Episode 9 – Commonalities: #MiddleClassJobs with Rep. Eric Nelson


Episode 9 – Commonalities: #MiddleClassJobs with Rep. Eric Nelson


On Tuesday's episode of Commonalities, we sit down with State Representative Eric Nelson of the 57thLegislative District in Westmoreland County. The topic is #MiddleClassJobs and how we fill the funnel that exists. Rep. Nelson goes into detail on the bipartisan support for the hydrogen opportunity, the childcare cliff, the UEGF fund, and trade unions.

As always, Commonalities can be heard on WMBS Radio 590AM 101.1FM or downloaded at www.Commonalities.online or found anyplace you download your favorite podcasts.


Episode Transcript
Starting now. Commonalities where guests find common ground through uncommon conversations, politics, religion, finances, all the topics your grandmother told you not to discuss with friends. And now your host, Matthew Dowling, and today's guests on commonalities. Thanks for joining us on commonalities on five 90 Wmb, S 1 0 1 0.1, FM five 90 am and any place you download your favorite podcast. My guest today is a good friend of mine and a former colleague from the Pennsylvania House representative Eric Nelson of the 57th District in Westmore Lane County. Eric, how are you doing this morning? Doing fantastic, man. Great to see. You. Well, it's good to see you as well. Uh, today I know we have a, a topic we want to get to, and that is middle class jobs and how we fill that funnel, uh, and, uh, make sure we take care of all of the opportunities, uh, that we need to, uh, to provide jobs for the middle class. Uh, but before we get to that, I wanna talk a little bit about your background. Um, you have been in the Pennsylvania House since 2016, if I'm correct, is is that right? Yes, 16. That was a special election, so 2017. Um, I've been in there right around seven years now. So. And you have, uh, you have experience as a small business owner, um, mostly in the safety industry and, uh, and so, you know, some of the things that small business owners are struggling with and, uh, and you've provided jobs before in the past. Um, so you will be an excellent candidate to discuss our topic today, which again is middle class jobs. Um, I wanna give you a moment before we get into the crux to things to do a little bit of a self introduction. If there's anything I left out, uh, that you'd like to say about yourself or your background, you're welcome to do so. And it's, it's great, it's great to be on the show here talking about the ever important middle class jobs, you know, as an entrepreneur and small businessmen, you know, we had started a company, uh, we worked a lot in, um, steel power glass, petrochemical. That was the bulk of our business. The, the, uh, safety consulting company that I started, um, with a $5,000 loan, you know, from the Greensburg Teacher's Credit Union. We built that up over a number of years, the 54 employees, and also had a family business of a Brewster's ice cream that was located in New Stand for 16 years. So both from the heavy manufacturing side and, um, the light, you know, seven days a week, uh, retail business, I understand the importance of jobs and the pathway to be able to teach young people how to enter into the workforce, you know, so, um, it's one of the things that, you know, for me, I'm a former marine small business owner. You know, we live on a, a farm with my wife 25 years. We got seven kids on 70 plus acres. And part of my role as a state representative, I really feel trying to represent, you know, everyone. It's not about a given party Republican or Democrat, it's about families and families being able to have opportunity for their children to choose to stay here and work here for the next 10 years. And, and Pennsylvania has been steadily losing ground as compared to other states. Uh, and, and that's why middle class jobs are so important to me. Well, and, and we even saw that with, um, with redistricting and the fact that we lost a congressional seat, um, Pennsylvania is, is kind of bleeding, uh, residents. And I've always said, uh, that one of our leading exports, at least here from Fayette County, has been our youth. And, uh, we wanna do whatever we can to try to stop that and to create family sustaining jobs that keep people in the area. Um, now you talked a little bit about your background in the safety industry and some of the other industries you worked with. Um, kind of related to that, I know you've been working on legislation, um, in the hydrogen sector, um, that would bring hydrogen related jobs to southwestern Pennsylvania. So why don't you, uh, educate us a little bit on what exactly hydrogen production is and how those jobs, uh, could come to southwestern Pennsylvania and how they could keep our kids here for another generation? Yes, absolutely. You know, the, the hydrogen opportunity, as I call it, is an, an excellent way to be able to continue to have people work and to, to grow our, our region. And a little background on hydrogen is, and the use of hydrogen for manufacturing is a way to be able to generate high heat in a short term period of time. And with high heat that allows us to make heavy industrial products, the use of hydrogen and manufacturing also really reduces byproducts because hydrogen is so clean burning, it's even cleaner than natural gas, and it's made from natural gas. So this new technology is not brand new. Other parts of the world, other countries in the world, Europe, um, they've been manufacturing steel from