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BREAKING NEWS: Unemployment Legislation Scheduled Tuesday

In an unexpected turn, Republican leaders say they plan to rush a new plan for spending employee contributions toward unemployment insurance.

With Gov. Corbett’s budget squeezing the state Department of Labor and Industry, and the administration unwilling to spend more on education and other training programs, the majority is expected to push a plan through committee this week to spend a portion of the employee contributions by adding funding to the Re-employment Fund and the Service Infrastructure Improvement Fund.

Backers of the legislation say shifting the money will save jobs at the department, but it’s unclear which jobs will be saved and whether there are better options.

The plan calls for adding $10 million a year to the Re-Employment Fund for five years, and the additions to the Service Infrastructure Improvement Fund will start at $40 million this year, with lower amounts over the next few years.

You can watch the committee meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday by logging on to

Click here to view proposed language.

Click here to view updates.

Labor Series Lands in Pittsburgh

Labor Series Lands in Pittsburgh

My series of discussions across Pennsylvania in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the Fair Labor Standards Act continued in Pittsburgh this week. at the union hall of the Steamfitters Local 664.

Union members from across southwestern Pennsylvania as well as Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa and Senator Wayne Fontana joined me at the union hall of Steamfitters Local 664 for a wide ranging discussion on how the standards created 75 years ago are under constant threat today.

Jack Shea, president of the Allegheny County Labor Council, noted that even the 40-hour work week, a long-held American standard, is under attack in Washington with the so-called “Working Families Flexibility Act,” passed this week in the U.S. House.

Labor's Meeting“People died to get a 40 hour work week, but these politicians down in D.C. are attacking it this week,” he said. “Nothing is forever, and they’re proving it.”

Giving workers the “choice” to take comp time instead of overtime is a giveaway to businesses who want to lower wage costs and pressure workers to wait for time off instead of getting paid for their work.

The discussion also covered the Corbett administration’s attempt to water down worker pensions, attempts to rush ahead with privatization, minimum wage, prevailing wage and other issues where workers are defending their rights against legislative attempts to shift benefits to corporations.

All agreed that the recent poll on liquor-store privatization, which showed that Pennsylvanians don’t see it as a priority and support for the governor’s plan is weakening, is an example that revealing the truth behind the administration’s talking points makes them unappealing to the public.

“The public has to be aware,” said John Defazio (Director) United Steelworkers, District 10
“The letters have to be sent, the editorials have to be sent. People have to know what’s going on.”

That’s the purpose of the 75th anniversary tour, to get supporters of working families together to map out the next 75 years for working families to avoid the setbacks we’re seeing today.

“The Fair Labor Standards Act was passed with the work of organized labor, but it benefitted everybody, union members or not,” said Jim Kunz, Jr., business manager for IUOE Local 66>

Special thanks to Regis Ryan of the Steamfitters for his hospitality.

At the Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters annual convention in Hershey I got a chance to talk to Teamsters President Jim Hoffa and International Vice President Bill Hamilton.





Watch Live PA & U.S. UNEMPLOYMENT RATE (6/12 - 2/13)