Statement on the Exposure of Harassment, Misconduct at the PA Statehouse

For Immediate Release:
December 22, 2017
Contact: Reesa Kossoff, 224-420-0520

SEIU PA State Council Statement on the Exposure of Harassment, Misconduct at the PA Statehouse

Harrisburg — SEIU denounces, in the strongest possible terms, the culture at the Pennsylvania Statehouse that has led to reports of certain lawmakers abusing their power and creating hostile, exploitative work environments for women and other staff.  SEIU, and the labor movement it is a part of, was founded on the principle of workplace equality. A culture of abuse and the systems that perpetuate it are antithetical to the core tenants of our movement and must end.

In no campaign or government office should staff feel victimized. At no workplace — union or otherwise — should workers feel powerless to become whistleblowers against misconduct.  Certainly at no time should taxpayer dollars be used to settle claims of harassment and sweep the problem under the rug.

First, SEIU rescinds its 2016 endorsements of Sen. Daylin Leach and Rep.Thomas Caltagirone, and will not endorse these lawmakers in future elections.

SEIU will stand strongly behind the efforts of Reps. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, Maureen Madden, Carol Hill Evans and Senator Judy Schwank, who have introduced legislation to curb the culture of abuse at the Statehouse.  We urge leadership in both chambers and both sides of the aisle to begin debate on this legislation immediately.  These efforts must be fully funded, ensuring that reform is not in name only.

We also call on legislative leaders to allow Auditor General Eugene DePasquale to conduct an audit to fully expose the use of taxpayer dollars to settle harassment claims.

Lastly, we call on legislative leaders to urge the House and Senate Ethics Committees to investigate the abuses that have been reported, and those that may be still to come.  Public employees, fellow lawmakers, and the citizens of Pennsylvania deserve a full accounting of these allegations and a just resolution. In the future, we hope that Rep. Leanne Krueger-Brankey’s bill is enacted and a single office is set up to investigate such claims, helping to insulate the process from politics.

SEIU is a labor organization that takes this issue seriously.  Over the last few months, the nation has awakened to the fact that employees within organizations of all shapes and sizes face harassment and misconduct.  Without exception, all organizations should take swift and decisive action to ensure all workers feel safe, secured and respected.  We pledge to be part of the solution for working people across Pennsylvania.

The above is co-signed by Gabe Morgan, President of the SEIU PA State Council and Vice President of SEIU Local 32BJ, Matthew Yarnell, Secretary-Treasurer Elect of the SEIU PA State Council and President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, Steve Catanese, President-Elect of SEIU Local 668, and David Melman, Manager of the Pennsylvania Joint Board of Workers United.

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