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Dues contrivance

March 19, 2014 Letters to the Editor

Regarding the March 10 editorial, “Labor shudders at notion of collecting its own dues.”

I take issue with this anti-union op-ed, touting so-called “paycheck protection” bills, proposed in the state Legislature.

If passed, these legalistic contrivances are nothing more than attempted sabotage of organized labor’s ability to collect membership dues conveniently by nixing its automatic payroll deductions.

The editorial only adds fuel to the fire by questioning the cost-value of unionism in workers’ lives.

As a member of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, Slippery Rock University’s faculty and coaches union, I’m proud to have my dues deducted bimonthly because I know whom it protects — the rank and file.

I’ve taught at other educational institutions, not unionized, and there’s no comparison. Because my faculty union negotiates contracts on my behalf; and when there are disputes with administration, I can access grievance procedures to resolve any workplace misunderstandings.

But by pushing these deliberately-intrusive bills, Republican lawmakers are tweaking a high-stakes political game, playing itself out in Harrisburg. They fear their lackluster governor, Tom Corbett, is going to lose in the fall’s general elections, or at least that’s what the polls indicate.

So, GOP leaders are scrambling to ramrod through legislation that’s perceived to immobilize the union movement, traditionally one of Pennsylvania Democrats’ staunchest supporters. Just cut the unions off at their payroll-deduction knees, and Republicans expect to rattle labor’s solidarity.

Naively, it assumes members won’t want to pay union dues if the dues are not deducted from paychecks.

The GOP’s emboldened thinking only reflects a desperate attempt to pass “labor micromanagement” laws now, before a newly-elected Democratic governor can veto any other facsimiles in the future.

A political strategy of deliberate meddling with the unions’ income pipeline will backfire, big time, against the Republican leadership: It’s already engendering public outrage against it — one which will inevitably surge in support of unions and thus energize a strong, Democratic-based turnout in November’s gubernatorial election.

And all because of foolish and frantic politics that won’t work — just distract and galvanize.