Media Advisory – Hearing to Focus on Pittsburgh Tax Fraud Task Force Findings, Recommendations

PITTSBURGH – The Senate Labor and Industry Committee, chaired by Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46), will hold a public hearing to hear testimony from the Pittsburgh Construction Industry Tax Fraud Task Force on Tuesday, July 13, at 10 a.m. at the Eastern Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters, 650 Ridge Road, Pittsburgh.

The task force was established by Pittsburgh City Council and includes members from Pittsburgh city government, Allegheny County government, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry and the building trade unions. Two members of the task force – Steve Mazza, Pittsburgh Building Trades, and Joel Niecgorski, Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters – will present the task force’s findings and recommendations.

Watch live at SenatorBartolotta.com and laborindustry.pasenategop.com. 

CONTACT:  Eric Kratz, 717-787-1463

Senate Committee Hears Testimony on Bartolotta’s Bill to Prohibit Broadcast Non-Competes

HARRISBURG – The Senate Labor and Industry Committee, chaired by Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46), held a hearing today that focused on Bartolotta’s bill to prohibit non-compete provisions in contracts of broadcast employees when a separating event occurs.

Senate Bill 320 would allow individuals to seek the best opportunities locally, rather than being forced out of their geographic area to further their career. The legislation would not alter the agreed to, contractual requirements between employers and broadcast employees while the contract is in effect. It also would not prohibit contractual requirements to protect confidential information or trade secrets should the employee take a job with a new employer.

“This issue hits close to home as my daughter is a television anchor with CBS in New Orleans and has shared concerns with me about limitations she has faced. As several states either outright prohibit or limit non-competes for broadcast employees, I thought it would be appropriate to consider the implications faced by Pennsylvanians,” Bartolotta said.

Panelists at the hearing represented both sides of the issue, with employees arguing that non-compete clauses artificially restrict an employee’s mobility and entrepreneurship. They pleaded for a level playing field for hardworking Pennsylvanians and explained that contrary to popular belief, many more people are subject to non-competes than simply the on-air talent.

“I have spoken to young professionals starting their career in TV or radio making as little as $11 an hour who have had to pass up opportunities to earn more money because of these clauses. I know so many others who have built their careers in the industry only to lose their job and be prevented from finding employment in the same city,” said Mary Cavallaro, chief broadcast executive for the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Testimony shared at the hearing also highlighted that non-competes result in wage and salary stagnation, even in cases when the employee was not the one driving the separating event.

“Should the company decide, for whatever reason, that the services of those employees are no longer needed, they must leave those air waves and may be banned from seeking other employment at another station in that market or even in the surrounding markets for as much as a year later. This is wrong, unprofessional and un-American!” said Stoney Richards, radio host for Y108 (WDSY-FM) in Pittsburgh.

However, employers had a much different perspective and stated that broadcast non-competes are necessary to protect business interests.

“There will be a dramatic change in broadcast station investment branding and marketing should Senate Bill 320 become law. And existing and future station staff may not benefit with this change from the non-compete prohibition,” said Joe Conti, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters.

A supporting fact sheet Conti submitted to the committee stated that broadcast television and radio are among the few industries where employees (the on-air talent) function as the face and brand of the business. Station assets give the on-air talent recognition and celebrity that the individual could not personally afford or achieve. Because of that, the handout asserted that stations deserve to protect the image and brand they have funded and nurtured.

“I appreciate the time all of the panelists dedicated to offering perspective on the bill so that members could learn more about this important issue which the General Assembly had not previously considered. They provided an informative discussion that will be beneficial as the bill moves through the legislative process,” Bartolotta said.

Watch the full hearing here.

 

CONTACT: Eric Kratz, 717-787-1463

Public hearing on SB 320 (Non-compete clauses in broadcast employment agreements)

Senate Labor and Industry Committee

Thursday, June 10, 2021 |11:00 a.m.

North Office Building, Hearing Room #1 and Virtual Participation


Public hearing on SB 320 (Non-compete clauses in broadcast employment agreements)

11:00 to 11:15    Introductions

Senator Camera Bartolotta, Chairwoman
Senator Christine Tartaglione, Minority Chairwoman

11:15 to noon    Broadcast Employee Panel

Kerri Wood Einertson, National Legislative Director, SAG-AFTRA  – Testimony
Mary Cavallaro, Chief Broadcast Executive, SAG-AFTRA  – Testimony
Sam Clover, Traffic Reporter, KYW Newsradio – Philadelphia  – Testimony
Pat Ciarrocchi, Retired Anchor, CBS3 – Philadelphia  – Testimony
Stoney Richards, Radio Host, Y108 (WDSY-FM) – Pittsburgh  – Testimony

Noon to 12:45    Broadcast Employer Panel

Bob Bee, Vice President and General Manager, WHTM ABC 27 – Harrisburg
Chris Topf, Vice President and General Manager, WPMT Fox 43 TV – York
Ezio Torres, General Manager, Radio1/Urban1 – Philadelphia
Joe Conti, President, Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters – Testimony  – Additional Testimony

12:45 to 1:00    Closing Remarks

Senate Committee Passes Bill to Reinstate UC Job Search Requirements, Bartolotta Says

HARRISBURG – The Senate Labor and Industry Committee chaired by Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46) advanced Senate Bill 689, legislation sponsored by Senator Lisa Baker which would reinstate the requirement that a claimant search for work to be eligible to receive unemployment compensation.

