Yesterday, the Labor and Industry Committee of the Pennsylvania House passed HB 785, a bill that would notify public school teachers and other government employees that they don’t have to join a union. That notion may seem like a no-duh entry from the Annals of The Obvious, but in practice–as our own Free to Teach members can attest–not many workers actually know what their rights are with regards to union membership.
“I believe it’s very important for employees to be aware of their rights,” explained FTT member Doug Snyder, a teacher in Reading School District. “Quite frankly, many people are scared, and it’s because of lack of information. Union leadership does everything to convince you that membership is an absolute requirement, especially if you are falsely accused of something in the classroom. But that’s just not true. Employees should feel empowered and not scared or uncertain about their legal rights. I hope the legislature does something about it with this law.”
The full Pennsylvania House could vote on HB 785 as early as next week.
The bill is also known as the Employee Rights Notification Act, and has simple language that employers would share with non-union member employees every January, and give to new hires. Here’s what the proposed notice to new employees would say:
As a new or returning employe, it is your right to decide whether you will join the employe organization (union) which will represent you for the purposes of collective bargaining. You may join the employe organization or remain a nonmember. It is not a condition of employment to join the employe organization, and there is no obligation to make any payment to the employe organization if you elect to be a nonmember. You may contact the employe organization if you want to discuss the possibility of membership.
Plain and easy, right?
And especially important since Janus v. AFSCME eliminated the requirement that non-members pay fair share fees to unions. It’s also critical because, as teachers have told us, unions are muddying the waters by claiming that employees need to join the union, or they’ll lose their benefits or other compensation. John Kabler, a state liquor store worker, is even suing the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union because leaders told him–in writing–that union membership was a condition of his employment.
So while it may seem like a no-brainer that workers don’t have to join or pay a union, it isn’t a well-known fact. And the big government unions are working to ensure workers stay in the dark.
If you support workers being told their labor rights through HB 785, call or send a handwritten note to your legislator this week.