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“Right-to-work” legislation becomes law in Wisconsin

03.31.15

MARCH 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

“Right-to-work” legislation becomes law in Wisconsin

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 3rd- The State of Wisconsin legislature passed and the Republican Governor Scott Walker signed into law legislation that will make the badger state the twenty-fifth in the nation to ban employers and labor organizations from agreeing to union security language within their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the two parties. The legislation is commonly known as “right-to-work”.

A new wave of legislative bills that are intended to weaken the numbers of members of labor unions is expected this year after the pro-business Republican party gaining seats in legislatures across the United States.

New right-to-work legislation is expected to be proposed by anti-union pro-business Republican statehouses across the nation including the pro-union state of Maine and Pennsylvania.

Democratic Pennsylvania first-term Governor Tom Wolf made it clear during last years political campaign that he would veto any right-to-work legislation that passes the Republican controlled General Assembly. Mr. Wolf has been called the “fire-wall” between the anti-union members of the Republican party and the labor community. Should have Republican Tom Corbett regained the governors seat, most if not all anti-union legislation would have become the law of Pennsylvania.

Recently union workers held a “right-to-work” legislation protest at the Wisconsin Capitol in Madison. Media reports indicated that only several thousand union members participated in the event because it is believed legislation banning the mandatory payment of union dues in Wisconsin will likely pass and be signed into law by the anti-union Walker, a possible Republican candidate for President of the United States in 2016.

In Pennsylvania the issue of banning union security clauses in labor agreements, or what the labor community often calls “no-rights-at-work,” was front and center during 2013 after billionair Dick Yuengling Jr., leader of the D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc. brewery, said Pennsylvania should become a right-to-work state.

Before Wisconsin legislation was signed into law, there were 24 states that banned union security clauses, which makes workers join the union after working a probationary period. The clause is a term of collective bargaining and must first be agreed to by the union and the employer and ratified by the membership.

IBEW Local 81 bowling tournament raises funds

03.31.15

MARCH 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

IBEW Local 81 bowling tournament raises funds

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 4th- The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 81 in Scranton conducted their annual Toby Joyce Memorial Bowling Tournament on Saturday February 21st at the South Side Bowling lanes in South Scranton. It was the 13th consecutive year the event has been held.

The event benefits the Friendship House, the region’s only provider of care and mental health treatment for boys and girls with emotional difficulties from toddlers to adolescents.

The Friendship House serves 750 children daily through a full range of programs including, day, evening, and weekend partial hospitalization programs, residential care and tratment, foster care and adoption, outpatient program and services in the home and community.

The organization is also home to the Northeast Regional Canter for Autism Spectrum Disorders.

According to Geno Arcurie Jr., Local 81 Membership Development Representative, this years event was the largest ever with 145 bowlers participating and 50 sponsors of bowling lanes, which he said provides the most funds.

The event raised around $5,500.00 that was donated to the Friendship House. This years amount was the also the most ever, and $1,000.00 more than last years event.

“We hired Jaworski Sign Company to make all of the lane sponsor signs, a unionized company,” said Mr. Arcurie.

Mr. Arcurie stated several lane sponsors have indicated they want to sign-up for next year already.

NLRB in Washington, DC rules against area nursing home

03.31.15

MARCH 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

NLRB in Washington, DC rules against area nursing home

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 1st- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, DC ruled against an operator of a area nursing home in Hazleton and ordered them to begin contract negotiations for a first time Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which involves Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN’s) employed at the facility. However, the employer has refused to begin contract negotiations and promised to appeal the NLRB decision.

Twenty months ago a unit of approximately fourty LPN’s employed at the Manor and Pavilion at St. Luke’s Village Nursing Home on Stacie Drive in Hazleton, voted overwhelmingly to be represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87.

AFSCME District Council 87, which represents AFSCME members throughout 9 Counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania, won a representation election conducted by the NLRB Region Four Office in Philadelphia in June 2013, 26 to 12 that involved the LPN’s.

There were fourty-three workers eligible to participate in the election. AFSCME already represented a unit of workers at St. Luke’s which included dietary aids and other food service workers.

The Union won the right to represent the LPN’s despite the operators of the nursing home hiring a lawfirm that specializes in attempting to delay representation elections and the spending of thousands of dollars on anti-union attorney’s and consulting firms.

The employer challenged the right of whether the LPN’s had the right to become union members claiming they are supervisors and under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct) are ineligible from joining unions. However, Region Four ruled they were and conducted the election.

However, according to Matt Balas, Business Representative of AFSCME District Council 87, the nursing home operators will not meet with the union to discuss the CBA.

AFSCME filed a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) against the St. Luke’s operators with the NLRB in which the agency ruled in favor of the union. St. Luke’s appealed the Region Four decision to the NLRB Washington office and the five member agency the parties are still waiting for their decision of whether the LPN’s are management or can be represented by AFSCME.

Mr. Balas stated that the existing CBA with St. Luke’s has been re-negotiated since the LPN’s voted for unionization.

