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Pennsylvania gubernational campaign getting underway for labor community

07.28.14

AUGUST 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Pennsylvania gubernational campaign getting underway for labor community

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, July 20th- The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg and affiliated members of the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council in Harrisburg along with nonaffiliated labor organizations such as the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) Union, are beginning to prepare to energize their members in a attempt to defeat Incumbent Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett in the November election.

The labor community has put a high priority on defeating Mr. Corbett in 2014.

The labor community, including those that supported other Democratic candidates in Pennsylvania’s primary election in May, have been endorsing Democratic nominee York businessman Tom Wolf. Mr. Wolf defeated three other Democrats that were seeking their party’s nomination for Pennsylvania Governor that wanted the chance to deny Mr. Corbett a second four-year term as Pennsylvania’s governor.

The majority of the labor organizations that made endorsements for the primary election supported Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord. However, many within the labor community, including the AFL-CIO, did not support any of the candidates seeking the Democratic nomination deciding to wait and support the primary winner.

The two largest public sector labor organizations that endorsed Mr. McCord for the spring election have since announced they will support Mr. Wolf for the November election.

The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union Council 13 voted to endorse Mr. Wolf only days after the primary election.

Mr. Wolf has made it clear if elected he would support issues important to the labor community including: improving oversight of charter and cyber charter schools; protect the right of workers to unionize and collectively bargain; veto any legislation that restricts the rights of workers, including repealing the agency fee, doing away with union dues deduction, eliminating the right of school employees to strike, and any change to the prevailing wage law.

Frank Sirianni, President of the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council, a statewide federation of construction trade unions’, stated the organization unanimously voted to endorse Mr. Wolf on June 30th.

“Our members, who are employed in virtually every community of Pennsylvania by more than 3,500 construction contractors and subcontractors, have spoken and they have told us with a forceful clarity that Tom Wolf represents a shining voice in the battle to make our Commonwealth’s government responsive to the hopes, needs and aspirations of working people in Pennsylvania.

Tom Wolf is a voice of welcoming reason who knows, first and foremost, that strengthening our communities, assuring a family sustaining wage for working families, focusing on access to health care for all Pennsylvanians, rationally protecting our resources, fairly securing our economy and enhancing the quality of education for our children are the keys to the return of fairness and progress in our society,” Mr. Sirianni said.

The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) District Council of Western Pennsylvania and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 154 have endorsed Mr. Corbett despite being considered to be one of or the most anti-union governors in Pennsylvania’s history.

IBT members ratify have new pipeline contract agreement

07.28.14

AUGUST 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

IBT members ratify have new pipeline contract agreement

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, July 17th- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union members employed by the pipeline industry throughout the United States, including Pennsylvania, have voted to ratify a new three-year Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The CBA covers approximately 4,000 IBT members.

The IBT represents employees who operate grapple trucks, tri-axle skids trucks, stringer trucks, floats, dump trucks, water trucks, and other various frame vehicles used in and around pipeline construction sites.

“Our pipeline workers will benefit from the improved wages, benefits and other provisions of the contract, which will help ensure that jobs in this part of the nation’s construction industry continues to be some of the most stable,” stated Marion Davis, Director of the IBT Building Material and Construction Trade Division in Washington DC.

In 2012 the IBT members went on strike against the Pipe Line Contractors Association (PLCA) because of the failure to reach an new agreement. The union members returned to their jobs without gaining a new agreement but a new successor CBA was negotiated during the three month contract extension of the expired pact.

The PLCA also has labor agreements with the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), the United Association of Pipefitters and Plumbers (UA), and the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA).

The IBT went on strike on January 1st, 2012 one year after the previous pact expired on January 1st, 2011. The Union did not call a national strike instead conducted a “selective work stoppage”. The IBT only struck several pipeline sites and did not have a work stoppage at all PLCA locations.

The 2012 strike had some controversy because several labor organizations also under contract with the PLCA, which has around 70 affiliated pipeline construction companies, crossed the IBT picket-line and began doing their jurisdictional work.

The new CBA includes wage increases each year of the agreement. Also, two new classifications will be paid at a higher rate, and improvements were made on who receives health, welfare and pension benefits.

