As the Pennsylvania Budget discussions continue, labor unions and activists have packed the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg to remind legislators of the many issues facing working people outside of budget negotiations. On Tuesday, hundreds of Building Trades union apprentices gathered on the Capitol Rotunda steps on their Annual Apprentice Day. The Building Trades unions of Pennsylvania graduated nearly ten thousand apprentices last year alone.
This year’s Apprenticeship Day was attended by labor leaders from across the Commonwealth and legislators. Senators and Representatives from both political parties addressed the crowd and touted the expertise of the building trades unions and their important role in building Pennsylvania. Frank Sirianni, President of the Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council and Vice-President of the PA AFL-CIO, spoke of dangerous legislation that would increase apprenticeship ratios on job sites from the current 1 apprentice to 3 or 4 journeymen, to a 1:1 ratio of apprentices to journeymen. This legislation, Sirianni contended, would make job sites more dangerous and dampen the ability of apprentices to receive high-quality attention from their more experienced fellow workers.
Wednesday morning, activists from AFSCME, UFCW, SEIU and APSCUF joined legislators again on the Capitol Rotunda steps to support raising the minimum wage. Representative Patty Kim has proposed legislation to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024. Rev. Andrea Harrington, a homecare worker in Delaware County who provides life-saving care for others every day, spoke on the importance and the dignity of making a living wage. “We are asking for a decent living. We should not have to beg for what we deserve.”
This week, activists across labor movement continued their fight for working people, whether that means increasing quality “learning and earning” opportunities through apprenticeships, or by advocating for a higher minimum wage for all workers. We are proud to call each and every one of them our brother or sister.