USPS employees told their jobs will be eliminated in July

03.31.15

MARCH 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

USPS employees told their jobs will be eliminated in July

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 4th- According to Kevin Gallagher, President of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 101 In Scranton, the union has been told by the United States Postal Service (USPS) that most of the mail processing being done at the South Scranton facility will be moved to the Lehigh Valley on July 25th.

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 USPS stated the plan would save the agency nearly $1.2 billion a year.

The agency first announced it would close about 250 processing centers after their plan is fully implemented.

The USPS stated around 5,000 workers would be affected by the consolidation. However, no lays-off would occur instead jobs would be “re-bid” under the labor agreement’s with the USPS and workers is some cases would need to either relocate or travel to other postal service facilities to continue to be employed by the USPS.

Mr. Gallagher stated the merging of the Scranton mail processing center with the Lehigh Valley has been delayed several times in the past and it could be postponed again, but his members must be ready for the possiblity of the closure.

APWU members will be the most effected by the merger. Mr. Gallagher stated more than half of his 180 members will need to be re-located or be re-assigned to other postal duties, such as becoming mail delivery carriers.

Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the USPS an effected employee could be placed within 50 miles of their current workplace. APWU members are mail clerks, maintenance workers, and conduct clerical work.

Recently, the agency changed their mail delivery standards that will effect how soon customers mail is received at its designation.

Mr. Gallagher stated he has talked to mail customers that have noticed that it takes longer for mail to reach its designation because of the USPS changing the mail standard.

“What they are doing is lowering the mail standards to fit what they are doing by closing plants and making other changes to the agency,” stated Mr. Gallagher.

Under the plan all processing of in-coming or out-coming mail and packages will be rerounted from Northeastern Pennsylvania to the Lehigh Valley and brought back to that region for delivery. The USPS plans to consolidated their Scranton, Lancaster and Erie facilities.

Former Navy Vice Admiral Joe Sestak running for Senate

03.31.15

MARCH 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Former Navy Vice Admiral Joe Sestak running for Senate

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION- March 5th- Former Navy Vice Admiral and two term United States House of Representative Joe Sestak made it official that he will attempt a rematch against Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania Pat Toomey in 2016. Mr. Sestak will seek to become the Democratic nominee in 2016 that will likely face Mr. Toomey, who has not yet stated he would seek a second six-year term.

Mr. Sestak formally announced on March 4th in Philadelphia that would attempt to gain his party nomination next year and attempt to win the seat in next November’s general election. So far, no other Democrat has announced they would challenge Mr. Sestak for the nomination however, former U.S. House of Representative from Northeastern Pennsylvania Chris Carney has suggested he might run. Mr. Carney represented the 10th legislative district in Washington DC for two terms.

Meanwhile, Mr. Sestak since losing to Senator Toomey has attended labor events and appeared to be a political candidate. He defeated Incumbent Senator Alen Specter for the Democratic nomination in the spring of 2010 and nearly lost to Mr. Toomey that November.

After the primary election that year Mr. Sestak received the endorsement of the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO labor federation in Harrisburg. Also, most labor organizations that endorsed a candidate for the senatorial election that year supported Mr. Sestak.

Voter turnout will likley be higher in the Democratic party rich areas of Pennsylvania including the Philadelphia region in 2016 over 2010 because it will be a Presidential and U.S. Congressional election year.

Anti-union Wal-Mart plans to raise employees minimum wage

03.31.15

MARCH 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Anti-union Wal-Mart plans to raise employees minimum wage

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 3rd- What appears to be a pro-worker move by the nation’s largest retailer by announcing they will increase their starting wage to around $10.00 an hour, well above the federal minimum wage, will not raise the top level wages of their current workforce.

Wal-Mart Inc., world’s largest retailer and known to be extremely anti-union, recently announced they will increase the starting wage of workers to $10.00 an hour while the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. However, current Wal-Mart workers wages “top-out” around $11.00 an hour no matter how long they are employed by the company. Meaning, while new and recent hires will receive a higher wage than previously, long-time employees wages will not increase and see new workers wages be close to theirs despite only recently being hired.

Wal-Mart stated the new wage package will cost them approximately $1 billion. The company plans to raise the minimum wage for workers to $9.00 an hour this April and continue to raise the wage until reaching $10.00 an hour by February 2016.

The increase will effect around 500,000 employees which work for Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores or around 1.4 million employees.

Wal-Mart makes their employees purchase the clothing they must wear while working in their stores and has faced protest by union activist and their own workers for poor treatment by management .

In January the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington DC filed numerous labor complaints against Wal-Mart alleging management unlawfully retaliated against their workers for protesting poor working conditions in front of stores throughout more than a dozen states during the holiday season. The newspaper was not aware of nay protest in the region.

Meanwhile, the Canadian government found Wal-Mart Inc. broke provincial labor laws in 2005 when the anti-union store chain closed a store in Quebec, Canada and fired 200 workers that were seeking to be represented by a labor organization for the purpose of collective bargaining.

The retailer claimed it closed the store for “business reasons” however, the decision by Canada’s top court ruled that Wal-Mart closed the store to avoid unionization by the United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union.

