Trump Leaves Some States No Choice but to Resist

From the USW

As the Trump administration rolls back worker-friendly legislation put in place by former President Obama, states have stepped up to the plate to re-enact those laws on their own.

Last September, the Justice Department formally ended the Obama administration's expansion of the federal overtime rule by announcing it would not appeal a District Court's ruling that said the government overreached when it expanded the number of people covered by the rule.

Yet just this past week, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced he seeks to create his own overtime rule for his state by raising the income limit under which companies would be required to pay overtime to salaried workers.

Right now, Pennsylvania workers on salary who make $23,600 a year or more can be required to work well over 40 hours a week without getting any overtime pay. The governor wants to raise that in three stages, reaching a limit of almost $48,000 a year by 2022.

“Pennsylvania’s overtime rules haven’t changed in more than 40 years and workers are paying the price,” said Governor Wolf in a release. “I am taking this action to ensure hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians who work more than 40 hours a week for the same job receive the overtime pay they have earned.”

This isn’t the first time states have acted to preserve legislation after President Trump reversed it via executive order. In January 2017, Trump signed an order that would deny federal funding to cities with sanctuary policies.

The Justice Department threatened to subpoena 23 cities, states, and counties with sanctuary policies that limit local cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. Across the country, mayors of cities including New York, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh have denounced the decision and have vowed to protect immigrants living in their jurisdictions.

Several mayors including Bill DeBlasio (NYC) and Eric Garcetti (Los Angeles) even boycotted a recent meeting with the president because of the administration’s crackdown on sanctuary cities.

“A year ago the Trump administration threatened our country. And we made very clear that that threat was unconstitutional,” said de Blasio.

Only time will tell if the party that touts their love of “state’s rights” will stick to their convictions and allow these states to implement their own legislation, even if it flies in the face of the White House. For workers’ sake, advocates hope it does.

"The governor's action makes Pennsylvania one of the first states to lock in the Obama overtime raise at the state level," said Paul Sonn, general counsel at the National Employment Law Project. "It provides a road map for other states to protect their residents from the Trump rollback, and we expect more governors to follow his lead."

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Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

Human Service Workers at Persad Center Vote to Join the USW

From the USW

Workers at Persad Center, a human service organization that serves the LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS communities of the Pittsburgh area, voted last week to join the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

The unit of 24 workers, ranging from therapists and program coordinators to case managers and administrative staff, announced their union campaign as the Persad Staff Union last month and filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

“We care about our work and the communities we serve,” said Johanna Smith, Persad’s Development, Communications, and Events Associate. “We strongly believe this work and our connections to our clients will only improve now that we will be represented by a union.”

The Persad workers join the growing number of white-collar professionals organizing with the USW, especially in the Pittsburgh region. Their membership is also in line with the recent work the Steelworkers have been doing to engage LGBTQ+ members and improve contract language regarding issues that affect their lives.

“Workplaces are changing and evolving, and the labor movement is changing and evolving along with that,” said USW Vice President Fred Redmond, who oversees the union’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee as well as the USW Health Care Workers Council. “This campaign gives us an opportunity to diversify our great union while uplifting and empowering a group of workers who give their all for others.”

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work