HARRISBURG — State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe announced Tuesday a package of bills that would make Pennsylvania the 25th Right to Work state in the nation.
Flanked by more than two dozen advocates and speakers, Metcalfe spoke at a news conference about the need to ban compulsory unionism in the state.
Although Metcalfe has introduced Right To Work legislation repeatedly for more than a decade, he thinks this year the bills could become law because of the success of similar legislation in the union-friendly states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana.
During that decade, Metcalfe said private-sector employee compensation grew 12 percent in Right to Work States, compared to only 3 percent in “forced unionism” states like Pennsylvania.
“No hard-working Pennsylvania taxpayer should be forced into union membership or to pay union dues in exchange for the fundamental right to work,” Metcalfe said.
“The framers of our constitution never intended for our government to become an enforcer for unions or a collector of forced union dues at taxpayer expense.”
The six bills he has introduced together form the “PA Open Workforce Initiative.” Each bill addresses sectors of compulsory unionism in the state, from public employees, such as teachers and government workers, to private sector employees, such as nurses and manufacturers.
The news conference lasted more than an hour as more than 20 speakers took to the podium. Many of them made their case for Right to Work legislation by putting forth a slew of statistics advocating for it.
The assembled list of speakers included a teacher, two school board members, businessmen, a retired nurse, the president of the state chamber of commerce and other special interest groups.
Those speakers all made it clear that this is an economic issue, citing statistics that show states with Right to Work legislation have lower unemployment numbers than those that do not.
One speaker also said nine of the 10 best states to do business in are Right to Work states, according to national media outlet CNBC.
However, the issue is also one that boils down to basic freedoms and liberties, according to other speakers.
State Rep. Kathy Rapp, R-65th, called compulsory unionism “anti-American” and a matter of liberty, while another advocate argued the bill would wrestle the “tyrannical power” held by union bosses and restore it to workers.
“If you want to kill a monster, cut off its head,” said Catherine Fike, a school board member from Westmoreland County.
Yet another speaker, state Rep. Fred Keller, R-85th, called the package of bills a “Declaration of Independence for Pennsylvania workers.”
The package of bills will be referred to committees in the House of Representatives, and there is no timetable for if or when the package will be voted on.