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National Unemployment Drops

Fewer people were looking for work across the country in November. The U.S. Labor Department said today the national unemployment rate dipped to 7 percent. The rate hasn’t been that low in five years.

That’s four consecutive months of decent job gains across America. In Pennsylvania, however, our unemployment rate continues well above the nation’s percentage of joblessness. As of October, the commonwealth was not too proud to report its unemployment rate was 7.5 percent. Only 19 other states have higher percentages of working men and women who are without jobs.

The story is worse in Philadelphia County, where the October unemployment rate hit 10.1 percent. That means more than 65,000 neighbors are without a regular paycheck.

I believe the Senate Democratic Caucus and I have some great legislation to create thousands of new jobs in Pennsylvania.

PA WorksSenate Bill 223, a proposal I wrote that has been included in “PA Works,” would create an employer-driven program called “Train-to-Work PA” that would help companies of all sizes teach workers how to do – and fill – the jobs they are filling.

Many other bills are part of “PA Works.” If allowed to work together, they would finally solve the commonwealth’s job-creation problem, lower the unemployment rate, help companies be more productive, and set the framework for generations of company growth, creation and hiring.

Gov. Tom Corbett is picking and choosing the job statistics to make his poor performance look better. But it doesn’t pass the smell test.

The 142,000 private-sector positions he is claiming to have created does not count the 44,000 public-sector jobs his policies have eviscerated. Together, the 98,000 total new jobs equals just a 1.7 percent rate of job growth in the past two years! And, the 142,000 new jobs he is choosing to “highlight” still only keep us behind every other neighboring state in job creation.

We need “PA Works.” Our unemployed workers need jobs and paychecks.

Obama Saying Yes to Minimum Wage Increase

Min Wage

We still have work to do to increase the minimum wage in Pennsylvania, but our fight to get that done gained serious momentum this week when President Obama urged Congress to increase the way-too-low $7.25/hour wage to $10/hour.

Our minimum wage earners have been working long hours for too little remuneration for far too long. Can you imagine what it’s like earning $7.25 an hour … and then having to shop this time of the year for presents for family and children, while still having to meet all of your other monthly and weekly financial demands? That can be a hard thing to do even when you are making more than the minimum wage.

My legislation to bump Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $9/hour remains stuck in the Senate Labor & Industry Committee. We need Republican leadership to believe they are hurting their constituents by keeping this base pay at poverty levels.

I promise you’ll hear more about the next step in our fight … soon.

Workers Compensation Bill Will See Action This Week

Workers CompThe Senate Labor and Industry Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 1195 on Tuesday, which makes changes to the fund that pays worker compensation to employees whose employers skirt the law by not carrying workers comp insurance.

Three Democratic members who attended the committee meeting voted to move the process forward after I asked for an affirmative vote contingent on the promise that lawmakers continue to work on the legislations to find mutual comfort. I addressed some concerns with a number of the provisions that would affect the Uninsured Employee Guarantee Fund.

Since the committee vote, we've met with Sen. John Gorner's staff and changes are happening. Look for a draft amendment to be unveiled Monday during the Senate Appropriations Committee meeting.

Boeing to Pennsylvania?

BoeingMuch has to happen for this to occur … but at least the commonwealth is being mentioned.

Pennsylvania is one of a dozen states, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported this week, that is being considered by Boeing in its potential search for a new place to build its big 777X commercial airliners.

One of the reasons the global company is considering moving from Seattle to Pennsylvania … or anywhere else … is its machinists unions in Washington state and Oregon rejected changes the company wanted to make to their contracts.

We don’t want an unfriendly to labor company opening doors here, so it remains to be seen if Boeing is using the specter of a big move as a scare tactic to keep its machinists in line. We also need to see if Pennsylvania has any chance of competing. As I’ve said before, the Corbett administration isn’t too good when it comes to job growth.

Unfair Labor Practices Charged in Allegheny County

Watching Teamsters Local 249 in Pittsburgh, which filed suit this week claiming Allegheny County committed unfair labor practices when it withheld annual payments that, usually, have been paid during this time of the year.

The county is saying it did nothing wrong. The Teamsters disagreed, and they do not appear to be alone. According to the Tribune-Review, Local 668 of the Service Employees International Union complained about the withheld payments last month.

Made in Pennsylvania

John Vena, IncThey say variety is the spice of life. If that’s true, then John Vena, Inc. could be considered the seller and distributor of that spice.  Since 1919, John Vena, Inc. has been synonymous with freshness and quality. Located in the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market, the company proudly makes known its mission – and values statement, both of which are founded upon respect, integrity, accuracy, timeliness and, most of all, teamwork. 

John Vena, IncFor 93 years, John Vena, Inc. has been setting the bar in providing high-quality, specialty produce every day. It also specializes in the more obscure, herbs, vegetables, fruits and tropical fruits for residents in the Philadelphia area. Named after John Vena’s grandfather, the company is a fourth-generation, family-operated business that values its employees – many of whom are members of Local 929 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters – as much as its customers, and demands equitability and satisfaction across the entire chain of distribution.

Constantly striving to reach new heights in service and image, John Vena, Inc.’s business interactions are a refreshing change from those of many large-scale companies. Next time you’re looking for some fresh ingredients, I encourage you to stop by John Vena, Inc. From lettuce and tomatoes to jujubes, lychees and edible flowers, this company offers the ultimate in garden goodies.  





PA Works John Vena, Inc Boeing