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Pointing to a strong voting record on labor issues throughout his career, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joe Hoeffel today released his platform on labor issues that promised to “defend workers’ rights” and “ensure they receive fair, wages, rights and benefits”.
During his three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, Hoeffel was a staunch supporter of workers’ rights and had a 97 percent rating on labor issues from the AFL-CIO.
His strong record on labor issues has resulted in his campaign already receiving endorsements from two Philadelphia area unions. Roofers Local 30 and Laborers Local 135 have given Hoeffel their strong support.
In a statement released in conjunction with his endorsement, Michael O’Malley of Roofers Local 30 said his union endorsed Hoeffel because “he understands the needs of working people. Joe Hoeffel is a fighter for working families. While in Congress, he had a 97% lifetime AFL-CIO voting record and time and again proved his leadership by speaking out on the right of workers to organize.” Roofers Union Local 30 represents workers in 29 counties across central and eastern Pennsylvania.
“A strong economy cannot be achieved without a strong, healthy workforce,” Hoeffel said. “It isn't enough to just create jobs: we must ensure the workers who take those jobs will be paid a reasonable income, be guaranteed fundamental rights, and be covered by health and retirement programs which will protect them during and after their careers.”
In his platform, which is detailed on his campaign website (www.joehoeffel2010.com), Hoeffel voices strong support for the minimum wage; prevailing wage, which is pegged to the average bargained wage for a trade on state contracts and prevents the submission of artificially low bids that would result in underpaid workers; and project labor agreements, which put responsible contracting provisions into bidding documents for state projects.
Hoeffel also said he strongly supported the proposed Employee Free Choice Act and the National Labor Relations Modernization Act, which protect workers’ right to organize, and he said he would work to create such protections in Pennsylvania.
Hoeffel also said he disagreed with recent changes to worker compensation rules that have helped others at the expense of workers. “I will fight to restore lost workers compensation benefits such as increasing the compensation above the current 60 percent of income at the time of illness or injury and reducing the time a worker’s case must be managed by a company-approved physician,” he said.
Hoeffel also outlined a series of other labor-related issues he will support.
“As a state representative I voted for the fair share provision of Act 195, and as governor I will continue to protect Act 195,” he said. “When unions negotiate and enforce contracts which also benefit non-union workers, it is only fair that those non-union workers pay the percentage of the union dues which directly supports those actions of the union which benefit them.”
Hoeffel also supports a Public Employee OSHA law for Pennsylvania, to extend the federal safety and health standards to the state and local levels of public employment, and he said he will fight to keep state pensions as defined benefit programs. “Switching to a defined contribution program, as some have proposed, would create two classes of workers; such a policy would drive away well-qualified applicants and tell current workers we don't value their professions,” he said. “Defined benefits are simply more stable for retirement in a rocky economy. We need to build safety nets, not cut them.
The Governor’s office under Hoeffel would also have an open door policy. “Under recent administrations, there has been one negotiation table where labor has sometimes felt left out: the governor's table,” he said. “As governor, I will open the door to the governor's office and invite labor to my table. I will seek labor's input regarding appointments to various positions of interest to labor, including boards such as the Workers Compensation Appeals Board and the Work Force Investment Board. And I commit to keeping that door open for regular Governor's Labor Round Table discussions throughout my administration.