SEPTEMBER 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News
AFGE Local 1647 conducts recruiting drive for members
BY PAUL TUCKER
REGION, September 2nd- The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Union Local 1647 in Tobyhanna, which represents employees of the federal government employed at the Tobyhanna Army Depot, Northeastern Pennsylvania largest employer, conducted a “pig roast” recruiting event on August 20th that was conducted in a attempt to enroll more workers to join the AFGE.
Because veterans affairs facilities and other federal agencies are mandated by law to be a open shop, meaning employees don’t belong to a union unless they actively join, workers employed by the government at Tobyhanna must first sign enrollment forms before they become Local 1647 members.
According to Edward Sabecky, a member of Local 1647 Executive Board, and a delegate for his Union to the Scranton Central Labor Union (SCLU) labor federation in Dunmore, AFGE Local 1647 currently represents approximately 1,200 workers of the 3,000 that could be AFGE union members employed at Tobyhanna Army Depot.
In early 2013, Local 1647 had around 2,300 members of the 5,100 Tobyhanna employees. However, some of the those workers were actually employed by contractors that provided indutrial trade and electronics workers.
The International Association of Machinists (IAM) Union Local Lodge 1717, represented many of those workers.
Many of those workers were laid-off in 2013 following the down-sizing of the military involement by the Defense Department in Iraq and Afghanistan. The workers were employed by URS Federal Support Services Inc.
Also, because of sequester in Washington DC in 2013, and earilier in 2011 because of mandated spending cuts under the Budget Control Act of 2011, many jobs within the private sector were lost.
Mr. Sabecky stated his Union held the “Pig Roast” event at the VFW Post 509 in Tobyhanna Twp. and all regional federal elected representatives were invited and only U.S. House of Representative Matt Cartwright (Democrat-17th Legislative District) attended. He said 100 people showed-up for the recruiting drive but only one signed an enrollment card to join Local 1647.
The AFGE National Veterans Affairs Council recently conducted a national recruiting drive and signed-up their 100,000th member. The milestone was reached on August 25th when AFGE Local 2382 in Phoenix signed-up a new member.