Republicans kill worker protection proposals in committee; silence supporters

HARRISBURG, Sept. 24 – House Democrats on the Labor and Industry Committee walked out of a meeting today, 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 seeks to 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.

“This is the second time in a month that minority committee members were completely silenced during debate, and I’m afraid that a pattern is emerging here,” said state Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware. “The amendments we sought to offer could help workers in the home health care and construction industries, veterans and working families struggling to make ends meet. Based on the chairman’s actions, those voices don't seem to matter when they're up against the anti-worker Republican agenda in Harrisburg.”

“Because of today’s actions, the well-earned right to paid sick leave for 200,000 Philadelphians and 50,000 people in Pittsburgh hangs in the balance again,” said state Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila. “Paid sick leave is something every worker across the state should have. No one should have to choose between going to work sick and possibly infecting their co-workers and their customers, and losing pay.

“Unfortunately, Harrisburg Republicans are continuing that choice for them.”