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Labor Report

Senate Labor Committee Action

The Senate Labor Committee met on Tuesday to consider two bills and the nomination of Acting Secretary W. Gerard Oleksiak as Secretary of the Department of Labor and Industry.

SB 963 would reestablish the Impairment Rating Evaluations process under the Workers’ Compensation Act. If enacted, this legislation could cause severely injured workers or those who have been collecting WC benefits for longer than a prescribed time frame to become ineligible for future benefits.

Under the bill, injured workers would be assessed by physicians to determine the level of the worker’s impairment and disability status. The worker’s eligibility for benefits would be tied to the impairment level. Last year, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that a previous version of the bill failed to provide adequate standards for impairment evaluations.

The committee voted 8-4 on strict party lines to report this bill to the full Senate. To read the SB 963 text, click here.

HB 1001 would establish a 13-member board to oversee the licensure of home inspectors. This legislation passed committee by a vote of 9-3. To read the HB 1001 text, click here.

W. Gerard Oleksiak’s nomination was reported from committee with a recommendation for confirmation by a vote of 9 -3.

Apprentice Program Grants Available

The Department of Community and Economic Development is offering grant opportunities through the Pre-Apprentice and Apprenticeship Grant Program. This Apprenticeship Program is a statewide program offering assistance to registered pre-apprentice and apprenticeship programs. The overall goal is to increase apprenticeship availability to Pennsylvania employers to assist them in recruiting and developing talent in the workforce.

apprenticeshipApprenticeship Program grants may be used to cover expenses related to the instruction that complements on-the-job learning.

Proposals will be accepted from single employers, employer consortiums, workforce development boards, economic development organizations, labor organizations, local career technical education institutions, Pennsylvania community colleges and community organizations or associations, regardless of whether the sponsor employs the apprentice. Proof of a Certificate of Registration is required for participation.

Click here to apply for the Apprenticeship Program.

Inquirer Condemns Medicaid Work Requirement

healthcareThe Philadelphia Inquirer sided with unemployed and underemployed workers on Monday when it published a concise editorial that condemned efforts by some federal and state lawmakers to attach work requirements to Medicaid eligibility. Further, the newspaper endorsed raising the minimum wage.

Medicaid is last-resort medical insurance for low-income people, many of whom are disabled or engaged in the care of the disabled or elderly. According to the newspaper, 60 percent of Medicaid recipients have jobs while 80 percent live in working families. These figures reinforce the reality that far too many working people are not being paid fair wages.

As the newspaper correctly noted: “If people’s dignity and self-respect is really a goal, there are simple ways to achieve that: Stop demonizing them and take actions like raising the minimum wage, that would allow people to support themselves and their families, and maybe afford health care.”

To read the full editorial, click here.

House Bill Seeks to Protect Tip Earnings

serverA bill recently introduced in the Pennsylvania House by Rep. Dom Costa seeks to ensure that people who work in gratuity-earning jobs like waitresses and bartenders collect the full amount of the tip money intended for them.

HB 2003 has been referred to the House’s Labor & Industry Committee. If enacted, the legislation would prevent employers from diverting a worker’s tip earnings for other purposes. The bill defines gratuities and who is entitled to them.

“Tipped wage workers work extremely hard and for long hours to earn their gratuities,” Costa said, according to the Reading Eagle. “Employers should not be allowed to use tips to cover their costs for operation.”

To read the HB 2003 text, click here.

UPitt Faculty Organizing with Steelworkers Union

Professors and other instructors at the University of Pittsburgh launched an authorization card campaign on Monday to unionize the institution’s 4,000 full- and part-time faculty under the United Steelworkers umbrella.

Organizers have one year to collect signatures from at least 30 percent of the potential bargaining unit members before they could petition the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board for a certification election. The bargaining unit would cover tenured, tenure-track and non-tenured adjunct faculty, organizers said according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Organizers cited numerous issues including pay and job security, academic freedom, shared governance at the university and harassment protection.

The Academic Workers Association, a branch of the USW, is involved in the faculty effort as well as a drive to unionize 2,000 graduate student workers at Pitt. The graduate student group petitioned the PLRB last month for an election.

To read the full article, click here.

