Former U.S. Secretary of Education Bill Bennett to Testify on Eichelberger Legislation in Harrisburg

Article posted on October 23, 2018

HARRISBURG (October 23, 2018) – New legislation proposed by Senator John H. Eichelberger, Jr. (R-Blair) will provide long-overdue First Amendment protection for public sector employees guaranteed by the recent Janus vs. AFSCME decision.  A Senate Committee has scheduled a hearing this week to discuss Senator Eichelberger’s plan to address the ramifications of the decision.

“Pennsylvania has not fully responded to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling,” said Senator Eichelberger. “We have an opportunity now to change the state’s laws and finally free public sector employees from suffocating union contracts.”

In the Janus case, justices sided with plaintiff Mark Janus, who argued his First Amendment rights were being violated because his union, or “fair share,” fees were funding political activity with which he didn’t agree. The court ruled public sector workers should not be forced to pay fees to an organization they didn’t join.

Senator Eichelberger’s proposal will bring Pennsylvania law into line with the Janus ruling. The legislation repeals the state’s Fair Share Fee Law and adds numerous safeguards to ensure workers’ rights come first. Among the changes: public sector employees will gain the ability to negotiate their own terms with an employer; employers will be required to notify employees, in writing, that they do not have to join a union to begin or maintain employment; employees who want to join a union will have to sign an agreement that clearly explains their rights; employees can join or resign a union at any time; unions will be prohibited from engaging in tactics to coerce employees into joining; and no less than every three years, union members will be able to vote, via secret ballot, to continue or end union representation.

At Senator Eichelberger’s request, the Senate Majority Policy Committee will hold a public hearing to discuss the Janus v AFSCME case and his proposed legislation. The hearing is scheduled for this Thursday, October 25, 2018, at 11 a.m. in Hearing Room No. 1 of the North Office Building at the Capitol. Experts will talk about why such legislation is still needed to bring Pennsylvania law into compliance. Among those testifying will be Dr. William J. Bennett, former Secretary of Education under President Ronald Reagan and current Chairman of Conservative Leaders for Education, to address the positive long-term impact such legislation could have on schools and developing a greater culture of teacher professionalism.

 

Please contact Patrick Schurr, Executive Assistant, at 1-866-509-3424(EICH) or email pschurr@pasen.gov for additional information.

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