Unions still expect anti-union payroll deduction legislation to re-appear in fall legislative session

07.28.14

AUGUST 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Unions still expect anti-union payroll deduction legislation to re-appear in fall legislative session

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, July 19th- Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett is struggling to energize the conservative base of his political party and trails Democratic nominee Tom Wolf by around 20 percentage points according to the latest polling. Mr. Corbett is continues to be receiving pressure from the party’s right to push legislation that would allow public sector workers to opt-out paying union dues in the fall legislative session.

Anti-union groups have spent thousands of dollars on mailings and lobbying to attempt to get House Bill (HB 1507) and Senate Bill (SB 1034) passed by the legislature that would prohibit the payroll deduction of union dues and fair-share fees of government workers. Should the legislation pass, the bill will force unions to represent non-members without any meaningful way to collect fees for the service of representation.

House Bill 1507 is being called by anti-union forces the “Payroll Protection” bill. The groups have been claiming, without facts, that taxpayers are paying for union dues collection for public employees and that teachers and state workers are being forced to contribute to political and legislative activism.

However, automatic payroll deduction of union dues is not mandated by any law rather it is bargained for during labor contract negotiations, the same as any other provision within a collective bargaining agreement.

The anti-union group, the Commonwealth Foundation, has falsely stated that taxpayer resources are being used to collect political campaign contributions.

However, any financial cost occured by any government for the collection of political contributions by union members is reimbursed by the union.

Also, before any contribution is deducted for political purposes by a union, the individual public employee must first sign a card requesting the contribution be taken from their paycheck.

The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg released the list of State Republican legislators that have indicated they will not support the legislation or is leaning against support.

Pennsylvania Senator Patrick Browne (Republican-16th Legislative District), which includes part of Lehigh, Northampton and Monroe Counties, is listed on the labor federation’s list as leaning against supporting the legislation.

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate decreases to 6.1 percent

07.28.14

AUGUST 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate decreases to 6.1 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, July 13th- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Center for Workforce Information and Analysis in Harrisburg, the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 6.1 percent, decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report.

The Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Lehigh, Northampton, and Carbon Counties of Pennsylvania and Warren County, New Jersey. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was at 7.9 percent.

There are fourteen MSA’s in Pennsylvania and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA is tied with the Erie MSA for the fourth highest unemployment rate.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 7.2 percent. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has had the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania more than four consecutive years. The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 6.8 percent, and the Philadelphia MSA has the third highest at 6.2 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 4.1 percent. The Lancaster MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.6 percent, the Lebanon MSA is third at 4.7 percent, and the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA is fourth at 5.0 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 5.6 percent, dropping by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report, and decreasing by one and nine-tenths percentage points from twelve months before.

There are 363,000 Pennsylvania residents without jobs, but that number does not include residents that have exhausted their unemployment benefits and stopped looking for work. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted workforce of 6,431,000 and 6,069,000 of them have employment.

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 6.3 percent, unchanged from the previous report. The national unemployment rate was down one and two-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before, mainly because of workers that have exhausted their unemployment benefits due to the federal government not extending benefits for the long-termed jobless. After workers exhaust their unemployment benefits they are no longer counted within the civilian labor-force.

There are 9,799,000 civilians nationwide without employment but that number also does not include workers that have exhausted their unemployment benefits and stopped looking for work.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 428,800 civilians, decreasing by 5,700 during the past twelve months. There are 26,200 civilians without employment, dropping by 8,100 from one year ago.

The Philadelphia MSA has the largest seasonally adjusted labor force in Pennsylvania at 2,983,400 with 186,300 not working; and the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,246,600 with 68,300 without jobs.

Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 6.7 percent, unchanged from the month before. Carbon County has a civilian labor force of 31,600, the smallest within the MSA, with 2,100 without employment.

Lehigh County has the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 6.1 percent, rising by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Lehigh County has a civilian labor force of 184,000, the most within the MSA, with 11,200 without jobs.

Northampton County has a unemployment rate of 6.4 percent, up three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Northampton County has a civilian labor force of 154,400 with 9,800 jobless.

Minimum wage increase fight to begin again in fall

07.28.14

AUGUST 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Minimum wage increase fight to begin again in fall

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, July 22nd- The labor community will again continue to push for a increase in the federal minimum wage in the fall after legislators return from their summer recess.

The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC supports increasing the bench-mark to $10.10 an hour, which President Obama has proposed.

The current minimum wage, which covers most workers employed within many industries excluding some retail and service establishments and farms and also employ students at wages of no more than 15 percent below the minimum with proper certification, is $7.25.

