Corbett: Pa. lacks 'will' for union bill

Map locating all U.S. states with right-to-work laws.
Map locating all U.S. states with right-to-work laws. (S. Chen)
Posted: December 12, 2012

HARRISBURG - Gov. Corbett said Monday that Pennsylvania apparently lacks the political will to become a "right-to-work" state, a key issue for conservatives as Republicans in Michigan prepare to pass such a law over the protests of organized labor.

Corbett, a first-term Republican, has never made right-to-work legislation a priority while he battles unions on other issues, and he did not say whether he would support such a bill if it reached his desk. Right-to-work bills languished in the GOP-controlled legislature without even a committee vote during the recently completed two-year session.

"There is not much of a movement to do it and lot of it has to do with the politics at the local level, at the county level and at the state level," Corbett said during a regular appearance on the The Dom Giordano Program on WPHT-AM (1210) in Philadelphia. "Until I see a strong will to get legislation passed, we have a lot of other things that we have to get passed."

Right-to-work bills prohibit requirements that employees join a union or pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Supporters say it is an issue of freedom of association for workers and improving the business climate. Critics contend the real intent - to bleed unions of money and bargaining power - would destroy the middle class.

"It's a line in the sand we'll fight very hard on," said Rick Bloomingdale, president of the AFL-CIO in Pennsylvania.

A right-to-work bill in the 50-member Senate attracted just nine sponsors, all Republicans. Absent were the names of Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi and those of about a dozen Republicans from the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh regions. Just 35 members of the 203-member state House joined as sponsors to a bill in that chamber.

Amid protests by unionized nurses, autoworkers and others, Michigan could become the 24th state with a right-to-work law once House and Senate Republicans reconcile wording in separate bills passed speedily last week.

Wisconsin curtailed collective bargaining for most public employees last year and Indiana enacted a right-to-work law this year.

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