hydrogen, they've also been using manuf hydrogen to be able to manufacture other products. And so as we look at Pennsylvania's next 10 years, if we can embrace what industry wants to do, and that is to supply consumers with low carbon products because they feel there's a market to be made and do it in a more responsible way, it's a win-win across the board. We have the, a multi-billion dollar investment in the shell cracker that's going to be coming online, and that cracker will generate ethane, which is used for plastics in all sorts of products. So as the ethane cracker begins to supply what would be the plastic to be able to make things, if we layer in a hydrogen hub or a facility that would take natural gas, which is already clean, split it, use those byproduct chemicals and the hydrogen to be the heat source, we can make some of the lowest carbon steel and plastics in the nation. And, and that really would be what I call a decade of development for southwestern Pennsylvania. And, and the process, the competitive process is actually beginning in January. Now you're talking about the competitive process. I, you know, I believe there are a limited number of hydrogen opportunities that are going to come available. Um, and I know that, you know, uh, a little bit more about that. Why don't you explain that to us and, and how can Southwestern Pennsylvania compete to obtain one of those hydrogen opportunities? Well, uh, it is, it definitely is game on and for, you know, industry itself over the last several years have been working on this initiative. And, um, I've been personally engaged in it probably about maybe a year, 14 months, 15 months. Um, and what's happening is there's a competition between states. The federal government has created an incentive, and again, regardless of the politics, um, whether you support actions that the federal government or you oppose them, um, the competition is on, and states across the nation are competing for four h four different hubs. The hydrogen hub, hydrogen manufacturing, which is what Southwestern Pennsylvania will, is really going after, would be a multi-billion dollar award to build a hydrogen hub facility, which we would then very close to it have hydrogen consumption, and that would allow us to make low-cost products. So the partnership that was created between some of our, our major players, and it's a public partnership between US Steel EOR and Shell. Um, there's a number of different hosts of additional employers environmental groups, and it's a bipartisan effort. There are Republicans and Democrats that want Pennsylvania to make low carbon products because it's about making the products, building the manufacturing plants, and then supplying the downstream opportunity for all the other plastics and materials made. Right now we, we live in the northeast, which is a large concentration of people in America, and we are within one trucking day's hall from southwestern Pennsylvania to supply some of the most populated areas in the country. We are positioned, ideally to be able to build it here, make it here, and then continue to supply products from water bro bottles to medical devices to the steel, low carbon steel that would go into automotive facilities. We just have to work together to bring it home. Sure. So how do we make Pennsylvania friendly enough that one of these federal opportunities could, uh, could be placed here? Well, that's an excellent question because unfortunately, Pennsylvania has a bit of a national stigma. You know, we are a high tax state and we have very arduous environmental regulations, which oftentimes prevent companies from dropping that large investment because when a company makes an investment, you know, they are, they need to generate profit from it. And so, you know, it's a responsibility of government to be able to allow Pennsylvania businesses and the families to compete on the national stage. And we were fortunate it was a bipartisan effort. Uh, then carried some controversy to pack, pass an incentive package for four different products, projects throughout Pennsylvania, which we did right at the end of last session. One of those was for this hydrogen hub, another was for a food manufacturing facility. We have another very large low carbon gasoline that it'll be one of the, the most modern facilities to make low carbon gasoline and fertilizer in central northeast Pennsylvania, a multi-billion dollar project. So I'm not a lover of tax credits at all, but I am even more so not a lover that Ohio, West Virginia, North Carolina are seeing multi-billion dollars investments plant that will hire over a thousand workers. Because Pennsylvania isn't engaged in recruiting large scale investment, we have to go all the way back to the days of Governor Corbett when he was able to incent that shell cracker, which was a multi-billion dollar, hundreds of thousands of construction jobs, industry trades, jobs, union workers, and small businesses from merit chops as well for multiple years. And that's really the opportunity that lays for us here, that everyone will be able to work and continue to work as we grow our economy. Sure. Well, representative Nelson, we have to get our first break in today. We are talking, uh, on the show about middle class jobs. We've been talking about the hydrogen opportunities in the area, and we, when we come back, we're gonna talk even more about some of the struggles that the middle class is dealing with, such as childcare and so forth. So I look forward