The AFL-CIO has been lobbying Washington legislators and organizing rallies supporting the raising of the federal minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSAct).

Some states have tired of waiting for the Republicans in Washington to support an increase and have began raising their bench-mark wage above the federal wage.

Maryland, New Jersey and New York have increased their minimum wage above the federal level, while Republicans in Harrisburg have successfully blocked raising the minimum wage in Pennsylvania, currently the same as the federal level of $7.25 an hour.

There are 19 state’s and the District of Columbia that have a higher minimum wage than the federal standard. New Jersey’s minimum wage increased in January to $8.25 an hour.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett does not support increasing the wage and has been lobbying fellow Republicans to not support the increase of the hourly wage, stating the higher wage would harm the economy.

Meanwhile, according to data released by the Department of Labor on July 18th, job growth in the 13 states that have increased their minimum wage has been more robust than states that have not. Average job growth in states that have increased the benchmark was 0.85 percent this year while in states that have not increase their wage was 0.61 percent.

Increasing the mimimum wage has got a boost from a unlikely source with Wal-Mart Stores officials stating they would not oppose the increasing of the benchmark past the $7.25 an hour.

The nation’s largest retailer has 1.3 million employees and currently has 5,000 workers earning the federal minimum wage.

But, WalMart officials have made it clear that while the retailer stated it would not oppose the raising of the benchmark it also does not support increasing it.

The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009.

Letter Carriers members meet in Philly for convention

07.28.14

AUGUST 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Letter Carriers members meet in Philly for convention

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, July 14th- At a time of great uncertainty members of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Union have met in Philadelphia for their convention. Approximately 8,000 NALC members attended the convention held at the Philadelphia Convention Center on July 20th for the week long event that included discussions on how their members will survive the continued cutbacks of the United States Postal Service (USPS) of mail delivery.

The NALC conducts the convention every two years and it was estimated approximately 12,000 people attended between the USPS letter carriers members and their families. Participates included representatives of NALC Branches from the Lehigh Valley.

The union fought-off a USPS proposal in 2013 that would have cut mail delivery service to customers from six days a week to five. The plan would have costs around 22,500 jobs within the USPS system with the majority of jobs lost being NALC members.

The USPS operates as an independent agency but is subject to the United States Congress oversight.

The USPS is lossing money with the biggest reason being the 2006 mandate that forced retiree health benefits to be pre-funded 75 years in advance at the cost of $5.6 billion a year. All other businesses, including private and public, only fund these expenses year to year.

Park Service Union Leader Urges White House Review of Illegal Outsourcing

07.23.14

Park Service Union Leader Urges White House Review of Illegal Outsourcing

Independence Hall Official Admits Agency Hired Contractors for Jobs Held by Federal Workers

WASHINGTON – The head of the union representing National Park Service employees is calling on the White House to review the illegal outsourcing of federal employee jobs at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia.

American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. detailed the illegal outsourcing in a July 16 letter to Beth Cobert, deputy director for management at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

B.J. Dunn, acting superintendent at Independence National Historical Park, acknowledged the outsourcing in a June 27 letter to Rep. Robert Brady of Pennsylvania. According to Dunn’s own account, the National Park Service hired contractors for custodial and grounds-keeping work last performed by federal employees.

“A portion of the needed funds for these contracts is coming from budget sources previously used to fund a small number (less than 5) of park positions that became vacant through retirements and attrition,” Dunn wrote.

Federal law forbids agencies from converting to contractor performance functions designated for performance by federal employees.

“By the agency’s own words, I believe NPS has converted custodial and grounds-keeping functions from federal employee to contractor performance in defiance of law and OMB’s implementing guidance,” Cox wrote.

The Park Service official defended the outsourcing by claiming that no federal employees had lost their jobs due to the hiring of contract workers, even though the prohibition against directly converting federal jobs to contractors does not include any such exception. The official also claimed that the agency has had to rely on contractors because of a cap on the size of the civilian workforce, even though OMB denies such personnel ceilings exist.

President Cox is asking OMB to cancel the custodial and grounds-keeping contracts that were illegally issued and to bring the work back in house. In addition, Cox wants OMB to review other service contracts NPS has issued during the past five years to determine if they were illegally issued.

