Two key labor bills pass state House, head to state Senate for consideration

HARRISBURG, Oct. 18 – On Wednesday, the state House of Representatives passed two critical labor bills -- H.B. 1449 and H.B. 1465. Both bills now head to the state Senate for consideration.

House Bill 1449, sponsored by state Rep. Josh Siegel, D-Lehigh, would establish a statewide responsible contractor law, setting clear requirements that firms bidding on publicly funded infrastructure projects must meet and requiring firms to have a state or federal registered apprenticeship program and pay prevailing rate.

“Investing in our infrastructure is a top priority,” said state Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., majority chair of the PA House Labor and Industry Committee. “However, investing in the right people to lead these major infrastructure projects is just as important. This legislation would ensure that the commonwealth has a skilled craft labor workforce for years to come.”

House Bill 1465, sponsored by state Rep. Dave Delloso, D-Delaware, would apply the Prevailing Wage Act to investor-owned utilities, such as water, sewer and gas. The legislation would apply the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s prevailing wage rates and minimum safety standards to all contracted construction work completed on underground utility systems that are regulated by the Public Utility Commission, including water, sewer and gas.

“Our neighbors rely on utilities – they need these services. It is critical that we have a qualified workforce that can construct public infrastructure to the highest safety and construction standards,” Dawkins said.

In other news, the Pennsylvania House Labor and Industry Committee reported two pieces of worker support legislation, H.B. 1751 and H.B. 1481, and sent them to the House floor.

House Bill 1481, sponsored by state Rep. Mandy Steele, D-Allegheny, would amend Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Compensation Law by providing unemployment compensation benefits to workers who are unemployed due to a work stoppage.

“Making the decision to strike is not easy by any means,” said Dawkins. “It’s a decision that often results in loss of pay, which is money our workers need to provide food and housing for their families. So, this legislation is of utmost importance to our workers and would protect their right to bargain for better pay and working conditions without the loss of income.”

House Bill 1751, which is a companion bill to S.B. 577 and is sponsored by state Rep. Kyle Donahue, D-Lackawanna, would strengthen the state’s Construction Workplace Misclassification Act by increasing penalties for contractors who misclassify workers and allow the state attorney general and district attorneys to investigate and prosecute worker misclassification. The legislation would enact several of the unanimous recommendations made by the Joint Task Force on Misclassification of Employees, which was created by Act 85 of 2020.

Both bills are expected to be considered by the full House in the near future.