Pa. Locals Rally to Stop Labor Assaults
March 4, 2014
Hundreds of Pennsylvania unionists, including nearly 40 members of Norristown Local 380 rallied in 18-degree temperatures outside the state capitol.
Standing room only doesn’t just happen at football games.
When legislators in Pennsylvania decided to follow the lead of Wis. Gov. Scott Walker and propose a bill to weaken the state’s public sector unions, so many unionists showed up at Harrisburg’s capitol rotunda on Jan. 28, many were forced to stand outside in the freezing cold.
Lou Acampora, president of Norristown Local 380, was one of the committed activists outside, protesting a bill that would prevent the state, school districts and local governments from the checking off union dues and political action committee contributions from union workers’ paychecks. He was accompanied by nearly 40 Local 380 members who stayed outside on the capitol steps on the 18-degree day.
“A reporter asked why I was there, since I represent a construction local, not a public worker’s union,” Acampora said. “I told him that I was in solidarity with the other unions, but it was more than that. Big money from out of state billionaires like the Koch brothers was being spent to turn our friends against us,” Acampora told the Delaware County Daily Times.
Local 380 and the building trades, says Acampora, had decent relationships with some Republican lawmakers who supported using union labor on public projects. But now, he says, they are being pushed by anti-union interests to support bills to undermine collective bargaining and even make Pennsylvania a right-to-work state.
While Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, says he will sign the paycheck bill if it comes before him, many legislators are still unconvinced about drawing the line with unions.
The Times reported on the exhortation by William Hamilton, president of the Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters to those rallied at the capitol: “If you watched what happened in Wisconsin and Michigan, it [anti-union legislation] was far too late when it got to the House. We’re on time.”
The bill’s Republican sponsor, Rep. Brian Cutler, says the paycheck bill is designed to keep the state from using taxpayer money to deduct money for political purposes,
Acampora says check-off was collectively bargained and public sector unions had offered to pay for the costs of administering the deductions.
“More than 16 IBEW locals were represented inside the rotunda and many more were outside in the cold protesting the bill—a great turnout,” Political Coordinator Mike Welsh said.