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Legislation to Senate Labor and Industry Committee This Week

OfficerHouse Bill 976 (Fleck) was referred to the Senate Labor and Industry Committee on Feb. 14.

The bill would provide standards to protect the rights of correctional officers during certain investigations by the Department of Corrections, including rights during interrogations and protection of employment, pay and benefits. A bargaining agreement, if stronger, would supersede these rights for an officer who is a union member. However, a bargaining agreement would not reduce these rights.

HB 976 was amended n the House floor to remove emergency suspensions from the bill and
provide that the suspension of a correctional officer must be in accordance with provisions of the State Civil Service Act, except as follows:

(1) No suspension based on an internal investigation may last more than 60 days from the date of the suspension.

(2) Written notice of suspension must be provided to the CO no later than five working days after the date of suspension.

(3) A CO's medical benefits and insurance must continue during the period of suspension.

The bill passed the House Feb. 5 by a vote of 179-0.

Chickie & Dimed

You know by now that I am fighting to increase Pennsylvania’s minimum and tipped wages to at least $9 an hour and 70 percent of the regular minimum because our hardworking friends and neighbors need it to escape the label of “working poor.” We also need to do this because history has proven that increases in the base wage rate helplocal and state economies.

ServerBut to read in the newspaper on Thursday that a popular Philadelphia sports bar wasn’t even paying its employees the full tipped minimum wage rate of $2.83 and was taking a percentage of the tips they earned … is beyond belief.

However, the case of Chickie & Pete’s is proof positive of why Pennsylvania MUST approve Senate Bill 1099 to increase the base wage for workers who depend on the generosity of bar and restaurant patrons to make a living.

It's also important to raise the tipped wage because its purchasing power has declined 28 percent since it was last raised to $2.83 in 1998.

It is a tragic commentary that any business would deny pay, even a small percentage of pay, to a man or woman who earned it themselves.

Chickie & Pete’s $8.52 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor will mean back wages of nearly $5,900 for 1,159 employees and almost $19,000 for 90 C&P workers who filed federal lawsuits against the company.

It’s a just resolution and I am sure it will teach the company a lesson, as I hope it will open the eyes of other companies that might be doing the same thing.

A rising tide lifts all boats, but not if some boat owners are poking holes in some of the boats.

Let’s adopt SB 1099 and SB 855, my bills to increase the tipped wage and minimum wage, respectively.

Minimum Wage Progress

The lack of urgency in approving increases in the minimum wage in Pennsylvania is more remarkable given the growing list of major companies that are acting to raise their hourly rates themselves.

MoneyGap, the company that sells $70 jeans and other trendy clothing, joined Costco and Whole Foods this week in deciding to voluntarily increase its minimum wage. Gap said it will up its base to $9 an hour this year and $10 an hour next year.

While claiming the company’s decision is not political, CEO Glenn Murphy said it was made to “support our business, and it is one we expect to deliver a return many times over.”

The clothing store counts 65,000 minimum wage earners.

Equally encouraging – maybe more so – is Wal-Mart announced that it is considering an increase in its minimum.

Wal-Mart, which has come under fire for its low wages and efforts to block union representation, employs about one percent of its 140 million customers. As the Washington Post reported, if the company does decide to pay a better wage to its workers – say to $10.10/hour, the wage President Obama is planning to pay federal contract employees – 900,000 of them will no longer be poor.

Hugely profitable multinational companies aren’t the only ones talking about increases in the minimum wage. Michigan voters could decide to increase its base rate in the November election as its State Board of Canvassers has approved referendum language.

The group spearheading the noble fight, “Raise Michigan,” needs to get 258,000 petition signatures for the question to be included on the ballot. If it does, Michigan minimum-wage workers would receive an increase to $8.10/hour next year, $9.10/hour in 2016, and $10.10/hour in 2017.

Not only is this the right thing to do; it is good business, and good politics.

Odd EEOC Realities in PA

SealThe good news is Pennsylvania companies faced fewer allegations of violating EEOC laws in 2013. The bad news is the commonwealth’s percentage of total U.S. claims went up.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported earlier this month that it had received the highest monetary recovery in its history by collecting $372.1 million to settle claims. The EEOC also received 5.7 percent fewer claims than it did in 2012.

Discrimination by race and sex accounted for about 65 percent of all charges nationwide. In Pennsylvania, retaliation was the highest category of accusation at 39 percent, followed by disability (30.9 percent), and sexual harassment or abuse (28.4 percent).

While the commonwealth mirrored the nation’s trend fewer allegations (from 4,535 in 2012 to 4,390 in 2013), its share of total nationwide cases increased slightly from 4.6 percent to 4.7 percent. The state’s percentage of nationwide cases also increased across the board for every category.

Made in PA

United Metal FabricatorsNext time you visit your doctor’s office, notice the specially designed office furniture and medical equipment.

Every day, companies like United Metal Fabricators, or UMF, construct hundreds of thousands of individually crafted furniture products to meet the needs of medical staff and to provide patients with maximum comfort and safety.

At UMF, products are made possible thanks to the highly skilled and knowledgeable employees belonging to United Mine Workers of America, Local 1957.

UMF was established in Johnstown in 1956 by Joseph Romano, Sr. The company’s success came from Mr. Romano’s dedication to his clients and products, alike. By talking to medical professionals and incorporating their feedback into the development of furniture and equipment, UMF’s modifications to its products allowed it to become a leader in its field.

Today, UMF remains a top medical equipment supplier across the U.S. that is known for its flexibility, innovativeness and quality craftsmanship.





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