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Category Archives: News

Workforce development news from Pennsylvania and across the U.S.

‘Fight for $15’ members rally in Harrisburg for higher minimum wage

By Paul Vigna

Fast-food cooks, cashiers and other underpaid workers rallied Monday in Harrisburg, targeting Jimmy John’s for not adopting a $15/hour minimum wage.

They met at 11 a.m. at the Capitol to talk to state legislators, then gathered in front of the Jimmy John’s at 219 N. 2nd St. around 1:30 p.m. to bring more attention to the subject of minimum wage.

Chris Ellis, of Pittsburgh, said in an interview with PennLive that he was attending the rally to push for higher wages as a member of the “Fight for $15” group.

“At the end of the day,” he said, “we all deserve a livable minimum wage, affordable health care, affordable child care . . .”

Ellis said that Jimmy John’s wasn’t the only target, that he works at Arby’s and that his employer and other fast-food restaurants pay a wage that’s too low.

Department of Community and Economic Development: Secretary Davin denounces job-killing budget cuts in House Bill 218 in letter to legislative leadership

Harrisburg, PA – In a letter to Republican leadership in the legislature, Dennis Davin, Secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), denounced the budget cuts in House Bill 218 that would hurt Pennsylvania’s economy and cause devastating job loss for workers and their families across the commonwealth.

“The work our department does for businesses in Pennsylvania is important,” Secretary Davin wrote. “Reductions of the magnitude proposed in this bill will result in decreases or the outright elimination of several much-needed services.”

House Bill 218 slashes funding for crucial economic development programs that provide financial assistance, job training, and more for companies that choose to relocate to, or expand, in Pennsylvania. The enactment of HB 218 would result in devastating job loss across Pennsylvania for multiple sectors and put the commonwealth behind other states in its efforts to compete in the global economy.

Areas that would be hardest hit by HB 218 include:

Job Creation
HB 218 strips away funding for programs that provide vital assistance for companies looking to create jobs in Pennsylvania, including Pennsylvania First, a comprehensive funding tool to facilitate increased investment and job creation. HB 218 completely eliminates this funding, resulting in community-draining job loss, a less competitive business climate, and smaller incentive for private investment.

Job Training
Pennsylvania First is also the source of funding for Pennsylvania’s employer-driven, incumbent workforce training program known as WEDnet. Through WEDnet, 740 companies provided nearly 37,000 employees the crucial job and skills training they need to succeed and to keep companies competitive. […]

Take two: Labor & Industry tries again to modernize jobless benefits computer system

From PennLive

Pennsylvania is taking another stab at modernizing its outdated unemployment compensation benefit delivery and appeals system and this time, officials hope it works.

The state Department of Labor & Industry executed a $35 million contractwith Florida-based Geographic Solutions to create a system that enhances customer service, improves quality, is more operational efficient, and is sustainable into the future.

The company boasts on its website that its “solutions” can be found in more than 75 percent of the country.

Labor & Industry Secretary Kathy Manderino said the contractor is expected to begin work on the system on Aug. 1 with a projected timeline of 18 to 24 months to make it operational.

“We’re hoping to have the new system up and running sometime in 2019,” she said.

The department hired Chicago-based CSG Government Solutions in 2015 for $6.1 million to assist with developing plans for this project and help monitor its progress to ensure the work is done right before payment is made at certain milestones along the way, Manderino said.  

Read more.

Days from the deadline, budget indecision in PA


With less than 10 days to the deadline for a new state budget, there is talk but little action — and even less agreement — on how to close a steep budget deficit and fix the state’s fiscal problems.

Gov. Wolf, a Democrat, on Wednesday strongly signaled skepticism over a plan being discussed by Republicans who control the state Senate to borrow money to ease the state’s $1.5 billion shortfall.

Top Republicans in both chambers in turn have dismissed many of Wolf’s proposals to generate new dollars, including a new tax on natural gas drilling and an expansion of the state sales tax to items that are currently exempt.

And no one involved in budget talks appeared to be anywhere near figuring out a plan to expand gambling — one of the proposals that until now all sides indicated would likely be part of any final budget plan.

Read more.

Aspen Institute releases Upskilling Playbook for Employers

Aspen Institute releases Upskilling Playbook for Employers

The Aspen Institute has released UpSkilling Playbook for Employers that features numerous detailed examples of employers that have pursued upskilling strategies and invested in economic opportunity for workers and companies at the same time.

The UpSkilling Playbook for Employers was created with support from a grant provided to the Aspen Institute as part of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s Opportunity initiative, a five-year, $100 million sector-wide effort aimed at strengthening the skills of the US retail workforce to meet the changing needs of the industry, while developing ways to make it easier for frontline workers to advance their careers. You can read the playbook in a series of interactive pages on the website.

US Congr. Cartwright bill targets distressed areas

From the Standard-Speaker

U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright introduced legislation to stimulate economic growth within distressed communities.

First introduced by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., the Community Economic Assistance Act provides aid to communities experiencing a localized recession resulting from substantial job loss or economic transitions.

