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Labor Report

Senate Passes Early Budget with Over $40 million Investment in Jobs and Workforce Development

The Pennsylvania Senate passed an early Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget on Friday that includes new investments in workforce development, education, health care and social justice. The Senate voted, 47-2, in support of the $32.7 billion budget (HB 2121) previously passed by the Pennsylvania House. The budget now awaits Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature.

“This budget is an example of the great things we can accomplish when we work together in a bi-partisan way to create programs that benefit all Pennsylvanians,” Senator Tartaglione said. “As minority chairman of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee, I am especially proud of the workforce development initiatives, such as expanded apprenticeships and partnerships that involve labor organizations, vocational training facilities and the business community. These measures will help more young people find good careers that pay family-sustaining wages and benefits and will help the Commonwealth identify and satisfy its changing workforce needs.”

As part of more than $160 million in new education investments, the budget includes $30 million for career and technical education through the PA SMART initiative. It further includes a new $7 million apprenticeship training program and $3 million for industry partnerships, both through PA SMART. Further, there is a $3 million allocation to combat the Spotted Lanternfly infestation that threatens Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry.

Minimum Wage Advocates Keep Pressure On with York Rally

On June 21, Raise the Wage PA gathered on the steps of the York County Courthouse for its latest in its series of public rallies calling for the Pennsylvania legislature to raise the state’s minimum wage for the first time in more than a decade. Community advocates and organized labor officials joined Raise the Wage leader John Meyerson to support pending legislation by Senator Tartaglione (SB 1044)  and Rep. Patty Kim (HB 1520). Both bills propose to raise the state's minimum wage incrementally to $15 an hour by 2024 and to link further increases to annual cost of living adjustments.

Raise the Wage PA delivered the same message at recent rallies in Media, Delaware County; Norristown, Montgomery County; and Harrisburg. Click here to view a video of the Harrisburg rally on Facebook.

Retail Workers Say They’re Losing Hours, Wages to Email Farming Quotas

5 BelowCashiers from the national discount chain store Five Below claim that the company has instituted a quota system for collecting customer email addresses and that bosses are using those quotas to determine shift schedules and wage levels for individual employees. reported on June 20 that workers at Philadelphia-based chain with more than 650 locations claim they are subject to consequences for not reaching their quotas, including reduction of hours and being passed over for raises. One former cashier told the news agency that she was instructed to get email addresses from at least 25 percent of the customers she rung up each week.

After she was unable to satisfy that quota, her hours dwindled from more than 20 per week during the holiday shopping season, to less than 14 after the New Year and eventually just four hours in back-to-back weeks. The woman said she asked her manager about the reduction and was told, “You have to get the emails.”

Another Five Below employee from Ohio posted on a job website message board that she was told to get at least 20 percent of customers’ emails or risk losing a work shift. Meanwhile, a former manager from Kentucky wrote, “You have to obtain e-mails from customers and if you don’t they hound you to the point of quitting.”

A representative of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store International Union said that workers often feel helpless to protest the unreasonable employer demands.

“You’re effectively measuring someone’s success on someone’s willingness to give over their personal data. That doesn’t make sense,” said Chelsea Connor, communications director for the union.

Working Poor Study Says 4 in 10 PA Households Can’t Afford Basic Needs

Almost 42 percent of Pennsylvania households fit the federal definition of poverty or fall just above the poverty line but struggle to pay for basic expenses like rent, child care, medical care, transportation and cell phones, although someone is employed in the vast majority of cases, according to a recent study published by the United Way.

The study uses the acronym ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed) to describe the latter category of households, which constitutes 29.4 percent of all PA households. The state’s household poverty rate, regardless of employment status, is 12.3 percent.

The Commonwealth’s overall combined rate (41.7 percent) is slightly better the federal rate of 43 percent, according to a Post-Gazette report.

May 2018 Unemployment Ranking by State
(Seasonally Adjusted)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Rank State May 2018 Rate Month Diff. Year Diff.
1 Hawaii 2.0                    -                (0.4)
2 North Dakota 2.6                    -                 0.1
T-3 Iowa 2.7                (0.1)                (0.5)
T-3 New Hampshire 2.7                 0.1                    -
T-5 Colorado 2.8                (0.1)                 0.2
T-5 Maine 2.8                 0.1                (0.6)
T-5 Nebraska 2.8                    -                (0.1)
T-5 Vermont 2.8                    -                (0.3)
T-5 Wisconsin 2.8                    -                (0.5)
10 Idaho 2.9                    -                (0.3)
11 Utah 3.0                (0.1)                (0.3)
12 Minnesota 3.1                (0.1)                (0.4)
T-13 Indiana 3.2                    -                (0.3)
T-13 Virginia 3.2                (0.1)                (0.6)
15 South Dakota 3.3                (0.1)                    -
16 Kansas 3.4                    -                (0.2)
T-17 Massachusetts 3.5                    -                (0.3)
T-17 Tennessee 3.5                 0.1                (0.3)
19 Missouri 3.6                    -                (0.1)
20 Wyoming 3.7                (0.1)                (0.3)
T-21 Arkansas 3.8                    -                 0.2
T-21 Florida 3.8                (0.1)                (0.4)
T-23 Alabama 3.9                 0.1                (0.7)
T-23 Montana 3.9                (0.1)                (0.1)
T-25 Delaware 4.0                (0.2)                (0.6)
T-25 Oklahoma 4.0                    -                (0.3)
T-25 South Carolina 4.0                (0.2)                (0.2)
T-28 Kentucky 4.1                 0.1                (1.0)
T-28 Oregon 4.1                    -                    -
T-28 Texas 4.1                    -                (0.3)
T-31 California 4.2                    -                (0.7)
T-31 Georgia 4.2                (0.1)                (0.6)
T-33 Illinois 4.3                (0.1)                (0.6)
T-33 Maryland 4.3                    -                 0.2
T-33 North Carolina 4.3                (0.1)                (0.2)
T-33 Ohio 4.3                    -                (0.8)
T-37 New Jersey 4.4                (0.1)                (0.1)
T-37 Rhode Island 4.4                (0.1)                    -
T-39 Connecticut 4.5                    -                (0.2)
T-39 New York 4.5                (0.1)                (0.2)
T-39 Pennsylvania 4.5                (0.2)                (0.4)
T-42 Louisiana 4.6                 0.1                (0.7)
T-42 Michigan 4.6                (0.1)                 0.2
T-44 Arizona 4.7                (0.2)                (0.2)
T-44 Mississippi 4.7                 0.1                (0.6)
T-44 Washington 4.7                (0.1)                (0.1)
47 Nevada 4.8                (0.1)                (0.3)
48 New Mexico 5.1                (0.3)                (1.1)
49 West Virginia 5.4                    -                 0.4
50 Alaska 7.2                (0.1)                 0.1
Designates largest month-to-month decline
Designates largest year-over-year decline
T - indicates tie