Governor Wolf to Congress: “Workflex” Bill Hurts Pennsylvania Workers

July 24, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today sent a letter to the Pennsylvania congressional members of the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Workforce committee sharing his concerns that the “Workflex in the 21st Century” Act, or HR 4219, benefits large corporations at the expense of hardworking Pennsylvania families by limiting benefits for employees.

“For too long, Pennsylvania’s workers have been held back by outdated policies that continue to place a burden on individuals and families,” Governor Wolf wrote. “My administration has taken steps to strengthen our middle class by raising the minimum wage for state workers to $12 an hour, calling for an increased minimum wage for all Pennsylvania workers, modernizing our overtime regulations, addressing the gender pay gap, and calling for guaranteed earned sick leave.

“If HR 4219 were to become law, corporations would be able to undo any progress made on the state and local level to protect our workers and families.

“Congress should not allow corporations to decide if they are going to follow state and local laws or impede the freedom of state and local governments to protect workers in their communities.”

The full content of the letter can be read below, as a PDF, or on Scribd.

Letter to PA congressional members of the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Workforce committee

Representative Lloyd Smucker
516 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative Smucker:

I write today to share my concerns regarding HR 4219, the Workflex in the 21st Century
Act. Despite the title of this bill, this legislation would not strengthen worker flexibility, but instead
benefit large corporations at the expense of hard-working Pennsylvania families.

For too long, Pennsylvania’s workers have been held back by outdated policies that
continue to place a burden on individuals and families. My administration has taken steps to
strengthen our middle class by raising the minimum wage for state workers to $12 an hour, calling
for an increased minimum wage for all Pennsylvania workers , modernizing our overtime
regulations, addressing the gender pay gap, and calling for guaranteed earned sick leave. If HR
4219 were to become law, corporations would be able to undo any progress made on the state and
local level to protect our workers and families.

HR 4219 would allow corporations, not the employee, to decide when a worker can use
their time off to care for themselves or a loved one. It would allow employers to ignore any s tate
or local laws giving workers paid leave and eliminate retaliation protection for workers who use
their time. Access to paid sick leave improves the performance and well-being of employees as
well as improving overall public health. Giving sick workers the occasional option of staying at
home to receive care will decrease their recovery time and reduce the likelihood of spreading
illness. In states and municipalities that have enacted sick leave policies , there has been a positive
impact for employers by guaranteeing they remain competitive for dedicated employees and in the
local economy.

This bill would also allow employers to avoid paying overtime to a worker who works
more than 40 hours a week. In this bill, corporations can avoid paying overtime pay by having a
worker work more than 40 hours in one week and then cutting their hours the next week, as long
as they stay under 80 hours between the two weeks. This is not flexibility for a worker. It is
flexibility for the employer, and it will continue to shortchange individuals and families.

This bill is a benefits package for large corporations disguised as an attempt to provide
flexibility for workers. Pennsylvania workers should decide when they use the leave they have
earned and should be paid overtime wages when they work more than 40 hours a week. Congress
should not allow corporations to decide if they are going to follow state and local laws or impede
the freedom of state and local governments to protect workers in their communities.

Thank you for the opportunity to weigh in on this important topic. My administration is
happy to discuss what we can do grow and strengthen Pennsylvania’s middle class.

Sincerely,
TOM WOLF
Governor

Letter to Representative Lloyd Smucker by Governor Tom Wolf on Scribd

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