A Pennsylvania state senator is backing legislation supported by PFMA that would update the state's Price Gouging Act to address price controls in a state of emergency, benefiting both businesses and consumers.
The measure, Senate Bill 139, is sponsored by state Sen. Judy Ward, R-Blair. Sen. Ward is leading the charge after a similar measure sponsored by state Sen. Richard Alloway, R-Franklin, was overwhelmingly approved by the General Assembly in 2018, but vetoed at the end of session by Gov. Tom Wolf.
Sen. Alloway announced his retirement, effective Feb. 28.
In all, the measure would:
Require the Governor to specifically activate pricing restrictions when declaring an emergency so they apply only when needed. Other states have similar best practices.
Limit the duration of pricing restrictions to 15 days (with extensions up to 60 days), and limits their scope to those goods and services necessary for use or consumption.
Provide guidance as to what prices would not violate the law -- with safe harbors for prices that are 10% or less above specified benchmarks or consistent with external market prices.
Simplify the compliance process (important for small businesses).
Make the penalty provision work more fairly and centralize enforcement in the Commonwealth (within the Attorney General’s Office).
The legislation is supported by many statewide business organizations, including American Car Rental Association, Associated Petroleum Industries of PA, National Federation of Independent Business, Pennsylvania Builders Association, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association, Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, and the Pennsylvania Retailers Association
The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA) has appointed Bob Plata, Bunzl Vice President of Mid-Atlantic Market, to its Board of Directors.
Plata takes the seat previously held by Rick Maier. In his current role, Plata is responsible for overseeing distribution centers in Baltimore, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and York. Bunzl, a multinational distribution and outsourcing company, sells disposable packaging to supermarkets, convenience stores, and food processors.
Plata has worked his entire 33-year career at Bunzl. His goal has always been “to help our customers sell more food,” he said.
“We are pleased to welcome Bob to our Board,” PFMA President & CEO Alex Baloga said. “His wealth of knowledge from decades of working with food merchants will prove valuable to our organization and the industry as a whole.” PFMA thanks Maier for his service to the Board and wishes him well in his new role as Senior Vice President of Bunzl’s East Region.
After graduating from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, Plata joined Bunzl as a Sales Representative in 1985 and worked his way up to a Supermarket Sales Manager. He was promoted to a General Manager in 1994 before becoming Vice President of Mid-Atlantic Market in October 2018.
Plata has been married to his wife Kathy for 31 years and the couple has five children – four sons, Graham, Matthew, Luke, Robbie, and a daughter, Lauren, as well as a pair of yellow Labradors, Blitz and Buzz.
Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association members have the opportunity to take advantage of valuable training from the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance (PFSA) to educate food industry employees on recognizing and reporting child abuse.
PFSA, which is celebrating 40 years of service in 2019, is a nonprofit statewide organization that provides education, support, and training programs to make Pennsylvania safe for children.
PFSA also has the following immediate financial needs:
A low mileage, all-wheel drive automobile for in-state travel.
Sponsors for its April 3, 2019 awareness event at the PA State Capitol.
If you are able to help, or would like information on training services, please contact Ann Moffitt, PFSA Director of Development, at 717-856-4428 (cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brown’s Super Stores, a family business which operates 11 ShopRite supermarkets and 2 Fresh Grocer supermarkets in the Philadelphia area, and the Urban Affairs Coalition (UAC), will partner with UBER, Salem Baptist Church of Roslyn, community groups, corporations, and elected officials to coordinate a tremendous Thanksgiving basket distribution again this year.
In its 35th year, this program will be supported by generous sponsors including Pepsi, Glory Foods, Table Talk Pie Co., Bimbo Bread, Pepperidge Farms, Flowers Baking, Schmidt Baking, Verchio’s & Guarino’s Produce, which supply many of the items in this year’s baskets. Our new partner UBER, will provide community partners and their families complimentary rides to pick up their Thanksgiving Baskets. This partnership will distribute 2,000 baskets with a full dinner that will feed more than 12,000 individuals citywide and give them a Thanksgiving meal to remember. Once again, it will be one of the largest distributions ever in the region.
More than 100 community partners from across the city will distribute the Thanksgiving baskets to families in need. A team of more than 75 volunteers will assemble at the ShopRite of Oregon Avenue on Saturday, November 17th at 9:00am to prepare the 2,000 baskets for distribution. Volunteers from partners’ organizations will be on hand to help with the packing of the baskets.
