At the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Legislative Conference this week, union delegates had the opportunity to participate in two breakout sessions, taking a deeper dive into issues affecting working people across Pennsylvania. The panel discussions connected economic and legislative policies and union-led solutions. Over the course of 2019, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO will be revisiting these issues, their many facets and their implications for the Commonwealth’s workers.
A panel on Energy Infrastructure and its intersection with Trade policy featured, IBB Local 13 Business Manager Martin Williams Jr., USW Rapid Response Coordinator and Delaware CLC President George Piasecki, and IBEW District 3 International Representative Kris Anderson, moderated by the State Federation’s Legislative Director Chad Trainer.
Nuclear energy was discussed in depth, as a source of clean energy, efficiency and jobs. Updating and revitalizing Pennsylvania’s energy grid and infrastructure over the coming years was a topic of concern. Issues around trade policies were explored due to their implications, not only as a threat to our jobs, but also the threat of irresponsible environmental practices abroad undermining our domestic regulations.
The second panel featured presentations on Common Sense Economics, state-led initiatives to raise the minimum wage, and promotion of apprenticeship. Panelists included Jocelyn Woodard and Andrew Waxman of National AFL-CIO, Representatives Patty Kim and Maureen Madden, LiUNA’s PA Legislative Director and PA AFL-CIO VP Abe Amoros, moderated by convener of Raise the Wage PA and retired UFCW Local 1776 Legislative Director John Meyerson.
The rigged economic system was discussed, along with the connection between union membership and economic equality. The wage stagnation experienced across Pennsylvania and the country for the last several decades put in perspective the need to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage from the paltry $7.25/hour to a living wage that recognizes the dignity of work. Union apprenticeship programs were also discussed as a way to build the middle class by offering high quality job training and a living wage to people.
The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO thanks each and every panelist and participant who joined us on Tuesday.