Over the past two years the Pennsylvania General Assembly has spent a considerable amount of time attacking workers’ rights and stone-walling legislation that would protect those rights on the job. Your Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and our 51 affiliate unions have worked to advance a proactive agenda and fight off the attempts to undermine economic justice.
Here is a brief summary of the 2017-2018 Legislative Session:
The Clean Slate Act gives Pennsylvanians with minor convictions a second chance. It does this by requiring the automatic sealing of most non-violent misdemeanor convictions for individuals who have remained conviction-free for at least ten years. It would also automatically seal records of arrests that do not lead to convictions. The State Fed supported this legislation from its inception, and it was signed into law by the Governor June 28, 2018.
Pennsylvania’s One Call is a communications program protecting workers and the public by promoting safety in excavation projects. The labor movement has supported improvements to One Call by making it compatible with the Public Utilities Commission’s current regulatory obligations and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s recommendations. In October of 2017, we are happy to report that these improvements became law.
The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO has also been supportive of expanding eligibility for overtime pay in the State and has submitted comments to this effect to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission. On July 6, 2018, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) proposed a new regulation making it harder for employers to exempt salaried employees by raising the minimum exempt salary from $23,660 to $47,892. This is a significant victory for any worker who was salaried by their employer as a way to skirt overtime pay obligations.
For Medicaid recipients, adding work requirements is a penalty that causes confusion and red tape for our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians (who are already too easily scapegoated politically). It poses yet another hurdle to accessing necessary health care. The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO has opposed such requirements all along. The bad news is such legislation passed the General Assembly toward the very end of this last session; the good news is that Governor Wolf recently vetoed the bill.
The State Federation strongly opposed a bill that would have replaced a doctor’s decisions for patients’ treatment under workers’ compensaton with a detached and unaccountable drug formulary. The legislation would have created a preapproved prescription list for injured employees. This attack on the working class masqueraded as an attempt at controlling the opioid crisis when, in point of fact, this law would have eroded the guarantee, under the workers compensation system, that workplace injuries would receive high quality medical care. Even though the bill was able to move through both the House and the Senate, the Governor vetoed it before it could become law—another victory for the working class.
The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO will hold our Biennial Legislative Conference on Monday, January 28 through Tuesday, January 29 at the Crowne Plaza – Harrisburg (23 South 2nd Street, Harrisburg). This conference will be an opportunity to explore the Labor Movement’s proactive, workers’ rights agenda in the upcoming legislative session. Please contact the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO at 717-231-2841 for more information and go to paaflcio.org for updates.