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AFGE Local 1647 conducts recruiting drive for members

09.22.14

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.

Northeastern chapter of CLUW likely to be formed

09.22.14

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

Northeastern chapter of CLUW likely to be formed

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 2nd- A regional chapter of the Coalition of Union Women (CLUW) will likely be formed with only several more people being needed to become members to reach the minimum amount necessary to qualify for the establishment of a chapter.

The first meeting of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter was held in August and a meeting was held on September 3rd at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council 87 Union building, O’Neill Highway in Dunmore.

The newspaper have exclusively reported in the last several editions that AFSCME member Melissa Matoushek has began to form a local chapter of 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 framework 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.

According to Ms. Matoushek, approximately 20 female union members from throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania have so-far become members of CLUW and twenty-five are needed before a chapter can be given to the region.

“I’m very hopeful that we can get the necessary amount very soon,” Ms. Matoushek told the newspaper.

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.

Anyone wanting to join the organization or needs more information can contact Ms. Matoushek at (570) 352-8006. Her e-mail address is: nepacluw@gmail.com.

Labor community requesting there members support Tom Wolf for State Governor

09.22.14

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

Labor community requesting there members support Tom Wolf for State Governor

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 3rd- The laber community has began to mobilized themselves for the fall political campaign to hopefully defeat anti-union Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett and deny him of a second four-year term.

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 non-affiliated labor organizations, such as the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) Union, have began to prepare to energize their members leading-up to the general election, November 4th.

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 mostly endorsed 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. There has been several labor organizations that have endorsed Mr. Corbett for the fall election.

Frank Sirianni, President of the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council in Harrisburg, a statewide federation of construction trade unions’, stated the labor federation unanimously voted to endorse Mr. Wolf.

“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 sustaning 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.

Most of Pennsylvania’s largest labor organizations have endorsed Mr. Wolf, including: the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA); the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union Council 13; the Pennsylvania International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union in Harrisburg; the United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776; and the Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters in Philadelphia.

Mr. Wolf has also gained the support of the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg.

“We will be deploying our activists and volunteers to reach the worksites and households of workers in every region of the state on behalf of our endorsed candidates,” stated Frank Snyder, Secretary/Treasurer of the PA AFL-CIO.

“This election will be won or lost on voter turnout and we are determined to educate and motivate through Election Day. It’s time to stop playing defense and go on offense and that will only happen if we all vote in November,” continued Mr. Snyder.

Painters planning picket if not hired for U of S project

09.22.14

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

Painters planning picket if not hired for U of S project

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 2nd- It is getting more likely each day that members of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 21 in Drums, which represents unionized painters and drywall workers employed within the construction industry throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania, will be picketing along side a ten foot high inflatable rat in front of the new building being built by the University of Scranton. As of press-time, September 6th, IUPAT members have not yet been hired for the University of Scranton $47 million eight-story rehabiliation building on Jefferson Avenue in Scranton.

The union picketed the Adlin Building renovation construction that is located across the alley from the new building. The rehabilitation center under construction is where the former Scranton YWCA was located.

The university hired some nonunion workers for renovations that were done on the upper floors of the Adlin Building, which houses several businesses on the ground floor.

Members of IUPAT Local 218, which is affiliated with District Council 21, protested in May because they were not hired for the renovations of the Adlin Building.

John Gatto, Assistant Business Manager of District Council 21, told the newspaper that a IUPAT signatory contractor has not yet been hired for the painting within the rehabiliation center and if they are not hired for the project, the University of Scranton can count on his members picketing the project along-side the inflatable rate.

“There is still time. We would not be inside the building for several more months,” stated Mr. Gatto.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA’s unemployment rate at 6.8 percent, still highest in state

09.22.14

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

MSA’s unemployment rate at 6.8 percent, still highest in state

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 30th- The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) continues to have the highest unemployment rate among the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania however, the rate declined by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. The MSA has had the highest unemployment rate within Pennsylvania for more than 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 6.8 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 9.0 percent. The current unemployment rate for the MSA is the lowest since October 2008 when it was 6.7 percent.

