The Commonwealth Foundation’s Agenda Fails in Harrisburg

May 2, 2019 | Featured, Stories

If it’s budget season in Harrisburg, that means the Commonwealth Foundation are pushing anti-union bills. Unfortunately for the billionaire-funded front group, their efforts went down early this year, underscoring the continued failure by State Policy Network groups to convince Pennsylvanians that unions are bad.

The Commonwealth Foundation have been pulling out all the stops for House Bill 785 and Senate Bill 371, further attacks on collective bargaining in Pennsylvania. These proposed bills come directly from the ALEC playbook. In fact, a recent article highlighted that bills like these are on top of ALEC’s agenda for 2019. The Commonwealth Foundation and ALEC are both part of the State Policy Network so it was no surprise to see them pushing for these bills. However, the Commonwealth Foundation went to some questionable lengths in order to lobby for this union-busting legislation.

Commonwealth Foundation’s Nathan Benefield promoted his own tweets with a link to Senator Scott Martin’s press release on Senate Bill 371. This is an interesting promotion for this bill given the Commonwealth Foundation and ALEC penchant for writing bills exactly like this. It’s also worth noting that in the legislation draft, both bills spell employee incorrectly. After the embarrassing defeat of House Bill 785, which failed to even receive a vote on the House floor, indicating strong bipartisan support for labor unions, the Commonwealth Foundation went on a “thank you” spending spree on behalf of anti-union politicians for betraying working families in their district.

It’s not just that the Commonwealth Foundation’s union-busting efforts are failing in the legislature, pro-worker policies are on the rise. A bill supported by both Republicans and Democrats was introduced to make it easier to organize a union to win better wages and working conditions. The Keystone Worker Protection Pledge was announced in April to encourage the support of elected officials pledging to protect workers on the job. On International Workers Day, Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler introduced fair workweek legislation which would give hourly workers fair schedules with advance notice. Republicans have even weakened their opposition to raising the minimum wage. In fact, when economists connected to the Commonwealth Foundation testified against raising the minimum wage, they pushed an extremist theory that racism wins when you raise the minimum wage. 


It’s easy to see why the Commonwealth Foundation went to great lengths to advertise on behalf of elected officials who supported their union-busting efforts this budget season. Pennsylvania has a storied history in supporting the
right to organize. Those who chose to partner with the Commonwealth Foundation in pushing anti-union legislation written by extremist interests are at odds with Pennsylvanians’ priorities.

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