The measure would allow states to designate communities working through a localized recession as Community Economic Assistance Zones. The bill provides up to $200 million in funding to these zones, along with tax incentives to employers and to regional governments.

“This bill lays the groundwork for recovery for local communities,” Cartwright, D-17, Moosic, said in a news release. “This legislation would help create jobs, improve educational opportunities, expand access to affordable housing and broadband internet, and provide job training.”

To qualify as a Community Economic Assistance Zone, a community must have experienced a large job loss — 250 jobs or more —transitioned away from an energy-based economy, experienced a significant localized recession or been significantly impacted by trade.

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Trump signs executive order on apprenticeships

Excerpted from CBS News

President Trump signed an executive order yesterday to help expand apprenticeships and vocational programs across the U.S. Trump provided few details at the White House announcement on when the programs would be rolled out or how they would provide training. According to a senior administration official, the order would direct the secretary of Labor to develop a process that would encourage private businesses to develop apprenticeship programs as well as establish a business leaders task force on apprenticeships.

Trump is calling on Congress to provide more funding — $200 million, according to the Associated Press — which would come from existing job training programs. The executive order would leave it to industry to design apprenticeships under broad standards to be set by the Labor Department.
Agencies will also be directed to conduct an intensive review of existing job training programs, if they work or if they don’t and suggestions about how to make them work better.Trump is directing the government to review and streamline some 43 workforce programs across 13 agencies. Under Trump’s order, private industry would have more flexibility, but still have to register. There are about 500,000 apprenticeship positions in the U.S., representing less than a percentage of the U.S. workforce. The executive order aims to address the nation’s “skills gap” that have left millions of open jobs unfilled. Apprenticeships would give students a way to learn skills without the crippling debt of four-year colleges, and expand those opportunities to women, minorities and other populations underrepresented among the nation’s roughly 505,000 apprentices.

Chamber files new suit, leaving city’s wage equity law on hold


For months, Philadelphia’s chamber of commerce has said a broad coalition of businesses were opposed to the city’s new wage equity law — while declining to provide names for most of those concerned business owners.

Two weeks ago, a judge pointed out the deficiency when he tossed out a suit the chamber filed opposing the law, saying it hadn’t identified a single business the law would harm. This week, the chamber finally named names.

In an amended lawsuit filed Tuesday, it identified more than a dozen members it says are opposed to the law, which would ban them from asking job applicants for salary history information. The list includes Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Drexel University, and Comcast Corp., the company that along with the chamber began quietly lobbying against the legislation in January.

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PENNSYLVANIA REAL-TIME NEWS How did Pa. score in national rating of women in elected office? Only Mississippi is worse


Representation2020 has released its latest analysis on the underrepresentation of women in elected office, quantified through the Gender Parity Index (GPI), and Pennsylvania was given the second-lowest grade on it.

The GPI rates women’s recent electoral success at the local, state, and national levels on a scale of 0 (no women in major elected offices) to 100 (women hold all such offices). These scores also translate to a letter grade, according to a press release that came out Wednesday. The goal of gender parity is a score of 50 and an A grade, which indicates that women and men are equally likely to hold office. The 2017 GPI finds that women are underrepresented at all levels of government.

As of June 2017, the median Gender Parity Score is 18.6, barely up from the 2015 score of 18.1. The GPI ranks New Hampshire first and Mississippi last in women’s political representation. Out of all 50 states, 33 have a Gender Parity Score below 25, giving them a grade of D or F.

Pennsylvania’s 2017 Gender Parity Score is 6.5, assigning it a grade of F and ranking it at 49th in the nation. Pennsylvania has regressed since 2015, when it received a score of 9.6 and ranked 46th. Pennsylvania’s low scores can be attributed largely to a lack of representation on the federal level. There are currently no women serving in the Pennsylvania congressional delegation, and there has never been a female senator from Pennsylvania.

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Former state Sen. Frank Pecora of Penn Hills dies at 86


Former state Sen. Frank Pecora, who was both colorful and controversial while serving the residents of the east suburbs from the late ‘70s to the mid-’90s, has died.

Pecora, 86, died Monday at his home in Penn Hills, according to the Soxman Funeral Home. The cause of death was pneumonia and he had suffered a stroke in 2012, the funeral home said.

“Frank Pecora was my mentor and dear friend … like a second father to me,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, Pecora’s chief of staff for 15 years before being elected to Congress in 1994. “What he cared about most was the little guy. That was sort of his reputation in the state Senate. He … voted for working-class issues and working people. It wasn’t the rich and powerful that really excited him or what he was drawn to.”

At a time when the Democratic party held sway in the sometimes rough-and-tumble politics in the east suburbs, Pecora was the rare Republican elected to a seat in Harrisburg when he won the 44th District in 1978.

But the dapper, cigar-smoking Pecora was a moderate who got along with Republicans and Democrats in both Penn Hills and the state capitol.

Read more.

PA Workforce Development Association