This is the letter submitted by PARTW in support of HB 1154.
On behalf of the PA Right to Work staff, board, and hundreds of members across the state, I want to thank you for the opportunity to submit this testimony regarding HB1154. I remember sitting in the room last summer during the public hearing regarding this legislation before the House Judiciary committee. At the time, there were two main arguments in defense of this loophole in the criminal code. The first was that it had never been used to throw out a case, and the second was that supposedly more cases of harassment were committed by business owners than by union workers or executives, and that somehow was a reason to keep the loophole in place. I would like an opportunity to address each of those arguments.
First of all, the idea that just because (at that time) no case had been thrown out using this loophole in the criminal code does not mean the loophole should not be addressed. Indeed, it is the legislature’s job to anticipate problems and be forward thinking enough to resolve them in advance. In point of fact, isn’t that the reason the legislature passed a large transportation spending bill this past fall before bridges started collapsing? Furthermore, that argument was made moot in November when a Philadelphia judge used this loophole to throw out charges of stalking, harassment, and even terroristic threats by members of Ironworkers Local 401 who were trying to intimidate businesswomen Saria Rose for using nonunion labor. Not coincidentally this is the same union that had 10 officials charged last month with extortion, arson, and assault.
The other false argument against this legislation is that supposedly more cases of harassment are committed by business owners than by union workers or executives like the ones in the indictment who describe themselves as T.H.U.G.S. First of all this is an interesting theory since there have been no indictments against business owners thrown out or otherwise compared to eleven cases (the ten in Federal court and the one thrown out) just since the House Judiciary hearing. That fact aside, if the union’s dubious claim that more harassment takes place on the part of business owners, they should support this legislation to protect their members.
To us, this legislation comes down to a basic principle of equal protection under law. No person, be they union worker, union executive, business owner, legislator, or common taxpayer should be allowed an exemption to the law. That is why we are urging this committee to positively discharge HB1154 and recommend its swift and final passage to the Senate at large.
Director of Communication and Legislation
Pennsylvanians for Right to Work Inc.