By John Kopp, Delaware County Daily Times
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 614 endorsed Vince Rongione for the state House of Representatives.
Rongione, a Democrat, is running against Republican Jamie Santora for the open seat in the 163rd Legislative District. The seat is being vacated by Republican state Rep. Nicholas Micozzie, of Upper Darby, who is retiring at the end of his term.
IBEW Local 614 represents about 1,450 electricians employed by Exelon Generation, PECO Energy and Veolia Energy. The union has members working in six counties, including Delaware County.
Emil Meyer, president and business manager of Local 614, said the union endorsed Rongione for his opposition to a pair of bills preventing unions from negotiating clauses permitting public employers to deduct union dues or political contributions from paychecks. Several groups, including prison guards, firefighters and police officers, are not affected by the proposals.
“That has us very much concerned,” Meyer said. “We believe everyone should have the ability to voice their opinion — not only in the private sector but in the public sector. To just allow corporations to do that through their political action committees would just be a travesty. It’s a total injustice.”
The supporters of House Bill 1507 and its companion, Senate Bill 1034, argue that public entities should not collect political money. Portions of union dues often are used to support political candidates.
Rongione, an attorney from Upper Darby, opposes the bills. The legislation is co-sponsored by 50 Republican representatives and two Republican senators. None of them represent Delaware County.
“It’s critically important that workers have the right to collectively bargain and organize to protect their own working conditions and wages,” Rongione said. “Those bills strike at the heart of the union’s ability to protect their workers. For those reasons, I’m against them.”
Santora, an Upper Darby councilman, said he also is a union supporter, noting their work to providing fair wages for employees.
“If the rank and file union members want it, I support it,” Santora said. “If they don’t, then I don’t support it.”
Rongione also has received endorsements from the United Steelworkers Union Local 10-1 and the Pennsylvania Plumbers Union Local 690. He said the addition of IBEW Local 614 “adds tremendously” to his campaign’s momentum.
“We’ve been an Upper Darby/Havertown labor family for over 60 years,” Rongione said. “It means a lot to have the support of the hardworking people over at Local 614.”
Rongione’s grandfather organized an insurance workers strike in Philadelphia. His mother was a member of the teachers union.
Santora, the co-president of Moore & Ryan Real Estate in the Broomall section of Marple, has not announced any endorsements.
“Having worked as a staffer on numerous political campaigns in Florida, Northeast Pennsylvania, and other places, Rongione no doubt has countless favors he and party bosses can call in,” Santora wrote in an email. “… My top priority in the legislature is going to be local residents — including neighbors and others who I have worked with for years to make our community a better place to live and raise a family.”
Rongione previously served as an aide to former state Rep. Bryan Lentz and former U.S. Reps. Joseph Setak and Chris Carney.