Because of the pervasive job loss resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the mitigation orders associated with it, the Department of Labor and Industry suspended the requirements related to active search for work and job registration with the PA CareerLink® system. The General Assembly supported the decision by passing Act 9 of 2020, which continued the suspension until December 31, 2020. However, without legislative approval or input, the department extended the suspension indefinitely on January 1.

“Unlike when the work search requirement was relaxed, the vaccine is now widely available. Infection rates continue to drop, and even the governor has begun to reopen the state for business. Yet, Pennsylvania is still not realizing the economic recovery that is possible,” Bartolotta said. “Many employers across the state are still struggling to fill needed roles as some people have determined that the financial benefit of collecting unemployment is more attractive than returning to work.”

Openings in the service and hospitality industries, seasonal and summer employment, and retail and manufacturing are abundant, evidenced by generous sign-on and referral bonuses. Employers are also offering increased compensation and benefits, but positions remain vacant.

“Those who are unemployed can safely return to the workforce, and family-sustaining jobs await them. By increasing the workforce, we will also take the next step to restoring our economic vitality and tax base,” Bartolotta added.

While the governor’s acting Labor and Industry Secretary, Jennifer Berrier, said that the work search requirement will resume July 18, the job registration requirement will not resume until September. The legislation would codify the change into law so it is not subject to the whim of the administration.

The committee also passed two bills that Bartolotta co-prime sponsored. Senate Bill 617 (Senator Christine Tartaglione) would require an employer to provide up to six weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to an eligible employee to care for a terminally ill sibling, grandparent or grandchild, provided the sibling, grandparent or grandchild has no living spouse, child age 17 or older or parent age 65 or younger.

Senate Bill 567 (Senator Michele Brooks) would change the way Pennsylvania businesses are deemed to be essential and life-sustaining in future disaster declarations by requiring the use of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) guidance. It would provide a uniform process, as well as more continuity, clarity and guidance for businesses.

Also during the meeting, the committee members voted in favor of House Bill 664 (Representative John Hershey), legislation that would allow minors to operate temporary businesses, such as lemonade stands, in municipalities or homeowners’ associations without having to obtain a business license or permit.

 

CONTACT: Eric Kratz, 717-787-1463

Meeting to consider SB 567, SB 617, SB 689, and HB 664

Senate Labor and Industry Committee

Wednesday, May 26, 2021 | 9:30 a.m.

NOB, Hearing Room 1 and Virtual Participation


SB 567 (Brooks) – Requires the use of the Department of Homeland Security’s CISA guidance to identify essential businesses in future disaster declarations.

SB 617 (Tartaglione) – Requires an employer to provide up to six weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to an eligible employee to care for a terminally ill sibling, grandparent or grandchild, provided the sibling, grandparent or grandchild has no living spouse, child over 17 years of age or parent under 65 years of age.

SB 689 (Baker) – Requires the Department of Labor & Industry to reinstitute UC work search and job registration requirements.

HB 664 (Hershey) – Allows minors to operate temporary businesses, such as lemonade stands, in municipalities or homeowners associations without having to obtain a business license or permit.

Meeting to consider SB 319, SB 486, SB 563, and HB 178

 

Senate Labor and Industry Committee

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 | 12:00 noon

NOB, Hearing Room 1 and Virtual Participation


SB 319 (Bartolotta) – Amends the Workers’ Compensation Act to clarify that employers may recoup medical expenses paid to an employee for a workplace injury when a settlement or award of damages is obtained against a third party for the same injury.

SB 486 (Sabatina) – Amends the Workforce Development Act to provide members of the PA National Guard and reserve components of the U.S. Armed Forces who serve on active duty, as well as their spouses, preference for placement into job training programs for one year after discharge.

SB 563 (Laughlin) – Amends the Fire and Panic Act to require interconnected smoke detectors in family child care homes.

HB 178 (James) – Amends the Unemployment Compensation Law to increase the time a party (claimant or employer) has to file an appeal to a determination from a UC Service Center or a decision from a UC Referee.

