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USW Local 2599 conducts annual ‘Ed O’Brien’ legislative dinner-dance

05.29.15

JUNE 2015, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

USW Local 2599 conducts annual ‘Ed O’Brien’ legislative dinner-dance

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, May 16th- The United Steelworkers Union (USW) Local 2599, held their annual ‘Ed O’Brien Legislative Dinner/Dance’ on Friday evening, May 8th at the USW building on East Lehigh Street in Bethlehem. More than 110 attended the event which included USW officers and members, elected political officials, candidates for the May primary election and other union officials. The scheduled featured speaker was Pennsylvania Lt. Governor Mike Stack, however Mr. Stack cancelled the event just hours before because of a death in his family.

Local 2599 is one the largest labor organizations in the Lehigh Valley and once represented workers employed at Bethlehem Steel, just several blocks away from the union hall. The site of the former steel mill is now the location of the Sands Casino. The steel mill closed in 2000.

This years event was held on a Friday, normally it is held on a Saturday evening and the attendance increased from last year by more than 30 people.

Jerry Green, President of Local 2599, which was recently elected by the membership for a sixth consecutive three-year term as leader of the union, welcomed the guest of the dinner/dance. Mr. Green broke the record by winning a sixth term as President of Local 2599. The previous record was held by Louis Schrenko who served for five consecutive terms from 1964 to 1979 when the union represented thousands of workers at Bethlehem Steel. Following the steel mill closure several USW local unions’ were merged into Local 2599.

Mr. Green serves on the Pennsylvania State Workers Compensation Advisory Board, being appointed by former House of Representatives Speaker Keith McCall.

Retired USW official and former Democratic party candidate for the House of Representatives 15th Legislative District Ed O’Brien, for which the legislative dinner/dance is named, attended the event. Mr. O’Brien ran and received the Democratic nomination in 2001 and 2003 but was defeated by current Republican United States Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey, also from the Lehigh Valley.

Mr. O’Brien first joined the USW in 1964 and serve in many positions within the USW, both in the Lehigh Valley and with the USW International Union. He resides in Coaldale with his wife Shirley.

Also attending the event was Allentown Democratic Mayor Edward Pawlowski, an candidate for Mr. Toomey’s Senate seat in 2016. Mr. Toomey will be seeking a second six-year term next year.

Mr. Pawlowski will likely receive the support of many of the affiliated unions of the building and construction trades. His relationship with the unions has been excellent because of his support for the hiring of the workers for building projects in the City of Allentown.

Also attending was Corey Lockard, Director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council 86, and the Chairperson of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation (NEPA-ALF). Mr. Lockard attended the event for the first-time and stated he was “impressed” with the USW building and found the event to be “old-school” and very enjoyable.

Nonfarm jobs increase by 4,800 in MSA from one year ago

05.29.15

JUNE 2015, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Nonfarm jobs increase by 4,800 in MSA from one year ago

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, May 15th- According to 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) has gained 4,800 nonfarm jobs during the past twelve months to 351,100.

The data indicates that total private jobs increased within the MSA, which includes Carbon, Lehigh and Northampton Counties of Pennsylvania and Warren County, New Jersey, by 5,800 during the period.

There are 35,600 manufacturing jobs within the MSA, unchanged from one year before. Within the nonfarm sector, The data states there are 12,600, rising by 300 during the past twelve months, mining, logging and construction, jobs within the MSA.

According to the data, there are 39,900 government jobs in the MSA. Local government employs the most in the sector with 35,000 jobs, decreasing by 900 over the past twelve months. State government jobs have dropped by 100 from twelve months ago to 2,700. The Federal government employs 2,200, unchanged from twelve months before.

Most sectors within the MSA gained jobs during the past twelve months. The Leisure and Hospitally sector gained the most rising by 2,400 jobs, with Accommodation and Food Service jobs gaining by 1,100 within the sector.

There are 71,800 Education and Health Services jobs in the MSA with 18,900 of them being hospital jobs. There are 58,900 Healthcare and Social Assistance jobs in the MSA, dropping by 600 from twelve months ago.

According to the data there are 12,600 mining, logging and construction jobs, with the majority being in the construction industry, in the MSA. The sector gained 900 jobs during the past year.

LEHIGH VALLEY MSA’s unemployment rate increases to 5.7 percent

05.29.15

JUNE 2015, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

MSA’s unemployment rate increases to 5.7 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, May 20th- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Center for Workforce Information and Analysis in Harrisburg, the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report at 5.7 percent. There are eight-teen MSA’s within the state and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the fourth highest unemployment rate.

