House Democrats rally support for legislation to aid PA’s workers

HARRISBURG, Sept. 13 – House Democrats called on their legislative counterparts today to advance several measures that would improve workers’ conditions in the commonwealth.

With limited days remaining in the legislative session, Democrats highlighted the need to act on legislation that would boost workers’ earnings, offer workplace protections, allow for paid sick leave, and help workers save for retirement. 

“Working class families are the backbone of our communities,” Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, said. “While this year’s state budget delivered help for many of these families, there are still Pennsylvanians who don’t earn what they deserve, can’t take a day off to care for a sick loved one, or save for retirement. We can’t advance as a state if we leave workers and their families behind.”

This week, House Democrats will introduce a worker misclassification bill. By misclassifying employees as “contractors” employers deprive workers of wages, workplace health and safety, and unemployment protections. It amounts to tax fraud and costs the commonwealth millions of dollars in lost revenue annually.

Many of the measures House Democrats highlighted have been languishing in Republican-led committees for more than a year, despite having bipartisan and broad public support.

Among the measures legislators touted are the Family Care Act (H.B. 1200), which would establish a statewide Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program, and the Keystone Saves Program (H.B. 2156), which would create a voluntary employee retirement savings program for the more than 2 million Pennsylvania workers who currently lack access to any retirement plan at work.

“Pennsylvania’s strength comes from its workers, which makes fostering a worker-friendly environment extremely important,” Democratic Whip Jordan Harris, D-Phila., said. “We can do that by enacting policies that encourage folks to not only move here but stay in our state and raise their families here.”

Lawmakers noted that in addition to supporting an increase in the minimum wage -- since Pennsylvania’s has been stuck at $7.25 since 2007, lags surrounding states and is the lowest in America – they support better wages for other workers who don’t earn what they deserve, including health care providers, educators, and food workers.