AFGE also wants OMB to provide NPS and all other agencies with guidance explaining the statutory prohibitions on illegal privatization and to clarify that agencies should be managed based on budgets and workloads, not personnel ceilings.

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The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.

Nearly 73 million pounds collected by NALC Union members

07.15.14

JULY 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Nearly 73 million pounds collected by NALC Union members

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, June 29th- This years annual food drive by the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Union, which represents the letter carriers of the United States Postal Service (USPS) excluding rural delivery throughout the nation, collected almost 73 million pounds of food on May 10th. The food collected was used to restock food banks, pantries and shelters around the country including in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Last year, the NALC food drive, which is the world’s largest one-day food drive and is held on the second Saturday each year since 1992, collected 74.5 million pounds of nonperishable food items.

This year marked the eleventh consecutive year at least 70 million pounds were collected.

The NALC effort is supported by the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, which the NALC is affiliated.

The food drive is held in over 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands and Guam.

“This demonstrates the value of the unique postal network, which goes to 151 million addresses six days a week. It also shows the strong connection between letter carriers and the communities they serve, a bond that serves the nation well,” stated Fredric Rolando, International President of the NALC.

According to Thomas Gavin, President of Branch 17, which represents NALC members throughout Lackawanna County, his members are proud to participate in the event.

“Letter carriers see first-hand the needs in the communities where we work, and we’re honored to be able to help people in need,” Mr. Rolando added.

Again USPS changes consolidation plan of processing centers

07.15.14

JULY 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Again USPS changes consolidation plan of processing centers

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 3rd- The United States Postal Service (USPS) yet again announced it had changed its mind and will move the processing of mail from the Scranton facility to the Lehigh Valley in January 2015.

The USPS announced in 2012 it would consolidate 48 mail processing centers throughout the nation including their operations in Scranton to the Lehigh Valley. The plan would save the agency nearly $1.2 billion a year.

The USPS first announced it would close about 250 processing centers after their plan is fully implemented. Overall, approximately 5,000 workers would be affected by the consolidation. The plan was to consolidate 92 mail processing centers in February 2013 and 89 more in 2014. However, in November 2013 the agency suspended closing any more mail processing centers that were previously slated for closure or merging across the nation, including the Scranton facility. The reason for the cutbacks is because of declining mail volume.

The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) represents the majority of the workers that have been and will be affected by the closure/merger. The union represents the USPS workers that process the mail.

The Scranton APWU workers are represented by Local 101. The President of Local 101 is Kevin Gallagher. Approximately 175 full-time jobs at the Scranton facility will be moved to the Lehigh Valley. Meaning, the workers will need to relocate or travel to Bethlehem to continue to work for the USPS.

After the USPS announced it had suspended the closure/merging of processing centers it was believed by Local 101 members their jobs at the Scranton facility was safe for at least two years. However, the USPS recent announcement came only less than eight months after the agency stated it was suspending the moving of the Scranton operations to the Lehigh Valley. Local 268 represents the APWU members in the Lehigh Valley.

Out-going mail is already being processed in the Lehigh Valley and then brought back to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre region for delivery to mail customers.

With the USPS announcement all mail, out-going and in-coming, will be rerouted from Northeastern Pennsylvania to the Lehigh Valley. Should a customer of the USPS mail a letter in Wilkes-Barre to be delivered in Scranton, it must be sent to the Lehigh Valley for processing before being rerouted back to the region for delivery.

Carpenters Union protesting CVS Pharmacy sites

07.15.14

JULY 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Carpenters Union protesting CVS Pharmacy sites

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 3rd- Members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Union Local 645, Pear Street in South Scranton, have protested in front of the CVS Caremark Pharmacy’s on Abington Road in Clarks-Summit and the Green Ridge Street in Scranton because of the failure of the company to hire workers that earn a living wage for the area.

Drew Simpson, Warden/Representative of Local 645, which is affiliated with the Keystone Mountain Lakes Regional Council of Carpenters in Pittsburgh, told the newspaper the main objective of the union is to have a signatory contractor of Local 645 be hired for the renovation and construction of CVS Pharmacy stores in the region.

The union members are “hand-billing” customers of the stores which state why they are there.

Mr. Simpson stated that the company is lowering the area labor standards by hiring construction workers that are paid so poorly.