The main reason the MSA’s unemployment is lower is because of the decline of the workforce, not because the job market has improved. The MSA’s civilian labor-force is 1,100 less than it was in the previous report and 7,800 lower than twelve months ago. One year ago there were 257,200 civilians employed within the MSA while currently there are 255,900 employed within the civilian workforce.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 5.7 percent, rising by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,371,000 with 361,000 not working and 6,011,000 with employment. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate decreased by one and eight-tenths of a percentage point over the past twelve months, mainly because of the decrease of the labor-force due to workers having exhausted their unemployment benefits.

Meanwhile, the nation’s unemployment rate was reported to be at 6.2 percent, also increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report.

The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 6.5 percent, the Philadelphia MSA and the Erie MSA are tied for the third highest unemployment rate at 6.0 percentwhile the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the fourth highest at 5.9 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.1 percent. The Lancaster MSA and the Lebanon are tied for the second lowest at 4.6 percent while the Harrisburg MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.8 percent.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fifth largest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 274,500 civilians, dropping by 1,100 from the previous report. There are 18,600 civilians without employment, 400 fewer than the previous report. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor-force in Pennsylvania at 2,977,700 with 178,400 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor-force at 1,173,400 with 65,400 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor-force at 427,400 with 25,100 not working.

The Williamsport MSA has the smallest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 62,800 civilians and 3,500 of them have no jobs. The Altoona MSA has the second smallest labor-force with 63,900 civilians with 3,200 without employment and the Johnstown MSA is third with a labor-force of 65,700 and 4,300 of them are not working.

Lackawanna County has the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 6.8 percent, increasing by five-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by one and eight-tenths percentage points from one year ago. Lackawanna County has a civilian labor force of 104,300, with 7,100 jobless.

Luzerne County and Wyoming County have the same unemployment rate at 7.0 percent.

Luzerne County’s unemployment rate rose by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report and dropped by two and two-tenths percentage points from one year ago. Luzerne County has a civilian labor force of 155,900, with 10,900 civilians not employed.

Wyoming County has a labor-force of 13,800 with 1,000 jobless.

General Dynamics scheduled to lay-off workers in Scranton

09.22.14

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

General Dynamics scheduled to lay-off workers in Scranton

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 2nd- Lay-offs at the General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems plant on Cedar Avenue in South Scranton is mounting after the company notified their employees and the Department of Labor (DOL) that an additional fifty-five workers are anticipated to be laid-off starting in November.

The International Association of Machinists (IAM) Union Local Lodge 847 represents plant workers at the facility.

The plant mostly produces military projectiles for the United States Department of Defense including the Army and Navy.

However, because of the military decreases in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military has cut-spending on supplies causing a slow-down within the military suppling industry.

According to the IAM, approximately 25 percent of the work within the plant is non-military contract work.

Elbows for the natural gas industry have also been manufactured at the plant. That industry also has cut-back during 2014.

On September 4th, the DOL was notified that the additional fifty-five workers are expected to begin to be laid-off, without a known recall date, starting in November and running through December. The lay-offs will impact workers with a minimum of 12 to 14 years of seniority.

After those lay-offs are complete, approximately 95 Local Lodge 847 represented employees will be working in the plant, down from around 150 only eight-teen months ago. The overall plant employment will be down to 145 counting management from more than 200 more than a year ago.

Joe Cron, a IAM Local Lodge 847 delegate to the Scranton Central Labor Union (SCLU) labor federation, stated the facility produces 5 inch 54 caliber shell bodies for the United States Navy and a 105 millimeter artillery shell.

Mr. Cron stated that the company had received assurances from the Army that a shell body for them is expected to become available in early 2015. However, the work is not guaranteed unless there are funds allocated for the shells.

The IAM collective bargaining agreement with General Dynamics expires at the end of the year.

APRI Banquet at Spirit of Philadelphia by John O. Mason

09.21.14

The Philadelphia chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) held its annual banquet and awards ceremony on board the Spirit of Philadelphia, on Friday, September 19, 2014.

The organization was founded by A. Philip Randolph, the United State’s leading African American trade unionist, who, with Chandler Owen, founded the magazine The Messenger advocated Democratic Socialism. After the race riots of 1919, Randolph and Owen founded the national Association for the Promotion of Labor Unionism Among Negros. Porters of Pullman railroad cars asked Randolph to help them organize a union of sleeping car porters, thus founded the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. After a twelve-year struggle against the Pullman company, the BSLP won a contract with the company, the first won by a predominately Black union. With the assistance of Bayard Rustin, Randolph organized the March on Washington of August 1963, where the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King gave his famous “I have a dream” speech.

