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“We Have the Right to Know!” FTT at Pennsylvania Leadership Conference


Free to Teach is a project of Americans for Fair Treatment (AFFT).

We’ve never seen more excitement at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference than in 2019. Each year in Harrisburg, the “PLC” brings together business leaders, workers, and citizens who are concerned about the erosion of constitutional rights in Pennsylvania.

It was a first-time chance for that crowd to encounter AFFT’s vital message: nobody should be forced to join a union against their will. Not by lies, or tricks, or harassment, or legal pressure.

And none of our state workers should be kept in the dark about their right to resign.

AFFT’s Pennsylvania Director of Outreach, Keith Williams, took the stage for one of PLC’s hottest panels, “Whose Money is it, Anyhow?” along with AFFT member Cisco Molina. Keith and Cisco made the case as clear as can be: we should trust state employees to make their own decision about union membership—just like we trust them to teach our kids, build our downtowns, and care for our sick.

AFFT’s Pennsylvania Director of Outreach, Keith Williams (left) and AFFT member Cisco Molina (right).

As Keith pointed out, police officers read Miranda rights when they make arrests. Unions make their “timeshare pitch” on teachers’ and other public-sector employees’ first day. So where is workers’ notification of Janus rights—that they have the constitutional right to not pay union dues or fees?

On the same panel, Rep. Kate Klunk of York County spoke about how urgent this notification is right now: she has proposed a bill, the Employee Rights Notification Act, to make sure it happens. HB 785 is so close to passing in the House, and when it does, we’ll see many Pennsylvania workers waking up.

The audience was on the edge of their seats when AFFT member Cisco Molina told his story—how union officials tried to deceive everyone in his entire workplace with a bogus contract. And when he stood up against it, he faced harassment against his entire family.

“[The shop steward in my office] decided to reach out to my daughter, whom she’d never met, at a local dog park…she figured out how to get to my daughter. We were driving around, and we would look in the rearview to make sure nobody was following us. I was being harassed by union officials on county time, on county property. I was up against a corporation with endless financial resources—all alone.”

Thankfully, Cisco reached out to AFFT, and he’s not alone today. He also got in touch with the Fairness Center, whose legal team has supported him in filing suit against his union, SEIU Local 668.

The Americans for Fair Treatment booth was hopping after Keith and Cisco’s panel—we heard stories of from across the state about the war on worker’s rights. It was great to see how state employees from both sides of the aisle can come together on a simple issue: freedom of choice.

One PLC guest who approached our booth was the CEO of a charter school whose employees had to fight off an aggressive unionization attempt—and some of the tactics the union employed would blow your mind. But others were completely unaware of the exploitation Keith and Cisco exposed in their panel—like how only around 5 percent of workers’ dues payments stay with local unions, while the rest funds the national affiliate.

As many of the Pennsylvanians who visited our booth at PLC can tell you, Americans for Fair Treatment plays a vital role in this fight for worker freedom. AFFT doesn’t sit by while teachers, social workers, or home care employees are harassed, coerced, or ignored.

We are first and foremost a community of people who understand—and a place where you can come for the tools you need to exercise your rights. We’ve built a reputation supporting so many former union members like Cisco Molina—and we will be there for you, too.

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