The MSA includes Lehigh, Northampton, and Carbon Counties of Pennsylvania and Warren County, New Jersey. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was at 6.8 percent.

The East Stroudsburg MSA and the Johnstown MSA are tied for the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.6 percent. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the second highest unemployment in the state at 6.2 percent, the Williamsport MSA has the third highest unemployment rate at 5.8 percent, while the Philadelphia MSA has the fifth highest rate at 5.6 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3.7 percent. The State College MSA traditionally has the lowest unemployment within the state, however, the MSA also has one of the smallest workforces with 77,600 civilians. The Lancaster MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate at 4.2 percent, the Gettysburg MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate at 4.3 percent while the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth lowest at 4.5 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the fifth lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.7 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania was reported to be at 5.3 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report, while decreasing by eight-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before.

There are 336,000 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 6,375,000 and 6,030,000 of them have employment.

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 5.5 percent, unchanged from the previous report. The national unemployment rate was down one and one-tenth of a percentage point from twelve months before, partly because of workers that have exhausted their unemployment benefits. After workers exhaust their unemployment benefits they are no longer counted within the civilian labor-force.

The data indicates that there are 8,575,000 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 425,700 civilians, increasing by 1,200 from the previous report but decreasing by 1,600 during the past twelve months. There are 24,200 civilians without employment within the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA, increasing by 800 from the month before and dropping by 5,800 from one year ago.

The Philadelphia MSA has the largest seasonally adjusted labor force in Pennsylvania at 3,033,900 with 171,300 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,205,600 with 64,100 without jobs. The Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest labor-force in Pennsylvania at 288,900 and 12,900 are jobless while the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA is fifth at 283,100 civilians and 17,600 are unemployment.

Within the MSA, Northampton County has the lowest unemployment at 5.6 percent, rising by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by one and one-tenth of a percentage point from twelve months before. Northampton County has a civilian labor force of 155,100, increasing by 500 from the previous report and also rising by 500 during the past twelve months. There are 8,700 without jobs, increasing by 400 from the month before and dropping by 1,700 during the past twelve months in Northampton County.

Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate within the MSA at 6.0 percent, increasing by six-tenths of a percentage point from the month before and dropping by two full percentage points from twelve months before. Carbon County has a civilian labor force of 31,500, the smallest within the MSA, with 1,900 without employment, decreasing by 600 from twelve months ago.

Lehigh County has the largest civilian labor-force within the MSA at 181,600, increasing by 700 from the previous report and dropping by 900 from one year before.

Lehigh County’s unemployment rate rose by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report but dropped by nine-tenths of a percentage point from one year before. There are 10,300 civilians in Lehigh County without jobs, increasing by 500 from the previous report and dropping by 2,100 during the past twelve months.

Wilkes-Barre Labor Council donates books for children

05.26.15

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

Wilkes-Barre Labor Council donates books for children

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 3rd - The Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council (GWBLC) Community Services Committee along with the United Way of the Wyoming Valley recently held their annual ‘book drive’ to help celebrate the “Week of the Young Child”, a program intended to bring focus of the value of reading among young children of the Wyoming Valley.

The event is sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The organization wants to bring public attention on the needsof young children and recognize early childhood programs that meet those needs.

According to Sandra Moosic, the United Way of the Wyoming Valley American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) Community Services Labor Liaison, the go-between the labor community and the community based organization, union members of the Crestwood Education Association Union, the Wyoming Valley West Education Association Union, and the Hanover Area Education Association Union, which are all affiliated with the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) in Harrisburg and the National Education Association (NEA) Union in Washington DC; the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 401; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 1944; the Wyoming Valley Nurses Association (WVNA/PASNAP) Union; the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 1776; and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Union Local 2809, collected over 5,000 books for distribution to area preschool and school age children.

Pennsylvania liquor store union’s watching for privatization

05.26.15

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

Pennsylvania liquor store union’s watching for privatization

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 5th- The labor organization’s the represent employees of the State Wine and Spirits Stores are quietly optimistic that the selling-off of the system will not happen before the legislative session ends for the summer this June. However, they are still talking to legislators to ensure they don’t change their position regarding the privatization of the liquor system.

