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By Amy Majani, APSCUF intern

On Tuesday, January 28, throngs of union members from around the state stood together at the Capitol building to oppose House Bill 1507 and Senate Bill 1034, which would make the payroll deduction of union dues, fair share fees, and political contributions non-negotiable in public employee collective bargaining agreements.

Although the legislation only affects public sector unions (with the exception of police and firefighters), Tuesday’s rally was a united front of both public and private sector unions from all over the commonwealth.

The show of solidarity started in the rotunda and spilled into other areas of the Capitol. Hundreds of union members who could not get into the building braved the cold and rallied outside.

APSCUF president Steve Hicks addressed the growing crowd gathered in the lower section of the Capitol, noting the remarkable unity of the various unions, from firefighters and police, to the building trades, to the public sector unions. He told the crowd: “They have us united in this fight. This is about workers’ rights. It’s about fighting the Koch brothers. We cannot lose this fight. We are one!”

APSCUF faculty members from several universities participated in the event, joining with their union colleagues to tell legislators to oppose the legislation.

Hailed as “paycheck protection” bills by proponents, the proposed legislation is not only an affront to workers’ rights, but its key tenets are characteristic of right-to-work laws that have been recently enacted in other states, like Wisconsin.

While addressing the rally in the Capitol rotunda, William Hamilton, president of Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters pointed that, “If you watched what happened in Wisconsin and Michigan, it was far too late when it got to the House. We are on time.”

The two identical bills, HB 1507 and SB 1304, are still in committee and have yet to be brought up for a vote.

Pennsylvania’s working men and women will continue to stand together to advocate for workers’ rights.

Read more about the rally:

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Union members pack Pennsylvania Capitol to protest dues-collection bill

Philadelphia Inquirer: Unions rally against “paycheck protection” bills

CBS Philly: Public employee unions rally in Harrisburg against anti-checkoff bill

Associated Press: Conservatives, labor unions battle over union dues

People’s World: Thousands jam Pennsylvania’s capital to protest union-killing bill

Patriot-News: Pa. labor unions fill state Capitol Rotunda in defense of union rights

Lancaster Newspapers: Rally counters Rep. Cutler’s bid to reform public unions’ dues collection

Patriot-News: Ploy or not? Sign driver said he was mobbed by union activists outside Pa. Capitol