Monday, April 25, 2011
Scranton Union Makes Case for Right to Work
The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) is a public-sector union. That means they represent unionized workers that get paid with taxpayer dollars to perform a function of government.
Lots of folks think the FOP is simply an advocacy group for law enforcement professionals. They don't realize that while they do advocate for law enforcement, they also represent the collective bargaining unit for most unionized police officers.
In Scranton, the local FOP has been at war with Democratic Mayor Chris Doherty pretty much since Doherty was elected. That war has once again pushed aside reason and commons sense.
Presently, the FOP is disputing the arrest powers of Scranton's Police Chief. The Chief, who is not a member of the FOP union, made an arrest in a drug case. In the past, the FOP apparently was able to require that management (Chief) also be a member of their union. This was contested in court and the FOP lost.
The FOP, still apparently smarting from that loss, has filed a complaint based on the Chief actually arresting an alleged criminal. It appears that the contract that the FOP operates under requires that all law enforcement in the city belong to their union. Apparently a badge in Scranton has no authority unless it is accompanied by a union dues card.
Public pressure was brought to bear on the union and its brass for this complaint and they seemed to be relenting but now seem to have been emboldened. They are apparently content to just battle it out in the courts.
One could certainly ask what idiotic Scranton Mayor ever signed a contract with provisions like that but that would be unfair and a little ignorant of the facts. You see, Pennsylvania is a state that has legislatively approved discrimination in limited circumstances.
While you can no longer advertise for "help wanted" based on race or ethnicity as was done in the past, you can discriminate based on private memberships as it relates to unions. You can absolutely require an employee belong to a union in order to get or keep a job or perform a job...particularly in the public sector.
The freedom to associate is the right of everyone. Forced association is discrimination and should be prohibited. Presently, there is an effort in Pennsylvania to join 22 other states in banning this discrimination.
As demonstrated by this case in Scranton, Right to Work legislation is desperately needed to restore both the rights of the workers as well as to restore some degree of sanity to public sector employment.
Without it, individuals in Pennsylvania will continue to be deprived of their basic freedom of choice to decide which organizations they want to belong to and which private organizations they want to support financially.