The pro-business anti-union Republican members of Pennsylvania General Assembly have been pushing for the selling-off of the system, which provides millions of dollars of profits for Pennsylvania. Net profits of the latest reporting period under the current system was $123.68 million on gross revenue of $2.27 billion, amounting to a net profit margin of 5.44 percent.

First-term Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Tom Wolf campaigned during his attempt to unseat Incumbent anti-union Republican Governor Tom Corbett in 2014 against the privatization of the 600-plus wine and spirit store system. Mr. Wolf made it clear he would veto any legislation that would sell-off the stores should it reach his desk wanting instead to modernized the system.

He has proposed a plan for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), which operates the system, to “modernized” the system by extending Sunday hours and Holiday sales, improve store locations, having more flexible pricing, create a system of competitive pricing, and more customer engagement. Under Mr. Wolf’s proposal he estimates the system would be even more profitable creating an additional annual profit of $185 million by fiscal 2018.

However, as expected Mr. Wolf’s plan was greeted was skepticism by Republicans, business-people that want to purchase a license, and some within the media, including Times-Shamrock Communications, the parent publishers ofthe Scranton Times-Tribune, the Citizens’ Voice, and the Hazleton Standard-Speaker.

The newspaper’s would benefit financially should the stores be privatized by creating advertising competition between license owners and perhaps even the publishers plan to purchase one of the licenses and go into the booze business. Recently, several family members of the publishers of Times-Shamrock became part owners of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Railriders baseball team, breaking away from the media business.

The selling of the system will put more than 5,000 family sustaining jobs in harms way. The United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union represents the majority of the stores employees, including clerks and shelve stockers. UFCW Local 1776 represents the workers within the eastern part of Pennsylvania while UFCW Local 23 represents the western part. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union represents mainly the office employees of the system including the PLCB auditors.

Pro-privatization groups and individuals have stated selling more liquor would be good for Pennsylvania and even suggested that school funding could be increased by the selling of more booze.

The UFCW is concerned that allowing wine sales in grocery stores and other outlets, the largest volume of sales at the liquor stores, could be attached to other legislation before the summer recess, attempting a “back-door” privatization attempt.

U.S. Senator Robert Casey supports legislation to increase federal minimum wage

05.26.15

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

U.S. Senator Robert Casey supports legislation to increase federal minimum wage

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 6th- On April 30th Democratic Pennsylvania United States Senator Robert Casey Jr., joined by 33 fellow Senators, introduced a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020. Mr. Casey stated the wage increase would help more American families make ends meet, expand economic opportunity, and help build an economy that works for all families, not just the wealthiest few.

The legislation, “the Raise the Wage Act”, would also phase out the $2.13 tipped wage and would index the minimum wage to median wages.

The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour. In January of this year twenty states in the nation increased their bench-mark however minimum wage workers in Pennsylvania are still earning the federal level. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009, with more than 1.2 million Pennsylvania workers estimated earning the $7.25 an hour wage. The minimum wage in Pennsylvania is now lower than every neighboring state. Overall, more than 26 states now have a higher bench-mark wage than Pennsylvania.

It is estimated that raising the bench-mark wage to $10.10 an hour would boost spending in the state by $1.8 billion, and create 6,000 jobs, a new study released by the Keystone Research Center, a economic research group in Harrisburg indicated.

The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg supports the increasing of the minimum wage, whether through federal legislation or through the Pennsylvania legislators.

“By passing legislation to raise the minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour, not only will over one million working families get a much needed raise in their wages, it will help boost the local economies of communities across Pennsylvania. Raising the minimum wage will not only fight poverty, it will increase profits for local businesses because every dollar goes right back into the local economy,” stated Rick Bloomingdale, President of the Pennsylavnia AFL-CIO.

“It has been nearly eight years since Congress last passed a minimum wage increase. It’s time to deliver for working families and raise the wage. It’s important to remember that many of those paid the minimum wage are single mothers who are the sole providers for their household. Raising the wage and indexing it will have a substantial impact for these workers and their children,” Mr. Casey stated.

Mr. Casey estimates that the annual pay raise for the eligible workers would be $3,100 by 2020. Republican Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey was not one of the Senators that co-sponsored the legislation to increase the minimum wage and likley would vote against it.

Passage of the bill is unlikely with Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress. Republicans and their bussiness supporters claim that raising the bench-mark would kill nearly one million jobs. However, the United States Labor Department data shows average job growth in states that increased their bench-mark was higher than those that have not.

