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Union members, lawmakers square off in Harrisburg - abc27 WHTM

Union members, lawmakers square off in Harrisburg

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

They packed the rotunda, filled the steps and rocked the rafters: Thousands of union members on a mission.

They are protesting a bill by Lancaster Rep. Bryan Cutler that would abolish automatic deduction of union dues from public sector employees paychecks.

"I don't believe Commonwealth assets should be used for political purposes. I think that's clear, and by and large taxpayers agree with that," argued Cutler.

But automatic deductions are negotiated in union contracts, and leaders insist it's no big deal.

"Maybe 20 years ago this was a lot of work, but now it's just a line item in a computer," said David Fillman, president of AFSCME.

Bill Jones, a Lancaster County corrections officer, agreed. "I'm not the problem. Workers aren't the problem, and paycheck deductions aren't the problem. This is discrimination. This is revenge, and this is wrong."

Unions say the payroll issue is an attempt by the right-wing to weaken organized labor, and they had a message-slash-threat for lawmakers backing Cutler's bill.

"We'll be in your districts. We'll be knocking on doors. We'll be telling your working people the people that vote for you that you screwed us," promised PA Teamsters President Bill Hamilton.

The governor got dragged into it. There were chants of "One Term Tom"...and the ABCs, "Anybody But Corbett."

But why, wonders the Conservative Commonwealth Foundation in an ad campaign, are taxpayer-funded resources collecting dues for the unions?

"Instead of having to collect their political money just like everybody else does, they have a unique and special privilege that we taxpayers pay for and subsidize," said Commonwealth Foundation's Matt Brouillette.

Capitol police turned union members away because the rotunda was at capacity.

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