Judge Finds T-Mobile US Guilty of Maintaining Illegal Corporate Policies Against Workers Across the Country

03.20.15

Judge Finds T-Mobile US Guilty of Maintaining Illegal Corporate Policies Against Workers Across the Country

Judge Orders Policies Rescinded; T-Mobile US Must Advise Employees that the Company Has Violated Federal Labor Law

Washington, D.C. — A judge at the National Labor Relations Board has found T-Mobile US guilty of engaging in nationwide labor law violations against workers. The unprecedented ruling comes following a rare move by the NLRB consolidating multiple complaints against T-Mobile US for illegal actions and policies in Albuquerque, NM, Wichita, KS, Charleston, SC, and New York City.

At issue were illegal corporate nationwide policies that block workers from organizing or even talking to each other about problems at work. Workers throughout the T-Mobile US system were subjected to and effectively silenced by these illegal policies; the judge’s order to rescind them covers 40,000 workers.

Coming on the heels of repeated complaints issued by the NLRB against T-Mobile US and its labor practices, the ruling shines a light on how management’s efforts to suppress workers’ organizing activity has been supported by wide-ranging, unlawful corporate policies issued from the highest levels of the company. Even while this trial was underway, additional complaints against the company have issued from the NLRB. Another NLRB trial will begin in June in Charleston, South Carolina, to hear yet more cases of T-Mobile US’s unlawful suppression of workers’ rights, and other charges and complaints continue to pile up.

The decision by Judge Christine Dibble focused on T-Mobile US’s illegal employment policies and restrictions that prohibited workers from discussing wages with each other or criticizing working conditions or seeking out assistance to blow the whistle on unlawful behavior.

Over and over again, the decision finds that the corporate policies “would chill employees in the exercise of their…rights” or would be construed “as restricting [an employee’s] rights to engage in protected concerted activities, including unionizing efforts.” Judge Dibble found that T-Mobile US’s Wage and Hour Complaint Procedure, for example, “tends to inhibit employees from banding together.” She writes that the corporate procedure’s requirement that an employee notify management of a wage issue first, “in combination with the threat of discipline for failing to adhere to the rule, would ‘reasonably tend to inhibit employees from bringing wage-related complaints to, and seeking redress from, entities other than the Respondent, and restrains the employees’ …rights to engage in concerted activities for collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.”

According to the ruling, T-Mobile US’ email policy and various confidentiality policies violate the law by restricting employees’ ability to disclose or discuss basic workplace issues, such as their wages. Similarly, Judge Dibble has ruled that the company’s policy restricting employees’ communications with the media is illegal, as it prohibits employees from speaking out on inquiries about wages or other conditions of employment. In all, Judge Dibble found that 11 of the 13 corporate policies or provisions at issue in the case are illegal.

Statement issued by Larry Cohen, President of Communications Workers of America:

“This decision exposes the deliberate campaign by T-Mobile US management to break the law systematically and on a nationwide scale, blocking workers from exercising their right to organize and bargain collectively. This behavior can only be changed by a nationwide remedy to restore workers’ rights. Deutsche Telekom, the principal owner of T-Mobile US, has claimed that its U.S. subsidiary follows the law. Now we have the official word: T-Mobile US is a lawbreaker. Bonn, the headquarters of DT, no longer can hide behind the false statements made by T-Mobile US executives. These behaviors would be almost unimaginable in Germany or any other democracy in the world.”

Statement issued by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), a union member, small business owner, and champion of working families:

“T-Mobile employees have come to Capitol Hill to share their stories of fear and intimidation and efforts to block workers from organizing. These workers have had to put up with an outright hostile environment in violation of their basic constitutional rights. Today’s decision is a huge win for every hardworking American who is fighting for their right to organize and demand better wages and more job security.”

The ruling was preceded by years of federal complaints against T-Mobile US for unlawful labor practices around the country. Those complaints, which have covered all manner of violations, from firing union supporters to illegally restricting employees’ ability to communicate with one another, were often brought to the cusp of trial and then settled by T-Mobile US, which has paid tens of thousands of dollars to avoid a judge’s guilty finding. Today’s merit finding marks a turning point in efforts to effectively enforce US labor law at T-Mobile US.

Judge Dibble’s decision addresses written policies that T-Mobile US disseminated to employees and managers nationwide – policies that invariably reinforced a management culture, reflected in complaint after complaint, of shutting down workers who attempted to speak out for fairness on the job.

T-Mobile US workers and their colleagues at T-Mobile in Germany together have built TU, an organization that represents them. Thousands of German workers and members of the 2 million member union ver.di have formed city-to-city partnerships with T-Mobile US workers, and together are pushing Deutsche Telekom to ensure that U.S. workers can bargain collectively, just as telecom workers in Germany do.

###

Press Release from CWA

CWA represents 700,000 workers in telecommunications, media, airlines, public service and health care and manufacturing.

Union benefits that could save your home

03.17.15

By David Tindell, Marketing Assistant at Union Plus. Sign up for the FREE Union Plus E-News to find out about new and updated benefits for working families including scholarships, discounts and financial services.

One out of every 200 homes will be foreclosed according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. For a city the size of Washington, DC, that’s as much as 3,000 homes per year. And what does foreclosure look like?

