PA Chamber Warns of Negative Impacts of Proposed Minimum Wage and Overtime Policies

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

Ahead of his 2020-21 state budget address, Gov. Tom Wolf reiterated his support for policies the PA Chamber has consistently opposed, due to their negative impact on economic growth and job creation.

At a morning press conference on Tuesday, Jan. 28, the governor announced he is again pushing to more than double the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour; along with the approval of an overtime eligibility expansion rule that aims to dramatically expand – both in the near-term and automatically going forward – the scope of employees eligible for overtime pay, or time-and-a-half for any hours worked over 40 in a week.  This proposal would be unaffordable for many employers who would be forced to convert salaried employees into hourly positions so that hours can be closely monitored and overtime avoided.

The governor voiced renewed support for these measures following the House’s inaction on S.B. 79, compromise legislation that passed the Senate in a 42-7 vote and would have rescinded the overtime rule in exchange for a more gradual and modest increase in the state’s minimum wage, to $9.50 an hour.  While the PA Chamber has historically opposed minimum wage increases, the organization believes this legislation had merit and was the only viable option for stopping the overtime proposal, the economic impact of which could be even worse for the employer community.  

On Friday, Jan. 31, the state’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission voted to move forward with the overtime proposal; after which PA Chamber President Gene Barr issued a statement expressing the organization’s disappointment with approval of a policy that so many employers statewide had voiced multiple concerns with.

“In 2018, during the initial phase of the review process, hundreds of opposition comments were submitted from a wide range of stakeholders – including nonprofits, higher education, local governments, small businesses among many others,” Barr said. “Many of these concerns were echoed by IRRC, which directed the Department to re-engage with stakeholders and submit a revised proposal for consideration.

“Unfortunately, the proposal approved today is only minimally different from the Department’s initial proposal and largely disregards the concerns raised by stakeholders.  We urge the General Assembly to consider the true impact of this proposal and for each legislative chamber to issue disapproval resolutions rejecting the change.”