to the rest of our conversation. If you're listening, stick with us. We'll be with back to you in just a moment. You are listening to commonalities where guests find common ground through uncommon conversations. We'll be back after this brief break to recognize our sponsors. When it comes to buying a home, what you see isn't exactly what you get. That's why home buyers should call Dave Dowling at Grandview Inspections at 7 2 4 2 0 8 4 1 0 8. You'll see colorful flowers, freshly painted walls, granite countertops, flaming hardwood floors, and other touches. What you can't see is the cracks, ancient plumbing, dangerous wiring, or broken appliances that might be revealed when you hire a home inspector. And when it comes to home inspectors, knowing yours has the qualifications and experience needed, should be your number one concern. Dave Dowling with Grandview Inspections is an architectural engineer with over 30 years of commercial construction experience and hundreds of inspections under his belt. A home inspection is an opportunity for you to hire an expert to walk through the home and prepare a report outlining the home's major components. What needs immediate attention and what will require maintenance after you move in Your home is one of your biggest investments. So make sure your investment is everything you hoped it to be. Call Dave Dowling at Grandview Inspections at 7 2 4 2 0 8 4 1 0 8. Are you enjoying the program? You're listening to support commonalities and help keep us on the air by making a donation of five, 10 or $25, or any amount you feel comfortable sharing [email protected] Again, that is donate.commonalities.online on the worldwide web, buy our host a cup of coffee or help pay for airtime at donate dot commonalities online. Founded in 1991, bright Stripe has succeeded on the premises of quality work done right at an affordable cost. At Bright Stripe personal service has always been a must. We strive to be the premier asphalt ceiling and striping company in the region. Matt George, the owner of Bright Stripe llc, brings experience from his construction and maintenance company, mountain Creek Construction and Maintenance. Matt has provided excellent customer service to many happy businesses and homeowners. Brights Stripe is the premier provider of seal coating or pavement ceiling. The process of applying a protective coating to asphalt based pavements to provide a layer of protection from the elements, water, oils, and UV damage. They also specialize in driveway and parking lot. Crack ceiling. Crack ceiling is the process of applying a protective coating to asphalt based pavements. Bright stripe also abides by all safety laws and standards in line striping and layout. For a no obligation estimate, contact Bright Stripe at 7 2 4 4 3 7 6 0 9 0. Is your business using analog strategies in a digital marketing world? If so, then contact Matthew or Rebecca Dowing at Coordinated 360 for a professional consultation where we bring in-depth knowledge and functional expertise with a holistic perspective. Coordinated 360 provides digital marketing, paid ad and media buying services, web design, social media management, video production, and more for businesses, organizations, and political campaigns with decades of experience. Matt and Becky at Coordinated 360 can help you craft your unique message and share it with the world. For a no risk media evaluation and recommendations, call 7 2 4 3 2 0 22 12, or visit us online at www.coordinatedthreesixty.com. Find us also on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, or email info coordinated three sixty.com. Believe in the political world, don't have any place believing in time commit crimes world. Well, thanks for sticking with us here on commonalities on five 90 am W N B S 1 0 1 0.1 fm, and any place you download your favorite podcasts. My guest today is Representative Eric Nelson of Westmoreland County, and we've been talking a little bit about the politics of, uh, the hydrogen opportunity that could happen here in southwestern Pennsylvania and what that would mean for middle class jobs. Um, Eric, before we went to the break, you mentioned that, uh, there was a bipartisan effort that, uh, came about to bring, um, to bring this hydrogen opportunity or the credit that we voted on last session. Um, what do you think is going to happen with that in this coming session? And do you think there will continue to be bipartisan support for this opportunity? Yes, yes, I do. We were really fortunate. I mean, despite what sometimes makes and fills the news, um, that it's just too extreme sides slugging it out there, there are a lot of people that are willing to work across the aisle to be able to win for their constituents and for Pennsylvania, and, and that's what we're, we're looking and striving to do. There's a multi-billion dollar, I mean, literally hundreds of thousands of man hours of both construction work. And when people are working, they're buying dds. They're, they're putting in swimming pools, they're buying trucks, they're building new hotels. And if we look at the last multiple years of the cracker build, a hydrogen hub can do wanders for an economy, and we're in the midst of a recession. Um, unfortunately, however you wanna slice it or dice it, it's about working family jobs, continuing to work and to provide, and then keeping people here in Pennsylvania. And that's what's really driving this bipartisan effort. Responsible environmentally responsible production and