According to the Homeownership Preservation Foundation:

–32% experienced a job loss.
–25% experienced a health crisis.
–85% have already missed one mortgage payment.
–Most have no savings, no available credit, and extended families have limited resources.
–Most have first-time loans, less than three years old.

These are scary situations, but not necessarily uncommon ones. Although foreclosures and delinquencies have dropped to pre-2007 levels, knowing what to do can be the difference that saves your home. If you are a union member, you have resources available when things go bad, and to help make sure things don’t get worse.

1. Union Plus Save My Home Hotline: This program is provided through the non-profit Money Management Institute (MMI), and is accredited to provide counseling for labor union members facing foreclosure. This program has the largest network of local offices, for those who don’t prefer counseling by phone.

2. Union Plus Mortgage Program:The Union Plus Mortgage program can help you purchase a home while also receiving special benefits by virtue of your union membership. Once you have a Union Plus mortgage for a year or more, you’re protected by a unique mortgage assistance program administered through the AFL-CIO Mutual Benefit Plan. The Union Plus Mortgage Assistance provides interest-free loans and grants to help make mortgage payments when you’re disabled, unemployed, locked out or on strike. The program has provided over $10.6 million in assistance to union members.

3. Foreclosure resources from the AFL-CIO: Knowledge is power when it comes to saving your home. The AFL-CIO’s website has a robust list of information regarding what to do in this situation, including:

–Rights during foreclosure
–Federally approved housing counselors
–Legal Assistance
–And information regarding negotiating a mortgage modification with your bank

4. AFL-CIO Community Services Network:The AFL-CIO Community Services Programs were established to improve the lives of workers and their families by connecting to their human and social services needs. Some of the services they provide include an emergency assistance fund, information and referral services, lay-off & strike preparation, and educational workshops.

Annual NALC National Food Drive to be held on May 9th

03.02.15

MARCH 2015, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Annual NALC National Food Drive to be held on May 9th

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, February 22nd- The annual National Association of Letters Carriers (NALC) Union Food Drive will be held this May.

The NALC represents mail carriers, excluding rural delivery of the United States Postal Service (USPS) throughout the nation.

The 2015 ‘Letters Carriers Stamp out Hunger Food Drive’ will be held on Saturday May 9th in which postal service customers are requested to place non-perishable food items near their mail boxes to be pick-up by the NALC members. The food drive in 2014 was the tenth consecutive year in which at least 70 million pounds of food was collected.

Each year since 1991 the NALC members, with the support of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, conducts the food drive that helps feed the neady throughout the nation.

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

Last year almost 73 million pounds of food was collected in the one day event for people in need throughout the United States.

Regionally, union members affiliated with the Lehigh Valley Labor Council labor federation, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, will again participate in the annual event. Branch 274 represents most of the NALC members in the region.

Trucking companies who employees are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) often volunteer their equipment to haul the collected food to area food banks, pantries and shelters.

The NALC has approximately 200,000 active members. They began the drive in 1991 and while it was not held in 1992 the NALC members have collected food items every year since. Around 1500 NALC Branches participate nationwide.

The United Way of America and Feeding America will again sponsor the food drive with other organizations providing volunteers or financial support for the event. Those organizations provide flyers, bags, and postcards.

While the NALC members collect the food items from their customers, many other union member volunteers sort and deliver the collected food to area shelters and food banks.

The NALC request that postal costumers not put food items with expired dates by their boxes because those will only be discarded.

Government oversite of Teamsters Union to end in five years

03.02.15

MARCH 2015, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Government oversite of Teamsters Union to end in five years

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, February 23rd- The United States District Court for Southern District of New York Chief Judge Loretta Preska on February 17th approved an agreement reached between the United States of America and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union that will allow the IBT to manage their union without government oversight.

The federal government has overseen the IBT for more than twenty-five years after it was discovered that there were some Teamsters officials allowing unlawful corruption into their labor organization.

The deal between the IBT and the federal government was reached with United States Attorney Preet Bharara’s Manhattan, New York office, it was announced in mid-January.

“The Teamsters Union and the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York filed an application with Chief Judge Loretta Preska requesting that she approve an agreement to end decades of government oversight over the Teamsters Union. We anticipate that she will approve the agreement,” stated James Hoffa, General President of the 1.4 million member IBT. Mr. Hoffa is the son of the legendary IBT General President James R. Hoffa, who disappeared in 1975 and was never found. He served as the IBT General President from 1957 to 1971.

Under the agreement, the United States of America represented by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, will enter into consideration of its terms and conditions to dismiss its action against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters sounding in the provisions of the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act Section of 1964 and will thereby extinguish the consent order that was applied against the IBT in 1989.

The agreement calls for the federal government oversight to be phased-out over the next five years and the IBT agreed to appoint independent office holders to probe into corruption allegations. Currently, there is a three-member independent board that includes a federal government appointee that oversees any allegation of corruption. The IBT members pay for the oversight board and all expenses occurred during any investigation or allege corruption through their union dues.

“This is a historic day for our Teamsters. After decades of hard work and millions of dollars spent, we can finally say that corrupt elements have been driven from the Teamsters and that government oversight can come to an end.

