Gov. Wolf in Scranton Calls on the Legislature to Improve Worker Pay and Paid Sick Leave, Protect Employees
December 16, 2021
Governor Tom Wolf continues to fight for workers to have dignity and respect in the workplace with jobs that lift people out of poverty and expand the middle class. Today, the governor visited Scranton to outline his plan to help workers and tell the legislature it’s time to finally pass legislation that support fair wages, paid sick leave, safe worker places and quality jobs.
“Too many workers aren’t being paid a living wage, aren’t getting paid time off, and aren’t being kept safe in the workplace,” said Gov. Wolf. “There was a shortage of quality jobs before the pandemic and the large number of job openings reminds all of us that we need better jobs. “It’s time for us to look ahead and imagine the future of work. That’s exactly what my plan does by creating safer workplaces, guaranteeing paid leave and promoting higher wages for workers.”
The governor is traveling across the state to tell workers about his plan, which includes an executive order he signed in October and calling on the General Assembly to pass real solutions for Pennsylvania’s working families.
Today, the governor was joined by state Sen. Marty Flynn and workers for a press conference at the Lackawanna County Courthouse by the monument for legendary labor leader legendary John Mitchell.
“It was great to see Governor Wolf take this important, necessary action to protect the people of Pennsylvania,” said Sen. Flynn. “With the workers protection agenda, we’re fighting to make sure workers are given the respect they deserve. Higher wages, paid sick leave, safer workplaces – this workers protection agenda zeroes in on the issues that people face every day and improves the lives of the people who make this state what it is.”
Paid Sick Leave
The governor’s executive order directs the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to verify businesses receiving future offers of assistance through the Governor’s Action Team provide their workers paid sick leave and pay no less than the minimum wage for state employees. The minimum wage for state employees and contractors is $13.50, and will reaches $15 on July 1, 2024, under an executive order the governor signed in 2018.
The governor supports Sen. Vince Hughes’ S.B. 13 and Rep. Mike Zabel’s H.B. 1035, to extend paid sick leave to an estimated 400,000 workers in Pennsylvania.
Increase Worker Pay
The governor has proposed a commonsense minimum wage increase for seven years, but the legislature has failed to act, leaving Pennsylvania behind all our neighboring states with a wage floor of only $7.25.
The governor is again urging the General Assembly to finally 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, have a higher minimum wage.
The governor’s executive order also directs the Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) to pursue regulatory changes so people are fairly paid for their work time spent on security screenings, putting on required equipment and other activities. 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.
Every worker deserves a safe and healthy workplace. The governor’s executive order directs L&I and the Office of Administration to study the feasibility of having Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards apply to offices under the governor’s jurisdiction. State agencies will also ensure those receiving state grants and contracts follow labor laws and understand the consequences of not complying.
Beyond his executive authority, the governor is urging passage of Sen. Tina Tartaglione’s S.B. 310 and Rep. Pat Harkins’ H.B. 1976 to extend OSHA safety rules to all public employees – safeguards the nation’s private sector and federal employees have received for 50 years.
Other Worker-Supporting Actions
L&I will post online 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.
While the governor is using his executive authority to help workers, many bills to protect and invest in workers are languishing in the General Assembly. Republican legislative leaders should immediately take action to pass equal pay for women, family and medical leave, help for seasonal farm workers, fair hiring practices and to stop misclassification of workers.
Help for Out-of-Work Pennsylvanians
To help out-of-work Pennsylvanians, the Wolf administration supports Rep. Gerald Mullery’s HB 549, which streamlines the process for eligible Pennsylvanians to receive unemployment benefits.