“Shame on CVS Caremark Corporation for contributing to the erosion of area standards for carpenter craft workers. KNL Construction will be performing work on the CVS Pharmacy project located at Winola Road and South State Street in Clarks Summit. KNL Construction does not meet area labor standards for all their carpenter craft workers, including fully paying for family health benefits and pension,” states the Carpenters Union flier. The hand-bill includes a drawn image of a rat eating a American flag. A new Clarks-Summit store is under construction.

“We must do something to boost the economy. Paying workers below the area labor standards will do very little to improve the local economy,” said Mr. Simpson.

Mr. Simpson added that the union plans to continue the demonstrations off-and-on or until the company signs an agreement with a Local 645 signatory contractor.

The protest includes a large banner that indicates there is a labor dispute with CVS and states the corporation should be “ashamed.”

“A rat is a contractor that does not pay all of its employee’s area standards wages, including either providing or making payments for health care and pension benefits,” the flier states.

Unions begin endorsing Tom Wolf for governor while several support Mr. Corbett

07.15.14

JULY 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Unions begin endorsing Tom Wolf for governor while several support Mr. Corbett

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, June 19th- Labor community members, including those that supported other Democratic candidates seeking the chance to face incumbent Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett in November, have begun endorsing businessman Tom Wolf.

Mr. Wolf defeated three other Democrats that were seeking their party’s nomination for Pennsylvania Governor in the May primary election. Mr. Wolf will likely gain most of the support of organized labor and has already gained the support of the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg for the November election, along with several labor labor unions..

The labor community has put a high priority on defeating Mr. Corbett in 2014.

Mr. Wolf is receiving the endorsements of the labor community despite that most of the unions that did endorse a candidate for the primary election supported Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord. Many within the labor community did not make a endorsement of any candidate.

The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) District Council of Western Pennsylvania and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 154 have endorsed Mr. Corbett despite being considered to be one of or the most anti-union governor in Pennsylvania’s history.

The two largest public sector labor organizations that endorsed Mr. McCord for the spring election have since announced they will support Mr. Wolf for the November election.

The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union Council 13 voted to endorse Mr. Wolf only days after the primary election.

Mr. Wolf has made it clear if elected he would support issues important to the labor community including: improving oversight of charter and cyber charter schools; protect the right of workers to unionize and collectively bargain; veto any legislation that restricts the rights of workers, including repealing the agency fee, doing away with union dues deduction, eliminating the right of school employees to strike, and any change to the prevailing wage law.

Northeastern Pennsylvania CLUW chapter being formed

07.14.14

JULY 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Northeastern Pennsylvania CLUW chapter being formed

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 2nd- Melissa Matoushek, a member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union, has begun to form a Northeastern Pennsylvania chapter of the Coalition of Union Women (CLUW).

CLUW is a organization within the labor movement that is sanctioned by the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC. The organization was formed in 1974 and currently has more than 75 chapters throughout the nation and a membership of approxiamtely 20,000 women and men.

CLUW’s primary goal is to be a resource to all union represented women to develop action programs within the framwork of the labor community to deal with women objectives in the workplace.

The basic objective of CLUW is to promote affirmative action in the workplace, increase participation of women in their labor unions, organize the unrepresented, and engage women in the political and legislative process.

The local chapters of CLUW help educate members regarding the resources of support for women and also providing a network for women that are union represented. Also, CLUW local chapters help keep women and their families up-to-date on job related issues.

“While working women have overcome many obstacles with CLUW’s involvement, there is still much work to be done. We can use our collective strength to make a difference right here, right now,” stated Ms. Matoushek.

Ms. Matoushek e-mail address is: nepacluw@gmail.com. She can be reached at (570) 352-8006.

According to Ms. Matoushek, the founding convention of CLUW was held in Chicago, Illinous and the four basic goals of action were: to promote affirmative action in the workplace; to strengthen the role of women in unions; to organize the unorganized women; and to increase the involvement of women in the political and legislative process.

The goals continue to be the cornerstone of CLUW’s activities as members speak out for equal pay, child and elder care benefits, job security, safe workplaces, affordable health care, contraceptive equity, and protection from sexual harassment and violence at work.

Teamsters Union Local 401 members approve labor pacts

07.14.14

JULY 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Teamsters Union Local 401 members approve labor pacts

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 2nd- Members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 401, South Washington Street in Wilkes-Barre, recently ratified two new successor agreements with their employers.