When I took office in 1999, I pledged that we would run a clean union, that organized crime would never have a place in the Teamsters Union. I also promised that we would ensure that every rank-and-file Teamster have a direct voice in electing the Union’s International officers. After 15 years, we have accomplished these goals,” added Mr. Hoffa.

The IBT believes by the agreeing to end the RICO complaint against the union, the government is acknowledging that there has been significant success in eliminating corruption from the Teamsters.

The consent decree is replaced with a final order in which the government’s continued involvement in the internal affairs of the IBT will be phased-out during a five-year transition period which will begin immediately and end in 2020.

“Today is a new day for our great union. My administration is first and foremost committed to representing the membership. The members are the heart and soul of our great union,” Mr. Hoffa stated.

Local 773, Hamilton Street in Allentown, represents IBT members throughout the Lehigh Valley. IBT Local 773 was chartered more than 70 years ago. Mr. Dennis Hower is the President and Principal Officer of Local 773.

LEHIGH VALLEY MSA’s unemployment rate decreases to 5.2 percent

03.02.15

MARCH 2015, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

MSA’s unemployment rate decreases to 5.2 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, February 20th- 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 5.2 percent, decreasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report which was released approximately four weeks before.

The MSA includes Lehigh, Northampton, and Carbon Counties of Pennsylvania and Warren County, New Jersey. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was at 7.1 percent.

There are fourteen MSA’s in Pennsylvania and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the fourth highest unemployment rate.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA continues to have the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.9 percent. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has had the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania more than four and a half consecutive years. The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 5.7 percent, and the Philadelphia MSA has the third highest at 5.5 percent. The Erie MSA and the Reading MSA are tied for the fifth highest unemployment within Pennsylvania at 4.9 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3.8 percent. The State College MSA has traditionally had the lowest unemployment within the state, however, the MSA also has one of the smallest workforces with 76,500 civilians.

The Lancaster MSA and the Lebanon MSA are tied for the second lowest unemployment rate at 3.9 percent, while the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the third lowest at 4.2 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania was reported to be at 4.8 percent, dropping by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report, while decreasing by two full percentage points from twelve months before.

There are 309,000 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 6,367,000 and 6,058,000 of them have employment.

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 5.6 percent, decreasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. The national unemployment rate was down one and one-tenth of a percentage point from twelve months before, partly because of workers that have exhausted their unemployment benefits. After workers exhaust their unemployment benefits they are no longer counted within the civilian labor-force.

There are 8,688,000 civilians nationwide without employment, but that number also does not include workers that have exhausted their unemployment benefits and stopped looking for work. However, the data indicates that the number of jobless civilians has dropped by more than 1,000,000 during the past six months.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 426,300 civilians, dropping by 400 from the previous report and decreasing by 1,000 during the past twelve months. There are 22,300 civilians without employment within the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA, dropping by 500 from the month before and decreasing by 8,200 from one year ago.

The Philadelphia MSA has the largest seasonally adjusted labor force in Pennsylvania at 2,974,900 with 163,400 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,241,700 with 57,500 without jobs. The Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest labor-force in Pennsylvania while the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA is fifth.

Within the MSA, Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate at 5.9 percent, unchanged from the previous report and dropping by two and one-tenth of a percentage point from twelve months before. Carbon County has a civilian labor force of 31,400, the smallest within the MSA, with 1,800 without employment, decreasing by 700 from twelve months ago.

Lehigh County has the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 5.2 percent, decreasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by two full percentage points from one year before. Lehigh County has a civilian labor force of 182,900, the most within the MSA, with 9,500 without jobs, decreasing by 3,700 during the past twelve months.

Northampton County has a unemployment rate of 5.4 percent, rising by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by one and six-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago. Northampton County has a civilian labor force of 153,100 with 8,300 jobless, rising by 400 from the previous report and decreasing by 2,400 during the past twelve months.

Northeast Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation continuing Staff Representative search

02.21.15

FEBRUARY 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Northeast Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation continuing Staff Representative search

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 5th - The Northeast Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation (NEPA-ALF), O’Neill Highway in Dunmore, a labor federation with approximately seventy-five labor organizations from throughout Northeast Pennsylvania are affiliated, have not yet replaced their previous Staff Representative who resigned in August 2014.

There are six Central Labor Council’s (CLC’s) and one Labor Chapter affiliated with the NEPA-ALF including: the Five-County CLC; the Northern Tied CLC; the Lehigh Valley CLC; the Schuylkill CLC; the Greater Wilkes-Barre CLC; and the Scranton Central Labor Union. The Carbon County Labor Chapter is also affiliated with the NEPA-ALF. The organization is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

The labor federations are made-up of unions that represent workers employed in Lehigh, Northampton, Schuylkill, Union, Snyder, Montour, Clinton, Bradford, Lycoming, Columbia, Northumberland, Luzerne, Lackawanna, Carbon, Monroe, Pike, Wyoming, Wayne, Sullivan, and Susquehanna Counties of Pennsylvania.

According to Corey Lockard, Chairperson of the NEPA-ALF, the search to replace the former Staff Representative has been on-going for more than three months with several rounds of applicate interviews taking place. However, according to Mr. Lockard, as of press time Febuary 8th, the position has not yet been filled.

