Subscribe to E-Update here.  
Labor Report

A Holiday Greeting from Senator Tartaglione

As we take a break from our hectic daily lives this festive season, I ask that you join me in reflecting on all the blessings we enjoy throughout the year. Life presents us with many difficult challenges, but we can overcome them with the support and love of our families, our friends, and our steadfast coworkers. So, with the 2020 calendar soon to expire and with many new challenges awaiting us in 2021, I wish you all Happy Holidays!

-- Senator Tartaglione

Look for These Union-Friendly Brands When Doing Your Last-Minute Holiday Shopping

The Holiday Season can be a frantic time for all of us as we rush from place to place, ensuring that we have fulfilled the gift requests for our loved ones, as we plan our special meals, and as we coordinate our visits with relatives and friends. Even in 2020, the year of COVID-19, most folks have a lot on their to-do lists and very little time to get things done.

Mindful of the demands that strain our schedules, Labor411 has compiled a labor-friendly Last-Minute Holiday Gifts list to ease the late shopping surge and to help us show our affections for all the important people in our lives.

In addition to delighting the recipients, the following gift ideas have the extra benefits of being made by companies that treat their employees well and are responsive to the voice that workers have on the job.

Fun & Games: Hasbro Toys, Tonka toys, Monopoly, Sorry, Risk, Pictionary, Scrabble, Battleship, Candy Land, Clue, Operation.

Fashion: Timex watches, Bosca leather goods, Majestic athletic apparel, Carolina boots, Naturalizer shoes, Pendleton Woolen Mills, All-American Clothing, Brooks Brothers, Nunn Bush shoes.

Beauty & Personal Care: L’Oreal Paris, Revlon, Old Spice.

Functional: Black & Decker tools, Craftsman tools, Union Boot Pro, Weber grills, Rubbermaid.

Sweets: Ghirardelli, Jelly Belly, Russell Stover, See’s Candies.

Spirits: Bacardi, Jack Daniel’s, Jim Beam.

Sports & Fitness: Nordic Trak, Wilson Sporting Goods, Louisville Slugger.

Labor411 offers a much larger online directory of union-made products and services, listed alphabetically.

Senator Tartaglione Applauds Governor’s Proposal to Make $145 Million Available for Small Business Relief

Senator Tartaglione applauded a December 23rd announcement by Governor Tom Wolf of his intent to transfer $145 million from the state’s Workers’ Compensation Security Fund into the General Fund so that they may be reallocated for pandemic-related small business relief. Senator Tartaglione also urged her General Assembly colleagues to grant the legislative authorization required to appropriate the funds as grants to small businesses adversely affected by the pandemic.

“I have said throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that we must strive to protect the financial health of workers and their families in addition to their physical health,” Senator Tartaglione said. “The preservation of small businesses such as restaurants and taverns, gyms, and independent entertainment venues, which employed some 2.5 million Pennsylvanians prior to the pandemic, is vital to protecting these jobs.”

In addition to the legislative authorization requirement, the transfer carries a requirement that the Workers’ Compensation Security Fund be reimbursed the full $145 million on a later date. Since the start of the pandemic (March 11th), the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry has received 12,926 new workers’ compensation claims. In 2019, the Department reported 10,071 total claim petitions.

The Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus prioritized a new round of pandemic relief funding for small businesses in their initial PA CARES proposal issued in October, which included $575 million in assistance for bars, taverns, and restaurants; barbers, salons, and the personal care industry; tourism; Main Street and historically disadvantaged businesses; and nonprofit organizations. The Republican-led General Assembly took no action on this proposal and instead used $1.3 billion in remaining federal CARES Act funding to balance the state budget.

Earlier this month, Senate Democrats introduced a new $4 billion PA CARES 21 plan, which includes $800 million in relief for small businesses, with $300 million exclusively for restaurants, taverns, and others in the hospitality industry.

“These businesses are taking on massive debts just to keep their lights on and keep enough staff in place to prepare for the day when they can start rebuilding their businesses again,” Senator Tartaglione said. “They are doing everything they can to improve health protections for patrons and staff. We have an obligation to make them whole.”

For more information about the PA CARES 21 proposal, visit

White House Threatens to Veto Long-Awaited Congressional Pandemic Relief Package

Unemployed workers are in desperate need of new federal pandemic relief. Small businesses are in dire straits too.

Families who are struggling to pay their bills need mortgage and rent relief, and help with grocery bills, utility bills, and student loan payments, not to mention the debts they accrue in trying to provide some level of holiday normalcy for their children.

Yet, with long-awaited, bipartisan pandemic relief legislation having been adopted by Congress, the U.S. president threatened to veto the spending bill in a December 22nd tweet. In addition to COVID relief, the bill also includes unrelated spending approvals.

In a 4-minute video, the president used most of his time to criticize non-pandemic-related spending provisions in the bill. The legislation is an omnibus bill that renews spending on foreign assistance, environmental programs, cultural programs, and other initiatives.

He also criticized the level of direct stimulus payments to the American people, $600 for each adult making up to $75,000 per year and each child under age 17. The latest version of the bill was negotiated by representatives for all four Caucuses in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, as well as the administration’s representatives

“It’s unclear how serious the president’s threat is or whether he would actually veto the legislation negotiated and agreed to by his own administration,” CBS News reported. “After weeks of deliberation and negotiations, the House and then the Senate passed the relief legislation and funding for the government overnight (December 21st), and most of Congress has already gone home for Christmas.”

