The next installment of Berks County Community Foundation’s “Consider It” discussion series will focus on Right-to-Work laws at a gathering in Reading on April 3.

There are 28 states with Right-to-Work laws. Most (18 of them) Right-to-Work states passed their laws in the 1940s and 1950s. There has been a recent resurgence, with seven states adopting such laws since 2012. Right-to-work laws prohibit union security agreements between companies and workers’ unions. Under these laws, employees in unionized workplaces may not be compelled to join a union, nor compelled to pay for any part of the cost of union representation, while generally receiving the same benefits as union members who do contribute.

The Economic Policy Institute found that wages in right-to-work states are 3.2% lower than those in non-RTW states, but the W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research has found that studies on the effects of right-to-work laws “abound” but are not “consistent.”

With this in mind, a committee of community members has chosen Right-to-Work laws as the topic for the next installment of “Consider It.” State Sen. Judy Schwank and Berks County Commissioners Chairman Christian Leinbach are co-chairs of this nonpartisan program, which is designed to promote thoughtful discussion of divisive local and national issues while maintaining a level of civility among participants.

The next event will take place Tuesday, April 3, at 5 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Reading, 701 Penn St., Reading, Pa. Tickets are available at For $10, each ticket includes dinner, the panel discussion, and an opportunity to participate in the conversation.

The panel will include:

  • Stephen Herzenberg, Executive Director, Keystone Research Center, a Pennsylvania-based, independent, nonpartisan economic research and policy organization, which also houses the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. Dr. Herzenberg holds a Ph.D. in economics from MIT. His research has focused on the U.S. and global auto industry, the rise of the service-dominated new economy, the challenges unions face adapting to the new economy, workforce development, and economic development.
  • Stanley T. Greer, Senior Research Associate, National Institute for Labor Relations Research. Greer holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and a master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh.
  • Karin Mallett: The WFMZ TV anchor and reporter returns as the moderator for the fifth installment in the series.

Four previous “Consider It” events tackled marijuana legalization in Pennsylvania, immigration reform, school choice, and the greater Reading area’s economy and revitalization. The sold-out events were perceived favorably by attendees, with 83 to 93 percent stating that differing sides of the issue were represented adequately and 86 to 92 percent stating they had gained insight into the issue. “Consider It” is based on the American Public Square in Kansas City. To adapt the initiative for use in Berks County, the Community Foundation worked closely with Allan Katz, founder of American Public Square and former U.S. Ambassador to Portugal.