The NEPA-ALF Staff Representative is a full-time paid position that is the go-between the labor federation and their affiliated labor organizations. The person meets with elected political officials to better communicate on issues that are important with the labor community. Also, the Staff Representative is there to assist the labor community in organizing campaigns, protests, public at-large events, community projects and overall helps mobilize the labor community.

Mr. Lockard told the newspaper that during the current anti-union political agenda in which the labor community seems to be “under attack” from multiple anti-worker sources, it is in their best self-interest to make sure they are affiliated with the NEPA-ALF and participates at their CLC meetings in their region.

For more information on how a labor organization can join the NEPA-ALF, call area code (570) 343-4958.

Former Machinists Union member seeks funds for park

02.21.15

FEBRUARY 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Former Machinists Union member seeks funds for park

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 4th- A former member of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) Union Local Lodge 2200 is involved in raising funds to place a flagpole surrounded by bricks that will honor Veterans in Scranton.

Mr. Robert Gattens, an Scranton resident, has been selling commemorative bricks that will be placed in the pathway leading to the memorial at Connors Park in South Scranton. The park is named after former three-term Mayor of Scranton Jimmy Connors. The Veterans Memorial will be financed by the selling of the bricks, which cost $65.00 each or two for $100.00.

Mr. Gattens was a IAM member for twelve years while employed at Air Products, Sans Sounci Parkway in Luzerne County.

He told the newspaper while not being a former Veteran, he along with several other volunteers wanted to respect the men and women who have served the nation by joining our military forces.

“We need to sell 100 bricks to circle the memorial, that will pay for the cost of the walkway, flag pole and other items needed,” stated Mr. Gattens.

Jack Figured, Field Representative of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) Union Local 5, told the newspaper Mr. Gattens contacted him about installing the bricks and was told he would seek BAC union volunteers to complete the brick installation later this year.

“We have other community projects we are working on, but we will help him out anyway we can,” said Mr. Figured.

Any labor organization that wants to purchase a brick(s), which will be engraved with their name of their union, can contact Mr. Gattens at (570) 561-7584.

Annual NALC National Food Drive to be held on May 9th

02.21.15

FEBRUARY 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Annual NALC National Food Drive to be held on May 9th

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 2nd- The annual National Association of Letters Carriers (NALC) Union Food Drive will be held this May.

The NALC represents mail carriers, excluding rural delivery, of the United States Postal Service (USPS) throughout the nation.

The 2015 ‘Letters Carriers Stamp out Hunger Food Drive’ will be held on Saturday May 9th in which postal service customers are requested to place non-perishable food items near their mail boxes to be pick-up by the NALC members.

Each year since 1991 the NALC members, with the support of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, conducts the food drive that helps feed the neady throughout the nation.

The food drive is held in more than 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam. Last year almost 73 million pounds of food was collected in the one day event for people in need throughout the United States.

Regionally, union members affiliated with the Scranton Central Labor Union and the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council labor federation, which are affiliated with the AFL-CIO, will again participate in the annual event.

Trucking companies who employees are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) often volunteer their equipment to haul the collected food to area food banks, pantries and shelters.

The NALC has approximately 200,000 active members. They began the drive in 1991 and while it was not held in 1992 the NALC members have collected food items every year since. Around 1500 NALC Branches participate nationwide.

The United Way of America and Feeding America will again sporsor the food drive with other organizations providing volunteers or financial support for the event. Those organizations provide flyers, bags, and postcards.

While the NALC members collect the food items from their customer residents, many other union member volunteers sort and deliver the collected food to area shelters and food banks.

The food drive in 2014 was the tenth consecutive year in which at least 70 million pounds of food was collected.

Thomas Gavin, President of NALC Branch 17 in Scranton, request that postal costumers not put food items with expired dates by their boxes because those will only be discarded.

Government oversight of Teamsters Union to be phased-out

02.21.15

FEBRUARY 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Government oversight of Teamsters Union to be phased-out

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 18th- The federal government and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union in Washington DC have reached an agreement that will allow the IBT to be able to manage their union without the strict oversite of federal officials.

The federal government has overseen the IBT for more than twenty-five years after it was discovered that there were some Teamsters officials allowing unlawful corruption into their labor organization.

The deal between the IBT and the federal government was reached with United States Attorney Preet Bharara’s Manhattan, New York office, it was announced in mid-January.

“The Teamsters Union and the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York filed an application with Chief Judge Loretta Preska requesting that she approve an agreement to end decades of government oversite over the Teamsters Union. We anticipate that she will approve the agreement,” stated James Hoffa, General President of the 1.4 million member IBT. Mr. Hoffa is the son of the legendary IBT General President James R. Hoffa, who disappeared in 1975 and was never found. He served as the IBT General President from 1957 to 1971.

Under the agreement, the United States of America represented by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, will enter into consideration of its terms and conditions to dismiss its action against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters sounding in the provisions of the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act Section of 1964 and will thereby extinguish the consent order that was applied against the IBT in 1989.

The agreement calls for the federal government oversight to be phased-out over the next five years and the IBT agreed to appoint independent office holders to probe into corruption allegations. Currently, there is a three-member independent board that includes a federal government appointee that oversees any allegation of corruption. The IBT members pay for the oversight board and all expenses occurred during any investigation or allege corruption through their union dues.

