Council 13 members applaud Public Service Worker Protection Act

Members of AFSCME Council 13 thank Congressman Chris Deluzio (PA-17) for his leadership in the introduction of the Public Service Worker Protection Act and urge immediate passage of the bill by the United States Congress.

AFSCME members show their support for Congressman Chris Deluzio (PA-17) (6th from left), who recently introduced a national Public Sector OSHA bill.

The Public Service Worker Protection Act was introduced by Deluzio on June 14, 2024, and would extend OSHA-level protections to all public service workers nationwide, which is an initiative that AFSCME members in Pennsylvania have spent decades fighting for.

While efforts are ongoing at the state level to get House Bill 299 out of committee and on the PA Senate floor for a final vote, the Public Service Worker Protection Act would see to it that workers in all 23 states that actively exclude public sector workers from OSHA coverage, including Pennsylvania, would finally be covered.

Brian Brocato, President, AFSCME Local 297.

Brian Brocato, who represents hundreds of Pittsburgh public school employees as President of AFSCME Local 297, has seen up close how important these kinds of safeguards are for public sector workers and the communities they serve.

“Our members work in school buildings where private contractors are often working alongside us. Those private contractors are covered by OSHA – public school employees are not,” Brian shared.

“There have been times when worksites were deemed unsafe by OSHA, so private workers could not enter, but the public workers were still made to enter. There was an instance where teachers became concerned about air quality due to an ongoing construction job during school hours, to the point they actually called OSHA, but OSHA was turned away at the door. The lack of public sector OSHA affects students, teachers, and staff, alike.”

Ken Royal, VP, AFSCME Local 2163.

Ken Royal is an Equipment Operator for PennDOT in York County and a member of AFSCME Local 2163. He has experienced the dangers of the job firsthand and is still dealing with them to this day. Ken was struck by a motorist who crossed the yellow line as Ken was clearing debris from the road in 2003. He is still feeling the effects of this incident and is actively seeing a neurosurgeon about neck surgery, as well as possible back surgery in the future.

“The lack of public sector OSHA makes us feel unimportant and undervalued,” Ken stated.

“We need OSHA regulation in PennDOT with all the hazardous jobs we do to serve the public and keep people moving. Employers always claim to value safety, but we need a higher level of oversight to hold them to it.”

Public sector workers reported an injury rate 81% higher than their counterparts in the private sector. OSHA-level protections are long overdue, and the Public Service Worker Protection Act is a major step toward finally making things right.

Whether at the state or national level, AFSCME members will continue to be a loud voice for worker safety until all workers are equally and adequately protected.

AFSCME’s Saunders: The Public Service Worker Protection Act would support those who have devoted their careers to helping others