Why Local Elections Matter

Kristi Pronovost The Merit Shop Advocacy Blog, The Merit Shop Spokesman Blog

By: David G. Greineder, IOM, ABC Keystone Director of Government Affairs

This November, you will have the opportunity to vote for candidates running for local government. The winners of these elections will serve as school board director, county commissioner, city or borough council person, township supervisor, mayor, among others. Generally, voter participation and interest in “off-year” municipal elections are very low. This is unfortunate, as local elected officials are most directly connected to you and your business.

In the construction industry, the people that serve in local office are important, as they decide on matters directly impacting our work, from zoning to permitting. Local officials can also take up workforce issues the state has not acted upon, if they are not preempted. In that regard, ABC is working hard to advocate locally on two specific policy issues that promote free enterprise:

Fair and Open Competition on Construction Contracts:
Through ABC’s leadership, three counties in Pennsylvania (Lancaster, Lebanon, and Berks) passed ordinances that will ensure fair and open competition for taxpayer-funded construction projects. We want more counties to follow suit. Far too often, government entities enter into a project labor agreement (PLA) which forces open shop contractors to subject themselves and their employees to a collective bargaining agreement in order to receive the contract. In other words, a non-union contractor must agree to the terms and conditions of a union, going as far as being forced to hire workers through a union hall or hire apprentices exclusively through union apprenticeship programs.

ABC PA is opposed to the use of PLAs, as it goes against the core fabric of the free enterprise system. We are reaching out to county commissioners across the Commonwealth to educate them on PLAs and explain why they are anti-competitive. The people you elect to local office will have an impact on our future work. Get involved and ask your county commissioner candidates where they stand on PLAs!

Right-to Work:
Another threat to free enterprise is coercion to pay union dues as a condition of employment. Thankfully, the national spotlight has been put on this issue, resulting in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, which ruled public employees cannot be forced to pay dues if they choose not to join a union. We believe these same principles should be applied to the trades.

Across the nation, 26 states passed “right-to-work” laws, which, much like the Janus decision, says union contracts cannot force workers to pay dues. In some states where right-to-work has not passed, local elected officials have stepped up to take matters into their own hands. In Kentucky and neighboring Ohio, county governments decided to protect workers’ freedom and declared forced union dues as unlawful. If you see your county commissioner, ask if they would be willing to pass a local right-to-work law banning coerced union dues. Tell them to support freedom in the workplace!

The above examples point to why local control and local elections are so vitally important. Do not miss the opportunity to take part in the democratic process. Vote on November 5. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. If you are unsure of your polling location, go to https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/Pages/PollingPlaceInfo.aspx for more information.


Did you know? As an ABC Keystone member, you are entitled to a free legal consultation?
Benefit from an initial connection with an ABC-appointed attorney providing the information you need to handle any next steps in the process.
For more information, please contact the Chapter office: (717) 653-8106

October 3, 2019