development, um, is key to the future because people want to buy lower carbon items. And using new technology to make low carbon, plastic and steel is our pathway to be able to have a boatload of not only construction work, but those downstream manufacturing jobs, the key people here in Pennsylvania. Now, to be able to, uh, to go to work, to go to those jobs, uh, if you have children, you need childcare. And I know, uh, that the childcare cliff, uh, provides, uh, a problem, especially for single parents here in Pennsylvania. And as a member of the Labor and Industry Committee, I know this is something that you've been looking at and, uh, some legislation has been developing. Why don't you talk a little bit about the childcare cliff and how we solve that problem here in Pennsylvania? Sure. And, and as a small business guy, um, I first learned of the childcare cliff after giving an employee a raise, and she declined it or said, I won't be able to work here as much. And I was completely baffled. I was like, Hey, you're doing a great job. We wanna give you a raise. And she's like, I can't do that because if I earn too much money, money, I'm gonna lose my childcare. And small businesses and larger corporations are struggling with this same issue. Where right now, in Pennsylvania, government is the biggest glass ceiling we have because if you have children that are receiving and you are lower income and you are receiving a childcare benefit, if you earn above a given government set threshold for more than six months, the government resins your childcare. And so people who are working have a choice, and it's, it's really three choices, which are three struggle points in the economy. They can quit that job and keep their childcare. They can tell the employer that they can only work less, and then they can also say, I'll begin to work under the table. And the underground economy presents its own challenges, but part of Pennsylvania's biggest struggle right now are getting people to reengage into the workforce itself. And when government is the roadblock, because right now, if a single mother or a, you know, a couple that's working, if they earn $50 more than the government threshold, they'll lose their entire childcare. I have had seven kids, and some we use childcare. My wife was fortunate to be off for some of 'em. Everybody follows their own pathway. But if you start making $150 more a month, like that's great, but it takes people a while to continue to earn in order for them to work their way out of a lower income status. And so the addressing and confronting the childcare cliff is in what I feel, a, a strong bipartisan effort. We've been working with, um, democratic senior individuals, the House Black Caucus, to be able to say, let's create a pathway where if someone has a better job and they get to that six month mark, they can continue to keep their childcare benefits, but begin to participate in a copay. The benefit of a copay, let's say 10%, that they would continue for the next six months, allows that person or that family to earn more money to be able to fix their car, get a better apartment, get their legs underneath themselves, and even into year two, if they keep that job for a year, they could keep their childcare and then the second year pay 25%. Now, the great part about copay is it allows someone to continue to work and to continue to earn. It also allows private dollars to contribute to childcare versus continually raising government paid childcare and then taxes on people to be able to supply the childcare. So that's, it's a very basic concept, but it is establishing a reliable and consistent pathway so that lower income earners can begin to earn more. So, just a quick, quick example of the financial cliff that exists. And it doesn't only exist in childcare, it exists with healthcare, it exists with a lot of other things, um, right outta college. Uh, going back here now, uh, over a decade or so ago, uh, I took a job for TeleTech as a training and quality assurance, uh, manager and I trained new hires for 30 days before they went onto the call center floor. Uh, TeleTech is now T Tech still located here in this area, but on day three of training, we would have our hr, uh, representatives come in and talk about the benefits that our company offered. And we offered, uh, very good healthcare at the time for anyone after 30 days of employment. And on day three, I used to have people that would leave class and not come back again because they realized that if they accepted the benefits that come along with this job, uh, they would no, they would no longer receive their government benefits. And, uh, so they would quit the job on day three before, uh, before they even got onto the call center floor. My point is, as a, a young Republican, as a conservative, uh, I used to think, man, look at these lazy people that don't wanna work. And as time has gone by, and as I have, uh, developed more experiences and become wiser, uh, I look at the fact that what they were doing just made good financial sense. And as a fiscal conservative, I have to say, I, I give them props for doing the math and knowing that keeping that job was actually going to cost them money. Uh, so these financial cliffs or hurdles are something that we have to deal with, whether it be in childcare, healthcare, et cetera. Oh, and, and unfortunately, one of the evils of government is government needs to have people dependent on itself in order to provide more government. So it doesn't