Fiedler, Pisciottano Right to Organize legislation passes House

HARRISBURG, May 3 – Today, H.B. 950, introduced by state Reps. Elizabeth Fiedler, D-Phila., and Nick Pisciottano, D-Allegheny, which would enshrine Pennsylvania workers’ right to organize in the state constitution passed the Pennsylvania House and now heads to the PA Senate for consideration.

Currently, the Pennsylvania Constitution does not guarantee workers the right to organize and collectively bargain. This legislation proposes to amend Article I of the Pennsylvania Constitution to enshrine these rights for all workers in Pennsylvania. Additionally, the bill would prohibit any other laws that interfere with or diminish collective bargaining rights.

Fiedler said that the passage of H.B. 950 by the House is a step in the right direction for Pennsylvania workers and expressed gratitude to her House colleagues who voted for the bill.

“Workers fuel our economy. They are the mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles of our commonwealth. Workers deserve to be treated with respect and that’s exactly the goal of this legislation,” Fiedler said. “I am grateful to all my colleagues in the House who voted for the bill, and I now call on the Senate to show their support for Pennsylvania’s workers and move this amendment forward.”

Pisciottano said it’s important everything possible be done to protect and support workers’ right to organize.

“Workers deserve to live with dignity,” said Pisciottano. “Over the past two years, we have seen employers across the nation accelerating their use of union-busting tactics to suppress collective bargaining efforts, which is why it’s so important we do everything we can in this moment to protect and support workers’ right to form a union. I am hopeful the state Senate recognizes the significance and necessity of this legislation that would enshrine the right to unionize into our state constitution.”

To be adopted, constitutional amendments must pass both chambers of the General Assembly in two consecutive sessions. They can then go before the voters for approval or rejection.

Fellow legislators offered their support of H.B. 950.

“The right to organize and collectively bargain is a basic fundamental right that began in the commonwealth 237 years ago, which is why it’s so hard to believe it’s not a part of our state’s Constitution,” said House Speaker Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware. “Today that hopefully changes with the passage of House Bill 950. This is a good-government bill that protects our workers and ensures they have the ability to bargain for fair wages, health care and the ability to retire with dignity.”

“As majority chairman of the House Labor and Industry Committee, I am proud that one of the committee’s first actions was to pass legislation that would enshrine workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively in our state Constitution,” said House Labor & Industry Committee Chair Jason Dawkins, D-Phila. “This is only the first step in our effort to make Pennsylvania one of the most pro-worker states in the country.”

House Bill 950 has support from labor leaders across Pennsylvania.

“The approval rating for unions is at an all-time high, but it’s no secret that over the past decade, collective bargaining has been directly attacked in previous legislative cycles,” said Angela Ferrito, president of the PA AFL-CIO. “It is a fundamental right for every worker who wants to join a union to have the opportunity to try to do so through free, unfettered, and fair union organizing efforts -- and now with the passage of House Bill 950, we are cementing that in place.”

"The ability to join together and form a union is a fundamental right for all working people,” said Daniel P. Bauder, president of the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO. “I am excited that Representatives Fiedler and Pisciottano are working to enshrine this right in our Commonwealth’s constitution and hope that their colleagues in the House and Senate support this important amendment.”

“This constitutional amendment is incredibly important for working people all across Pennsylvania,” said Pennsylvania State Education Association President Rich Askey. “Guaranteeing the rights to organize, join a union, and collectively bargain in our constitution means that working Pennsylvanians will unquestionably have the right to come together and advocate for the pay, benefits, and working conditions that they deserve.

“This amendment is also a full-throated statement of respect for the teachers, nurses, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and teacher aides PSEA represents. We commend Representatives Fiedler and Pisciottano for their leadership on this issue. We are eager to work with lawmakers to get this important question on the ballot and into the Pennsylvania Constitution.”