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PA Still Falling Behind National Recovery

            Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate declined slightly in February, but we’re still falling farther behind the national recovery.   The U.S. unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a point for February and another tenth of a point in March. Pennsylvania’s fell only one tenth of a percentage point in February to 8.1 percent. The U.S. rate is now 7.6 percent.
            There are still 532,000 Pennsylvanians out of work and we have had a higher unemployment rate than the national average for seven consecutive months after four years of job performance above the national average.
            While Democratic leaders have introduced numerous job-creation proposals and have urged action on a transportation package that could improve public safety and create thousands of jobs, the Corbett administration appears content with the status quo.  
            The only job-creation effort coming out of the administration is a planned 10-day trip to Brazil and Chile.  Gov. Corbett will be traveling with business owners and economic development officials but no labor leaders will be in the group.
            Pennsylvania needs a real nuts-and-bolts job strategy, not a grandstanding junket to South America.
            New Jersey has created jobs at three times the rate Pennsylvania has and New York has added 90,000 jobs to its workforce while we have added 16,500.


                   75th Anniversary of Landmark Labor Law


Hard to believe, but organized labor had to fight to keep children out of factories. Today, many gains for workers are being rolled back.

       On June 25, 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act into law, after years of battles between workers and corporations over the exploitation of the workforce.
            FLSA created the 40-hour work week and the first permanent minimum wage, while outlawing most child labor.
            To mark the 75th anniversary of the FLSA, I will be holding a series of discussions across Pennsylvania to draw parallels with the conditions that prompted passage of the landmark labor legislation and today’s shrinking middle class and overt efforts to dismantle organized labor.
            Passage of FLSA was the first major step toward workers’ rights and the creation of a sound middle class in America.  As more classes of workers were added to its coverage over the following decades, working families saw the greatest economic gains in American history.
            That all peaked about 30 years ago, and the decline of participation in organized labor has led to a long, steady decline in the buying power and security of working families.
            How the next 75 years will be for the middle class will largely be determined by how we proceed together over the next few years.  Meeting with labor leaders, workers, scholars and policy makers over the next few months will hopefully give us some direction on how we can restore the middle class.

Memphis Trying to Go Back in Time


The city of Memphis is considering privatizing sanitation service, 45 years after Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot to death while supporting striking workers who faced unsafe and unsanitary conditions.
CLICK HERE to read more.

      Another important anniversary this week.  It was 45 years ago that the Rev. Martin Luther King was killed outside a Memphis, Tenn., motel.  King was in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers who faced working conditions it would be hard to imagine today.
            It’s ironic that Memphis city government is now considering a plan to privatize trash collection in the city to save a small amount of money.  When sanitation workers in Memphis organized, it not only meant better pay, it meant better health and safety conditions for workers.
            Taking a step backward now could save the city a little money, but at what cost.
As usual, privatization would take its savings from worker health and safety.  That’s too high a cost






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