The Update: What’s Important in Harrisburg and DC – May 25, 2023



As Pennsylvania state budget negotiations and national discussions about lifting the U.S. debt ceiling both enter more critical stages, KRC in the past week continued its signature efforts to promote long-term policies that will deliver shared prosperity. We made the case for strengthening rights to join unions, promoting worker- and union-friendly climate action, and we called on Wabtec in Erie, PA (on the site of the former General Electric plant) to expand the production of green locomotives. Learn more below. And, as always, thank you for supporting our work.
Stephen Herzenberg

Executive Director

Reimagine Appalachia Hosts Community Benefits Summit

This Tuesday and Thursday, over 300 people registered for the virtual landmark conference hosted by ReImagine Appalachia. The Community Benefits Summit featured speakers like Athens, Ohio Mayor Steve Patterson, Cornell’s Director of Labor Leadership Programs Kathleen Mulligan, and the Department of Labor’s Rukku Singla, all of whom highlighted how community benefits agreements and strong labor standards could help realize a Reimagined Appalachia with opportunity for all. Learn more about the event here; watch the video of Tuesday here; look for today’s video on the RA Facebook page later today. And go to the RA community benefits resource page (scroll all the way down to see all the resources) for more information.

Pennsylvania April Jobs Numbers

Last Friday, KRC released a statement and blog highlighting that Pennsylvania’s economy remained strong in April, adding 13,000 jobs. Unemployment fell to 4.1%, the lowest level since at least January 1976. Pennsylvania job market rebounded after 2020 in less than half the time recovery took after the 2009 Great Recession – thanks to fiscal policy at the scale of the COVID downturn. Black unemployment nationally fell to the lowest level in the 50+ years since this number began being reported. And inflation over the past 12 months fell below 5%, the lowest level in two years.

“Governing for Sustainability”

Also last week, the Environmental Law Institute released an important new book – Governing for Sustainability – with recommendations for federal, state, and local government on how to accelerate progress towards the 17 “Sustainable Development Goals” unanimously approved by United Nations Member States in 2015. These recommendations would make America and Pennsylvania a better place for all. KRC executive director Stephen Herzenberg wrote the chapter on Sustainable Development Goal #8, Decent Work, highlighting the importance of workers’ rights to form unions and full employment policies to reducing the economic inequality that underpins the widespread “indecent work” in the United States. His recommendations deserve close reading by the Shapiro Administration, Mayor Ed Gainey in Pittsburgh, and primary election winners in the races for Philadelphia Mayor and Allegheny County Executive. Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation might also digest the section on full employment – instead of joining a push by the U.S. House majority to lock in fiscal policies that will jeopardize full employment and undermine recent progress thanks to record low unemployment.

In the Media

PERI Publishes Report Showing the Green Locomotive Manufacturing Can Be a Big Driver of Jobs in Appalachia UMASS News, 4/26/23

Pa. Senate advances two bills that focus on corporate tax cuts Pennlive, 5/9/23

Will machines replace warehouse workers in the Lehigh Valley? Not so fast, say experts Allentown Morning Call, 5/12/23

Pa.’s unemployment rate in April may have matched record low Pennlive, 5/19/23