Republicans kill worker protection proposals in committee; silence supporters

HARRISBURG, Sept. 25 – House Democrats on the Labor and Industry Committee walked out of a meeting yesterday, citing Majority Chairman Rob Kauffmann’s second time silencing open debate over worker protection bills and his apparent agenda to only consider and advance partisan bills in this shortened fall session.

Republicans advanced five bills, all of which Committee Minority Chairman John Galloway said are anti-worker special-interest bills:

  • H.B. 297 would make it legal to pay construction workers less for certain work.

  • H.B. 861 would make it illegal to require employers to provide sick leave or adopt equal pay provisions, even in places where local governments have already made these protections law.

  • H.B. 1781 would allow employers to ask that workers sign away their workers compensation rights.

  • H.B. 2571 would prohibit public workers from deducting their union and fair share dues to the organizations that represent them.

  • H.B. 2593 would widen the timeframe for union resignation.

“Not one of these Republican bills helps a worker stay safe on the job or get paid fairly,” said Galloway, D-Bucks. “If this committee is what stands between Pennsylvania workers and unfair laws, then they are sorely misrepresented.

“We walked out in solidarity with workers, whom government is sworn to protect.”

Democrats who attempted to amend in protections for families with children with disabilities, veterans, and sexual assault victims were denied, and debate was completely shut off through a parliamentary move.

“Rather than listen to outside ideas, the Republican majority shutdown debate on a slate of bills which would strip hardworking Pennsylvanians of their rights and rollback worker protections that we have spent generations fighting for,” Ravenstahl said. “This trend of using their majority control as a hammer to silence dissent is a worrying course of action that flies in the face of the ideals of our great nation.”  

“I am extremely disappointed in Chairman Kauffmann’s actions. To stifle debate and conversation about important worker protection bills is a disservice and a slap in the face to all Pennsylvanians and is not good government. Party alliances must be put aside and we must all work together in order to protect workers and families and I urge Chairman Kauffmann to let our voices be heard,” said Rep. Dan Deasy, D-Allegheny.

“The middle class in Pennsylvania was built largely by unions; on Monday the Republican leadership on the Labor Committee picked corporate interests over working people while tyrannically ending debate and silencing viewpoints,” said Rep. Dan Miller, D-Mt. Lebanon. “Such a distortion of rules and abandonment of past practice was a clear abuse of power, and it must not be tolerated.”