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Labor Report

New Governor Unlike Old Governor on Minimum Wage

WageHe pledged his support for a hike in the minimum wage when he was a candidate, and Gov. Tom Wolf didn’t disappoint this week when, shortly after our big rally on Tuesday, he announced that he supports incrementally increasing Pennsylvania’s base hourly rate from $7.25 to $10.10.

It’s a significant vote in favor of doing what is right for our frontline workers, and it’s an about face from the policies of the past four years. While everything was done to cut business taxes and do whatever natural gas companies wanted during the Corbett years, none of those efforts translated into more money for our working poor.'

Naturally, the unsubstantiated brick bats of opposition came out soon after Gov. Wolf announced his support of $10.10, and then NPR reminded me of a 77-year-old argument as to why this or any increase will not hurt employers as much as our antagonists claim:

“If all employers will act together to shorten hours and to raise wages, we can put people back to work. No employer will suffer because the relative level of competitive cost will advance by the same amount for all of them.”

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said that when he was working to win approval of the first minimum wage: 25 cents.

Minimum wage opponents said the same thing in 1938 as they are saying in 2015. But it’s only FDR’s logic that has proven to be right – and has stood the test of time.

When we raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania to $10.10 an hour, all of the “bottom wages” will increase and the “relative level of competitive cost will advance by the same amount.”

By the way, the first minimum wage of 25 cents was the equivalent of $4.20 in today’s dollars. So employers went from having to pay next to nothing to more than $4 more. And that was after the Great Depression!

We were hurting then, we are hurting now. Pennsylvania workers need a higher minimum wage; as do our tipped minimum wage earners. We also need to add a cost-of-living provision. We need to tighten our employment law to make sure workers get back wages if short-changed by unscrupulous employers.

As I implored during this week’s rally, we need to help the ones who need help the most. Every other neighboring state believes that, and they have acted to increase their minimum wage rates to much healthier levels than in Pennsylvania.

More Good Minimum Wage News for PA

CheckGood news on the minimum wage front, Senator Pat Browne recently signed onto several of my bills to raise the state's minimum wage rate. Specifically, he signed onto Senate Bills 195, 196 and 197.

S.B. 195 (Tartaglione) would incrementally increase the minimum wage to $10.10/hour by January 1, 2016, after which time it would increase automatically each year according to the rate of inflation.

S.B. 196 (Tartaglione) would incrementally increase the tipped wage to 70% of the minimum wage by January 1, 2016.

S.B. 197 (Tartaglione) would automatically increase the minimum wage each year according to the rate of inflation.

Reich is Right, Again

McDonaldsIf you missed former Labor Secretary Robert Reich’s recent column, give yourself five minutes and read it. Quite simply, it states the best case for unions to make a strong comeback.

“Corporations are shifting full-time work onto temps, free-lancers, and contract workers who fall outside the labor protections established decades ago,” Reich wrote. “The nation’s biggest corporations and Wall Street banks are larger and more potent than ever. And labor union membership has shrunk to less than 6 percent of the private-sector workforce.

“So it’s not surprising we’re once again hearing that workers are worth no more than what they can get in the market.”

For the middle class, the world is turning upside down once more, Reich said.

“Bailouts of big Wall Street banks and their executives and shareholders when they can’t pay what they owe, but not of homeowners who can’t meet their mortgage payments,” he said. “Bankruptcy protection for big corporations, allowing them to shed their debts, including labor contracts. But no bankruptcy protection for college graduates over-burdened with student debts.”

Union now. Union yes!

Fair Wage Business of the Week

Generation3On this bone-chilling Valentine’s Day weekend, as the wind rustles through the trees and whooshes down your chimney flues, snuggle up in your homes with a feeling of security and gratefulness for the power and other utilities that are keeping you safe and comfortable in this extreme weather. With the help of a trained and certified electrician, you can ensure your home remains warm and properly functioning all winter long.

At Generation 3 Electric, located in Philadelphia, PA, the owners and their employees know the importance of quality electrical engineering and customer service. Further, they understand that too many individuals and their families suffer during the winter and year-round. Although persons may work 40 hours per week in this state, they are still paid $7.25 per hour or less, which renders them unable to afford basic necessities, such as heat, water and shelter. For these reasons, Gen 3 has joined other businesses across the state and nation in support of a higher minimum wage that approaches the ideal of a living wage.

Gen 3 is a family-owned business that has existed through three generations of sons, with the last two generations training under their fathers. Not only have they maintained a friendly, family environment within the company, but also they have ensured all of their employees are certified and well trained, so that they are able to offer the highest level of service to their customers. With exceptional reviews, qualified, knowledgeable staff and scrupulous business practices, we hope Generation 3 Electric is one tradition this family will continue to pass down for many generations to come.