NPR reported that both chambers of Congress adopted the relief legislation by veto-proof margins. However, a veto would require members to conduct a veto override vote that would delay the delivery of relief to Americans.

The president demanded that individual stimulus payments be increased to $2,000 each, to which “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi swiftly tweeted ‘let’s do it,’” CBS News reported, adding that Republicans had “repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted in part, “we’re glad to pass more aid [that] Americans need.”

The bill has a total of about $900 billion of pandemic relief, far short of the $3 trillion stimulus package known as the HEROES Act that the Democratic-led U.S. House adopted in May, but has not been acted upon by the Republican-led U.S. Senate. The HEROES Act included an additional $1,200 stimulus payment per individual.

The current legislation that the president has threatened to veto also would extend the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for displaced workers who were self-employed or classified as independent contractors, as well as the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program for those who have exhausted their state unemployment benefits. Both of those programs are scheduled to end on December 26th.

The legislation would renew the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, albeit at a reduced rate from the $600 per week level that was in effect from April 4th through July 25th. That is, under the current legislation individuals collecting either traditional unemployment benefits or PUA would be eligible for an additional payment of $300 per week for up to 10 weeks.

The current relief legislation would provide small businesses with $284 billion in forgivable loans from the Paycheck Protection Program and would expand PPP eligibility to nonprofits and news organizations, as well as $15 billion in assistance for live venues, independent theaters, and cultural institutions. It would provide an additional $12 billion for “very small businesses” and “minority depository institutions.”

CBS News cautioned, “it also includes … the ‘three-martini lunch’ tax deduction, which allows for tax breaks for corporate meal expenses. It may not offer the immediate relief to restaurants as intended.”

The bill would extend the federal eviction moratorium until January 31st, which the incoming Biden administration may further extend, while providing $25 billion in emergency assistance to renters, and $800 million to Native American communities.
It would provide $20 billion for procurement of vaccines and $9 billion for vaccine distribution, as well as $22 billion to states for testing, contact tracing, and mitigation programs.

The legislation would provide $82 billion to K-12 schools and colleges, $13 billion to raise SNAP benefits, $13 billion in payments and loans to farmers and ranchers, $10 billion for the childcare sector, $7 billion for public broadband access, and $45 billion for transportation.

PA Senate Democrats Release Op-Ed Correcting the Record on Pandemic Housing Relief Efforts

Pennsylvania Senate Democrats seek to correct the record regarding the failure of the General Assembly to address housing insecurity due to COVID 19.

Recent press coverage has outlined that $108 million of $175 million intended for a rental and mortgage assistance program was diverted instead to the Department of Corrections. This was not the choice of Senate Democrats, who instead sought to correct the assistance program and get it to those Pennsylvanians on the cusp of losing their homes.

With Pennsylvania’s allocation of federal CARES funds, programs were funded or created to help residents who had suffered a change in their economic situation because of the pandemic ravaging the nation and world. One of those programs was a housing assistance plan that would provide relief to homeowners and renters.

Unfortunately, there were problems with the execution of this program – but instead of accepting its failure, Senate Democrats immediately convened meetings with stakeholders: advocacy organizations, landlords, renters, homeowners, financial institutions, and the PA Housing and Financing Agency. In September, Senator Katie Muth (D-Chester) chaired a hearing of the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee where testifiers laid out the problems and told heart breaking stories of what would happen without state intervention.

Together with input from all of the relevant parties, Senator Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia) introduced Senate Bill 1290, a piece of legislation that would have corrected the problems with the program and allowed the full $175 million to flow to the people who desperately need it.

A companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives and they passed it, but Senate Republicans did not consider either bill and let the hope for housing security die in our chamber – despite regular calls from Senate Democrats during session, committee hearings and publicly to address the problem.

Later in the fall, the Republicans refused to convene hearings of the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee to avoid moving the House version of the bill to fix the housing assistance program.

In August, Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, Jr. and Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) sent a letter to the Republican leadership in the Senate asking them to move Senator Haywood’s legislation or its companion House bill before hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians are made homeless.

In October, Senator Costa held a press conference with Governor Tom Wolf and PHFA calling for the legislature to act immediately to prevent a housing crisis. Still, not only did Republicans fail to move legislation that would have corrected the relief program funded by CARES, they also failed to advance any bill that would have extended a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures.

In April, Senator Hughes introduced Senate Bill 1132 which would extend the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures to 60 days past the COVID emergency declaration. The Senate Republicans referred the bill to the Judiciary Committee, and never looked at it again.

Back in May, Senator Hughes tried again to extend the moratorium by amending the content of his SB 1132 into Senate Bill 976, as amendment A05557. It failed along party lines with every single Senate Republican voting against housing security.

Thousands upon thousands of Pennsylvanians have lost their jobs because of this virus. The virus has not slowed down, nor have the bills arriving in households across the state. We cannot continue to leave residents on their own to fight this; it’s inhumane. It’s the state’s role to help, and so far we have been stymied by the majority party in the General Assembly.

Senate Democrats recognized this looming problem from the very beginning of this crisis, and there was time to act.

There was the will in the Senate Democratic caucus to fix this; we had the money from the federal government to fix it; we had the time and the session days to pass thoughtful legislation, but the Republicans had other priorities. They chose to push veto override votes, to question the results of our secure and decisive election, and push ‘re-open’ bills instead of simply providing the aid that their constituents and small business owners were begging for.

It’s a shameful display of warped priorities from Republicans, but the Senate Democrats will continue to fight for the needs of Pennsylvanians. People over politics.