According to Scott Kucharski, a Trustee and Business Representative of Local 401, Wise Foods/ARCA Continental in Berwick and the IBT have agreed to a new three-year Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The membership “overwhelmingly approved” the new pact, Mr. Kucharski stated.

The CBA covers approximately fourty-three drivers and yard jockeys that are represented by Local 401.

The agreement includes increases in pay per-mile for drivers for the snack product manufacturer and hourly increases for the yard jockeys as well as other increases for road drivers in each of the three years of the successor labor agreement.

The United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776 represents the production workers of Wise Foods.

Mr. Kucharski replaced James Murphy as one of the unions’ two Business Representatives on June 1st. Mr. Murphy retired at the end of May. Mr. Kucharski will serve out the remaining period of Mr. Murphy’s term as business representative of Local 401.

Also, the IBT members employed by the Luzerne County Transportation Authority recently approved a new CBA with Luzerne County. The union represents nineteen shared ride bus drivers. The route bus drivers of the system are represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU).

The three-year contract agreement calls for wage increases each year and contains health care improvements and new language for a five percent match retirement plan.

“It was a very positive contract for both parties which was passed almost unanimously,” stated Mr. Kucharski.

Teamsters members fired by SPA can seek hearing, court rules

07.14.14

JULY 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Teamsters members fired by SPA can seek hearing, court rules

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 1st- The former employees of the Scranton Parking Authority (SPA) that were represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 229 in Dunmore, have won a major court victory that could eventually lead to their job re-instatement and thousands of dollars in back-pay and benefits.

The six former SPA employees were fired after a private firm began operating the City of Scranton’s five parking garages in 2012, when Scranton defaulted on the bond payment and the facilities were placed under receivership.

Former Lackawanna County Commissioner Mike Washo was appointed receiver over the SPA assets and fired the six maintenance workers of the parking garages.

However, Mr. Washo failed to even return repeated phone messages, e-mails and certified mail sent to him regarding the workers, Mr. Craig Pawlik, Secretary/Treasurer and Principal Officers of Local 229 told the newspaper. “We tried everything. We wanted to sit and discuss the workers with Washo, but he did not return any of our communications,” Mr. Pawlik said.

On June 26th, 2014 the Pennsylvania Appellate Court ruled that Lackawanna County Judge Vito Geroulo erred in 2012 when he ruled the SPA under Mr. Washo denied arbitration for the fired workers regarding their jobs.

The court ruled that Mr. Geroulo was wrong to not grant the arbitration claiming it would harm the receiver without knowning what would first be awarded. Arbitration was not held between the parties because Judge Geroulo ruled it would harm the receiver of the SPA before any hearing was even conducted.

Under the Pennsylvania Appellate Court ruling, the IBT can seek the arbitration hearing under the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) it had with the SPA.

Approximately six workers that were also working under the same CBA that were meter attendants were hired by then Mayor of Scranton, Chris Doherty. Those workers are now employees of Republic Parking, which took over the operation of the parking meters. Mr. Pawlik stated they were able to negotiate a new contract that covered the meter workers only.

As of news copy deadline for this edition of the newspaper, July 3rd, no represertative of the SPA or Mr. Washo have contacted Mr. Pawlik to discuss the latest ruling.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA’s unemployment rate still highest in state at 7.2 percent

07.14.14

JULY 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

MSA’s unemployment rate still highest in state at 7.2 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 2nd- The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) continues to have the highest unemployment rate among the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania, but the rate dropped by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. The MSA has had the highest unemployment rate within Pennsylvania for five consecutive years.

According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Center for Workforce Information and Analysis in Harrisburg, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 7.2 percent. The last report was released approximately one month before. The Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties of Pennsylvania. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was 9.1 percent. The unemployment rate is the lowest for the MSA since November 2008, when it was 7.0 percent.

The main reason the MSA’s unemployment is lower is because of the decline of the workforce after long-term out of work civilians lost their unemployment benefits at the end of 2013, therefore the civilian labor force has decreased and the unemployed workers that exhausted their benefits are no longer counted as jobless and taken from employment data. The MSA’s civilian labor-force is 6,900 less than it was twelve months ago.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 5.6 percent, dropping by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,431,000 with 363,000 not working and 6,069,000 with employment. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate decreased by one and nine-tenths of a percentage point over the past twelve months, also because of the decrease of the labor-force due to workers having exhausted their unemployment benefits. Meanwhile, the nation unemployment rate was reported to be at 6.3 percent, unchanged from the previous report.