  • A00813 (Bartolotta) – Provides for delivery of appeal notices by electronic means to claimants and employers who opt for that form of delivery and makes technical changes to correct errors made in Act 144 of 2016.

Meeting to consider SB69, SB147, SB 168, SB191 and HB157

Senate Labor and Industry Committee

Tuesday, February 23, 2021 | 11:30 a.m.

Senate Chamber and Virtual Participation

 
  • SB 69 (Langerholc) – Establishes the Recovery to Work program to provide individuals in recovery from addiction with career development opportunities and exposure to high-priority and in-demand occupations and interview and soft skills training and to provide Local Workforce Development Boards with funding to support program and business partners in implementing pilot programs. 
  • SB 147 (Langerholc) – Requires employers who have a certified safety committee as part of their Workers’ Compensation program to include information about the risks associated with the use of opioids.
  • SB 168 (Hughes) – Adds “forward-facing employment data” as a criteria to be used by the Department of Labor and Industry when identifying industry clusters and targeted industry clusters and imposes additional requirements on the Department for producing and disseminating employment data.
  • SB 191 (J. Ward) – Excludes historic agricultural buildings used for weddings, receptions and similar social events from the requirements of the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act so long as certain safety conditions are met.
  • HB 157 (Fee) – Repeals Act 109 of 1978, which established the Milrite Council. Act 109 provided for a limited duration of the council, which terminated at the end of 1994.

Senators Question Timing of Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Layoffs

Listen – Senator Bartolotta

Listen – Senator Ward

HARRISBURG – During a Senate hearing today, lawmakers questioned the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s accelerated plan to switch to an all-electronic tolling (AET) system and lay off nearly 500 employees.

Senate Transportation Committee Chair Senator Kim Ward (R-39) and Senate Labor and Industry Committee Chair Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46) scheduled the hearing to explore concerns about why the decision was considered and approved with no notice to employees or legislators after employees were previously assured their jobs were safe.

In a letter on March 16, Pennsylvania Turnpike Chief Executive Officer Mark Compton told employees, “I want you to know that our overall operation will not convert to AET until our planned date of October of 2021, as we assured previously; nor will it change our commitment that impacted employees can remain employed with the Commission until at least January 2022.”

The Turnpike Commission made no mention of any plans to lay-off employees during a hearing with the Senate Transportation Committee on May 12. A week later, the Turnpike Commission ratified a new contract with employees on May 19.

On June 2, the Turnpike Commission abruptly announced the new plan to eliminate nearly 500 jobs, with layoffs set to begin on June 18. Pennsylvania Turnpike Chief Operating Officer Craig Shuey and Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation Yassmin Gramian both testified that Governor Wolf was notified in advance that the layoff plan was under consideration, but no notice was given to lawmakers or employees prior to the June 2 announcement.

Senator Ward pointed out the concerns with how the Turnpike Commission made the decision.

“I am deeply concerned by the timing of this process to lay-off 500 Pennsylvanians.  The Turnpike Commission’s swift action to terminate these positions occurred within two weeks after a new labor contract was negotiated,” Ward said.  “This decision will impact hundreds of hard-working Pennsylvanians who were promised on numerous occasions that their jobs were protected until 2022.  They were prepared, but the rug was pulled out from beneath them.  Now, they are scrambling to find jobs in one of the worst economic times in our Commonwealth’s history.”

Senator Bartolotta also noted that timing of the layoffs was extremely troubling due to the severe impact on employees.

“The last thing we need during these times of historical unemployment is to add 500 additional individuals to the unemployment rolls,” Bartolotta said. “Instead of having at least a year and a half to plan a transition to other employment, these hard-working Turnpike employees have only a few weeks to find work in a job market that remains crippled by Governor Wolf’s excessive business closures and slow re-opening.”

International Brotherhood of Teamsters International Vice President-East William Hamilton said the layoffs were a “coordinated hit” on employees. Hamilton said that concessions were made in contract negotiations based on the promise that jobs would be protected until January 2022.

Teamsters Local Union 250 Secretary-Treasurer and Principal Officer Charles Gaston pointed out that many employees made decisions on education and job training programs based on the assurance that their jobs would be available for at least another year. In addition, Gaston said that while healthcare coverage would be extended for employees, a new cost-sharing agreement would force employees to pay more for coverage even while they are unemployed.

During the hearing, the Turnpike Commission also suggested that they are examining another toll increase in 2021, despite the fact that current toll rates in the state are among the highest in the nation.

Video and testimony from the hearing are available at www.pasenategop.com and on the Senate Transportation Committee and the Senate Labor and Industry Committee websites.

CONTACT: 

Nolan Ritchie nritchie@pasen.gov (Senator Ward)

Eric Kratz ekratz@pasen.gov (Senator Bartolotta)