The honorees were:

Kathy Black, past President of the Philadelphia chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union women (CLUW) and Health and Safety Director of AFSCME District Council 47;
Sherman Harris, Assistant to the President of AFSCME District Council 33;
and Ken Washington, Director of Government Relations of LIUNA District Council.

The President’s Award was presented to Elizabeth Glass, of the PhiladelphiaFederation of Teachers.

Additional labor organizations announce support for Staples office supply store boycott

09.18.14

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

Additional labor organizations announce support for Staples office supply store boycott

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 3rd- More labor organizations have joined the boycott of Staples office supply stores throughout the nation as they attempt to get the retailer out of the postal business.

In June the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), and the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, 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 Pennsylvania because some of the Staples stores of the chain now provides the postal services.

The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Harrisburg announced several weeks ago that the labor federation endorsed the boycott of Staples office supply stores and requested their affiliated labor organizations stop purchasing office supplies at the retailer.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Union joined the boycott of Stamples stating that the USPS is adding more low-wage jobs to the American economy by outsourcing work to low-wage employer Staples and replacing USPS workers with their workers who average only $8.50 an hour.

AFGE stated that America needs more middle-class jobs, not poverty-wage ones. According to a new report from the National Employment Law Project, the bad economy has replaced good jobs with bad ones during the past four years. Low-wage industries like fast food and retail lost two million jobs during the recession but have added 3.8 million ones while higher-wage industries lost 3.6 million positions but have added only 2.6 million, the AFGE stated.

On July 21st, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, which approximately 800,000 union members from throughout the state are affiliated through their local labor organizations, endorsed the Staples boycott.

“We are asking our members, friends, family members and colleagues to take their business elsewhere,” stated Richard Bloomingdale, President of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO.

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

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO stated that since the deal with Staples was announced, the USPS has reduced the hours of service in more than two dozen San Francisco area post offices, all of which are near a Staples store with a postal counter.

“It is apparent that more cuts in postal services are planned, along with the eventual closing of U.S. Post Offices,” added Mr. Bloomingdale.

Teamsters Union looking to organize FedEx employees

09.18.14

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

Teamsters Union looking to organize FedEx employees

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 2nd- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union in Washington DC have began to attempt to organize FedEx ground employees by conducting a national campaign to gain enough signatures of workers to petition the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to conduct an representation election.

According to information provided by the IBT to the newspaper, there is no time-table to file a petition with the NLRB requesting the agency conduct an election to determine if FedEx Ground employees want to be represented by the union for the purpose of collective bargaining.

Also, the IBT has not yet determined if a national campaign will be conducted or individual regional local unions of the IBT that have a FedEx facility in their jurisdiction will petition the NLRB and conduct the election with the employees being represented by the local union rather than under a master agreement, such as the United Parcel Service (UPS) Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) or the National Freight Agreement which covers the unionized truckers and other workers.

FedEx is a competitor of UPS, which employees are represented by the IBT. The Union represents all drivers and warehouse workers. Also, the IBT has a separate CBA with UPS for their drivers of UPS Freight company, which was once called the Overnite Trucking Company. Overnite was once the largest nonunion trucking company in the nation.

The majority of FedEx workers are nonunion. The pilots of the company voted to be represented by the Airline Pilots Association (APA) International Union several years ago.

Meanwhile, a recent court ruling in California could make it easier for the IBT to attempt to organize the FedEx Ground workers.

On August 27th, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that 2,300 individuals working for the company was misclassified as independent contractors instead of employees of FedEx. As a result of the ruling FedEx may owe the drivers hundreds of millions of dollars for illegally shirting to them the costs of such things as the FedEx branded trucks, uniforms, and scanners, as well as missed meal and rest period pay, overtime compensation, and penalties.

The court’s decision is the most recent in a series of cases that have proven the FedEx Grounds independent contractor model is built on the legal fiction that drivers of the company are in business for themselves.

IBT Local 401 member receives Hoffa Scholarship

09.18.14

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

IBT Local 401 member receives Hoffa Scholarship

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 3rd- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 401, South Washington Street in Wilkes-Barre, announced that one of their members child was awarded the James R. Hoffa Memorial Scholarship.

