidens “Build better” Bill, which is still hotly debated in the Capitol, could include a provision to penalize companies for meddling in collective actions by workers.
Rick Bloomingdale, head of the state’s largest trade union confederation, called the bill a “Transformative step forward for our community and our country” last week. Its final form – whether it will exist even in the midst of tough intra-party negotiations – remains to be seen.
Smooth election in the midst of legal disputes
A quiet and largely undisturbed election day last Tuesday could turn out to be a brief interlude between suffrage battles.
State officials reported few major problems with more than 700,000 Pennsylvanians returning their ballots in an election that saw a relatively low turnout in many areas. It was a far cry from the record-breaking 2020 general election that put a national spotlight on Pennsylvania.
Legislators from both parties are still pushing for changes to the state’s electoral laws, including Republicans who voided the postal voting law.
Last week, Democratic MP Regina Young, D-Philadelphia, announced plans for a number of new bills in the opposite direction. Young’s three suggestions include a three-week period before the election to count early ballots, a requirement that some votes be counted in advance, and a warning to voters whose signatures do not match those on file.
“The voters should have the opportunity to prove their identity and to confirm their signature” Boy said.
The proposals cannot move far under a GOP-led legislature. A voting agreement between Republican lawmakers and Governor Tom Wolf has proven elusive.
DC representatives violate Biden’s vaccination rules
At least one Pennsylvania congressman has joined efforts to stop the president’s new business vaccine mandate before it begins.
Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pittsburgh, is one of 17 Republicans who support HR 5811, a bill that would stop funding a Department of Labor program that mandates COVID-19 vaccines.
Biden announced the long-awaited rules on Thursday: companies with more than 100 employees must require full vaccination by Jan. 4, and employees who refuse must have weekly coronavirus tests. Many healthcare workers will not have a test option under the new rule.
The guidelines are to be enforced by the occupational health and safety authority.
The legislature is against it “woke up” sign
A lawmaker working at the state’s museum bureau is making a proposal to privatize approval of Pennsylvania’s famous blue historical markings, the Pennsylvania Capital star reported.
Rep. Parke Wentling, R-Greenville, discussed the idea in a magazine post last week. Wentling sits on the board of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, which approves the blue and gold markings that discuss important sites, events, and people.
Recent efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in the process are linked to “Awakened demolition culture” Wentling said, comparing the commission to the tyrannical Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s dystopian novel: “1984.”
Officials have worked to address outdated messages on the signs, many of which are older than the commission itself.
Ryan Brown covers the nationwide policy for Ogden
Newspapers. He can be reached at
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