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Nov 15

Billboard: Jake Schwab won’t be home with his family for Thanksgiving

Tragic death of Erie mechanic could have been prevented

Harrisburg, PA– “Jake Schwab won’t be home with his family for Thanksgiving…find out why at missingjake.com ” says a new billboard in downtown Harrisburg to demand that state legislators pass legislation to ensure state public workers are safe on the job.

A mechanic with Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority (EMTA) Schwab died in 2014 when a suspension air bag in a bus he was working on exploded in his face. Schwab was working with the wrong tools on an unfamiliar bus from another agency in a garage. In fact, there was not even an investigation of his death because he was a public employee. There had been no safety training in Jake’s garage for over 9 years.

The billboard is part of an Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) campaign to push for passage of the Jake Schwab Worker’s Safety bill (H.B. 1082) to ensure on-the-job safety protection for public employees by establishing OSHA-equivalent safety rules for public employers.  The campaign also includes an online petition.

A hearing is scheduled for December 4 on H.B. 1082, which was introduced to state legislature in 2015. 

"Jake won’t be home with his family for Thanksgiving and we believe that if this law had been in place in 2014, he would be home safe celebrating with his family," said John Renwick, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 568-Erie, PA, which Jake was a member. "Unfortunately, Jake's story is one that could happen again unless this bill is passed."

As a public transit authority, EMTA and other public agencies are exempted from OSHA-equivalent regulations, so the details regarding this incident and any safety concerns that would have been raised through an OSHA review have been hard to track.

All Pennsylvania public employers, including the commonwealth, all legal political subdivisions, public schools, transit systems and any nonprofit organizations are currently exempt from the OSHA standards.

“The deafening silence coming from Pennsylvania legislators about Jake’s death for the past two years speaks volumes about their disregard and lack of concern for public workers,” Renwick said. “The least we can do to honor the memory of Jake Schwab is get this bill passed to prevent future tragedies and ensure that public workers will be home with their families to celebrate Thanksgiving, other holidays and milestones.”