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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.”

Minimum wage increase fight to begin again in fall

08.23.14

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

Minimum wage increase fight to begin again in fall

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA’s unemployment rate decreases to 6.9 percent

08.23.14

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


MSA’s unemployment rate decreases to 6.9 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Center for Workforce Information and Analysis in Harrisburg, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 6.9 percent. The last report was released approximately one month before. The Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties of Pennsylvania. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was 9.1 percent. The unemployment rate for the MSA has dropped for the twelfth consecutive month.

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 7,700 less than it was twelve months ago. Nearly the same amount of civilians are working that were twelve months ago. One year ago there were 257,700 civilians employed within the MSA. Currently, there are 256,700 employed within the civilian workforce.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 5.6 percent, unchanged from the previous month. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,403,000 with 357,000 not working and 6,046,000 with employment. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate decreased by one and nine-tenths of a percentage point over the past twelve months, also because of the decrease of the labor-force due to workers having exhausted their unemployment benefits. Meanwhile, the nation’s unemployment rate was reported to be at 6.1 percent, dropping by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report.

The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 6.6 percent, the Philadelphia MSA has the third highest unemployment rate at 6.1 percent and the Erie MSA is fourth at 5.9 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.1 percent. The Lancaster MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate at 4.5 percent while the Lebanon MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.6 percent.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fifth largest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 275,700 civilians, dropping by 500 from the previous report. There are 19,000 civilians without employment. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor-force in Pennsylvania at 2,980,000 with 180,700 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor-force at 1,243,400 with 66,300 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor-force at 427,900 with 25,300 not working.

The Williamsport MSA has the smallest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 62,900 civilians and 3,600 of them have no jobs. The Altoona MSA has the second smallest labor-force with 64,000 civilians with 3,300 without employment and the Johnstown MSA is third with a labor-force of 65,600 and 4,300 of them are not working.

Lackawanna County has the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 6.3 percent, decreasing by five-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by two and five-tenths percentage points from one year ago. Lackawanna County has a civilian labor force of 104,400, with 6,600 jobless.

Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate at 6.9 percent, decreasing by five-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Luzerne County has a civilian labor force of 156,500, the largest within the MSA, with 10,700 civilians not employed, the most within the Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The unemployment rate in Wyoming County is 6.6 percent, dropping by five-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Wyoming County has a civilian labor-force of 13,900, with 900 jobless.

Overall transportation, warehousing and utilities jobs along with leisure and hospitality employment, set new recond highs for the region.

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

08.23.14

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

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

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@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), 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.

DELAWARE STATE AFL-CIO SPECIAL ENDORSEMENT CONVENTION

08.04.14

DELAWARE STATE AFL-CIO SPECIAL ENDORSEMENT CONVENTION

Office Party Name

State Treasurer D Chip Flowers, Jr.
Senate District 3 D Robert I. Marshall
Representative District 10 D Dennis E. Williams
Representative District 15 D Valerie Longhurst
Representative District 18 D Michael Barbieri
Representative District 19 D Kimberly Williams
Representative District 31 D Ralph Leroy Taylor, Jr.
New Castle County Council District 3 R Janet Kilpatrick

These are the endorsed candidates.

Pennsylvania gubernational campaign getting underway for labor community

07.28.14

AUGUST 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Pennsylvania gubernational campaign getting underway for labor community

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IBT members ratify have new pipeline contract agreement

07.28.14

AUGUST 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

IBT members ratify have new pipeline contract agreement

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

07.28.14

AUGUST 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

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

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate decreases to 6.1 percent

07.28.14

AUGUST 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate decreases to 6.1 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Minimum wage increase fight to begin again in fall

07.28.14

AUGUST 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Minimum wage increase fight to begin again in fall

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009.

Letter Carriers members meet in Philly for convention

07.28.14

AUGUST 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Letter Carriers members meet in Philly for convention

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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