Mr. Hoffa became a IBT member in 1934 and served as General President for 14 years, and in recognition of his service to the Union and its members, was honored as General President Emeritus for life.

At the November 1999 IBT General Executive Board meeting, General Secretary/Treasurer C. Thomas Keegel presented a resolution to establish the new scholarship fund.

Before a scholarship is awarded, the student must rank in the top 15 percent of their high school class; have, or expect to have, excellent SAT or ACT scores; and demonstrate financial need.

The applicant of the scholarship must be a son, daughter or grand-child of a IBT member. IBT Local 401 member Deanna Habib and her husband Victor Habib Jr. of Harvey’s Lake, daughter Amber Habib was one of this year’s 150 scholarship recipients. Mrs. Habib works for the Luzerne County’s Children and Youth Services and has been a union steward for fifteen years.

Amber Habib was her high school class secretary and was involved in student government, Lifesmarts and the Key Club. She is attending Bucknell University, studying engineering.

Photo in the print edition, left to right: Deanna Habib, Amber Habib, and Pat Connors, Secretary/Treasurer and Principal Officer of Local 401.

Report states increasing minimum wage would help economy

09.01.14

SEPTEMBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Report states increasing minimum wage would help economy

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, August 20th- The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, requested in May that all affiliated labor councils throughout the nation conduct events in their community this summer to push for the raising of the federation minimum wage. The federation announced in the spring that it supported increasing the bench-mark to $10.10 an hour, which President Obama had proposed in his “state-of-the-union” address earlier this year.

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 federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009.

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).

Many states have increased their minimum wage above the federal bench-mark including New Jersey, Maryland and New York. However, anti-worker Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett has made it clear he does not support increasing the wage. He has been lobbying fellow Republicans to not support the increase of the hourly wage, stating the higher wage would harm Pennsylvania’s economy.

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.

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.

The anti-increasing of the minimum wage supporters in Washington, mostly made-up of Republicans and business groups, have stated that according to a new study the American economy would be hurt by increasing the bench-mark and as many as 500,000 jobs could be lost should the wage be increased to $10.10 an hour.

However, the same report suggest that more than 16.5 million American workers wages would be increased, producing an overwhelmingly positive impact for the economy by giving those workers more money to spend on their families and themselves, increasing their purchasing ability which would benefit local and the national economies.

Consolidation of mail sorting centers facing opposition

09.01.14

SEPTEMBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Consolidation of mail sorting centers facing opposition

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, August 17th- The labor organizations that represent workers employed at the United States Postal Service (USPS) 82 mail-sorting processing centers throughout the nation that the agency plans to close in 2015, hope that an effort in Washington DC by Congress will at least delay the action for one year.

The USPS announced in 2012 it would consolidate 48 mail processing center throughout the nation including their Scranton, Lackawanna County facility, which the operation would be moved to the Lehigh Valley facility. The plan according to the agency would save nearly $1.2 billion a year.

The USPS first announced it would close around 250 processing centers with around 5,000 workers being affected by the consolidation. The plan was to consolidate 92 mail processing centers in February 2013, and 89 more in 2014, including the Scranton facility. However, in November 2013 the agency suspended closing any more centers that were slated for closure or merging including the moving of the Lackawanna County facility to the Lehigh Valley.

But, on August 1st, the USPS changed their minds yet again and filed notice that it would change delivery standards effective January 5th, 2015, and it would consolidate the facility with the Lehigh Valley operation.

After the USPS announced their latest plan to go forward with the consolidation of the mail processing centers, fifty United States Senators from both political parties joined forces to try to stop the agency for one year from closing the 82 mail sorting facilities. There were fourty-four Democrats, seven Republicans and one Independent senators that requested the Senate Appropriations Committee to ban the cuts for one year. The senators then recessed for the summer break.

The American Postal Workers Union (APWU), which along with the National Association of Letter Carriers Union (NALC), represents the majority of the USPS employees. APWU members would be the most effected by the consolidation of the mail sorting centers.

Local 268 represents the APWU workers in the Lehigh Valley while the workers in Scranton are represented by Local 101.

Should the Scranton facility be consolidated the APWU members will need to travel to the region to continue to be employed by the USPS.

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO joins national federation and APWU on boycott of Staples stores

09.01.14

SEPTEMBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO joins national federation and APWU on boycott of Staples stores

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, August 1st- The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Harrisburg announced the labor federation has endorsed the boycott of Staples office supply stores.

