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HARRISBURG (Feb. 6, 2017) - After the Senate Appropriations Committee voted today to advance bills that would prohibit public employees from voluntarily having part of their union dues deducted from their paychecks, Jerry Oleksiak, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, said the legislation is an attack aimed at silencing the voices of working people and their labor unions.
Senate Bills 166 and 167 will likely be called up for a vote in the full Senate this week. They would prohibit public employees from voluntarily having union dues deducted from their paychecks if those dues support advocacy work. That means that PSEA members would be prohibited from using payroll deduction to speak out for their schools, students, and professions.
"This is nothing more than a bullying tactic aimed at silencing the voices of ordinary Pennsylvanians by trying to weaken the unions that speak out for them," Oleksiak said.
"More and more, money is flowing to the richest 1 percent while middle-class Pennsylvanians lose ground. Lawmakers should focus more on growing middle-class paychecks, and less on irrelevant issues like how money is deducted from middle-class paychecks.
"Payroll deduction costs public employers nothing, because payroll systems are automated. So, this doesn't save the taxpayers a dime. This is about silencing working people by attacking their unions, and it shows a complete disrespect for working people and the unions that work so hard to speak out for them.
"We have real problems to solve in Pennsylvania, and this isn't one of them. Lawmakers need to get to work on issues that impact middle-class Pennsylvanians."
Oleksiak is a special education teacher in the Upper Merion Area School District. An affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents approximately 180,000 future, active and retired teachers and school employees, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.