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Public Sector Unionism

  • Third and State Streets Harrisburg, PA

Throughout the 1930s, the American Federation of State, City, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) campaigned to improve the working conditions and wages for government employees. In Pennsylvania, AFSCME’s efforts were aided by the passage of the Public Relations Act passed in 1947, which allowed public employees to organize and participate in collective bargaining. Despite the act’s passage, public sector workers were often outright barred from or pressured into not striking. In the 1960s, union organizer Gerald McEntee led an historic drive to encourage state workers to join unions. This, combined with the passage of Act 111 (which amended the state constitution to guarantee the right of public employees the right to strike) by the state legislature in 1968, did much to expand the rights of public sector employees in Pennsylvania to negotiate working conditions.