December 2017 PA Jobs Update

Pennsylvania’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose slightly to 4.7% in December 2017, up one-tenth of a percent from November 2017. Over the prior month, unemployment rolls increased by 3,329 individuals with total unemployment rising to 298,953. As of December 2017, total unemployment stands at 34,063 individuals lower than it was at the start of the year, has declined 52,582 year-over-year and is down 43,523 since Gov. Wolf took office in January 2015.

That the labor force has grown over Gov. Wolf’s term despite declining unemployment can only mean one thing … new jobs. In December 2017 alone, the commonwealth added 14,600 new non-farm jobs, pushing year-over-year growth to 78,400 jobs added. Since Gov. Wolf took office, 178,000 non-farm jobs have been added, which is 26,000 more than were added during Gov. Corbett’s entire term. The 178,000 additional jobs ranks Pennsylvania 34th among U.S. states for job growth in that timespan, compared to 48th among U.S. states in the same survey over Gov. Corbett’s term.

2017 PA vs. National Unemployment

State Unemployment Ranking
Ranked Lowest to Highest Rate (Seasonally Adj.)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Rank State Dec. 2017 Rate Month Diff. Year Diff.
1 Hawaii 2.0                (0.1)                (0.9)
T-2 New Hampshire 2.6                (0.1)                (0.1)
T-2 North Dakota 2.6                  -                  (0.4)
4 Nebraska 2.7                  -                  (0.6)
T-5 Iowa 2.8                (0.1)                (0.7)
T-5 Vermont 2.8                (0.1)                (0.4)
7 Idaho 2.9                  -                  (0.7)
T-8 Maine 3.0                (0.3)                (0.8)
T-8 Wisconsin 3.0                (0.2)                (1.1)
T-10 Colorado 3.1                 0.2                 0.1
T-10 Minnesota 3.1                (0.1)                (0.9)
T-10 Utah 3.1                (0.1)                (0.1)
13 Tennessee 3.2                 0.1                (1.9)
T-14 Indiana 3.4                (0.3)                (0.6)
T-14 Kansas 3.4                (0.1)                (0.9)
T-16 Alabama 3.5                  -                  (2.8)
T-16 Massachusetts 3.5                (0.1)                 0.4
T-16 Missouri 3.5                 0.1                (0.9)
T-16 South Dakota 3.5                  -                   0.6
T-20 Arkansas 3.7                  -                  (0.2)
T-20 Florida 3.7                 0.1                (1.2)
T-20 Virginia 3.7                  -                  (0.4)
23 Texas 3.9                 0.1                (0.9)
24 Maryland 4.0                 0.1                (0.2)
T-25 Montana 4.1                 0.1                 0.1
T-25 Oklahoma 4.1                (0.1)                (0.7)
T-25 Oregon 4.1                (0.1)                (0.4)
T-25 South Carolina 4.1                 0.1                (0.2)
29 Wyoming 4.2                (0.1)                (0.6)
30 California 4.3                (0.3)                (0.9)
T-31 Georgia 4.4                 0.1                (1.1)
T-31 Kentucky 4.4                (0.3)                (0.4)
T-31 Rhode Island 4.4                 0.1                (0.5)
T-34 Arizona 4.5                 0.2                (0.5)
T-34 North Carolina 4.5                 0.2                (0.7)
T-34 Washington 4.5                 0.1                (0.6)
T-37 Connecticut 4.6                  -                   0.2
T-37 Delaware 4.6                (0.1)                 0.3
T-37 Louisiana 4.6                (0.1)                (1.4)
T-37 Mississippi 4.6                (0.2)                (0.9)
T-37 New York 4.6                (0.1)                (0.2)
T-42 Michigan 4.7                 0.1                (0.4)
T-42 Ohio 4.7                (0.1)                (0.3)
T-42 Pennsylvania 4.7                 0.1                (0.7)
45 Illinois 4.8                (0.1)                (0.9)
T-46 Nevada 5.0                  -                  (0.1)
T-46 New Jersey 5.0                (0.1)                 0.3
48 West Virginia 5.5                 0.2                (0.3)
49 New Mexico 6.0                (0.1)                (0.7)
50 Alaska 7.3                 0.1                 0.7
Designates largest month-to-month decline
Designates largest year-over-year decline
T - indicates tie






USW University of Pittsburgh