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Labor Report

Unions Closer to Busted?

UnionWisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is, well, inane when it comes to unions. As he’s likening them to terrorists, he’s now pushing to add his state to the right-to-work list.

And while Republicans in the Pennsylvania General Assembly are working to silence unions by pushing so-called paycheck protection legislation, the sad reality is unions are losing their voice for no other reason than they are disappearing.

The proof is in a dramatic, interactive map that was published by NPR.

In 1964, about 33 percent of all workers belonged to a labor group. Today, it’s 10 percent.

In Pennsylvania, 37.7 percent of our workforce was represented by a union in 1964, but that number is now 12.7 percent. Your jaw will drop as the map turns from burnt orange to light peach.

Minimum Wage Movement

As Pennsylvania awaits any consideration of legislation to increase its $7.25-an-hour minimum wage to something more human (my Senate Bill 195, Rep. Patty Kim’s House Bill 250), another state and more national companies decided this week that paying a better base hourly rate was not going to end the world.

SignThe Iowa Senate voted yes on a measure that would up its state’s minimum wage to $8.75 by July 1, 2016.

Meanwhile, TJ Maxx and Marshall’s said they, too, will be paying higher minimums: $9 an hour starting in June, and then $10 an hour for employees who have been working for more than six months.

Their decision comes about a week after Walmart finally decided to increase its minimum wage. That decision set off a wave of analysis and finger poking:

“Walmart sets the standard, and the fact that they’ve kept wages so low has made it hard for others to raise them,” Isabel Sawhill, co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution, was quoted as saying by “Now it’s likely that pay for other low-income workers will rise, not just in retail but also in other sectors like home health care, child care and fast food, all of which compete for the same workers as Walmart.”

Here’s the part of the Forbes article I really like, and am hoping similar pressures work in Harrisburg:

“… the fact that Walmart workers, who aren’t unionized in the U.S., got anything at all shows the PR pressure that companies like it are coming under as economic inequality gains clout as a political issue.”

Some analysts are now expecting Target to soon increase its minimum wage.

Meanwhile, it’s time for our Senate and House labor & industry committees, which are controlled by Republicans, to get off the dime and move Rep. Kim’s proposal and my bill to the floor for full consideration.

CareSame-Sex Caregiver Victory

The Obama administration’s desire to allow leave for married gay couples cleared a major hurdle this week when the U.S. Department of Labor approved a new rule.

According to the LA Times: “Most legally married same-sex couples will be entitled to take up to 12 weeks leave to care for an ailing spouse regardless of whether the state in which they live recognizes their marriage.”

The new provision takes effect March 27.

House Legislative Update

On February 26, 2015, the House Labor and Industry Committee reported H.B. 568 (Evankovich) out of committee as committed and H.B. 400 (Gingrich/Gergely) out of committee as amended.

CapitolH.B. 568 would amend the Uniform Construction Code Act to authorize local use of L&I's standards for uncertified buildings. This same bill was reported out of the House unanimously during the 2013-14 Legislative Session.

H.B. 400 would require the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation to provide competitive, integrated, employment opportunities for disabled high school students using federal draw down money. This bill was amended to clarify the language regarding federal and state funding responsibilities for this program, as well as student eligibility for OVR services.

Fair Wage Business of the Week

MaassWhat good is any tool if you don’t know how to use it? That seems to be a common question among many business owners today. Although they may collect information relating to their companies’ operations, often, they don’t utilize it correctly to improve their performance or drive their decision-making.

Thankfully, companies no longer need to struggle with such concerns. When it comes to digital data, tech-savvy businesses, such as Maass Media in Philadelphia, PA, are sprouting up around the nation to help organizations capture, analyze and interpret this information. Based on these outcomes, organizations are able to modify their operations to increase their effectiveness.

At Maass Media, consultants work to design and implement a customized system of data collection and analysis to best meet the needs of each client. As a forward-thinking company that is shaping the future of business, Maass Media is an innovator, not only in its operations, but also in its philosophies. While striving to customize company and customer experiences in the digital world, Maass Media recognizes and values the contributions made by every member of a business’ team and, as such, supports fair compensation. For this reason, Maass Media has proudly joined the nation-wide business petition for a higher minimum wage.

By supporting workers and their wage rights, we can end the cycle of poverty among full-time workers in this nation. Further, by patronizing pro-worker businesses, we can influence employment practices. To reveal the story behind your company’s operations, I encourage you to contact Maass Media today.