Push for OSHA in Public Sector Continues in Pennsylvania
Union presidents from across the state rallied at the capitol today to support Senate Bill 93 and House Bill 299.
Those bills would enact OSHA regulations for public sector workers- from road workers like PennDOT to school teachers to corrections facilities.
Currently the private sector has to comply to OSHA, but states can choose if they want to participate. In Pennsylvania, this type of legislation has been contested since the 70s when OSHA was first created.
Some local governments worry that they won't have the funds to keep up with OSHA's wide swath of regulation.
Supporters of the bill point to the tragedies of workplace accidents as reason to take on any costs.
Jake Schwab was a mechanic at Erie Transit. He died of a workplace accident in 2014. Erie Representative Pat Harkins (D-02) had a connection to the family and has fought for OSHA regulations in the public sector ever since.
Harkins bill passed in the house last summer with 116 yes votes.
Now, supporters of the legislation are hoping to pass one of the bills through the Senate, where they say they have the votes in the Republican held senate. They are working to get leadership to put the bill on the floor.
In the process, Schwab is continually remembered.
“Everybody has a right to have a good career and make good wages, but they should also have the right to go home to their loved ones," said Ross Nicotero, president and business agent for the Local 85 AMT (Amalgamated Transit Unit). "And unfortunately Jake didn’t have that due to the fact there was no safety in place at the time of his passing, or committees."