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Labor Report

Who’s Not Working?

My home county, Philadelphia, enjoyed a lower than 6 percent unemployment rate in January. The smiles didn’t last in February.

State labor officials say Philadelphia County’s count of nonworking residents jumped to 6.2 percent in February; up from 5.9 percent just 29 days before. Despite the increase, Philly’s ranking in the top 10 counties with the highest unemployment rate improved (from 7th worst to 9th):

So, as of February 2016, the top 10 counties for highest unemployment rate (PA’s rate is 4.6 percent):

  1. Forest County – 7.8 percent
  2. Potter County – 7.3 percent
  3. Fayette County – 7.2 percent
  4. Armstrong, Greene, Somerset counties – 6.9 percent
  5. Clearfield County – 6.7 percent
  6. Cameron, Clinton counties – 6.6 percent
  7. Huntingdon, Indiana, Tioga counties – 6.5 percent
  8. Lawrence, Sullivan counties – 6.3 percent
  9. Jefferson, Philadelphia counties – 6.2 percent
  10. Cambria, Venango counties – 6.1 percent

Wait Staff Not Wash Staff

It’s one thing – and not a good thing – that waiters and waitresses are paid an hourly wage that minimum wage earners collected in 1975, so I share their outrage and support their decision to sue those restaurant owners who have been ordering them to perform duties that are not tipped.

sideworkIn other words: something for practically nothing.

While tipped workers can do some tasks that are paid the larger minimum wage, the federal government has maintained that those tasks may not exceed 20 percent of their normal job.

This is a big deal, and it’s why I proposed Senate Bill 196 with my bill to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

It’s also why I proposed Senate Bill 198.

To re-cap, SB 196 would raise the tipped minimum wage to 70 percent of whatever the regular Pennsylvania is paying. SB 198 would strengthen the state’s wage payment and collection law to increase recordkeeping requirements for employers and enforcement duties of the state Department of Labor & Industry. It would also allow employees to receive back wages and two times those wages in damages.

It’s been 25 years since the federal tipped minimum wage has been increased. PA’s tipped minimum is a “whopping” 70 cents more.

Fairness is not a word associated with the minimum wage in Pennsylvania. We must continue working to change that.

Sexual Assault

April is Sexual Assault Awareness MonthI worked with Sen. Rob Teplitz this week to win the adoption of a resolution marking April as “Sexual Assault Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania.

It’s important to note this approval here because there are still too many women and men who suffer some kind of unwanted advance – if not criminal assault – in the workplace.

If you feel you have been assaulted in some way or another, visit the PA Women Work website for steps you can take to fight back. Also, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, or PCAR, has some great insights on sexual predators.

Labor Corner

Important minimum wage and labor-related news to share with you, without comment:

Editorial: Pennsylvania’s minimum wage increase

Raise minimum wage

Fair Wages Now: Why Immigrant Women Workers Are Paying for It Every Week

Fashion models have rights, too