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Really PMA?

ManufacturingWhen it comes to rallying the troops, I am all for it. Done right, it can be energizing and productive. Goals can be reached. Dreams can be realized. But the latest manifesto by the Pennsylvania Manufacturing Association declaring job growth as the way to go to restore our economy reads more like hindsight or, maybe, plagiarism.

For nearly every day of the now-exiting Corbett administration, Senate Democrats and I have worked tirelessly to get Republicans in Harrisburg to do something about job creation; to stop our slide to last in the nation in this vital category.

Does PA Works sound familiar?

Nearly every day we talked about job creation, Republicans and PMA talked about cutting business taxes to the detriment of every other public interest. And it got them an embarrassing $2+ billion deficit and the distinction of PA being last in the nation in job creation.

Truth be told: business tax cuts haven’t even helped PA manufacturing.

According to our own Department of Labor & Industry, factories shed 1,700 jobs between July and August this year and 5,400 jobs between August 2013 and August 2014. Over 10 years, PA lost 134,300 manufacturing positions.

There are many reasons why manufacturing is hurting in Pennsylvania but we will soon have a governor who knows a thing or two about manufacturing, including knowing how to rescue a manufacturing business on the brink of bankruptcy.

And all that PMA wants to do is remind people that a tax increase was talked about during the election while somehow remembering that creating jobs is – and always has been – the way to improving our economy.

We agree that we need to shed pension costs. We know health care is also expensive, but Senate Democrats and I have been there. We were the ones articulating the points that last session’s pension reform proposals would have done more harm than good, and that we could have enjoyed a $500 million windfall from Washington D.C. had we only accepted Medicaid expansion.

To pretend now that none of this was debated or pleaded during the past four years is immoral.

Minimum Wage Offerings

WageEven though Walmart indicated last week on national television that is plans to increase its minimum wage for its employees, the company is still taking it on the legal chin in Pennsylvania.

The state Supreme Court said on Monday that Walmart must pay $151 million in wages to employees at its PA Walmart and Sam’s Club stores who were forced to skip their breaks or worked off the clock.

The money, unless the U.S. Supreme Court reverses the decision, would be paid to 187,000 workers who clocked in at Walmart between 1998 and 2006.

I’m also keeping my eye on New York where its state wage board is considering “whether workers whose income is supplemented by tips should receive an increase” in their minimum wage rates.

New York tipped minimum wage earners pocket $5 an hour while regular base hourly wage earners collect $8 ($8.75 Dec. 31).

A tipped minimum of $5 is not a lot of money … unless you compare it to Pennsylvania’s tipped minimum: $2.83 an hour. Shameful.

Fair Wage Business of the Week

AcupunctureThe holidays are a challenging time of year for many people.  With so much to prepare and so little time to spare, remaining stress-free and accomplishing everything on your to-do list may seem like an impossible feat.

For stress and other symptoms that can’t be remedied with a little rest and relaxation, acupuncture may offer the perfect solution for whatever ails you.

Thanks to Trey Casimir Acupuncture in Lewisburg, not only can people achieve the wellness they’ve been hoping for, but also, they can breathe a little easier knowing this business has joined the growing list of employers who want to see higher wages paid to our lowest-paid workers.

During the holidays, the stress is even greater for individuals receiving $7.25 per hour.  While the holidays hit everyone’s pockets a little harder than usual, minimum wage workers must choose between buying necessities, such as groceries, gas money and rent, or buying gifts for their family and friends.

With so few jobs available in Pennsylvania, more and more individuals are settling for jobs that pay the minimum rate.  Right now, minimum wage employees who work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, earn $15,080 annually.

For the minimum wage workers who are fighting for higher wages, you are one step closer to achieving your goal with each business you convince to join the cause.

While wages will not be raised in time for this holiday season, support from local employers, like Trey Casimir, will help Pennsylvania pass a minimum wage increase in the near future—hopefully by the next holiday season or two.  That’s a future achievement everyone should toast to this season.

Holiday Schedule

There will be no Labor Report on Friday, December 26th, nor on Friday, January 2nd. We wish all of our readers a happy holiday and a safe and happy new year!