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Labor Report

Happy Thanksgiving from Senator Tartaglione!

Thanksgiving is a time to ponder and celebrate our families, our friends, and all our blessings. This year, with its extraordinary circumstances, we may not be able to gather with our loved ones as we normally would. Yet, we can best express our affection for each another by exercising discretion in our holiday festivities and ensuring that we will be able to reunite in the very near future.

– Senator Tartaglione

Union-Made in America Thanksgiving

Each Thanksgiving, the AFL-CIO shares a shopping list of holiday-themed goods produced, packaged, and distributed by union labor:

“When you buy union, you’re supporting good jobs in American communities, jobs that provide living wages and benefits, safe working conditions, and dignity and respect for work. Look for these quality products, produced by union members, when preparing for your Thanksgiving feast.”

“The following list comes to us from Union Label and the products are made by the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers; the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers; the Machinists; UNITE HERE; the United Food and Commercial Workers; the United Steel Workers; the United Farm Workers; and the Teamsters.”

Set the table: Anchor Hocking, Bennington Potters, Clauss knives, CorningWare, Cutco knives, Fiestaware, Homer Laughlin china, Libbey glassware, and Pyrex.
Fresh whole turkey: Butterball, Foster Farms.
Ham: Appleton Farms, Butterball, Cook’s, Farmland, Hormel, Tyson.
Stuffing: Manischewitz, Stroehmann.
Vegetables: Andy Boy, Birds Eye, Eurofresh, Mann’s, Muranaka Farm.
Cranberries/sauce: Dole, Ocean Spray.
Potatoes: Betty Crocker, Dole, Mann’s.
Bread: Aunt Millie’s, Pillsbury, Stroehmann.
Pie: Banquet, Entenmann’s, Marie Callender’s, Pillsbury, Sara Lee.
Pie filling: Del Monte, Food Club, Kroger.

To find more union-made in America products, visit Union Label and Services Trades Department.

Biden-Harris Host Union Leaders, Corporate CEOs for Virtual Sit-Down on COVID Recovery

In a November 16th Tweet and in an address from his Wilmington, Delaware, headquarters, President-Elect Joe Biden reaffirmed his support for a $15 minimum wage.

Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris spoke that afternoon in a video news conference after meeting with some of the nation’s top labor and business leaders. The list of attendees included the heads of General Motors, Target, Microsoft, and The Gap; as well as the leaders of the United Auto Workers, Service Employees International Union, United Food and Commercial Workers, AFSCME, and AFL-CIO.

Biden later said he told the chief executives, “I want you to know I’m a union guy. That’s not anti-business. Unions are going the have increased power.” The president-elect then initiated a conversation about how to deal with COVID-19 and map out a recovery that protects the safety of workers and small businesses.

Biden indicated the long-sought nationwide minimum wage increase is still high on his agenda despite the economic challenges brought by the pandemic.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka took the opportunity to advocate for heightened production of personal protective equipment, more investment in workplace safety modifications, and better tracking of COVID-19 cases to prevent larger outbreaks. He also criticized the Trump administration’s handling of worker safety issues.

“OSHA has been totally absent during the pandemic, and workers across industries have been left to fend for ourselves,” Trumka said. “One of the best ways OSHA can reestablish its mission is through an emergency temporary standard to protect workers from COVID-19. We’ve petitioned for it. We’ve sued for it.”

Work Stoppage at Bucks Hospital Continues After Philly, DelCo Nurses Win New Contracts

Citing the need for improved staffing levels amid a growing pandemic, about 800 registered nurses at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Bucks County walked off the job for two days, November 17th & 18th, and have been locked out by their employer since then as temporary replacement nurses remained on duty.

The St. Mary’s nurses are one of two Philadelphia-area locals of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP) who are in the midst of contract negotiations with their employers. Nurses with St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Juniata Park have authorized a strike, but union leaders have not notified the employers of an imminent work stoppage.