In June the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), and the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, 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 Pennsylvania 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 nearest 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.

On July 21st, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, which approximately 800,000 union members from throughout the state are affiliated through their local labor organizations, endorsed the Staples boycott.

“We are asking our members, friends, family members and colleagues to take their business elsewhere,” stated Richard Bloomingdale, President of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO.

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, the APWU is finding 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 work together in developing methods to convince Staples to withdraw from the partnership with the USPS.

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO stated that since the deal with Staples was announced, the USPS has reduced the hours of service in more than two dozen San Francisco area post offices, all of which are near a Staples store with a postal counter.

“It is apparent that more cuts in postal services are planned, along with the eventual closing of U.S. Post Offices,” added Mr. Bloomingdale.

Meanwhile, the APWU wonders why the USPS would enter into an agreement with a company like Staples that announced in March it would close fifteen percent fo their stores this year, putting the health of the retailer in question.

“Staples itself is experiencing a decline in sales and has plans to close at least 225 stores by the end of 2015. we are concerned that in pursuing its arrangement with Staples, the USPS will leave many customers without access to any nearby Post Office,” added Mr. Bloomingdale.

The APWU 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.

Steelworkers to hold annual parade on Labor Day weekend

08.29.14

SEPTEMBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Steelworkers to hold annual parade on Labor Day weekend

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, August 25th- The United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union Local 2599, East Lehigh Street in Bethlehem, which overlooks the stacks of the former Bethlehem Steel mill, that is now the site of the Sands Casino, will conduct their annual weekend “Labor Day Parade” and picnic on August 31st.

“It will be a good time. The parade will be an opportunity for the labor community to come together,” stated Jerry Green, long-time President of Local 2599, which is one of the largest labor organizations in the Lehigh Valley.

Local 2599 along with several other USW affiliated local unions, once represented the employees of the steel mill that employed thousands of workers from throughout the Lehigh Valley.

The former site of the steel mill houses the Sands Casino and the blast furances and the stacks are now a museum.

Mr. Green told the newspaper the labor parade will start at 11:00 am from Main and Spring Streets in Bethlehem. They will march to Broad Street to Church Street and then back to Main and Spring Streets.

“We are asking for any union member to participate and bring their banners and show their colors,” Mr. Green added.

Following the parade, the Steelworkers will hold a labor picnic at the USW building. The event is free of charge and there will be live music.

Mr. Green stated that hot dogs and beverages will be part of the picnic and “it will not cost anyone to have something to eat”.

“The labor community in the Lehigh Valley needs more of this. A opportunity to come together and share some laughs and just have a good time together,” Mr. Green stated.

This year several new changes have been made by the City of Bethlehem regarding public events such as the USW parade. Such as, the city would like to know in advance the approximate number of participants.

Labor endorsements for gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf piling-up

08.28.14

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

Labor endorsements for gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf piling-up

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 3rd- More labor organizations from throughout Pennsylvania have endorsed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf for the November election.

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 non-affiliated 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.

Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council, a statewide federation of construction trade unions’, recently announced the federation has endorsed Mr. Wolf, however, not all building trade unions are supporting the Democratic nominee.

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.

Frank Sirianni, President of the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council, 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 sustaning 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 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.

On July 31st, the Pennsylvania International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union in Harrisburg, a federation of IBT Local Union’s from throughout Pennsylvania, announced they have endorsed Mr. Wolf. The endorsement announcement was jointly made with the International Brotherhood of Carpenters Union in Philadelphia.

“I am proud to endorse Tom Wolf for Governor today. We need new leadership for Pennsylvania,” stated Edward Coryell Sr., Secretary-Treasurer of the Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters in Philadelphia.

“We all saw what Covernor Corbett’s failed policies have done to Pennsylvania. It’s time for positive change and Tom Wolf is the right man for the job,” stated William Hamilton, President of the Pennsylvania Conference of the IBT and Principal Officer of IBT Local 107 in Philadelphia.

IBT members ratify have new pipeline contract agreement

08.28.14

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

IBT members ratify have new pipeline contract agreement

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 27th- 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 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, crossed the IBT picket-line and began doing their jurisdictional work.

