Cassie Miller, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
December 14, 2023
Rep. Lindsey Powell (D-Allegheny) introduced a bill this week to bar employers from suspending health care coverage for striking workers, citing the “disastrous effects” discontinuing coverage could have on employees and their families.
House Bill 1911 would amend the Public Employee Relations Act, which establishes the rights of public employees to organize and bargain collectively, to prevent employers from suspending the health care benefits of striking employees, which often forces employees to choose between their health care coverage and exercising their rights as workers.
“Compelling employees to choose between job security and safeguarding their well-being and that of their families is a dire proposition,” Powell said. “My bill keeps essential health coverage in place until the employer and employees reach a mutual compromise.”
The bill is Powell’s first bill as a state lawmaker. She was elected to the House in November, filling the seat previously held by three-term state Rep. Sara Innamorato, who resigned in July to run for Allegheny County Executive.
Powell’s bill, currently in the House Labor and Industry Committee for consideration, isn’t the first piece of state legislation to expand protections for striking workers.
In November, the House passed legislation to allow striking workers to collect unemployment benefits in the event of a labor dispute.
The bill is currently before the Senate Labor and Industry Committee but has yet to see a vote.