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Senate Labor Legislation Update

BillsSenate Bill 403 (Grove) and Senate Bill 1023 (McIlhinney) were reported as amended by the Senate Labor and Industry Committee this week.

SB 403 would create additional fines and penalties for unemployment compensation fraud and the amendment, which was a duplicate of language in Senate Bill 1214 (Tartaglione/Stack), would enable certain high wage earners who work excessive hours during one quarter of their base year to qualify for unemployment benefits.

SB 1023 would change the process by which the commonwealth takes on new construction standards adopted by the International Code Council (ICC) through its triennial review. The amendment to this bill would change the code review and adoption process, raise the building permit fee by $1 and create a funding account to pay for council expenses and administrative support.

Unemployment Realities

We knew he would say what he said when the state Department of Labor & Industry released Pennsylvania’s December unemployment rate. The irony for Gov. Tom Corbett is PA's jobless number is finally below 7 percent for two reasons: 1) in spite of him, and 2) because people who have been without work – and are now without extended UC benefits – have taken themselves out of the labor market.

More than 26,000 people melted from the unemployment rolls but more than half of that decline (15,000) happened because the state’s labor force shrunk. Also, the Corbett-led commonwealth lost an additional 11,400 positions in December. For the year, the embattled administration was only able to invigorate a 0.3 percent increase in new jobs.

Philadelphia Magazine backed up my argument this week with its analysis of the numbers behind the state’s drop in its unemployment rate.

Since January 2011, PA ranks dead last among all of its neighboring states for net percentage employment growth. Dead last! It is also the 10th of the 10 largest states (last place) in this category. Pennsylvania is also last when compared to neighboring states in private employment growth during this time.

PA WorksEven if Gov. Corbett could say unemployment is down now because of him, there is nothing he’s done that he could point to and say, “This is why.”

The initiatives that are on the books (Innovate in PA, City Revitalization and Improvement Zones) are Democratic initiatives and the ones that have been on the books were proving their worth time and again during the Rendell administration.

The initiatives that could further help Pennsylvanians get back to work and grow local economies are also Democratic and can be found in my caucus’ PA Works program.

Labor Rally In The Capitol


We packed the Capitol Rotunda Tuesday morning to protest anti-union legislation that would erode current bargaining powers.

SB 1034 and HB 1507 would stop the current practice of automatically deducting union dues from members’ paychecks. Critics, conservative Republicans, mainly, say the state shouldn’t be in the business of collecting these fees. But what they really are trying to do is thin the ranks to make our proud and mighty labor unions voiceless.

Senator TartaglioneWe raised the roof of the Capitol on Jan. 28, even though it is more than 270 feet above where we packed the Rotunda.

Gov. Corbett and his budget secretary have made it a point to complain about the cost of state employees. This is why this bad “paycheck protection” legislation is now being considered. The Philadelphia Daily News’ John Baer smartly called this legislative parlay a trick.

The governor wants to take Pennsylvania in the direction of other states that have tried to bust their labor unions.

The throngs of union members who made themselves heard this week proved they will be a formidable hurdle.

Minimum Wage POTUS

Value of Minimum WageIt was wonderful to hear President Obama tell Congress this week that he was going to use his executive powers to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 for newly hired federal contract workers. When this happens, his feat will join a growing number of other states that have already acted to approve minimum wage increases – and connect them to the Consumer Price Index.

I believe the call is growing for an increase in the minimum wage in Pennsylvania and across the country. Besides wages being too low, USA Today published a graphic showing that, adjusted for inflation, minimum wage earners are also suffering from a lack of buying power.

When adjusted, 1968’s minimum wage was worth $10.74/hour. My legislation, Senate Bill 858, would increase that to at least $9/hour. Senate Bill 1099 would jump the tipped hourly rate to 70 percent of the regular minimum.

Made in PA

Roaring SpringEver wonder how many trees it takes to make the notebooks and tablets you write on every day? Thanks to innovations in paper technology, it doesn’t necessarily take a forest to make a ream of paper. Companies around the world and closer to home, like Roaring Spring Blank Book in Roaring Spring, PA, are producing paper products from a variety of new, sustainable products, including recycled paper and sugar cane. With their help, there may be a brighter, greener future for upcoming generations.

Beginning in 1887, Daniel Bare began producing ledgers, journals and other paper supplies through his company, Roaring Spring Blank Book, using the local paper mill he helped to create. Over the next century, thanks in part to PACE-USW Local 2-422 employees, Roaring Spring Blank Book grew exponentially in size and production capacity, resulting in the nationwide reputation it enjoys today.

Known for its high quality products, outstanding customer service and commitment to ethical business practices, the company’s success has happened while maintaining its original values and mission. Not only does the company remain involved in its community, it strives to surpass standards and expectations in recycling, reducing post-consumer waste build-up in landfills and ensuring the paper mill and paper production process are environmentally friendly.

Next time you’re shopping for paper, remember to look for the American-made, union-made, eco-conscious products made by PA’s own Roaring Spring Blank Book company.





Roaring Spring Blank Book PA Works