Members of IBT Local 229 in Dunmore and IBT Local 401 were involved in the work stoppage at several pipelines near Tunkhannock and Towanda. The two union’s share the jurisdiction of the pipelines in the region.

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.

IUPAT members not yet hired for U of S construction project

08.28.14

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

IUPAT members not yet hired for U of S construction project

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 1st- The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 21 in Drums, which represents unionized painters and drywall workers employed within the construction industry throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania, have yet to be hired for the University of Scranton $47 million eight-story rehabiliation building on Jefferson Avenue in Scranton.

The university is building the rehabilitation center across the alley from the Adlin Building where the Scranton YWCA was located.

The university hired nonunion workers for renovations that were done on the upper floors of the Adlin Building, which houses several businesses on the ground floor.

Members of IUPAT Local 218, which is affiliated with District Council 21, protested in May because they were not hired for the renovations of the Adlin Building.

The protest included a ten foot high inflatable rat which is owned by the Scranton Building and Construction Trades Council.

In a newspaper article published in the Scranton Times/Tribune newspaper regarding the protest of the hiring of nonunion construction workers, an unknown source representing the University of Scranton, stated members of IUPAT would be hired for the rehabiliation center construction.

However, when contacted on August 1st, Mr. Gatto stated a signatory contractor of his union has not yet been hired for that project.

Phone calls to the University of Scranton seeking comment about this story were not returned.

Mr. Gatto stated his members will likely return to protest by late August if they are not hired for the project.

First local chapter CLUW meeting held on August 7th

08.28.14

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

First local chapter CLUW meeting held on August 7th

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 1st- The first meeting of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the Coalition of Union Women (CLUW) was held on Thursday August 7th at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council 87 Union building, O’Neill Highway in Dunmore. The meeting was scheduled for 7pm. in the main meeting hall in the AFSCME building.

In the previous edition of the newspaper it was reported that AFSCME member Melissa Matoushek has began to form a local chapter of 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 framework 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.

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.

Anyone wanting to join the organization or needs more information can contact Ms. Matoushek at (570) 352-8006. Her e-mail address is: nepacluw@gmail.com.

President Obama signs Executive Order labor requirement

08.23.14

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

President Obama signs Executive Order labor requirement

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 1st- The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) Metal Trades Department in Washington DC, which was chartered in 1908 to coordinate negotiating, organizing and legislative efforts of affiliated metalworking and related crafts and trade unions, praised President Barack Obama for issuing a Executive Order on July 31st.

President Obama signed the Executive Order at the White House before several labor leaders including the Metal Trades Department President Ron Ault.

The Executive Order signed by Mr. Obama was the “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Act”. The Metal Department and its affiliated unions have been advocating for and supporting this action for many years.

Under the order, federal contractors must now pay their workers overtime wages and have other workplace protections or risk being hired for any federal contracts.

“Our organizations have witnessed first hand the abuses of unscrupulous federal contractors wage theft of their workers and the unlawful retaliation when workers try to exercise their rights. The terms of the Contractor’s federal contracts require them to obey and abide by the laws.

Although the vast majority of contractors play by the rules, every year tens of thousands of American workers are not treated fairly. Many are denied overtime, not hired or paid fairly because of their gender or age, or have their health and safety put at risk by contractors contracting with the federal government that cut corners,” stated Mr. Ault.

Seventeen national and international unions are affiliated with the labor federation. Many are also affiliated with the Building and Construction Trades Council.

AFSCME Union still waiting for NLRB ruling regarding LPN’s

08.23.14

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

AFSCME Union still waiting for NLRB ruling regarding LPN’s

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 2nd- Almost fourteen months after a unit of workers voted overwhelmingly to be represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union they are still waiting to hear from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, DC whether they are represented by the labor organization.

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 Licensed Practical Nurses (ULP’s) employed at the Manor and Pavilion at St. Luke’s Village Nursing Home on Stacie Drive in Hazleton, Luzerne County. There were forty-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 law firm 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 have made it clear they are under the opinion the LPN’s are management and will not negotiate with the union for a first-time Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Therefore, the nursing home management 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. However, St. Luke’s have appealed the Region Four decision to the NLRB Washington office and the parties are still waiting for their decision of whether the LPN’s are management or can be represented by AFSCME.

Mr. Balas, told the newspaper on August 1st, “the union is waiting for the NLRB’s ruling.”