Governor Wolf takes action to protect workers, calls on lawmakers to improve wages and paid sick leave

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Continuing his commitment to hard-working Pennsylvanians, Gov. Tom Wolf today unveiled his workers ‘agenda that will create safer workplaces, guarantee paid time off and increase workers’ wages, among other improvements focused on the workers. The governor signed a decree this morning and called on the General Assembly to finally pass legislation that supports workers.

“With the return of our economy, there are so many job openings that people can choose which option is best for their families. This is a critical time for workers in Pennsylvania, and it is time that we stop asking ourselves why there is a labor shortage and start asking ourselves how we can improve jobs, ”said the Governor Wolf. the opportunity to improve jobs in the state, which will attract and retain people who work hard to make a living here and bring new industries to the Commonwealth that want a talented, skilled and dedicated workforce.

“I am taking executive action and calling for legislative action to create safer workplaces, promote higher wages and ensure paid time off for workers. These three necessary changes will help workers and transform the nature of work in Pennsylvania. “

The governor was joined at a press conference in Pittsburgh by Secretary of the Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) Jennifer Berrier, Secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Dennis Davin, Democratic leader from the Senate Jay Costa, Representative Jessica Benham and other lawmakers, workers and union leaders.

“After COVID-19 has exposed our workforce to a new set of dangers, it is all the more important that we update worker protections statewide,” said the Senator Costa. “In so many industries, they were on the front lines of COVID exposure without the equipment they needed to keep them safe, or the time to heal themselves if they got sick, not to mention the time paid for them. ” take care of their sick relatives. I am here today in agreement with the Governor’s commitment to this issue so that our workforce can thrive here in the Commonwealth. “

“Over the past year and a half, we’ve seen how essential all workers are in PA: from manufacturing and the supply chain, to teachers, to grocery store workers,” the representative said. Benham. “And while these workers support us all, we must support them with legislation that increases the minimum wage, provides paid sick leave and provides protection for workers in the public and private sectors. “

Safer workplaces

Every worker deserves a safe and healthy workplace that respects labor laws and protects the well-being of employees. The Governor directs L&I and the Office of Administration to investigate the feasibility of implementing Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards in offices under the governor’s jurisdiction. State agencies will also ensure that those who receive state grants and contracts protect their employees by following labor laws and understand the consequences of failing to comply.

The governor also calls on the legislature to extend OSHA’s safety rules to all public employees – safeguards that the private sector and federal employees across the country have enjoyed for 50 years. SB 310, sponsored by Senator Tina Tartaglione, and HB 1976, sponsored by Representative Pat Harkins, would assure public employees that their safety is a priority.

“We are in a national conversation about the value of work and the dignity of the individuals whose work drives our economy,” said Sec. Berrier. “Governor Wolf’s action today responds to this moment by focusing the needs of Pennsylvania workers so they can support their families and build communities where all work is valuable. Now is the time for meaningful action that supports workers and promotes economic prosperity. “

Sick leave with pay

Governor asks DCED to verify that a company receiving an offer of assistance offers its workers paid sick leave and pays no less than the minimum wage for state employees before making an incentive offer financial. The minimum wage of $ 13.50 for state employees and contractors will rise to $ 15 on July 1, 2024, under an executive order signed by the governor in 2018.

“This executive order provides the wages, benefits and protections workers deserve while giving businesses the edge they need to attract employees in today’s pandemic business landscape,” said Sec. Davin. “Investing only in companies that embody the core values ​​of the Pennsylvania economy, including paid sick leave and minimum wage requirements, means that we will also improve the well-being of our workforce and of our economy. “

The governor is also urging the legislature to pass SB 13, sponsored by Senator Vince Hughes, and HB 1035, sponsored by Representative Mike Zabel, which would provide paid sick leave to workers in Pennsylvania. An estimated 400,000 workers in Pennsylvania do not have paid sick leave, forcing them to work when they are ill, risking their health and that of those around them. Providing paid sick leave would improve public health and prevent more people from falling ill, protection that benefits both workers and their employers.

Increase workers’ wages

For seven years, Governor Wolf proposed an increase in the minimum wage that would increase the paychecks of many workers, create more customers for local businesses, and make the economy stronger for everyone. Despite strong public support, evidence that workers are keeping their jobs, and the opportunity to bolster financial stability for women and people of color, the Republican legislature has failed to act, leaving Pennsylvania behind all of our neighboring states with a minimum wage of only $ 7.25. Since the last minimum wage increase, its purchasing power has fallen by almost 17% and the minimum wage has lost almost 31% of its value compared to 50 years ago.

In addition to executive action on minimum wage for companies receiving offers from DCED, the governor called on the General Assembly to pass SB 12, sponsored by Senator Tina Tartaglione, or HB 345, sponsored by Rep. Patty Kim, to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $ 12 an hour with a path to $ 15 and remove local preemption.

Eight states are on track to hit $ 15, including the Red States, and President Joe Biden is raising the federal minimum wage for contractors to $ 15. Overall, 29 other states, including each border state of Pennsylvania, have higher minimum wages.

The governor ordered L&I to pursue regulatory changes so that workers are fairly compensated for their time spent on activities such as checking security and putting in place the necessary equipment for their jobs. L&I is also looking for regulations so that workers whose wages depend on tips receive the full amount of their tips and that the processes and definitions of tips are clearer.

Other actions to support workers

The governor also announced that L&I would make publicly available a list of bad actors who break labor laws, misclassify their workers, owe taxes on unemployment benefits, or do not purchase employee accident insurance. work required.

As the governor uses his executive authority to help workers, many bills to protect and invest in workers languish in the General Assembly. Republican legislative leaders should immediately take action to enact equal pay for women, family and medical leave, support for seasonal farm workers, fair hiring practices and end worker misclassification.

Help for unemployed Pennsylvanians

Governor Wolf is also urging the General Assembly to take action to help unemployed Pennsylvanians, many of whom are facing hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor supports Representative Gerald Mullery’s HB 549, which amends the Unemployment Compensation Act to streamline the process for qualifying Pennsylvania workers to access the benefits to which they are entitled. The bill also includes provisions to strengthen Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation safety net to ensure that benefits are available to workers during future periods of high unemployment and economic downturn.

To access photos and videos from today’s event, please visit PACast.

CONTACT WITH THE MEDIA: Lyndsay Kensinger – [email protected]

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