Fundraising Effort Supports Pa. Campaign for ‘Right-to-Work’


April 26, 2013

When Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, joined with his Democratic colleague W. Va. Sen. Joe Manchin, to propose a bill on background check for gun owners, he was hailed as a “voice of reasonable compromise.” Not so fast.


A letter Toomey sent out in March endorses the fundraising call of the Commonwealth Foundation, a right-wing think tank, to put unions under the political gun by passing right-to-work legislation in Pennsylvania.

In an article in The Nation, “Pennsylvania Think Tank Plans to ‘Slay’ Unions, Like in Wisconsin,” Lee Fang writes:

… The think tank announced Project Goliath,”a new effort to make Pennsylvania the next Wisconsin or Michigan. The Commonwealth Foundation is one of a fifty-state network of similar think tanks that have vastly expanded since 2009.

Targeting public employee unions and prevailing wage laws and defining the battle as between the “Taxpayer Party” and the “Big Government Party,” the foundation’s letter says, “Like David of the Bible, now is the time to come forward and slay Pennsylvania’s Big Labor Goliath.”

The Pennsylvania Senate and General Assembly are both controlled by Republicans. But Gov. Tom Corbett, also a Republican, has told the Associated Press that the state lacks the “will” to pass right-to-work legislation.

The Commonwealth Foundation, funded by a nearly $2 million budget that has doubled in the past three years, challenges residents who say right-to-work can’t pass in the state, comparing Corbett to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder:

[Snyder] openly opposed right-to-work right up until two weeks before he signed this historic law. It was only thanks to the dedicated, long-term efforts and hard work of freedom’s advocates that the victory was won, NOT because of some kind of top-down visionary leadership … The secret recipe for success doesn’t require either a governor who makes a case relentlessly for years or an electorate more conservative than Pennsylvania’s.

Urging members to take Toomey’s and the Commonwealth Foundation’s threats seriously, International President Edwin D. Hill says:

The greatest mistake members and supporters of organized labor make on right-to-work laws and other legislation that undermines unions is to say, ‘It can’t happen here.’ Senator Toomey and the Commonwealth Foundation are raising significant funds for a protracted, grassroots campaign to spread mistruths and confusion about unions. They will be defeated only by an even stronger grassroots effort by our members and allies that tells the true story of how union members keep our communities safe and strong.



IBEW and Union Yes picture: Paul Weaver Photography

 “Middle Class economies” Photo used under a Creative Commons license from flickr user reillyandrew