matter whether you're looking at a Republican view or a democratic view, government wants individuals that have to rely on it because it keeps government then as the most essential thing in that family's lives, and that we're actually stealing the liberty and liberty. To me, that's the ability to pursue one's individual happiness, which is different for everyone. But when government sets mandatory thresholds and tells a family, if you make a hundred dollars more a month, you are going to lose several hundred dollars a week. We are disincentivizing people to be able to pursue their own happiness and their own dreams, like home ownership or a car, or just even the ability to be able to live in a safer neighborhood. And that's really frustrating to me. I recognize, um, you know, the, the battles of old where people will just club each other and say, no, you don't. You don't care about low income people or you have no heart at all. And actually, I have a pretty big heart, and I've seen how people have been stuck and trapped, and they're trapped in public housing. They are not allowed to earn more. And so then they get driven to the underground economy. And the underground economy is an unsafe place. Bad things happen there. People are taken advantage of. And some of the worst employment practices that we have in the state happen under the table, and they're all interconnected. You know, we are so blessed to have great families across the board, like, and whether you are a wealthy family or you are a lower income family, you love your children and you want the best for them. But when children grow up in a house where their parents have been beaten down by government glass ceilings, then they get, they get the mindset that they are going to be stuck in this same thing too. And the way that we begin to turn around is by using our western Pennsylvania work ethic, which is nationally known, and the basic principles of the Constitution, which is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. All we have to do is get government to agree just a little bit to allow people to work more. Now, you touched a little bit on a buzzword, um, underground economy, and, uh, and that's referring to the people who are working under the table and that underground economy is taking advantage of something called the U E G F. And before we were, uh, here on the show, you and I were talking a little bit about that. I want to get to the topic of U E G F. As soon as we get back from this next break. You are listening to commonalities for guests Find Common Ground through Uncommon Conversations. We'll be back after this brief break to recognize our sponsors. When it comes to buying a home, what you see isn't exactly what you get. That's why home buyers should call Dave Dowling at Grandview Inspections at 7 2 4 2 0 8 4 1 0 8. You'll see colorful flowers, freshly painted walls, granite countertops, flaming hardwood floors, and other touches. What you can't see is the cracks, ancient plumbing, dangerous wiring, or broken appliances that might be revealed when you hire a home inspector. And when it comes to home inspectors, knowing yours has the qualifications and experience needed should be your number one concern. Dave Dowling with Grandview Inspections is an architectural engineer with over 30 years of commercial construction experience and hundreds of inspections under his belt. A home inspection is an opportunity for you to hire an expert to walk through the home and prepare a report outlining the home's major components. What needs immediate attention and what will require maintenance after you move in Your home is one of your biggest investments. So make sure your investment is everything you hoped it to be. Call Dave Dowling at Grandview Inspections at 7 2 4 2 0 8 4 1 0 8. Are you enjoying the program? You're listening to support commonalities and help keep us on the air by making a donation of five, 10 or $25, or any amount you feel comfortable sharing [email protected] Again, that is donate.commonalities.online on the worldwide web. Buy our host a cup of coffee or help pay for airtime at donate dot commonalities online. Founded in 1991, bright Stripe has succeeded on the premises of quality work done right at an affordable cost. At Bright Stripe personal service has always been a must. We strive to be the premier asphalt ceiling and striping company in the region. Matt George, the owner of Brights Stripe llc, brings experience from his construction and maintenance company, mounting free construction and maintenance. Matt has provided excellent customer service to many happy businesses and homeowners. Bright Stripe is the premier provider of seal coating or pavement ceiling. The process of applying a protective coating to asphalt based pavements to provide a layer of protection from the elements, water, oils, and UV damage. They also specialize in driveway and parking lot. Crack ceiling. Crack ceiling is the process of applying a protective coating to asphalt based pavements. Bright stripe also abides by all safety laws and standards in line striping and layout. For a no obligation estimate, contact Bright Stripe at 7 2 4 4 3 7 6 0 9 0. Is your business using analog strategies in a digital marketing world? If so, then contact Matthew or Rebecca Dow length at Coordinated 360 for a professional consultation where we bring in-depth knowledge and functional expertise with a holistic perspective. Coordinated 360 provides digital marketing, paid ad and media buying