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Hang Together, Labor Leaders Urge

My statewide tour to discuss the challenges facing the middle class at the 75th anniversary of the Fair Labor Standards Act continued in Allentown this week. 

Hosted by IBEW Local 375, the discussion brought in labor leaders from across the region, from teachers to Teamsters.

Like their colleagues across the state, these men and women are not just committed to bettering the lives of workers, they’re also parents who see that Pennsylvania’s future generations are being shortchanged by shortsighted leadership.

Pennsylvania’s middle class is still struggling to recover from the recession as weak job growth here stands in stark contrast to surrounding states and the record performance on Wall St.

John Werkheiser, of the UFCW, said Gov. Corbett’s contention that corporate tax giveaways create jobs has proven unfounded as job growth is hampered by teacher layoffs and an unsound focus on privatization.

“It shouldn’t be about bringing them down.  It should be about bringing everybody else up.”
John Werkheiser, UFCW

“At the same time, he seems hell bent on getting rid of good jobs,” Werkheiser said. “It shouldn’t be about bringing them down.  It should be about bringing everybody else up.”

The UFCW has been helping to convince Pennsylvanians that liquor privatization would destroy good paying jobs while creating an unstable system favoring big box retailers.

Everyone on the panel agreed that the Corbett administration’s fascination with privatization is a preemptory attack on organized labor.

“This is nothing more than a ploy to keep their foot on the neck of the middle class,” said Gregg Potter, president of the Lehigh Valley Labor Council. “And they’re going to keep it up until they ship all of your jobs to China.”

The labor leaders agreed that representatives of all unions have to recognize the current policy decisions in Washington and Harrisburg as potentially affecting all of them, even if a particular type of work isn’t affected right now.

Teachers or Teamsters who support privatization of the liquor stores should know that their jobs are very likely next on the chopping block. 

The ultimate goal is to weaken unions in all classes of workers.

“We must all hang together,” Benjamin Franklin said when signing the Declaration of Independence, “or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Teens, Parents Should Know Child Labor Law

When school lets out in a few weeks, the summer job season begins as many employers look for help to fill seasonal jobs and cover vacations.

Parents, employers and students should know that Pennsylvania’s teen labor laws have changed slightly since last year. The new Child Labor Act went into effect in February and slightly expands eligible working hours for some teens.

Investigations by the federal Department of Labor have resulting in dozens of fines on businesses across Pennsylvania in recent years, mostly because employers didn’t know the rules. In some cases, young teens were injured while operating equipment they were not legally allowed to operate.

Parents should talk with their teens about what they’re being asked to do at work, and teens should know that the hours they can work are limited by law. Most of the violations and injuries came with jobs that teens and parents might not think of as dangerous. But deep fryers, grills and trash compactors at small stores and fast-food restaurants can be dangerous.

For more on Pennsylvania’s Child Labor Act, click here.

Update on Senate Bill 928

Discussions over the unemployment compensation service centers have resulted in more proposed changes in Senate Bill 928. Click here to see the new language.






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