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A proposal that would have barred Pennsylvania school districts from automatically deducting union dues from the paychecks of unionized public school employees was defeated in the state Senate Oct. 15, 2014.
The so-called “paycheck protection” proposal failed by a vote of 20–28. The Senate has a slim 27–23 Republican majority, but six Republican senators peeled off to join the chamber's Democrats to defeat the measure.
The measure had generated heated controversy since its introduction. Labor unions and their supporters viewed it as part of a larger, concerted attack on unions and collective bargaining rights led by Republicans while business and conservative groups backed the measure as a way to stop public resources from being used for political purposes.
Money collected from union dues can’t be donated to individual candidates, but it can be used for broader political advocacy efforts, such as mailings to members informing them of an elected official’s voting record on relevant issues. On the other hand, political action contributions (PACs) from union workers can be directly donated to political candidates.
Sen. Scott Wagner had attempted to attach the amendment to an unrelated bill allowing schools to stock epinephrine medication to administer to students experiencing an allergic reaction. He has vowed to come back and push for another vote on dues deduction in next year’s legislative session. In March 2013, Sen. John Eichelberger had introduced a similar bill – S.B. 740 – which was sent to the Senate Labor and Industry Committee but never acted on.
Rosemarie Lally, J.D., is a freelance legal writer and editor based in Washington, D.C.
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