Pennsylvania may be the next battlefield in big business' war on the working class. Republican Governor Corbett -- his popularity at an all-time low -- and his allies in the state legislature may be about to ram through union-busting "right-to-work" (RTW) legislation.
In November, Republicans lost seats in both houses of the Pennsylvania legislature, but still hold on to slim majorities. Corbett is up for re-election next year, but a paltry 36 percent of Pennsylvanians approve of his performance, according to recent polls. So GOP politicians in Harrisburg may try to rush through anti-worker legislation quickly, figuring their days may be numbered anyway and they haven't got much to lose.
Remember that the passage of RTW in Michigan in December, and in Indiana one year ago, were also rush jobs, with Republicans striking fast in hopes that their opponents would not have time to organize. "Right-to-work" was passed and signed by Michigan's governor in just five days.
In January a group of Pennsylvania Republican legislators introduced a package of "right-to-work" legislation which closely mirrors the "model" RTW legislation prescribed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the far-right corporate legislation mill funded by the Koch brothers and other billionaires. (More on the Pennsylvania RTW attack here.)
Corbett has other anti-worker attacks on his agenda: a plan to privatize the state-owned liquors stores, thereby destroying thousands of good-paying union jobs; a related push to privatize the state lottery; and an effort to end defined-benefit pensions for public employees, to be replaced with a 410(k)-type savings plan. (Read more about the pension attack here, more on state store privatization here.)
And just this week, State Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, a close ally of Corbett, said he'll soon introduce a bill, following instructions from the chairman of the Republican National Committee, to change voting for President in Pennsylvania in order to rig future elections for the Republicans. (Read a report by The Nation's John Nichols here.)
(Watch for the next issue of the UE NEWS, which will contain an article explaining the danger and deception of so-called "right-to-work" legislation.)
If you live in Pennsylvania, you need to fight back against all these attacks. If you live somewhere else, take note of this newest set of attacks, because we've seen that these assaults on workers and democracy are nationally coordinated, and none of us is safe.
All UE members, stewards and local leaders in Pennsylvania should organize and get in touch with your state senators and assembly members. Follow this link to the Political Action section of the UE website, and in the right column, enter your zip code in the "state officials" line under the heading "BE HEARD" to find your state legislators' names and how to contact them.
Call, write, e-mail, and visit the offices of your state representative and state senator, and tell them:
1. Stop Gov. Corbett's right-to-work attack.
2. Stop Gov. Corbett's assault on public pensions.
3. Stop Gov. Corbett's state store privatization scam, and demand an immediate investigation of the lottery privatization scheme.
4. Remind your legislators that they work for you, not ALEC or the Republican National Committee, and you don't want Pennsylvania's elections rigged to favor Republicans.