By John L. Micek on July 10, 2015
Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
The Internetz aren’t cooperating with us here at PennLive World HQ this morning, so we’re going to keep things short and sweet.
If you read yesterday’s post, then you’ve probably caught onto the fact that organized labor has a huge stake in Budget Impasse 2015.
From the debate over school funding to pension reform and booze privatization, the key issues of the fight over Gov. Tom Wolf’s nearly $34 billion spending plan hit Big Labor where it lives.
Sen. Rich Alloway Reacts To Gov. Tom Wolf’s Pension Reform Veto And How That Impacts The Decision To Raise Tuition At The State Universities Bristled by Wolf’s veto of the GOP-backed pension reform law, Alloway questioned the governor’s commitment to reaching a state budget compromise. So delaying setting tuition for the 14 state universities made no sense to him.
Wolf has already vetoed a Republican-authored budget bill. He’s vetoed the booze privatization bill, which could critics say could put nearly 5,000 unionized state workers out of a job.
And on Thursday, Wolf hit for the budgetary cycle, vetoing a pension bill that unions say will cost the state tens of millions of dollars over the long haul.
And while Pennsylvania has been spared the white-hot labor fights seen in Wisconsin, for instance. The simmering arguments with Big Labor in Pennsylvania do fit squarely into a nationwide trend.
As our friends at Stateline.org report in an annual survey of state Legislatures, labor battles are heating up in states across the country — though in other states, it’s mostly over so-called “Right to Work” legislation, which would ban mandatory union membership as a condition for employment.
As you can see from the map below, “Right to Work” bills are making the rounds of most states, including Pennsylvania, though it’s yet to seriously catch fire here. And with Democrat Wolf in charge, a gubernatorial veto is guaranteed if a bill ever reaches his desk.
One expert, David Macpherson, a labor economist who chairs the economics department at Trinity University in San Antonio. tells Stateline that these bills are “part of a longer-run trend.”
“Republicans have got more control of legislatures and governors than the Democrats do. That’s going to help these laws get passed. It’s the rise of Republicans and the decline of private unions,” he told Stateline.
That makes Pennsylvania a rare exception – Wolf bucked national trends, making him a rare success story for national Democrats in 2014, which explains why Big Labor is so active in this year’s budget debate.