County board hears from worker opposed to union dues withdrawal
It’s not often U.S. Supreme Court decisions are cited in the chambers of the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners, but county employee Francisco Molina did exactly that June 27 when he addressed the board during the public comment portion of the agenda.
Molina, who has worked for the county since 2004 and for the Lehigh County Office of Children and Youth since 2006, said he does not want the county to provide his banking information to Service Employees International Union for automatic withdrawals of union dues from his bank account.
“As soon as you give the union my pay information, I or someone will sue you,” Molina, addressing commissioners, warned.
In a later interview, Molina said he doesn’t align himself with the union where he was once a full member and a shop steward.
“I don’t consider myself a member,” Molina said.
He said the union had issued new membership cards requiring members to agree to giving the union banking information and allowing it to deduct money from members’ accounts for union dues.
He said he has refused to sign the new cards.
A call requesting to speak to a SEIU representative was not returned.
On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that government workers who are represented by a union who decide not to join do not have to pay to cover the costs of collective bargaining.
In other business, commissioners approved a name change for the county’s nursing home.
Cedarbrook Nursing Home will now be called Cedarbrook Senior Care and Rehabilitation.
In a first reading, commissioners gave preliminary approval for a $5,000 grant to the Pennsylvania Music Preservation Society. It will be placed on the agenda for the next board meeting.
It was not all sweet music, however, as three board members voted against the proposal.
Commissioner Percy Dougherty voted “no” but said he would support a $2,000 grant because he felt approving the $5,000 would be letting the fledging nonprofit “jump ahead” of more established organizations such as Allentown’s Marine Band.
The Pennsylvania Music Preservation Society, according to its Facebook page, is a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization “devoted to the promotion and preservation of Pennsylvania’s musical heritage and cultural history.”
It is headquartered in Allentown at the home of its first CEO and Chairwoman of the Board Siobhan “Sam” Bennett.
According to Bennett, the new organization’s mission includes preservation of Lehigh County’s music, culture and art, including the county’s unique hex signs.
“What’s very important is preserving the beating heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch heartland. We’ve forgotten that. We’ve ceded all of that to Berks County,” Bennett said in an interview.
In other business, commissioners honored the Germansville-based Flametamers Wildland Fire Crew. The organization is led by Chief Randy Metzger and specializes in fighting brush fires.
Members of the Flametamers Wildland Fire Crew are composed of 39 firefighters from many different departments throughout Lehigh County, including Whitehall, Germansville, Slatington, Slatedale, Laurys Station, Schnecksville, New Tripoli and Cetronia.