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Labor Report


Raise the Wage PA Schedules Next Rally in Delco

Raise the Wage PA will bring its ongoing minimum wage advocacy tour to Delaware County on Oct. 18 when the coalition will rally on the county courthouse steps in Media. The rally is scheduled from 11 a.m. to noon at 201 W. Front St.

Details are available on the Facebook event page.

Raise the Wage PA is a statewide coalition of community, labor, and faith-based organizations and other partners who have joined to fight to increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage. PA has the lowest minimum wage among all of its bordering states and hasn’t raised its minimum wage since 2006. At $7.25 an hour, Pennsylvania’s minimum wage is at the federal minimum, which has been in place since 2009.

Earlier this year, Senator Tartaglione introduced Senate Bill 1044 to raise the minimum wage for most workers to $15 (or $12 for tipped workers) by the year 2024. The legislation awaits action in the Senate Labor Committee.

It’s Disability Employment Month and this Westmoreland Man is Celebrating His First Paycheck

For the first 30 years of his life, Chris Gott of Lower Burrell never collected a paycheck. But that doesn’t mean he never had a job.

For Gott, learning to speak and perform many other tasks that most people take for granted was his career. According to the Tribune-Review Gott is autistic and was non-verbal until recently. But he liked cheesesteaks.

“With the help of therapy programs and assistance from caregivers, Gott improved his communications enough to get a job at Charleys Philly Steaks restaurant in the Pittsburgh Mills mall, a place where he has always been welcome,” the newspaper reported.

“The first paycheck he received Thursday is the culmination of all of his hard work, his progress and his road to independence. ‘I’m very proud of myself for working here,’ Gott said, beaming with happiness.”

On Sept. 27, Gott collected his first-ever paycheck. And he resolved to use it to buy a statuette of the “Image of Hope,” which depicts firefighters hoisting an American flag in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

UPMC Workers Walk Out to Demonstrate Their Right to Unionize

Workers from Pennsylvania’s largest non-governmental employer walked off the job on Thursday to demonstrate their right to unionize.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center employs more than 40,000 people in Greater Pittsburgh and more than 80,000 statewide in 30 hospitals and more than 600 doctor’s offices. According to the Tribune-Review, cafeteria workers, nurses’ aides, housekeepers, research assistants, medical assistants, and administrative assistants were among those who marched through Downtown Pittsburgh and the city’s Oakland neighborhood, then rallied outside UPMC’s headquarters in the U.S. Steel tower.
Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, Allegheny County officials and city officials joined them.

The nonprofit UPMC ended the 2017 fiscal year with $5.6 billion in net assets.
“The least they could do with their billions is make sure you get a fair wage, and that Pennsylvanians get better health care,” DePasquale said. “Your fight is our fight until the bitter end.”

“Many of us are living at poverty level,” said Ellie Lalonde, a research specialist at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital. “We work in this system and provide health care, and yet we can’t afford to access it for ourselves — not without bills that are so outrageous that we avoid seeking out health care.”

Amazon Hikes Minimum Wage, Then Cuts Worker Financial Benefits

Raise the Wage advocates celebrated last Tuesday when Amazon announced that it would raise the minimum wage for its American workers to $15 per hour. Then the other shoe dropped.

On Thursday, news organizations began reporting that the company also plans to eliminate bonus and stock award programs for its hourly workers. Meanwhile, the company reportedly continues to develop its plan to expand its roster of cashier-less brick-and-mortar stores.

And, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos just surpassed Bill Gates as the richest American. His estimated net worth of $160 billion is almost double that of a year ago. Microsoft founder Gates had held the top spot on the list since 1994.
The new minimum wage will begin on Nov. 1 and apply to more than 250,000 employees and 100,000 seasonal workers.

Public School Advocates Balk at Philly’s Annual Teacher Shuffling

Barely a month into the new school year, Philadelphia’s public school administration may be shuffling 100 teachers or more out of their classrooms and into different school buildings, according to a report.

The forced relocations are based on seniority and prompted by higher-than-expected enrollment at certain schools along with lesser-than-expected enrollment at other schools.

“It's called "leveling" — the process of shifting teachers based on enrollment changes more than a month into the school year. It's virtually nonexistent in other districts but is a thorn in the side of thousands of Philadelphia children, families, and teachers,” the news agency reported.

It's an annual occurrence in Philly’s public schools, but some education advocates are balking this time.

“It has a profound impact on school communities, disrupting the school year, and severing the relationships teachers and students build throughout the first weeks of school,” Councilwoman Helen Gym said.

"It's like removing a piece from the bottom of the foundation," said Tanya Walker, a parent of two children in city schools. "Once you move it, everything is going to fall. To have everything constantly changing is just hard."

The district’s chief financial officer reportedly blamed labor contract seniority provisions for amplifying the process and said that ending leveling would cost the district $12 million.


September National Jobs Update

The seasonally adjusted national unemployment rate fell to 3.7% in September 2018, down 0.2% from the previous month, marking its lowest point in nearly 50 years (December 1969). Over the month, unemployment rolls decreased by 270,000 individuals, lowering total unemployment to just under 6 million. National unemployment statistics for the month are as follows:

  • Total Unemployment – 5,964,000

  • Change Over Month –  DOWN    270,000

  • Change Over Year –   DOWN   795,000

  • Change Over Trump Term –   DOWN   1,678,000

  • Rate Change Over Month –  DOWN    0.2%

  • Rate Change Over Year –   DOWN   0.5%

  • Rate Change Over Trump Term –    DOWN  1.1%

  • Rate Change Over Obama 2nd Term –  DOWN    3.2%

As indicated above, total unemployment’s rounded percentage of the labor force, or unemployment rate, fell over the month (rate = unemployment / labor force). The labor force is the total number of employed individuals combined with the total number of unemployed individuals actively searching for work. Growth in the labor force can be a sign of a strengthening economy from more people working and/or more individuals searching for jobs. From August to September 2018, the national labor force grew by 150,000 individuals, a combination of total employment* rising by 420,000 individuals and total unemployment down by 270,000 individuals as noted above.
Since President Trump took office, the national labor force has grown by 2.208 million individuals (unemployment -1.678 million & employment +3.886 million). While this growth is encouraging, continued improvement will be needed to match labor force growth seen over President Obama’s second term (3.955 million: unemployment -4.829 million & employment +8.784 million).

  • Total Labor Force – 161,926,000

  • Change Over Month –  UP 150,000

  • Change Over Year –  UP 844,000

  • Change Over Trump Term –   UP 2,208,000

  • Change Over Obama 2nd Term –  UP 3,955,000

Non-farm* jobs grew by 134,000 in September 2018, below economist projections of 180,000 and the lowest monthly increase seen in the last 12 months. Thus far, average monthly non-farm job growth under President Trump stands at 190,000, 27,000 below average monthly growth of 217,000 seen over President Obama’s second term. Year-over-year, the national economy has added 2.537 million new non-farm jobs, 164,000 less than the 2.701 million non-farms jobs added year-over-year in President Obama’s last September (2016) in office. These are far from the levels expected from a President who criticized growth under President Obama and said that he would be the “greatest jobs President God ever created”. Employment statistics for the month are as follows:

  • Total Employment – 149,500,000

  • Change Over Month –  UP 134,000

  • Change Over Year –  UP 2,537,000

  • Change Over Trump Term –   UP 3,804,000

  • Change Over Obama 2nd Term –  UP 10,414,000

*Total employment for labor force provided by U.S. Census Household survey. The separate BLS Establishment survey measures non-farm jobs only.