Watch: Gov. Wolf discusses plan to support workers, improve wages and benefits

Western PA News

WJET/WFXP/ — Governor Wolf outlined his plan to improve worker pay, sick leave and protections for workers at a Friday news conference.

The governor visited Delaware County to outline his workforce plan to benefit workers across the state, including an executive order issued yesterday, and a call on the legislature to finally pass several bills that help working families.

“With our economy on the comeback, there are so many job openings that people can select the option that is best for their family. This has created a tremendous moment for workers,” said Gov. Wolf. “With Pennsylvanians’ renowned work ethic, this is an opportunity to improve jobs and workplaces. My workforce plan will create safer workplaces, guarantee paid leave, and promote higher wages for workers.”

A record 4.3 million people in the U.S. voluntarily left their jobs in August.

Joining the governor for a news conference in Nether Providence Township to discuss the plan were Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier, Sen. John Kane, Rep. Leanne Krueger and other legislators and workers.

“It is way past time for the Pennsylvania Legislature to take action on bills that will support working families,” said Rep. Krueger. “My colleagues and I are ready to vote today to advance commonsense bills to protect workers and support the critical infrastructure that working families rely on – things like childcare support, paid family leave, public-sector OSHA and so much more.”

Safer Workplaces

  • The governor is directing L&I and the Office of Administration to study the feasibility of implementing Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards in offices under the governor’s jurisdiction.
  • State agencies will also ensure those receiving state grants and contracts protect their employees by following labor laws and understand the consequences of not complying.
  • The governor is also calling on the legislature to extend OSHA safety rules to all public employees.
  • S.B. 310, sponsored by Sen. Tina Tartaglione, and H.B. 1976, sponsored by Rep. Pat Harkins, would ensure public employees know their safety is a priority.

Paid Sick Leave

  • The governor is directing DCED to verify a business receiving an offer of assistance provides its workers paid sick leave and pays no less than the minimum wage for state employees before making a financial incentive offer.
  • The $13.50 minimum wage for state employees and contractors will reach $15 on July 1, 2024, under an executive order the governor signed in 2018.
  • The governor is also urging the legislature to pass S.B. 13, sponsored by Sen. Vince Hughes, and H.B. 1035, sponsored by Rep. Mike Zabel, which would provide paid sick leave to workers in Pennsylvania.
  • An estimated 400,000 Pennsylvania workers lack paid sick leave
  • Providing paid sick leave would improve public health and prevent more people from getting sick, a protection that is beneficial to both workers and their employers.

Increase Worker Pay

  • Pennsylvania’s current minimum wage remains at $7.25
  • Since the last time the minimum wage was increased, its purchasing power has dropped by nearly 17 percent, and the minimum wage has lost nearly 31 percent of its value compared to 50 years ago.
  • In addition to executive action on minimum pay for businesses receiving DCED offers, the governor called on the General Assembly to pass S.B. 12, sponsored by Sen. Tina Tartaglione, or H.B. 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 a path to $15, including red states, and President ​Joe Biden is raising the federal minimum wage for contractors to $15. Overall, 29 other states, including every state that borders Pennsylvania, has a higher minimum wage.
  • The governor directed L&I to pursue regulatory changes so workers are fairly paid for their work time spent on activities such as security screenings and putting on equipment required for their job.
  • L&I is also pursuing regulations so workers whose wages depend on tips receive the full amount of their tips and that there is better clarity around tipping processes and definitions.  

Other Worker-Supporting Actions

  • L&I will make publicly available a list of bad actors that violate labor laws, misclassify their workers, owe unemployment compensation back taxes or fail to carry requisite workers’ compensation insurance.

Help for Out-of-Work Pennsylvanians

  • Governor Wolf is also urging the General Assembly to take action to help out-of-work Pennsylvanians, many of whom face hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The governor also supports Rep. Gerald Mullery’s HB 549, which streamlines the process for eligible Pennsylvanians to receive unemployment benefits.

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