Harkins joins fellow lawmakers, union leaders at Capitol to advocate for stronger worker safety protections

Speaks out on need to protect Pennsylvania’s public employees

ERIE, Nov. 19 – Fighting to secure basic safety protections for Pennsylvania’s public employees, state Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, joined fellow lawmakers today for a news conference at the state Capitol in support of a “Bill of Rights” package to strengthen workers’ rights. 

Harkins, who is Democratic chair of the House Labor and Industry Committee, has been advocating for stronger workplace safety protections since taking office in 2007 and is especially concerned about a critical gap in protection for the state’s public employees.

“Although I’m proud to stand with my colleagues today in support of workers’ rights as we push for this package of bills to protect workers, I’m also frustrated that Pennsylvania’s public employees are still lacking critical safety protections,” Harkins said.

“For years, I have been fighting to pass the Jake Schwab Worker Safety Bill, which would give public employee the same protections as private employees,” Harkins said. “Those protections don’t exist for workers like Jake, the transit authority mechanic who died because his workplace wasn’t required to conduct basic inspections. Workers like Jake are still dying – all because Pennsylvania doesn’t have a worker safety plan to protect them.

“So many other states have already adopted these plans. So once again, I stand here on behalf of Jake’s widow to ask: Why are Pennsylvania’s public employees – our police, firefighters, correctional workers, transit workers and so many others – less deserving of lifesaving protections than private employees? It’s time to stop talking and do something before more workers die.”

Harkins’ bill is part of a “Worker’s Bill of Rights” from various legislators that includes:

  • H.B. 1863 – Improving employees voices in the workplace.
  • H.B. 1864 – Valuing employers who value Pennsylvania workers.
  • H.B. 1865 – UC eligibility for striking workers.
  • H.B. 1866 – Farm laborers collective bargaining act.
  • H.B. 567   – JSGC resolutions to study economic and workforce transition.
  • H.B. 1909 – College athlete Fair Pay to Play Act.
  • H.B. 1215 – One fair wage.
  • H.B. 1082 – The Jake Schwab worker safety bill.
  • H.B. 998   – Paid sick leave.
  • H.B. 625   – Paid Family Leave Act.
  • H.B. 1178 – Strengthening collective bargaining.
  • H.B.1436  – Fair work week.
  • H.B. 850   – Modernizing Pennsylvania’s Equal Pay Law.

Joining the lawmakers at the news conference were Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale, Secretary Treasurer Frank Snyder and union members.