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Labor Report

Minimum Wage Hurdle #1

CapitolThe first major step in getting a higher minimum wage in Pennsylvania is for the Senate Labor & Industry Committee to consider the bill and vote it to the floor; something that didn’t happen once during the past legislative session.

On Tuesday, said committee will hold a hearing on the idea during the morning hours in the North Office Building.

I expect the hearing will provide a balanced discussion from people who continue to oppose a higher minimum wage and those who believe – as history has shown – that raising the wage will be nothing but beneficial for a vast majority of workers.

I will be there to make opening remarks and listen to 16 presenters.

AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale will be there to testify, as will child care and grocery store workers, business owners and researchers. Opponents, like the National Federation of Independent Business, will also provide their thoughts on a higher minimum wage alongside the PA Chamber of Business & Industry and the PA Restaurant and Lodging Association.

When it’s all said and done, supporters of a higher minimum will join me in the East Wing Rotunda to meet with reporters.

Knowing there’s been an avalanche of nationwide support for higher minimum wages for frontline workers, I wish we could simply vote on my Senate Bill 195 to move PA’s minimum wage to $10.10 in eight months … but members of the committee need to hear both sides and understand that the mountain of evidence in support of a higher base hourly wage swamps scaremongering.

Pennsylvania lawmakers need to realize teenagers are not the majority of workers impacted by the minimum wage. They should support a higher minimum wage for the reasons cited by the Citizen’s Voice in its recent editorial urging approval of overdue legislation:

“More than 50 percent of the workers who would receive a pay increase if the state minimum were increased to $10.10 an hour, as one bill proposes, work full time. Of those workers, more than 41 percent have graduated high school, another 28.8 percent have some college credits and nearly 14 percent have at least a bachelor’s degree,” the Wilkes-Barre newspaper said.

And, lest ye think that moving PA’s minimum wage to $10.10 will be good enough for another six years, just know that U.S. lawmakers are already talking about a $12 federal minimum wage.

Baltimore, Philly & Labor

WorkersWatching the Baltimore uprising this week has stirred many emotions. I’m sad that the Freddie Gray death happened; sadder for the decades of reasons why it happened; and angry that some outside, knee-jerk know-it-alls continue to cast their “answers” and their “reasons” for why things are happening in Baltimore – when they don’t know.

But for another state lawmaker to liken our union brothers and sisters to the people who have been charged with burning drug stores, police cars and throwing rocks and bricks – that’s just nuts!

Not only is Rep. Mike Vereb vere-wrong about his linkage, it’s hard to understand how he could make such a claim – or why he would make such a claim because each thing is unlike the other.

Vereb made his aspersions this week on Philadelphia’s WPHT:

“Unfortunately, that eye of labor is a bad eye. It’s a bad eye with the DNC coming in, with the papal visit, and if you talk to the average building trade leader here in southeastern Pennsylvania … They inflate their rats or they do whatever they do. But destructing property with Baltimore-style tactics is just not something any of us want.”

Feel free to read more in’s recap.

But there are significant labor links to Baltimore’s story, as The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne Jr. explained on Wednesday.

“Baltimore and its inner suburbs were once home to the vast manufacturing facilities operated by Bethlehem Steel, General Motors and Martin Marietta, notes Thomas J. Vicino, the author of ‘Transforming Race and Class in Suburbia: Decline in Metropolitan Baltimore.’ In 1970, about a third of the labor force in Baltimore and its first-tier suburbs was employed in manufacturing. By 2000, only 7 percent of city residents had manufacturing jobs, and the losses have continued since. An awareness of this, Vicino says, should shape our understanding of what’s happening in the city now,” Dionne wrote.

There, obviously, are other elements to the Baltimore story – but those elements and the labor loss that has happened there has happened in many towns and cities across the U.S.

Fair Wage Business of the Week

ImagicakesAt Imagicakes Cake Designers Bakery, not only do the owners think outside the box when it comes to their confectionery creations, but also, they are independent thinkers when it comes to their beliefs on employee compensation. Among the growing consensus of people who want to see the minimum wage raised, Imagicakes has joined Businesses for a Fair Minimum Wage and Pennsylvania Businesses for a Fair Minimum Wage to advocate for a minimum wage hike in Pennsylvania and throughout the U.S.

A Philadelphia-based business, Imagicakes prides itself on baking culinary masterpieces that taste as incredible as they appear.  With artisanal skill and attention to detail, the head chef and employees of Imagicakes enjoy a challenge and are always prepared to create distinctive cakes and pastries, no matter how tricky, for every occasion.  Next time you’re in need of a carefully-crafted cake or cookie, I encourage you to check out this business’ products.

Interested in joining the growing network of businesses belonging to Businesses for a Fair Minimum Wage and Pennsylvania Businesses for a Fair Minimum Wage? Click on the links below to sign up.