Pa. will stop paying 9k non-essential state workers

The Capitol building in Harrisburg (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

(*Updated, 2:56 p.m. with comment from Dave Fillman, executive director of AFSCME Local 13)

State officials said Friday that they will stop paying 9,000 non-essential state workers whose offices have been shuttered because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to reports by the Associated Press, the freeze will impact employees whose offices are closed and who cannot work remotely. The freeze impacts about 12 percent of the state’s workforce, with the Departments of Transportation and Revenue taking the biggest hits, the AP reported, citing Gov. Tom Wolf’s Office of Administration.

In all, 5,700 of the impacted workers are employed by PennDOT, while 900 work for the Department of Labor & Industry and 850 work for Revenue. The rest of the employees are “scattered” across other state agencies, the AP reported.

The positions at the Department of Labor & Industry are not part of the state’s unemployment compensation program, which had seen 1 million claims by displaced workers as of Friday.

In the meantime, state workers can use paid vacation days, sick leave or compensatory time to continue to collect a paycheck, said Dave Fillman, executive director of AFSCME Local 13, a union representing thousands of state employees.

When the layoffs will end is not certain, but Wolf has indicated that state offices will be closed through at least April 30.

“If they have a lot of sick time, it could carry them through easily,” Fillman said.

If workers do not have leave, they can apply for unemployment payments. All the temporarily without pay will have access to their health care.

John L. Micek
John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. He's been covering Pennsylvania politics for more than 20 years and most recently served as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Micek's commentary is syndicated to more than 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. And he's a regular contributor to a host of broadcast outlets in Pennsylvania and abroad.
Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso is the Capital-Star's House reporter. He previously covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.