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Labor Group Urges Elimination of ‘Union-Busting’ Tax Breaks

by Danielle Smith, Keystone State News Connection

Labor Group Urges Elimination of ‘Union-Busting’ Tax Breaks

Tax breaks for companies engaging in what sometimes are illegal union-busting tactics could be prohibited by new federal legislation.

Labor groups, including in Pennsylvania, contend companies hire consultants who threaten workers with termination for exercising their right to unionize and then claim the cost of those consultants as a tax deduction.

Elena Lopez, senior legislative specialist for the Communications Workers of America, said it means people are organizing for better pay and working conditions, but taxpayers are subsidizing efforts to stop them.

“Companies are actively breaking the law, and they’ll be rewarded for breaking the law,” Lopez asserted. “We want to make sure that companies stop their anti-union behavior. This is only one piece of the puzzle, but we think it’s an important piece to solve so that workers can join a union if they want to.”

Lopez pointed out workers do not get a tax break for their union dues and thinks companies’ anti-union campaigns should also be classified as non-tax-deductible, the same as lobbying or corporate political speech.

Zack Tanner, an interactive news designer on strike at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and president of The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, which represents about 100 journalists at the paper, said the “No Tax Breaks for Union Busting Act” is significant legislation and would affect union members.

“It’s really great to see some legislation come out that could hold corporations accountable when they do these union-busting actions,” Tanner emphasized. “I’m very happy to see it, and I hope it progresses forward.”

It has been one year since journalists and editors at the Post-Gazette walked off their jobs over wages and health care. Tanner pointed out that bargaining sessions with management have brought little to no progress.

“They’ve said that they’re looking forward to a resolution, looking forward to the strike ending and everybody getting back to work,” Tanner explained. “But while they say that, they don’t make any movement at the bargaining table. And then, they continue to hire replacement workers to take our jobs and continue producing the paper, which takes the leverage away from us on picket lines and makes it harder for us to achieve our goals.”

The striking workers created a digital publication, the Pittsburgh Union Progress, to cover the labor dispute and serve as an alternate voice for readers. In the meantime, the Post-Gazette has a link to a question-and-answer page with details about their position on the union employees’ healthcare issue.