About 1,100 nurses with Einstein Medical Center in North Philadelphia voted to ratify a new contract on November 19th and about 260 nurses at a fourth area hospital, Mercy Fitzgerald in Delaware County, also ratified a new contract earlier this month. Both bargaining units are also affiliated with PASNAP.

In a public statement, Einstein said, “The bargaining committees have worked hard to reach a fair, competitive contract for the nurses and the organization. We believe the new agreement also will allow us to continue delivering the high-quality care our community expects from Einstein.”

Negotiations at all four hospitals have occurred as the COVID-19 pandemic has placed higher demand on medical services and nurse-to-patient ratios.

“Nurses say they have always dealt with staffing shortages, but the problems have gotten worse under COVID,” the Inquirer reported.

St. Mary’s nurses voted last year to unionize for the first time and were negotiating their first contract when the pandemic began.

Michigan-based Trinity Health owns St. Mary’s, a 371-bed facility that the Inquirer described as the second-most profitable acute-care hospital in Southeastern Pennsylvania with an average annual profit of $58 million over the last three years. Trinity owns five hospitals in the Philadelphia area and more than 90 in 22 states, including Mercy Fitzgerald.

On November 19th, the first day of the lockout portion of the work stoppage, the Courier Times reported that no new talks had been scheduled at St. Mary’s. Citing information provided by the union, the newspaper reported that 243 nurses have left St. Mary’s in the last two years resulting in a 30% turnover rate.

The St. Mary’s nurses are also seeking pay increases commensurate with what their counterparts at other Trinity hospitals in the region are making.

The new Mercy Fitzgerald contract includes wage increases of 13% over four years and provisions to ensure safe nurse-patient ratios, even during periods of heightened patient population, according to the Daily Times.

Millions of Americans Facing Loss of Jobless Benefits in 2021

An estimated 12 million displaced American workers are expected to lose their primary financial lifeline when pandemic benefits programs created in the federal CARES Act expire on December 26th, according to a new report by The Century Foundation.

In the absence of Congressional action, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs are due to end.

“This cutoff threatens to pull the rug out from under an economy that has already seen millions of workers lose their state unemployment benefits this fall,” the Foundation reported. “Most workers began collecting state unemployment benefits in March or April, and since these benefits typically max out at 26 weeks, these workers’ benefits are already coming to an end.”

According to the Foundation, 3 million American workers ran out of jobless benefits in September and more than 4 million likely ran out of benefits in October, although official tallies for the month were pending as of November 18th. Those figures aren’t included in the 12 million people who are still collecting benefits but would lose them be year’s end.

Earlier this month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that long-term unemployment surged in October with the share of all jobless workers who were out of work for 26 weeks or more increasing from 19.1% to 32.5%.

Under the status quo, about 7.3 million workers will lose their PUA benefits on December 26th and 945,000 will run out of benefit weeks before then. About 4.6 million workers will lose their PEUC benefits on December 26th, even though many would still have eligibility weeks remaining were the program to remain in effect beyond that date.

By the Foundation’s estimate, only 2.9 million of those who are due to lose PEUC benefits will be able to collect Extended Benefits (EB) in 2021, “but states will have to pick up half of the cost at a time when their trust funds are depleted.” reported that other federal pandemic-related relief programs will also expire by New Year’s Day, including frozen student-loan payments, mortgage forbearance, protection from eviction, and Federal Reserve lending programs for small businesses and local governments.

“Some COVID-19 assistance could potentially be attached to a spending bill needed to avoid a federal government shutdown, but with Congress deadlocked and a White House transition looming, the outlook for another stimulus package this year is bleak,” the news agency reported.

October 2020 PA Jobs Update

Pennsylvania’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell for a sixth consecutive month in October 2020, dropping to 7.3%, falling 1.0% over the month. The national rate in October 2020 stood at 6.9%. PA’s rate in October was down 8.8% from its record high in the seasonally adjusted series of 16.1% in April 2020 (dating back to 1976). As a result, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate as of October had recovered roughly 77% of the increase seen between February and April (11.4% difference from 4.7% in February to 16.1% in April).

