HARRISBURG, PA — On Tuesday, Governor Tom Wolf joined Vice President Kamala Harris, US Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, union leaders and elected officials to highlight efforts taking place at the federal level to provide workplace protections.
At the event, held at the Sheet Metal Workers Local 19 Training Center in Philadelphia, the governor thanked the Biden Administration for prioritizing protecting workers from heat-related injuries and illnesses. Tuesday’s announcement unveiled a new National Emphasis Program through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to protect millions of workers from heat illness and injuries. Through the program, OSHA will conduct heat-related workplace inspections before workers suffer completely preventable injuries, illnesses or, even worse, fatalities.
“Having a safe workplace that compensates you fairly for hard work should be the standard, but for a lot of workers, it isn’t the reality. It’s past time for us to bring worker protections into the 21st century, and I am proud to have Vice President Harris and Secretary Walsh here in Pennsylvania to talk about the path forward,” Gov. Wolf said. “I’m thankful to the Biden Administration for sharing this commitment to hard working Americans, and I look forward to continuing working with our federal partners and state and local labor leaders to build a better and safer future for workers in Pennsylvania.”
Governor Wolf believes that hardworking Pennsylvanians deserve fair wages, paid sick leave, safe workplaces and quality jobs. In October 2021, the governor issued a Worker Protection and Investment Executive Order directing the Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) and the Office of Administration to study the feasibility of implementing Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards On Monday, the Wolf Administration announced its partnership with Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) to conduct the study, which will also analyze the feasibility of extending OSHA protections to all public-sector workplaces throughout Pennsylvania.
“The safeguards of OSHA standards have protected private-sector workers in Pennsylvania for 50 years. This feasibility study will give us a roadmap to making these workplace protections universal to all Pennsylvania workers,” L&I Secretary Jennifer Berrier said.
Governor Wolf’s Executive Order also directs L&I to pursue regulatory changes so people are fairly paid for their work time spent on activities such as security screenings and putting on equipment required for their job.
The Order also directs L&I to make publicly available a list of bad actors that have violated labor laws, misclassified their workers, owe unemployment compensation back taxes, or fail to carry requisite workers’ compensation insurance. L&I first published the list in January and updates it weekly.
The Order also directs L&I to pursue regulatory changes so people are fairly paid for their work time spent on activities such as security screenings and putting on equipment required for their job; directs state agencies to ensure those receiving state grants and contracts follow labor laws and understand the consequences of not complying; and directs DCED to verify a business receiving an offer of assistance provides its workers paid sick leave and pays no less than the minimum wage for state employees before making a financial incentive offer.
In January, the governor fast-tracked his commitment to raise the minimum wage for commonwealth employees to $15 per hour, building on several steps taken over the course of his Administration to position the commonwealth as a model public sector employer. The Wolf Administration is also pursuing regulations, unanimously approved by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission last month, so workers whose wages depend on tips receive the full amount of their tips and that there is better clarity around tipping processes and definitions.
The governor has also called on the legislature to finally pass several bills that help working families.
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