PA House Democrats Push Workers' 'Bill of Rights'
Harrisburg, PA (WENY)-- A group of House Democrats is pushing several pieces of legislation aimed at improving the rights of Pennsylvania workers. A total of 13 Bills are included in the package. Designated as the Workers Bill of Rights, sponsors of the Bills say this legislative package puts people above profits. One Bill, for example, would require employers to provide paid sick leave for their employees.
“My legislation would allow a worker to use paid sick leave if they become ill themselves, or if a family member is sick. It would also provide paid sick leave for someone who has experienced domestic violence or sexual assault,” explains Rep. Maria Donatucci (D-Philadelphia, Delaware), sponsor of House Bill 998.
Rep. Donatucci says the majority of Pennsylvanians either aren’t eligible for paid sick leave, or cannot afford to take unpaid leave. She says this legislation is not just a humane policy, but also an effective public health measure.
Another Bill in the package would introduce a Paid Family Leave Act in Pennsylvania. Under House Bill 625, introduced by Representative Tim Briggs (D- Montgomery), employees would be given 12 weeks of full paid leave if they need to step away from work for medical reasons. This includes maternity leave, adoption of a new child, or needing to take care of a sick family member.
“It’s definitely something we need to do. I think two countries don’t provide a paid family leave. The United States is one of them, so we need to change that, and Pennsylvania can be a leader in that,” Rep. Briggs explains.
Rep. Pat Harkins (D-Erie) introduced the Jake Schwab Worker Safety Bill, named after a bus mechanic at the EMTA who was killed on the job. House Bill 1082, included in this package, would make sure public sector workers are covered by OSHA standards. Currently, only private sector workers are covered.
“There’s no reason that a public sector should be shorted of that. There are no protections currently in place, and we need to step up and do the right thing with this legislation,” says Rep. Harkins.
The ten other Bills included in the Workers Bill of Rights act include: Improving employees’ voices in the workplace (HB1863), Valuing employers who value Pennsylvania workers (HB1864), UC Eligibility for striking workers (HB1865), Farm Laborers Collective Bargaining Act (HB1866), Joint State Government Commission Resolution to study economic and workforce transition (HB567), Fair Pay to Play Act for college athletes (HB1909), One Fair Wage Act (HB1215), Strengthening collective bargaining (HB1178), Fair Work Week Act (HB1436), and Modernizing Pennsylvania’s Equal Pay Law (HB850).
All 13 Bills are sitting in various House committees waiting for the next action.