This and the other changes to data noted in this update reflect the evolution of Pennsylvania’s employment situation through the coronavirus pandemic (please see the **footnote below). Over the month, unemployment rolls fell by 71,791 individuals, lowering total unemployment to 464,549. Since hitting a series record high of 1,037,087 in April (with growth of 728,059 between Feb. and April), total unemployment has declined by 572,538. However, it should be noted that estimates for most states in the household survey (measuring unemployment and employment; see *footnote below) were again affected by misclassification from respondents in October 2020 (i.e. workers who should have been classified as unemployed were classified as temporary layoffs).

As of October 2020, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate stood 2.6% higher than its level of 4.7% in February 2020, with total unemployment standing 155,521 above its total of 309,028 individuals in February 2020. For context, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate had declined 0.7% over both of Governor Wolf’s terms as of February 2020, with total unemployment down by 35,408. State unemployment statistics for the month are as follows:

  • Total Unemployment – 464,549

  • Change Over Month –     DOWN   71,791

  • Change Over 8 Months –    UP    155,521

  • Change Over Year –     UP   161,153

  • Change Over Gov. Wolf to Date –    UP    120,113

  • Rate Change Over Month –    DOWN    1.0%

  • Rate Change Over 8 Months –    UP    2.6%

  • Rate Change Over Year –    UP    2.7%

  • Rate Change Over Gov. Wolf to Date –    UP    1.9%

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 number of employed individuals combined with the number of unemployed individuals actively searching for work. Labor force growth can be a sign of a strengthening economy from more people working and/or more individuals searching for jobs. Following a rebound in September, PA’s labor force fell in October 2020 by 75,207, a combination of total employment* declining by 3,416 and unemployment down by 71,791 as noted above. The decrease lowered PA’s total labor force to 6,363,704, which is still above its coronavirus pandemic low of 6,312,511 in August.

As of October 2020, PA’s labor force was down by 194,715 individuals (unemployment              +155,521 & employment -350,236) from its record high of 6,558,419 in February 2020 in the seasonally adjusted series (dating back to 1976). For context, PA’s labor force had grown by 159,267 individuals (unemployment -35,408 & employment +194,675) over both of Governor Wolf’s terms as of February 2020. State labor force statistics for the month are as follows: 

  • Total Labor Force – 6,363,704

  • Change Over Month –    DOWN    75,207

  • Change Over 8 Months –    DOWN    194,715

  • Change Over Year –     DOWN   175,424

  • Change Over Gov. Wolf to Date –    DOWN    35,448

PA Non-farm* job rolls rebounded for a sixth consecutive month, albeit at a declining pace that has been seen in recent months, with growth of 18,800 in October 2020, raising total non-farm employment to 5,622,100. Over the last six months, non-farm employment has grown by 629,000, recovering 56% of the loss of 1,116,500 experienced over March and April 2020 combined (bringing non-farm employment in April 2020 to 4,993,100, its lowest level on record in the seasonally adjusted series – dates back to 1990). As of October 2020, non-farm job rolls were down by 487,500 from a record high of 6,109,600 in February 2020 (please see the attached spreadsheet for comparison to other states for change in non-farm employment from Feb. 2020 – Oct. 2020). For context, non-farm employment had grown by 295,700 over both of Governor Wolf’s terms as of February 2020. State non-farm employment statistics for the month are as follows: 

  • Total Non-Farm Employment – 5,622,100

  • Change Over Month – UP    18,800

  • Change Over 8 Months –    DOWN    487,500

  • Change Over Year –    DOWN    455,900

  • Change Over Gov. Wolf to Date –    DOWN     191,800

* Total employment for labor force provided by U.S. Census Household survey. The separate BLS Establishment survey measures non-farm jobs only.
** Survey periods for data are as of the middle of the month, meaning changes occurring beyond this time are not captured for the month.