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.