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Labor Report

Good Afternoon!

Senator TartaglioneThe new legislative session will usher in a change in the operation of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee.  I am pleased to welcome the new chair of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee Sen. Kim Ward.  Sen. Ward has been a member of the Senate since her election in 2008.  She formerly served as county commission in Westmoreland County and township supervisor. 

I also want to extend my thanks to Sen. Lisa Baker who formerly was chair of the committee.  Sen. Baker and I worked well together on many issues.  I am hopeful that the committee’s new chair will also be open to ideas and work collaboratively with me and other Senate Democrats to advance issues important to working men and women. 

This session promises to be eventful.  There will be many challenges and controversial issues that we will confront.  We can manage if lawmakers work with working men and women to protect their interests.



Fighting Anti-Union “Paycheck Protection”

SB 166 and SB 167Two measures of particular note and concern were recently offered in the Senate.  The so-called paycheck protection measures -- that are anything but about protecting workers -- have been introduced.  Labor needs to work in concert with Senate and House members to defeat these measures:

Senate Bill 166: According to the co-sponsorship memo, the “legislation would allow public-sector unions to continue to collect and spend political money--but they would have to collect and spend it the way everyone else does—without using the government to do so. By making the laws regarding campaign fundraising apply equally it would empower and protect public employees, like teachers, from having union dues money spent for political purposes with which they disagree.

“The legislation will only apply to public-sector union contracts that currently benefit from this taxpayer-funded legal and financial privilege.”

Senate Bill 167: The co-sponsorship memo for Senate Bill 167 notes that the proposal is a “Constitutional amendment aimed at ending the practice of having taxpayer-funded payroll systems collect money that is ultimately used for politics. Specifically, this legislation amends both Article IV, Section 20 and Article IX, Section 9 to prevent the Executive Branch of the Commonwealth and public school districts, respectively, from collecting membership dues, non-membership fees, or political contributions from employees. Additionally, provisions in collective bargaining agreements authorizing such collections would be void.”

Minimum Wage Bill Introduced in House, Senate Introduction Soon

moneyRep. Patty Kim has introduced her version of a minimum wage bill.  The measure includes seven increases beginning with an increase to $12 per hour effective July 1.  The wage increases 50 cents per year until it is $15 in 2023. 

Someone working at minimum wage now who works 40 hours per week earns $4700 below the poverty line. 

My legislation increasing the minimum wage to $15 has been offered for co-sponsorship in the Senate.  I expect to introduce this legislation in the near future. 

Minimum Wage Update

All states surrounding Pennsylvania have a higher minimum wage.  We are not out of step with our colleagues.  Pennsylvania is significantly behind the times and policymakers have work to do to rectify this injustice.

Here’s a map that illustrates where Pennsylvania is relative to other states in the region and across the nation.

Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

Tartaglione Legislation to Fund Call Centers, Improve U.C. System

In December, I announced plans to introduce legislation to replenish the state Department of Labor and Industry’s infrastructure fund that pays for, among other things, unemployment call centers in Lancaster, Altoona and Jonestown that have been closed due to a funding dispute.

“The Senate should have acted on this important legislation before call centers were closed. The department’s infrastructure fund was established to reduce unemployment claim backlogs and improve the system so that benefits would not be delayed. Workers who lost their jobs should be able to count on an efficient claims system so that there are no benefit delays.”

The legislation contains the same language as House Bill 2375 from last session that would havefunded the Service and Infrastructure Improvement Fund (SIIF) for an additional year and imposed accountability requirements as well as developing an exit strategy from dependence on the funding.  The measure passed the state House of Representatives 175-13.  Senate Republicans refused to consider the measure.

The fund was created in 2013 to address system backlogs and make improvements in claim processing and utilizes employee contributions to the UC System rather than General Fund dollars to support the system.  Funds can also be used for staff and employee training, information technology and other improvements. 

Unemployment Rates National Perspective

State Unemployment Rates
Source:  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Rate December 2016: 4.7%
(by rate)
State % Rate Dec. 2016 Month Change Y-O-Y Change
1 New Hampshire 2.6 (0.1) (0.5)
T-2 Massachusetts 2.8 (0.1) (2.1)
T-2 South Dakota 2.8 0.1 (0.1)
4 Hawaii 2.9 (0.1) (0.4)
T-5 Colorado 3.0 (0.2) (0.5)
T-5 North Dakota 3.0 - 0.3
T-7 Utah 3.1 - (0.3)
T-7 Vermont 3.1 (0.1) (0.4)
9 Nebraska 3.4 - 0.4
10 Iowa 3.6 (0.2) 0.1
11 Idaho 3.7 (0.1) (0.2)
12 Maine 3.8 (0.2) (0.2)
T-13 Arkansas 3.9 (0.1) (0.8)
T-13 Minnesota 3.9 0.1 0.2
T-15 Indiana 4.0 (0.2) (0.6)
T-15 Montana 4.0 - 0.1
T-15 Wisconsin 4.0 (0.1) (0.6)
18 Virginia 4.1 (0.1) (0.1)
T-19 Kansas 4.2 (0.1)   0.2
T-19 Maryland 4.2 - (0.8)
T-21 Delaware 4.3 - (0.6)
T-21 South Carolina 4.3 (0.1) (1.2)
T-23 Connecticut 4.4 (0.3) (1.0)
T-23 Missouri 4.4 (0.3) -
T-25 Oregon 4.6 (0.4) (1.1)
T-25 Texas 4.6 - -
27 New Jersey 4.7 (0.3) (0.1)
T-28 Arizona 4.8 (0.2) (1.1)
T-28 Kentucky 4.8 - (0.9)
T-28 Wyoming 4.8 (0.1) 0.4
T-31 Florida 4.9 - (0.2)
T-31 New York 4.9 (0.2) (0.1)
T-31 Ohio 4.9 -   0.1
T-31 Tennessee 4.9 0.1 (0.6)
T-35 Michigan 5.0 0.1 (0.1)
T-35 Oklahoma 5.0 (0.1) 0.9
T-35 Rhode Island 5.0 (0.3) (0.4)
T-38 Nevada 5.1 (0.1) (1.2)
T-38 North Carolina 5.1 0.1 (0.5)
T-40 California 5.2 (0.1) (0.7)
T-40 Washington 5.2 (0.1) (0.7)
42 Georgia 5.4 0.1 (0.1)
T-43 Mississippi 5.6 (0.1) (1.2)
T-43 Pennsylvania 5.6 (0.1) 0.9
45 Illinois 5.7 0.1 (0.4)
46 District of Columbia 5.8 (0.2) (0.8)
47 West Virginia 5.9 (0.1) (0.2)
48 Louisiana 6.1 (0.1) 0.3
49 Alabama 6.2 0.3 (0.1)
50 New Mexico 6.6 (0.1) -
51 Alaska 6.7 (0.1) 0.1
Denotes largest month-to-month decline  
Denotes largest year-over-year decline  
*T indicates tie


Rank State Rate Dec. 2016 Month Change Y-O-Y Change
1 Maryland 4.2 - (0.8)
2 Delaware 4.3 - (0.6)
3 New Jersey 4.7 (0.3) (0.1)
T-4 New York 4.9 (0.2) (0.1)
T-4 Ohio 4.9 - 0.1
6 Pennsylvania 5.6 (0.1) 0.9
7 West Virginia 5.9 (0.1) (0.2)





Wage and Hour Division (WHD)