Officials will hold a press event Monday, Nov. 19 at 10 a.m. the ShopRite of Island Avenue where the baskets will be distributed to the community groups. Expected to be in attendance are: Paul Brauer, Chief Operating Officer of Brown’s Super Stores, Inc.; Sandy Brown, Director, Brown’s Super Stores, Inc.; Sharmain Matlock Turner, President & CEO, Urban Affairs Coalition; Marshall Paul Hughes Mitchell, Salem Baptist Church of Roslyn; Harry Hartfield, Uber Public Affairs; Sen. Vincent Hughes, Chair of the PA Hours Democratic Caucus; State Representatives Joanna McClinton and Isabella Fitzgerald; and Sheriff Jewell Williams.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association presented Alex Baloga, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association with the 2018 GMA Excellence in Government Affairs award Nov. 13 at the Food Industry Association Executives Annual Meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“Alex’s leadership and unwavering dedication are the embodiment of a true advocate,” said Greg Costa, senior director of state affairs, GMA. “We are fortunate to have him representing the industry both in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. and honored to recognize him with this award.”
The Excellence in State Government Affairs Award is presented each year to an outstanding state association executive in recognition of their partnership with GMA to advance public policy initiatives in state and local jurisdictions that benefit consumer product manufacturers and retailers alike.
"At PFMA, we serve as the voice representing thousands of businesses and individuals working in the food and beverage industry in Pennsylvania and neighboring states," said Alex Baloga, president and CEO, PFMA. "We work hard every day to promote the industry and drive positive legislative change for our members statewide and in Philadelphia, which currently includes an ongoing effort to repeal a sugar-sweetened beverage tax that's crippling businesses."
During Baloga’s tenure with PFMA, the association has successfully lobbied a variety of issues on behalf of its membership, including taking a lead role in Pennsylvania and contributing considerably to the federal lobbing effort on GMO labeling, which led to preemption of state labeling laws. Baloga and PFMA have also been leaders in the fight to halt discriminatory taxes on beverages in Philadelphia and throughout the state, forming the “Ax the Bev Tax Coalition.”
Baloga joined PFMA in 2013, rising quickly to run the organization. After serving first as director of government affairs and then adding communications to his portfolio in 2014, he was promoted to vice president of external relations in 2015, and then president and CEO the summer of 2017. Baloga leads PFMA’s state, local and federal government relations efforts, Philadelphia Food PACs and PFMA’s Legislative, Pharmacy and WIC Stakeholder’s Committees.
Additionally, Baloga serves on the Classification and Ratings Committee for the Pennsylvania Compensation Rating Bureau, and as a board member on the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Fund. He also represents PFMA members on the newly created Pennsylvania Lottery Sales Advisory Council.
The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association is disappointed in Gov. Tom Wolf's veto of Senate Bill 1172, bipartisan legislation that would have protected Pennsylvania businesses and consumers.
A diverse coalition of the state’s leading business and trade associations issued the following statement regarding the Governor’s veto of S.B. 1172, which aimed to bring clarity to the Price Gouging Act for the state’s business community.
Pennsylvania employers will save hundreds of millions in increased insurance costs under a new bill signed by Gov. Tom Wolf in October.
The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association strongly supported House Bill 1840, which will bring the commonwealth’s workers’ compensation law into compliance with a recent state Supreme Court decision.
The decision centered around the use of so-called impairment rating evaluations, or IREs. Instituted in 1996, IREs allowed employers to cap benefits to injured workers
Last year, the state Supreme Court struck down the use of IREs. Employers were able to move employees from total disability to partial disability if an independent doctor assessed their disability at less than 50 percent total body impairment. Pennsylvania caps partial disability payments at 500 weeks, while total disability payments have no cap.
Without IREs, employers are seeing rising costs for workers’ compensation coverage and Wolf’s signing of HB 1840, sponsored by state Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-89, now restores those IREs.
“Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation system is a costly requirement that employers across the state contribute to each year,” Rep. Kauffman said when introducing the bill. “In order to make sure the system is helping those injured on the job, while still keeping costs in check, I have authored legislation that would provide hundreds of millions of dollars in relief from Workers’ Compensation costs for Pennsylvania employers.