“This is a historic day for our Teamsters. After decades of hard work and millions of dollars spent, we can finally say that corrupt elements have been driven from the Teamsters and that government oversight can come to an end.

When I took office in 1999, I pledged that we would run a clean union, that organized crime would never have a place in the Teamsters Union. I also promised that we would ensure that every rank-and-file Teamster have a direct voice in electing the Union’s International officers. After 15 years, we have accomplished these goals,” added Mr. Hoffa.

The IBT believes by the agreeing to end the RICO complaint against the union, the government is acknowledging that there has been significant success in eliminating corruption from the Teamsters.

“Today is a new day for our great union. My administration is first and foremost committed to representing the membership. The members are the heart and soul of our great union,” Mr. Hoffa stated.

Local 229 in Dunmore represents IBT members in and around Lackawanna County while Local 401 in Wilkes-Barre represents IBT members in and around Luzerne County.

Labor supported Rob McCord resigns State Treasurer post

02.21.15

FEBRUARY 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Labor supported Rob McCord resigns State Treasurer post

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 2nd- The labor community likely dodged what could have been a very bad political situation in Harrisburg after Pennsylvania two-term Democratic Treasurer Rob McCord resigned after being charged with extortion. Mr. McCord received the majority of the labor organizations endorsements during last year’s gubernatorial Democratic primary race. The election has held on May 20th, 2014 and resulted in current Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf defeating Mr. McCord and two other Democratic candidates.

Mr. Wolf easily defeated his opponents and went on to become Pennsylvania Governor after defeating anti-union Republican Incumbent Governor Tom Corbett, who has seeking a second four-year term.

Some of the largest labor organizations in Pennsylvania endorsed Mr. McCord including: the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District 13; the Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters (IBT); and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives turned to the right after Republicans gained seats and now control the chamber, 119 to 84. Also, they gained three seats in the Senate and hold a 30 to 20 advantage.

Without Governor Tom Wolf to act as a “fire-wall” for anti-union legislation during at least the next two-years, many anti-union legislative issues important to the labor community would likely be made into law.

Should Mr. McCord have been successful in winning the nomination and faced-off against Mr. Corbett and the Republican party became aware of him being investigated, Mr. Corbett might have been re-elected.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA’s unemployment rate decreases to 5.9 percent

02.21.15

FEBRUARY 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

MSA’s unemployment rate decreases to 5.9 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 4th- The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) decreased by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month to 5.9 percent. The MSA continues to have the highest unemployment rate among the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania but the current unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since May 2008 when it was at 5.8 percent. The MSA has had the highest unemployment rate within Pennsylvania consecutively for more than six and half years.

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 8.4 percent.

The biggest reason the MSA’s unemployment has decreased during the past year is because of the decline of the workforce, not because the job market has improved much. The MSA’s civilian labor-force was 278,800 twelve months ago but currently the labor-force is at 274,200. One year ago there were 255,400 civilians employed within the MSA while currently there are 258,000 employed within the civilian workforce.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 4.8 percent, decreasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,367,000 with 309,000 not working. Pennsylvania has 6,058,000 civilians with employment. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate decreased by two full percentage points over the past twelve month.

Meanwhile, the nation’s unemployment rate was reported to be at 5.6 percent, dropping by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and decreasing by one and one-tenth of a percentage point from twelve months ago.

The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 5.7 percent, the Philadelphia MSA has the third highest unemployment rate at 5.5 percent while the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the fourth highest unemployment rate in the state at 5.2 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 3.8 percent. The Lancaster MSA and the Lebanon MSA are tied for the second lowest at 3.9 percent while the Harrisburg MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.2 percent.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fifth largest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 274,200 civilians. There are 16,100 civilians without employment, decreasing by 400 from the previous report. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor-force in Pennsylvania at 2,974,900 with 163,400 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor-force at 1,241,700 with 57,500 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor-force at 426,300 with 22,300 not working.

The Williamsport MSA has the smallest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 63,100 civilians and 3,200 of them have no jobs. The Altoona MSA has the second smallest labor-force with 64,100 civilians with 2,900 without employment and the Johnstown MSA is third with a labor-force of 65,200 and 3,700 of them are not working.

Wyoming County has the lowest unemployment in the MSA at 5.7 percent, increasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by two and four-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before. Wyoming County has 800 civilians of their work-force without jobs.

Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate within the MSA at 6.2 percent, unchanged from the previous report and dropping by two and seven-tenths of a percentage point from one year before. Luzerne County has 9,800 civilians without employment.

Lackawanna County’s unemployment rate is 5.9 percent, rising by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. There are 6,200 Lackawanna County residents reported to be unemployed.

“Right-to-work” legislation likely across the nation in 2015

02.18.15

FEBRUARY 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

“Right-to-work” legislation likely across the nation in 2015

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

February 3rd- The labor community throughout the nation will likely have a active next two years combating anti-union legislation with the pro-business Republican party gaining seats in legislatures across the United States.

A new wave of legislative bills that are intended to weaken the numbers of members of labor unions is expected this year.