The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 6.8 percent, the Philadelphia MSA has the third highest unemployment rate at 6.2 percent and the Williamsport MSAis fourth at 5.9 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.1 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate at 4.6 percent while the Lancaster MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.7 percent.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fifth largest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 277,000 civilians. There are 19,900 civilians without employment. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor-force in Pennsylvania at 2,983,400 with 186,300 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor-force at 1,246,600 with 68,300 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor-force at 428,600 with 26,200 not working. The Harrisburg MSA has the fourth largest labor-force with 288,100 civilians with 14,300 jobless.

The Williamsport MSA has the smallest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 63,400 civilians and 3,800 of them have no jobs. The Altoona MSA has the second smallest labor-force with 64,300 civilians with 3,500 without employment and the Johnstown MSA is third with a labor-force of 65,900 and 4,500 of them are not working.

Lackawanna County has the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 6.8 percent, decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by two full percentage points from one year ago. Lackawanna County has a civilian labor force of 104,400, with 7,100 jobless.

Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate at 7.4 percent, increasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Luzerne County has a civilian labor force of 156,500, the largest within the MSA, with 11,600 civilians not employed, the most within the MSA.

The unemployment rate in Wyoming County is 7.1 percent, rising by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. Wyoming County has a civilian labor-force of 13,900, with 1,000 jobless.

Posting this site

07.02.14

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Unions begin endorsing Tom Wolf for governor while several support Mr. Corbett

07.02.14

JULY 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Unions begin endorsing Tom Wolf for governor while several support Mr. Corbett

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 19th- Labor community members, including those that supported other Democratic candidates seeking the chance to face anti-union Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett in November, have begun endorsing businessman Tom Wolf.

Mr. Wolf defeated three other Democrats that were seeking their party’s nomination for Pennsylvania Governor in the May primary election. Mr. Wolf will likely gain most of the support of organized labor and has already gained the support of the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg for the November election.

The labor community has put a high priority on defeating Mr. Corbett in 2014.

Mr. Wolf is receiving the endorsements of the labor community despite that most of the unions that did endorse a candidate for the primary election supported Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord. However, most of the labor community did not make a endorsement of any of the candidates.

The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) District Council of Western Pennsylvania and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 154 have endorsed Mr. Corbett despite being considered to be one of or the most anti-union governors in Pennsylvania history.

The two largest public sector labor organizations that endorsed Mr. McCord for the spring election have since announced they will support Mr. Wolf for the November election.

The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union Council 13 voted to endorse Mr. Wolf only days after the primary election.

Mr. Wolf has made it clear if elected he would support issues important to the labor community including: improving oversight of charter and cyber charter schools; protect the right of workers to unionize and collectively bargain; veto any legislation that restricts the rights of workers, including repealing the agency fee, doing away with union dues deduction, eliminating the right of school employees to strike, and any change to the prevailing wage law.

PASNAP Union wants GMO labeling in United States

07.02.14

JULY 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

PASNAP Union wants GMO labeling in United States

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 14th- The Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP) Union, in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, which is affiliated with the California Nurses Association (CNA), have joined the campaign to recognize the health affects of the presence in food of Genetically Engineered Organisms (GMO’s).

GMO’s are currently present in the American food supply and PASNAP, which represents nurses in hospitals in the Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Philadelphia areas, and other health groups want to bring attention to the use of GMO’s in the American food supply.

The leadership of PASNAP unanimously passed a resolution in April at their annual delegate meeting in Harrisburg that request that food containing GMO ingredients be labeled.

The labor organization has requested that other members of the labor community join them in passing resolutions that would demand that GMO ingredients be labeled.

The PASNAP resolution stated that GMO food have been associated with significant health risks, including autoimmune diseases. Also, the GMO foods have been released into the food supply with no independent scientific analysis of the potential harm to human health.

GMO crops have been banned for human consumption in more than sixty countries including Japan, the European Union and Australia.

The AFL-CIO working with Postal Workers Union regarding Staples boycott

07.02.14

JULY 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

The AFL-CIO working with Postal Workers Union regarding Staples boycott

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 21st- Under the endorsement of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, has announced a boycott of all Staples Inc. stores throughout the nation.