services, web design, social media management, video production, and more for businesses, organizations, and political campaigns with decades of experience. Matt and Becky at Coordinated 360 can help you craft your unique message and share it with the world. For a no risk media evaluation and recommendations, call 7 2 4 3 2 0 22 12, or visit us online at www.coordinatedthreesixty.com. Find us also on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, or email info coordinated three sixty.com. Political world love, don't have any place in time crimes. We live in a political world. Well, that's a little bit of Bob Dylan. And we do live in a political world, uh, and we're talking today the politics that affect middle class jobs. My guest today is representing Eric Nelson of the 57th Legislative District in Westmoreland County. Uh, representative Nelson, before we went to the break, uh, I kind of teased that we'd be talking about the U E G F fund. Um, I guess you don't have to say fund, that's like saying a t m machine, um, because the F stands for fun. But why don't you tell us a little bit about U E G F and some of the problems with that. Like we should probably start this next segment by giving your listeners a warning because U E G F sounds incredibly boring. And then once we, you know, like recognize what's happening within what is referred to as the uninsured employers guaranteed fund a result on what's happening to legitimate employers in Pennsylvania, it makes you very frustrating. I never really knew about U EEG F or the UN uninsured employers guaranteed fund. It's a pretty boring, you know, topic line. But what Pennsylvania did with good intentions back in 2006 was they created a fund for workers who were injured by unscrupulous employers, bad employers, who did not provide workers' compensation coverage for their employees. And it guarantees medical coverage and it also pays compensation or wages, you know, workers' comp wages for those injured workers who were working for an employer that didn't meet their obligations. Now, fast forward to 2022. The U E G F fund is become a dumping ground for injured workers under the table. Labor brokers and labor brokers are people who work in the cash economy and supply either illegals, citizen labor, or workers who are working under the table for cash. Anyone who gets hurt in this underground economy now gets plugged into an attorney, and then that attorney ensures their medical bills and their payments are covered. The unfortunate part of it is this fund is paid for by legitimate employers and Pennsylvania's independent employers. So what's happening is our above table employers, contractors, this happens a lot in construction, and our major employers, we, in 2018, we actually increase the amount that they are required to pay in worker's comp to pay for the underground economy that is now running al over a million dollars in the red every year because so many workers are tapping into this system and getting paid, and you don't even have to show proof of wages, and that's the goal of this bill. Now, where is this, uh, this bill? I know it's a new legislative session, but, uh, has it been introduced? Is there bipartisan support? Have co-sponsors begun signing on yet? Yes. So, um, we're at the beginning of session, last session. I introduced the bill. We were able to advance it out of the Labor and Industry Committee and across the house with a strong bipartisan majority. And what the bill simply says is it's, it's referred to as proof of wages. If an employee gets hurt and they were working for an unscrupulous employer, they no matter what are covered with their medical costs, but in order to receive compensation, they have to either prove through paycheck, direct deposit, legitimate, some means it could be a company shirt, some means of employment that they actually were working, because right now you can just call it up and verbally say, I was working and I got hurt. And we start paying and providing medical coverage and there's no proof needed. And then who pays for it are legitimate businesses. It's, it's crazy, Matt, out of state, people are receiving U E G F funds and medical coverage paid for by Pennsylvania employers, and they don't even have to prove they were actually working or they were injured. It's nuts. It it is nuts. But I think the important thing to remember is that that fund was set up, um, for good reason. And it is important because we do have, uh, employers that aren't doing what they're required to, what they're supposed to. Um, for example, my wife, uh, Rebecca, who you know, um, was injured, uh, at work, um, she had slipped on ice, had fallen, uh, was unconscious, had a concussion, uh, and had to be treated for several months, uh, due to that concussion and, uh, some lingering side effects that she had. And, uh, despite the fact that she was an office manager for a doctor's office, um, that practice had let their, uh, workers' comp insurance lapse so this fund would've come into play. Now, ultimately, through litigation, we were able to settle with the employer, although it took us two and a half years. Um, but this fund is important for people that are in that situation where they're doing everything right as the employee and the employer themselves is who would be in the wrong. Absolutely. And that's, that's why we wouldn't want to eliminate this fund because good people, again, middle class workers sometimes get hurt and they had no idea their employer wasn't meeting their