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OSBORNE: PA Needs to Empower Workers—Not Union Executives

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives recently passed House Bill 950, which proposes a state constitutional amendment empowering public sector union executives. Unfortunately, the initiative would hurt just about everyone else, including the rank-and-file teachers, first responders, and government workers legislators presumably want to help.

But don’t take my word for it—listen to Rep. David Delloso. The Democrat, who represents a portion of Delaware County, in his zeal to support HB 950, unintentionally reveals just how harmful it would be for workers.

Delloso, in House discussions, was attempting to refute valid arguments that the proposed amendment would violate public employee First Amendment rights. He boldly dismissed concerns HB 950’s ill-conceived language conflicts with federal law and, more specifically, the U.S. Supreme Court Janus v. AFSCME landmark ruling that in 2018 affirmed those very rights.

One of Delloso’s statements, in particular, underlines the problem with empowering union executives who think like him—slur tactics included.

“Now, nothing in this constitutional amendment proposes to change the Janus decision. If you want to be a freeloading scab, you can still be a freeloading scab.”

A misstep for Delloso to speak so candidly, probably, but “freeloading scab” wasn’t a slip of the tongue. It was a deliberate attack against a worker’s right to decide to join or stay in a union. For decades, union bosses have used insults like this to illegally bully employees into forced membership and fees.

Delloso would know—he’s still a union executive representing both private and public sector unions in Philadelphia. Last year, his pay as a trustee of Teamsters Local 107 was $124,031, in addition to his $102,844 annual salary as a state legislator. Delloso is also the long-time president of Teamsters Local 312, having previously served as a vice president and trustee. And his record as a union leader is far from spotless.

National Labor Relations Board filings show Delloso’s Teamsters unions charged with unfair labor practices at least nine times during his tenure by the very workers he should have represented. Among these were specific coercion complaints, including granting some employees (likely union officers) “superseniority” at the expense of others and three instances of “violence or threats of violence to coerce employees” under the National Labor Relations Act.

When Deloso calls nonmembers “freeloading scabs,”—he means it. And it’s now up to the Senate to decide whether the proposed amendment would help workers.

The truth is HB 950 favors power-hungry union executives—not rank-and-file workers.

By making a right “fundamental”—here, the right to “organize and bargain,” vague terms undefined in the bill—HB 950 would prevent lawmakers from limiting those rights except in the most extreme circumstances. Specifically, the measure prevents the General Assembly from passing any future law that “interferes with,” “negates,” or even “diminishes” this new right. But HB 950 would also compromise existing state labor laws, those that protect employees from union intimidation and coercion. After all, these laws, by design, place reasonable restrictions on how union executives organize and bargain.

Union executives, like Delloso, already put undue pressure on employees to become members, basically daring employees to find a lawyer and file unfair labor practice charges. But under the proposed amendment, union executives could legally continue their boorish behavior, at least in the public sector, as long as they are “organizing” or “bargaining.”

Meanwhile, the General Assembly would be impotent to stop them. In a sense, Delloso could become more powerful as a union leader than as a legislator. Under HB 950, union executives would have the legal leverage to negotiate collective bargaining agreements that supersede state law and run roughshod over the rights of rank-and-file employees. That explains why heavy-hitting public sector unions, like the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), alongside the Teamsters, support the measure.

The Senate must stop the power boon union executives running these politically charged organizations want. HB 950 is a “self-destructive” amendment that would come at the expense of workers, lawmakers charged with governing—and Pennsylvania.

David R. Osborne is the Senior Fellow of Labor Policy with the Commonwealth Foundation, Pennsylvania’s free-market think tank.

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It’s Mattus Versus Delloso for the PA House 162nd District

Once upon a time, Michelle Mattus was a Democrat, shaking hands with former President Bill Clinton. She was in her 20s, living in Manhattan with Rudy Giuliani as mayor when she switched sides.

She liked Giuliani’s policies, which made her feel safe to walk in what were the once-dangerous streets of the Big Apple. Under Giuliani’s Democratic successors, those New York streets became dangerous again.

Republicans care about public safety, police, and other first responders.

“Show me a Republican that doesn’t care about first responders. Every Republican cares about that. That’s not unique about me or my campaign,” said the 48-year-old Mattus, a graduate of Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, who has spent the past couple of decades as a registered Republican.

Rep. David Delloso

She believes she is the best choice for the 162nd District and would take the views of her constituents to Harrisburg.

“It’s a personal decision who you’re voting for in November. (Voters) need to be able to trust the person who’s representing their voice. It’s not the Michelle Mattus show,” she said.

Mattus, a Ridley Park Borough councilwoman, is running against incumbent state Rep David Delloso.

Delloso did not respond to the DVJournal’s repeated requests for an interview.

However, during an hour-long interview, Mattus talked candidly about her upbringing and platform.

She is the daughter of a physicist and an English teacher. She is treating the campaign as a job interview with the voters. And though she doesn’t have much time for it anymore, she has an undying love for art, having designed her campaign literature.

“Arts were valued just as highly as sciences in my home,” Mattus said. “It was actually something that my father, an incredibly intelligent man, felt like of all the problems he could solve. Creating out of nothing is not something he could do. It wasn’t seen as less than or frivolous. I like the problem-solving of art. Looking at things holistically and then digging in,”

Mattus’ professional career is as diverse as her politics. She bounced from art to working for nonprofits before marrying into a family that worked in the insurance industry.

Naturally, she switched over to that.

And then she entered the world of politics, where she saw firsthand that the problems faced by constituents during the COVID-19 pandemic weren’t abstract.

Lockdowns shuttered businesses across the country, and many that survived are still recovering. Kids were out of school for almost two years, and their test scores plummeted. Ridley Park wasn’t immune from the ills of the pandemic.

Mattus, who has worked in risk management, witnessed the struggles of mom-and-pop businesses to stay afloat in trying times. Many of the same clients she helped as an insurance risk advisor.

Sweeping state mandates tied local officials’ hands, so sometimes all Mattus could offer was a sympathetic ear.

“I have hugged them as they cried, not seeing any end in sight to the ever-changing restrictions destroying their livelihood,” she said on her website.

“I will never forget facing that fear, uncertainty, and frustration with our business owners.”

Now she wants to craft legislation that makes a difference for her community that, like much of the nation, is suffering from inflation and high property taxes.

Residents whose families lived in the area for generations are being priced out of the area.

“That’s just not right,” she said.

And yet it is still hard to get Democrats and Republicans to agree on much of anything these days.

But Mattus said she hopes to do her part to mend that divide. And she might have the credentials to do it, having once had a stake in both parties.

She has split her ticket before as a voter and said she is not afraid to do that in the legislature. Whoever presents the best ideas and proposes common-sense measures gets her vote if elected, regardless of party, Mattus pledged.

“There’s too much fighting in politics. Everything is so ugly. Act like adults in office and know why we’re there,” Mattus said.

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