The APWU is boycotting all Staples office supply stores in the United States, Staples.com and Staples Advantage. The boycott also covers all Staples branded proprietary products.

In 2013 the United States Postal Service (USPS) entered into an agreement with Staples to establish a ‘pilot program’ that placed knock-off ‘post offices’ in 82 Staples stores nationwide. The APWU stated the office supplier chain was utilizing nonunion, low-paid Staples employees instead of unionized, and well-trained USPS employees.

The APWU has filed labor complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) because the USPS will not provide information about the contract with Staples.

The APWU, which represents mail processing employees of the USPS throughout the nation, began a campaign against Staples Inc. stores and held a ‘national day of action’ in May by protesting at the retailers stores throughout the nation and in the Lehigh Valley because some of the Staples stores of the chain now provides the postal services. The action was conducted in 27 states including a store in Easton, which was protested by members of Local 268, which represents APWU members throughout the Lehigh Valley. The Easton location is the only local Staples store that the newspaper is aware of that currently provides postal service work.

According to Local 268 President Bernie Ogozalek, the pilot program with the USPS will hurt his members by providing postal services that are now done by APWU members.

Mr. Ogozalek voiced his disappointment with the USPS for agreeing to the new pilot program that surely is intended to begin the privatization of the postal service.

The USPS Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe suggested that the partnership between the postal service and Staples will not result in job losses at the USPS, but will grow the business. However, Mr. Ogozalek and his International Union find that hard to believe.

According the the APWU International Union office, the USPS and Staples are attempting to incorporate postal revenues into Staples Inc. stores, not expand the business.

The APWU fears that if the new pilot agreement between the USPS and Staples is considered successful it may be expanded to the retailers other 1,600 stores and other retailers may follow, resulting in job losses for their members, therefore the reason for the boycott.

The AFL-CIO stated the labor federation along with the APWU will now work together in developing methods to convince Staples to withdraw from the partnership with the USPS .

The AFL-CIO Campaigns Department spokesperson David Keicher stated that Staples needs to realize that it is not in their interest to help the USPS turn decent, middle class jobs into low wage work.

Mr. Ogozalek stated the union is requesting fellow union members not purchase office supplies at Staples unless the retailer negotiates with the APWU about manning the postal services department with their members.

The American Postal Workers Union and the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Union represents the majority of the USPS workers. The two labor organizations have a combined membership of around 390,000 workers.

Increasing the minimum wage debate continues across nation

07.02.14

Increasing the minimum wage debate continues across nation

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 20th- Raising the federal minimum wage debate continues with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC supporting increasing the bench-mark to $10.10 an hour, which President Obama has proposed. However, some cities, such as New York, Seattle, Chicago and Sans Francisco, have pushed for a higher wage in the cities than their state’s minimum wage.

In late April, the Senate Republicans in Washington DC did what they promised to do, block an increase of the federal minimum wage. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009. The current minimum wage, which covers most workers employed within many industries excluding some retail and service establishments and farms and also employ students at wages of no more than 15 percent below the minimum with proper certification, is $7.25.

The AFL-CIO has been lobbying Washington legislators and organizing rallies supporting the raising of the federal minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSAct).

Some states have tired of waiting for the Republicans in Washington to support an increase and have began raising their bench-mark wage above the federal wage.

Maryland, New Jersey and New York have increased their minimum wage above the federal level, while Republicans in Harrisburg have also blocked raising the minimum wage in Pennsylvania, currently the same as the federal level of $7.25 an hour.

There are 19 state’s and the District of Columbia that have a higher minimum wage than the federal standard. New Jersey’s minimum wage increased in January to $8.25 an hour.

Several legislative bills have emerged that would increase the Pennsylvania minimum wage in 2014 but the bills will likely not see any action because Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett does not support increasing the wage and has been lobbying fellow Republicans to not support the increase of the hourly wage, stating the higher wage would harm the economy. The legislators begin their summer recess at the end of June.

On April 30th, the Minimum Wage Fairness Act was unsuccessful in gaining the 60 Senate votes needed to proceed that would have raised the wage to $10.25 an hour. The vote was 54 for to 42 against allowing debate on the measure.

Meanwhile, some Republican controlled states have passed laws that prohibit state minimum wages from being higher than the federal bench-mark. In 2014, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 14 states have either passed or introduced bills that bans raising their minimum wage above the federal level, all controlled by the Republican party.