On Wednesday, April 26, the officers of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO with labor leaders and union members joined Representative Pat Harkins (D-1, Erie) to announce the reintroduction of House Bill 1082, the Jake Schwab Worker’s Safety Bill. PA AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale and Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder were on stage with Bill Dando, Legislative Director AFSCME Council 13, Gabe Morgan PA/DE State Director of SEIU 32 BJ, and Dolores McCracken Vice President of PSEA. President John Renwick and members of ATU Local 568 traveled across the state from Erie to Harrisburg for the event, to encourage support for the bill that is named for their fallen brother.
“Over the last 40 years of private sector OSHA, absenteeism has been reduced, workplace injuries and fatalities have lowered and productivity has increased. There is no difference between a public and a private sector worker in the job they do; the only difference is their employer. Public-sector workers have the right to the same safety and health standards as their private sector brothers and sisters,” stated Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale.
Rep. Pat Harkins authored the bill in response to the death of Erie resident and EMTA worker Jake Schwab in 2014. EMTA is a public transit authority, and therefore is exempt from OSHA regulations. Currently, public-sector workers are not afforded the safety rules and provisions under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which protect private sector workers. “The more people learn about this issue, the more people are shocked by it”, stated Rep. Harkins.
ATU Local 568 President John Renwick called on General Assembly members from both parties to put aside partisanship and pledge their support for the bill. “Let’s make this the time to do something,” he added.
Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder remarked, “OSHA safety regulations have greatly impacted the lives of my brothers and sisters in the private sector for the better. There are 8 million public sector workers nationwide, and more than 587,000 public sector workers in Pennsylvania. They have every right to be safe at work.”