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Labor Report

Tartaglione Joins Organized Labor to Condemn Contractor Tax Fraud

Senator Tartaglione joined Attorney General Josh Shapiro, other Pennsylvania lawmakers, and dozens of union carpenters in the Capitol Rotunda on April 15, Tax Day, for a rally to raise awareness about the ongoing problem of tax fraud within the construction industry.

The rally was one of many organized by the Keystone Mountain Lakes Regional Council of Carpenters in cities throughout the region, including Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Senator Tartaglione reported that investigators from the PA Department of Labor and Industry discovered more than 22,000 undocumented or “under the table” workers who were paid over $371 million in the Commonwealth last year. Hundreds of employers attempted to mis-classify workers to avoid paying employment taxes, workers compensation premiums, and unemployment premiums.

“Business practices like that not only exploit vulnerable workers, they shortchange all taxpayers,” Senator Tartaglione said. “These employers tried to line their own pockets at the expense of our schools, our public safety, our transportation infrastructure, and many other state-supported essential services.”

Pennsylvania’s Act 72, the Construction Workplace Misclassification Act, was adopted in 2011 to establish a strict definition of “independent contract” for purposes of workers’ compensation, unemployment compensation, and worker classification.

Visit for video of the senator’s remarks.


Schuylkill County Presents Transition Fair for Young People with Disabilities

Helping young people with disabilities transition from high school into higher education and employment was the focus of a fair hosted by Schuylkill Intermediate Unit 29 and the Schuylkill County Transition Council this month at Shenandoah Valley High School.

About 150 students from 14 area high schools took part, according to the Standard-Speaker, along with parents, educators, and school administrators who are involved in helping teens and young adults with disabilities plan for the future. The fair also featured dozens of vendors focused on enhancing accessibility, as well as those who provide post-secondary education, vocational training, career services, and financial services to people with or without disabilities.

Attending students ranged in age from 13 to 21 and will be facing many questions in the coming months and years, such as “where am I going to work, where do I want to go to school, where can I get on-the-job training, (and) what kind of supports are available for me as an adult with a disability,” said one of the event’s organizers, Doreen Milot of IU 29.

Participants learned how to advocate for themselves, understand their rights, and “ask for accommodations that will enable them to become successful in the workplace,” the newspaper reported. They also learned about a positive work ethic and attitude, as well as the growing role of social media in their search for a good job.

31,000 Stop & Shop Employees Gaining Support as Strike Enters Second Week

A strike involving more than 31,000 employees for New England’s largest grocery store chain entered its second week as the workers continue to protest their employer’s proposal to cut wages and benefits in a new labor contract.

Workers for Quincy, Mass., based Stop & Shop are represented by five locals of United Food and Commercial Workers. Members walked off the job on April 11 and held a rally on April 18, hosted by Local 1445.

“The work stoppage comes after nearly three months of negotiations between the company and UFCW leaders failed to produce an agreement on a new work contract,” reported. “Stop & Shop’s contract with the union officially expired on Feb. 23, and the two sides have remained divided over wage levels, take-home pay, and retirement benefits.”

The union also cites proposed cuts in members’ healthcare benefits as a primary issue.

The grocery store chain has more than 250 locations in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. reported that the workforce is “fully unionized” according to the company.

Numerous locations closed in the immediate aftermath of the strike as the company scrambled to find replacement workers. Several Boston-area stores subsequently reopened.

In a March 15 letter to the company, Teamsters Local 25 pledged to support a strike by UFCW members. UPS drivers are also honoring the strike, according to Local 1445, which has also received public pledges of support from the governor of Connecticut, the Massachusetts state treasurer, the entire Massachusetts delegation of the U.S. House, and two 2020 presidential candidates.

D.C. Uber Drivers Remain in the Dark About How Much They Really Make

Researchers from Georgetown University interviewed 40 Washington, D.C., area Uber drivers and found that all 40 said they “experienced difficulties with, or barriers to, calculating their actual compensation,” according to a new report released by the university’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor.

The 21-page document also reported that regulators and researchers do not have access to basic information about labor conditions among the Uber workforce, that one-third of drivers took on debt as a result of their work, and 30 percent reported experiencing physical assaults or safety concerns on the job. Even so, half of drivers said they would recommend the job to a friend, and 45 percent said they planned to continue driving for Uber.

“The labor challenges that this new industry presents have gone relatively unnoticed, especially in Washington, D.C.,” the authors wrote.

“This report builds upon previous studies about how, if at all, digital technologies affect working conditions and adhere to current labor standards.”

In a section of the report titled “A Slippery Wage,” the authors highlighted how unfamiliar drivers generally were with the “complex and difficult-to-track set of earnings and expenses” that Uber uses to determine payouts to drivers.

“When we asked a 53-year-old Uber driver named Suzanna about her weekly pay, she said, ‘It’s really hard to talk about that because it changes every time they change the rules,’” the authors wrote.

Since it began operating in Washington in 2011, Uber has reduced its base rate for drivers several times, added a “rider safety fee,” increased the fee and renamed it a “booking fee,” and raised commissions it takes from new drivers, the report stated.

Pitt Graduate Students Hold Unionization Election

Voting among nearly 2,000 student workers at the University of Pittsburgh was conducted this week to determine if their new collective bargaining unit will be represented by the locally based United Steelworkers.

Graduate assistants were allotted four days to cast ballots at two on-campus locations. Organizers of the unionization effort have said they seek fair wages and “due process,” according to the local NPR affiliate. The university administration has opposed the union.

The campaign began more than two years ago as organizers began collecting union card signatures from would-be members. They needed signatures from at least 30 percent of those who would be part of the unit. Last month, the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board approved their petition, paving the way for this week’s vote. The university had argued that graduate assistants are not employees and, therefore, not entitled to union representation.

“The PLRB decision, in effect, affirmed that the teaching assistants, teaching fellows, graduate assistants, and graduate student researchers are employees, entitled to seek union representation,” the Post-Gazette reported.

In a letter to students, Pitt’s vice provost for graduate studies wrote that voters should be concerned about the potential for conflicts of interest if they joined the United Steelworkers because Pitt faculty have also filed for approval to conduct a unionization election and have been working with the USW on their campaign.