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Senate Labor Legislation Update

billsHouse Bill 1154 (Miller) passed the House on March 12. This bill would remove an exemption for labor union activities involving harassment, stalking or threats to use weapons of mass destruction. Constitutionally protected activities of labor unions would remain exempt from the crimes of stalking and harassment.

Currently, the bill awaits consideration in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Amendments are being discussed with the Senate leader's office to address various concerns in the bill.

Hitting Maximum Support for Minimum Wage Increase

AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka speaks at a rally near the Art Museum in support of raising the minimum wage. In New Jersey, a group launched a website arguing against a higher wage. JANE M. VON BERGEN / Staff
AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka speaks at a rally near the Art Museum in support of raising the minimum wage. In New Jersey, a group launched a website arguing against a higher wage. © Philadelphia Inquirer, photo by Jane M. Von Bergen

Our work to incrementally increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage from its paltry $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour by 2016 gained momentum this week as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka joined the push and Connecticut finalized a bill making their base hourly rate $10.10.

Trumka and I joined minimum wage earners Thursday morning near the Philadelphia Museum of Art to keep the heat on lawmakers and Gov. Tom Corbett.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s editorial board also endorsed my bill, saying, “People earning $7.25 need the help. Their hourly wage hasn’t changed since 2009 but, during the same time span, the cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Pittsburgh has jumped from $670 to $769, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate of food costs for a family of two has increased from $360.70 to $383.50, and the price of a gallon of gas has risen from $1.96 to $3.58.” Click here to read more.

And, the White House said the tipped minimum wage, something I want to be increased to 70 percent of the regular minimum in PA through Senate Bill 1099, should also be increased across the country to either $4.90 an hour or the same as what I have proposed.

Raising the minimum is about the people of Pennsylvania. It is also about message, and we don’t want Pennsylvania’s to go from “Virtue, liberty, and independence” to “Vice, iniquity, and dependence.”

College Sport Unions

It’s not often that I write about sports in the Labor Report, but I have to this week following the National Labor Relations Board’s ruling that the Northwestern University football team is eligible to be represented by a union.

According to Peter Sung Ohr, the NLRB’s regional director who decided the case, “… the Employer’s football players who receive scholarships fall squarely within (federal labor law’s) broad definition of ‘employee.”

Northwestern is a Big 10 school, as is Penn State. It will be interesting to see if Northwestern is able to follow through and organize. I’m also curious to learn if schools in Pennsylvania will follow suit.

As MSNBC columnist Ned Resnikoff opined, the road ahead for labor representation will be long and difficult.

Made in PA

When it comes to graphic design, the Communication Workers of America, Local 4C, has been working hard to help one company provide top-notch printing services for more than a century.

Kurzenknabe Press Kurzenknabe Press Since 1893, Kurzenknabe Press in Harrisburg has been providing typesetting, graphic design and layout services for businesses and organizations across the commonwealth.

The company has progressed with the times, updating its equipment and printing techniques as new methods developed, ranging from a printing press to the modern-day computer. Today at Kurzenknabe, employees are well-trained and experienced in using hand-set type for letterpress application for either offset or digital printing.

Whether you’re looking for brochures, business cards, notepads or magazines, Kurzenknabe Press can be relied upon for its quality, expertise, customer service and timeliness. I encourage you to look into this small company with a big name, long-standing reputation and all it has to offer your business or organization.