New right-to-work legislation is expected to be proposed by anti-union pro-business Republican statehouses across the nation including the pro-union state of Maine and Pennsylvania.

Democratic Pennsylvania first-term Governor Tom Wolf made it clear during last years political campaign that he would veto any right-to-work legislation that passes the Republican controlled General Assembly. Mr. Wolf has been called the “fire-wall” between the anti-union members of the Republican party and the labor community. Should have Republican Tom Corbett regained the governors seat, most if not all anti-union legislation would have become the law of Pennsylvania.

The issue of banning union security clauses in labor agreements, also called “right-to-work” or what the labor community often calls “no-rights-at-work,” was front and center during 2013 after billionair Dick Yuengling Jr., leader of the D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc. brewery, said Pennsylvania and Mr. Corbett should push for the right-to-work legislation because the state would attrack more businesses.

Several bills of legislation was proposed by several of the anti-union Republican legislators however, they were unsuccessful in getting them to the floor of the legislature.

Currently, 24 states ban union security clauses, which makes workers join the union after working a probationary period often 30 to 60 days. The clause is a term of collective bargaining and must first be agreed to by the union and the employer and ratified by the membership.

Meanwhile, the rate of union membership decreased slightly last year falling from 11.3 percent of all workers in 2013 to 11.1 percent. Overall membership within the private sector of the workforce fell to 6.6 percent from 6.7 percent the United States Department of Labor reported.

Labor organizations actually gained membership in 2014 increasing their numbers by 41,000, but it was not enough to keep-up with the rise in total employment.

USPS again delays moving mail processing to Lehigh Valley

02.18.15

FEBRUARY 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

USPS again delays moving mail processing to Lehigh Valley

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 1st- The United States Postal Service (USPS) has delayed moving all out-going and in-coming mail processing from the South Scranton facility to the Lehigh Valley.

In the previous edition of the newspaper it was exclusively reported that the USPS was still going ahead with moving the mail processing work currently being done at their facility in Scranton to the Lehigh Valley.

Kevin Gallagher, President of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 101 in Scranton, which represents the majority of the USPS most effected by the distribution center’s closing, failed to return the newspapers phone message requesting the status of the situation. However, the newspaper has learned from another union official that represents USPS employees that the agency postponed the processing centers closure, at least temporarily.

The agency did however changed their mail delivery standards that will effect how soon customers mail is received at its designation.

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 USPS stated the plan would save the agency nearly $1.2 billion a year.

The agency first announced it would close about 250 processing centers after their plan is fully implemented.

The USPS stated around 5,000 workers would be affected by the consolidation. However, no lay-off would occur instead jobs would be “re-bid” under the labor agreements with the USPS and workers is some cases would need to either relocate or travel to other postal service facilities to continue to be employed by the USPS.

Mr. Gallagher, along with other officials of other postal service labor organizations, have met with federal and state elected representatives hoping to get them to recommend to the USPS not to move the processing work to the Lehigh Valley. USPS mail processing currently being done at their Scranton facility was scheduled to be moved to the Lehigh Valley by mid-January.

Under the plan all processing of in-coming or out-coming mail and packages will be rerounted from Northeastern Pennsylvania to the Lehigh Valley and brought back to the area for delivery.

The USPS had planned to consolidated their Scranton, Lancaster and Erie facilities around January 14th.

United Auto Workers getting ready for negotiations

02.18.15

FEBRUARY 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

United Auto Workers getting ready for negotiations

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 1st- The International Union, of United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, commonly known as the United Auto Workers Union (UAW), which represents the workers of American automobile companies, is continuing to sign-up workers at the Volkswagen AG plant at their Chattanooga, Tennessee plant while the union gets ready for successor labor contract talks with the Detroit automakers.

UAW President Dennis Williams recently stated that one of the major negotiating issues the union will be making with General Motors, Ford and Chrysler later this year will be the current two-tier wage scale system that was established when the three American automakers were in financial trouble several years ago.

Mr. Williams made it clear that the current two-tier wage of around $19.30 an hour was “unacceptable”. He believes that workers doing the same job as fellow union members should be paid the same wage.

Long-term UAW members earn approximately $28 an hour while workers hired when and since the big three American automakers were having financial problems start at around $16 an hour and increases while they continue to work to the maximum of $19.30 an hour. Long-term members have not received a real wage increase in around ten years.

Mr. Williams stated the UAW needed to make the contract concession of the lower starting pay and the two-tier wage scale to save both GM and Chrysler in 2009 after they filed for bankruptcy. Mr. Williams added that the passage of the anti-union right-to work legislation in Michigan, which many of his workers are employed, has had little impact on the UAW. He stated that his members have continued to pay their affiliation dues. The legislation makes becoming a union member and union dues deduction voluntary.

Meanwhile, the UAW continues to sign-up more VW workers at the plant that voted to narrowly reject the union last February during a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) representation election. Approximately 1,500 hourly workers were eligible to participate in the election.

According to the UAW, more than 825 Volkswagen workers have voluntarily become Local 42 members, which the union created for the plant workers. The UAW requested that VW recognize UAW Local 42 and be allowed to let workers join the Union leading-up to another NLRB election this year.