Subscribe to E-Update here.

Senate Labor Legislation Update:

The Senate did not move Senate Bill 1195 (Gordner) to the House this week. The Senate's vote on final passage is expected next year, after which it will be referred to the House for consideration.

Workers CompSB 1195 would amend the Workers' Compensation Act to make changes to the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund, including the claims process and lists of designated health care providers for injured workers. The Senate amended the bill to remove the provision providing the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry with the authority to limit compensation payments during times of projected insolvency.

The bill was also amended to clarify language dealing with the process employees with uninsured, out-of-state employers use to seek Workers' Compensation benefits in Pennsylvania.

Employees would be permitted to file a notice or petition against the fund prior to submitting proof of their ineligibility for Workers' Compensation benefits from the state in which their employer is headquartered. Additionally, credible testimony of the claimant would be acceptable as proof of wages earned by the employee if submitted in addition to a check, check stub or payroll record, tax return, unemployment compensation records, bank statements or written documentation created contemporaneously with the payment of wages.

House Labor Legislation Update:

ConstrucationThe House Labor and Industry Committee reported out House Bill 1877 (W. Keller) as amended.

The bill would create the Demolition Safety Act and make added requirements for review, oversight, qualifications and training of demolition workers, contractors, local inspectors and building code officials to improve public safety and standards for building demolitions.

The amendment passed in committee would make the legislation mandatory in cities of the first class and voluntary in other municipalities.

Important Labor Cases in Court

courtAs more corporations watch their profits escalate and stretch the very last drop of productivity from their unionized workforces with, too often, no reward for the work, I am paying attention to two cases that have landed on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court. They will impact the growing right-to-work trend and could give states the bad idea they can continue to legislate in favor of corporations and ignore the plight of workers.

The good news is, in the first case – involving UNITE HERE Local 355 of Miami, Fla. – the Supreme Court dismissed a Florida casino employees’ (Mulhall) claim that UNITE HERE’s neutrality agreements are a federal crime because they violate anti-bribery provisions.

The plaintiff was backed by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

Had the justices agreed to hear this case, labor organizations’ efforts to organize nonunion employees could have been seriously affected. Neutrality agreements are how most unions organize today, and they mean an employer will not oppose an organizing campaign.

The other case the U.S. Supreme Court plans to hear in January is Harris v. Quinn. This involves healthcare workers in Illinois and involves a right-to-work complaint from 2003.

When then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich allowed Illinois’ healthcare workers to be state employees and organize with SEIU, it required workers who became union members to pay dues; it also required people who opted to not become members to pay their fair share.

However, Pamela Harris objected to having to pay her fair share and she sued the state.

As George Bunker, professor of management at the MIT Sloan School, said in a recent opinion, this is another case where workers who choose to not be union members still benefit from having a union represent the majority of employees at a company.

“Union coverage in states like California have allowed patients and their families to receive better, more stable, and predictable care, while the state improves its laws at lower cost and builds a higher quality labor force for an occupation predicted to grow as our population ages,” Bunker wrote.

For more background on these two cases, follow these two links:

These cases affected all union members, so I will keep you updated on how Harris v. Quinn turns out.

Philly Prison Healthcare Workers to Walk?

HealthcareMembers of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees' District 1199C and the contractor who runs Philadelphia’s prison system, Corizon, are embroiled in a contract dispute that has the organized healthcare workers threatening to strike if negotiations don’t improve.

Some 270 workers are represented by 1199C and they have been working without a contract since Nov. 26. Negotiations for a new pay agreement started in May.

The head of the union has taken his displeasure public with letters to the Philadelphia Inquirer, accusing Corizon of pocketing some of the money that should be going to healthcare workers.

“Essentially, Corizon proposes to pick the back pockets of members, stuff the money in their front pockets, and call it a wage increase. That is a cynical move,” Union President Henry Nicholas wrote.

Ironically, healthcare insurance is another big issue here.

The union and the city were scheduled to hold a negotiating session today (Dec. 13).

GiftUnion-Made Holiday

A great way to support the women and men who are represented by our ultra-important organized labor groups is to buy gifts this holiday season that are union made.

There are many unions in Pennsylvania making many products that would look great under the tree or in a stocking. Here’s a list:

Apparel and Accessories
Brooks Brothers
Joseph Abboud
Majestic Athletic

OshKosh B’gosh
Naturalizer shoes
Nunn Bush shoes
Red Wing Shoes

IAM: Timex watches

Beauty Products
Caress skin care
Dove beauty products
Old Spice

USW: ChapStick

UAW: Revlon

Barrel of Monkeys
Candy Land
Chutes and Ladders
Connect 4
Game of Life
Hi Ho Cherry-O

Games Cont.
Mouse Trap

Sports Equipment
American Athletic (Russell) (UAW)
Louisville Slugger (UAW and IBT)
MacGregor Golf clubs (Boilermakers [IBB])
Standard Golf (IAM)

Vehicles (UAW)
Ford Mustangs

Sports Equipment
American Athletic (Russell) (UAW)
Louisville Slugger (UAW and IBT)
MacGregor Golf clubs (Boilermakers [IBB])
Standard Golf (IAM)
Top-Flite golf balls (IBB)

Stocking Stuffers
Rayovac batteries (Teamsters and UAW)
Bic Lighters (USW)
Ghirardelli chocolates (BCTGM)
Jelly Belly (BCTGM)
Laffy Taffy (BCTGM)
Tootsie Roll Pops (BCTGM)

Make your loved ones’ holiday very special this year with a great gift made by a union brother or sister. And have a happy holiday!