By Alex Lloyd Gross
The Pennsylvania State Senate is scheduled to vote on a gradual raise to the state minimum wage. It is expected to pass and head to the house. This watered down bill does nothing to help the majority of working Pennsylvanians, and Senator Tina Tartaglione, the bill’s sponsor is not happy about it. “I have to support this but I don’t like it. I am not going to turn my back on people making $7.25/hr,” she said. There are people that are getting exploited by that wage in this state. Instead of helping the majority of workers, this helps a small minority.
You can thank house republicans for that. “Currently, they control the house and senate. Next election, when people see what happened, they will put them out of office and the democrats will have the majority. This is just the start, just the beginning,” Tartagione said. The bill must go to the senate which is expected to vote on it today. Then it must go to the house. That is where the problems are. In spite of Democrat Patty Kim putting her own bill for a raise, house members are reluctant to raise this.issue. Governor Wolf got involved in the negotiations and the legislation proposes to raise the minimum wage to $8.00 next July 1, and by 50 cents every six months until the rate reaches $9.50 on January 1, 2022. Also, under a Republican-driven amendment, the bill would prevent the Department of Labor & Industry from updating the state’s overtime pay rules until January 1, 2023. Under the current rules, employers can refuse to pay overtime wages to any employee making more than $23,660 a year in regular wages.
“This was twisting some peoples arms, some people do not think the government should be telling people how much to pay workers,” Tartaglione said. This .coming from one of the highest paid state legislatures in the country. They are fine with voting themselves a Cost Of Living Adjustment but balking about paying a single mother and extra $5.00 per week. Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman actually tried to push for a higher minimum wage but was shot down by the republicans who lead the house.
To add insult to injury, assuming the house passes this in December when they reconvene the pay for workers will not increase until July 1. 2020. That is only a small portion. 75 cents per hour. To get to the full $9.50/hr single mothers must slave in poverty until January 1 2022. By that time all of the neighboring states to Pennsylvania will have raised their minimum wage to $13.00/hr, This leaves Pennsylvania workers behind their neighbors. This is all made possible by republican house leadership. They take money from lobby groups like the National Restaurant Association and various chambers of commerce who make sizable contributions to them, hoping they will keep the minimum wage low.
“Likewise, I’d like to see the Commonwealth adopt overtime regulations that guarantee all Pennsylvanians an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. Sadly, the drastically-amended bill that was voted on in the Labor Committee has fallen far short of these worthy objectives,.” the senator said.
In June 2018, the Department of Labor & Industry proposed new overtime rules that would raise the overtime pay threshold. After a lengthy public comment period, a modified rulemaking proposal now sits before a state regulatory panel. Under the plan, workers who make less than $45,500 a year in regular wages would be entitled to overtime pay.
Yet in a party-line vote, Labor Committee Republicans amended SB 79 to block the rules changes until 2023. Under new federal regulations, the threshold will increase to $35,568 as of January 1, 2020. But that will exclude more than 80,000 Pennsylvania workers who would gain overtime pay protection under the state’s proposed rules.
“I’m not done,I’m putting in another bill nest year and I am not stopping until we pay working Pennsylvanians a living wage,” Tartaglione said, as she was about to board an elevator in the state capitol.
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