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Fight for Public Employee Safety

Pennsylvania’s public employees lack federal OSHA workplace safety protections. Learn more about our ongoing fight to secure for protection.

As public employees, SEIU Local 668 members are not covered by the workplace health and safety standards established for private sector workers by the 1970 Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA).

In November 2014, an Erie MTA worker, Jake Schwab, was killed due to unsafe working conditions, which would not have occurred had the EMTA been subject to, and in compliance with, OSHA regulations. Shortly thereafter, Representative Patrick Harkins (D-Erie) introduced – the Jake Schwab Worker Safety Bill, a bill that is supported by SEIU, AFSCME, and the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, among others. The bill will expand workplace health and safety standards (OSHA) to public employees, covering employees of the: Commonwealth, Counties, Cities; Towns and Boroughs.

To create the kind of momentum we need to get this law enacted, we need to hear stories from you about the working conditions you face every day. We need to educate the press, our communities, and the State Legislature about the dangers that public sector workers face while providing essential services to the public.

In January 2015, a Philadelphia School District (PSD) employee and SEIU 32BJ member, was killed in a boiler explosion in an elementary school filled with children who had to be evacuated. This may not have occurred had the PSD been subject to, and in compliance with, OSHA regulations. We cannot allow more public employees to be put at unnecessary risk serving the Pennsylvanians.

The fight for Public Sector OSHA standards continues. In May of 2021, Senator Tartaglione introduced S.B. 310 ,the Senate version of the bill, and the Senate Democratic Policy Committee held a public hearing on the need for the legislation.

If you’d like to be a part of this effort, please share your story with our communications team today, so we can work with you directly to find the right way to convey your story to the public.