obligations, you know, so in that situation, if an employee is able to show proof of wages, it makes sure that legitimately injured workers are covered. Now, what we included in the bill was a provision that if you can't prove anything at all, all you would have to do is sign an affidavit that says, okay, who was that employer? And that allows then Pennsylvania labor and industry and Pennsylvania existing departments to pursue that bad employer. Because right now you don't even need to say who you were working for. No one asked that question. And so it is a thriving system that unfortunately there are two benefactors, people who are in the underground economy and attorneys that are filing the claims because an attorney who files this claim gets 20% of the cut for the length of the claim. And so you can see what's happening here, right? Legitimate employers are having to pay more in their workers' compensation to pay 20% to the attorneys and all the rest for the medical bills of employers who are competing against them. And so that's why we're seeking this very simple reform. You either have to show proof that you actually were working or sign an affidavit with who your illegal employer was so that we can go after them. And to me, everyone wins in that scenario. And just a quick note, that 20% that you're talking about, uh, is actually statutorily set. Um, so you're not gonna find any attorney that will do it for less or do it for more. Um, they're guaranteed that 20% by statute, um, for any worker's comp case that they handle. Uh, we have to get one more quick break, and this one will be a quick one, uh, in, and then we'll come back. We have about four and a half minutes left in the show. I want to talk about Trade U Unions because we've been talking about middle class jobs, and I think that's a great avenue for people, uh, to go down. And I know you have a good relationship with the trade. So a quick break and we'll be right back. You're listening to commonalities where guests find common ground through uncommon conversations. We'll be back after this brief break to recognize our sponsors. Founded in 1991, bright Stripe has succeeded on the premises of quality work done right at an affordable cost At Bright Stripe. Personal service has always been a must. We strive to be the premier asphalt ceiling and striping company in the region. Matt George, the owner of Brights Stripe, l l c, brings experience from his construction and maintenance company, mounting Creek Construction and Maintenance. Matt has provided excellent customer service to many happy businesses and homeowners. Bright Stripe is the premier provider of seal coating or pavement ceiling. The process of applying a protective coating to asphalt based pavements to provide a layer of protection from the elements, water, oils, and UV damage. They also specialize in driveway and parking lot. Crack ceiling. Crack ceiling is the process of applying a protective coating to asphalt based pavements. Bright stripe also abides by all safety laws and standards in line striping and layout for a no obligation estimate, contact Bright Stripe at 7 2 4 4 3 7 6 0 9 0. You're listening to commonalities. And my guest today is representative Eric Nelson, a friend of mine, a uh, former colleague from the 57th Legislative District in Westmoreland County. And, uh, Eric, we have about two minutes and 40 seconds. I wanted to talk a little bit about the trades and, uh, trade unions and the opportunities that they provide since our topic today is middle class jobs. Absolutely. It's, you know, one of the initiatives in, in the real world and working. We've worked with both union employers and non-union employers, and when we talk about middle class jobs, everybody's on the same page of music here. You know, I'm a, I'm a supporter of the trades. If we're gonna build a refinery and we need 300 certified welders to be able to make sure they're gonna do quality welds on what could be an explosive system, you're gonna want a union coming in here and supplying that label and coordinating it. And, and we in Western Pennsylvania have been able to demonstrate to the nation that our trades can get work done quicker and faster than bringing in a ton of workers from out-of-state in the south and taking longer to do a lower quality job. Yeah, and, and you know, I keep just reminding young people when I talk to them that that's a great way to get an education, to become an apprentice apprentice, to move through those trade unions and gain the skills that you need. Uh, and they provide excellent service, uh, for our industries here in southwestern Pennsylvania. We are out of time for the day. Uh, representative Nelson, I wanna thank you for, uh, your service in the Pennsylvania House. Thank you for your military service. I see here in my notes, although we didn't get to talk about it, uh, that you were an M one A one tanker military policeman, and, uh, a infantry demolitions, uh, expert. So thank you for all of your service. Thank you for your friendship. And thank you for being on today's show. You've been listening to commonalities on Wmb S five 90 am 1 0 1 0.1 fm. This has been Commonalities, a show where guests find common ground through uncommon conversations. Copyright 2022 Coordinated 360, all public rebroadcast should be done with prior written approval from Matthew Dowling. All requests should be sent to [email protected] Thank you for listening to commonalities.

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