“Based on a technicality, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court gutted a major cost savings provision last year that was originally enacted in the 1990s. My bill restores that provision in a manner that complies with the court’s ruling. This legislation will protect workers and save employers and the state millions of dollars.”
The new law will provide fair compensation for workers and increase the burial benefits for victims of workplace fatalities from $3,000 to $7,000. However, the major component would reduce workers’ compensation costs for employers by hundreds of millions of dollars.
“This has been a major issue for Pennsylvania’s business community, which was being unfairly impacted by the court’s decision,” said Rep. Kauffman. “We need to work with our business community in order to retain and create more jobs here in the Commonwealth. By enacting pro-business legislation, we are also helping workers and the families they support.”
By Cindy Sorensen, CEO - The Grocery Group and WGA Board Member
The statistics are alarming; women are leaving the grocery industry at a rate four times that of men; the turnover rate for women in first and mid-level managerial positions is 24%; the turnover for women in executive roles is 27%. Retention is a challenge and many factors are contributing to it. Leading the list of reasons women leave the grocery industry, is that there are fewer female role models at higher levels in their organizations to whom they can look for leadership development. In addition, at a time when many industries are faced with challenges of attracting, recruiting and retaining a qualified workforce, these additional challenges in our industry to also have a diverse workforce, need to be addressed in order to be relevant to our employees, our customers and our consumers. National Grocers Association (NGA) recognizes the need our industry has to be more relevant to women seeking to enter this industry, or those who are already employed here. Women Grocers of America (WGA) was developed as an NGA special program and it is the sole organization representing female grocers and other women affiliated with the independent food industry. WGA specifically serves as NGA’s career development network for active female professionals as well as students interested in pursuing independent retail grocery careers. The mission of WGA is to promote the recruitment, growth, development, and empowerment of women within the independent grocery industry. WGA’s objectives focus on networking, recognition and education. Activities include mentoring programs, networking opportunities at NGA events, scholarships, and the Woman of the Year award. Membership is open to any woman affiliated with an independent retailer, wholesaler, manufacturer, service supplier, or state/local association that maintains membership in NGA. Women throughout all levels in the industry, as well as students, are welcome and encouraged to join!
There are some new faces on the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association Board of Directors.
The association recently appointed to the Board: Gary Fechter, Wegmans Senior Vice President for the Pennsylvania Division. Bill Crosby, Vice President of Operations for ACME Markets; and Bob Hilmes, Area Sales Director for SuperValue, Inc.
The members fill the spots previously occupied by Blaine Forkell, Dan Croce, and Joe Della Noce, respectively. PFMA would like to thank them for their service and contributions to the Board.
“We are delighted to welcome Gary, Bill, and Bob to the Board,” PFMA President & CEO Alex Baloga said. “All three individuals are recognized business leaders, are incredibly talented, and bring a wealth of experience to PFMA. We are fortunate to have them on our team, advocating for the interests of our members.”
In his current role, Fechter is responsible for the operations of 16 Wegmans stores across Pennsylvania. He joined Wegmans in 2013, formerly serving as Regional Vice President for Romano’s Macaroni Grill restaurants.
Fechter has held senior multi-unit operations leadership positions spanning 20 years with large companies such as Boston Market, Blockbuster Video, Panera Bread, and Qdoba Mexican Grill. He has corporate and franchise operations experience with both startups and turnarounds.
Fechter has a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in finance from the University of Florida. He has served as Chairman of the Civic Engagement Committee, as well as a member of the Board of Governors for Leadership Palm Beach County. In addition, he has served on the Board of Directors of For The Children, Inc. in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Crosby is responsible for ACME’s South Philadelphia and suburban locations, including portions of Delaware County, the Main Line, Chester County, as well as Delaware, Maryland, southcentral New Jersey and the Jersey Shore.
Holmes has more than 40 years of industry experience, beginning his SuperValu career in 1986 as a zone sales manager with the company’s Shop ’n Save banner stores in the Pittsburgh market. He later held account manager and perishable manager positions for Shop ’n Save and County Market stores.
For the past seven years, Holmes has served as Director of Territory Sales for the Shop ’n Save stores as well as other independent grocery stores in western Pennsylvania.