Northeastern Pennsylvania receives CLUW Chapter

05.26.15

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

Northeastern Pennsylvania receives CLUW Chapter

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 3rd- Northeastern Pennsylvania officially has received their charter to become affiliated with the Coalition of Union Women (CLUW).

CLUW is a organization within the labor movement that is sanctioned by the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC.

The organization was formed in 1974 and currently has more than 75 chapters throughout the nation and a membership of approxiamtely 20,000 women and men.

CLUW’s primary goal is to be a resource to all union represented women to develop action programs within the 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.

Melissa Matoushek, a Staff Representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87, O’Neill Highway in Dunmore, which represents AFSCME members throughout nine counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania, and who worked on getting enough people to commit of joining the organization, previously told the newspaper that the application to form a Chapter would be sent before the end of 2014.

She stated the application was received and a Chapter of CLUW has been isssued to the region with their first meeting being held on May 27th at 7:00 pm at the District Council 87’s building. At the meeting officers will be elected and the constitution and by-laws will be discussed.

The newspaper has published several news articles in previous editions on Ms. Matoushek attempt to form a local chapter of CLUW.

Ms. Matoushek told the newspaper that approximately 27 people have become members of CLUW, including several men. At least 24 of the people that have signed-up to join the organization are women, mostly members of labor organizations throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania. Before a chapter could be awarded at least 25 people must become members of the organization.

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.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA’s unemployment rate unchanged at 6.2 percent

05.25.15

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

MSA’s unemployment rate unchanged at 6.2 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 3rd- According to data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, (DOL) Center of Workforce Information and Analysis in Harrisburg, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) unemployment rate was unchanged from the previous report at 6.2 percent. Twelve months ago the region’s unemployment rate was 7.8 percent.

The MSA has the second highest unemployment rate among the eightteen in Pennsylvania. The newspaper previously reported the DOL added four more MSA’s in January. Now included within the DOL’s data of MSA’s are: Chamberburg/Waynesboro; Bloomsburg/Berwick; East Stroudsburg; and Gettysburg.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties of Pennsylvania.

The Johnstown MSA and the East Stroudsburg MSA are tied for the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.6 percent.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 5.3 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,375,000 with 336,000 not working. Pennsylvania has 6,039,000 civilians with employment. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate decreased by eight-tenths of a percentage point over the past twelve months. Meanwhile, the nation’s unemployment rate was reported to be at 5.5 percent, unchanged from the previous report, which was released approxiamtely four weeks before. The national unemployment rate decreased by one and one-tenth of a percentage point from twelve months ago.

The Williamsport MSA has the third highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.8 percent, the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the fourth highest unemployment rate at 5.7 percent while the Philadelphia MSA has the fifth highest unemployment rate in the state at 5.6 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 3.7 percent. The Lancaster MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate at 4.2 percent, the Gettysburg MSA has the third lowest and the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth lowest in Pennsylvania at 4.5 percent.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the fifth largest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 283,100 civilians, increasing by 1,500 during the past twelve months. There are 17,600 civilians without employment, dropping by 4,400 from one year ago.

The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor-force in Pennsylvania at 3,033,900 with 171,300 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor-force at 1,205,600 with 64,100 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor-force at 425,700 with 24,200 not working.

The Bloomsburg/Berwick MSA has the smallest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 43,400 civilians and 2,200 of them have no jobs. The Gettysburg MSA has the second smallest civilian labor-force at 55,500 and 2,400 of them are jobless. The Williamsport MSA has the third smallest labor-force with 61,100 civilians with 3,600 without employment and the Johnstown MSA is fourth with a labor-force of 62,900 and 4,200 of them are not working.

Wyoming County and Lackawanna County are tied for the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 5.8 percent. Wyoming County’s unemployment rate rose by six-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Wyoming County has 800 civilians of their work-force without jobs.

Lackawanna County’s unemployment rate decreased by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. There are 6,300 Lackawanna County residents unemployed. Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate within the MSA at 6.5 percent, rising by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report.

USPS again delays moving mail processing from Scranton

05.25.15

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

USPS again delays moving mail processing from Scranton

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 4th- Kevin Gallagher, President of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 101 in Scranton, told the newspaper his union has been notified by officials of the United States Postal Service (USPS) that they have again delayed the consolidation of the Scranton processing center with the Lehigh Valley facility.

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

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

The Scranton mail processing center was scheduled to be consolidated with the Lehigh Valley facility on July 15th. However, Mr. Gallagher stated the USPS has put the action on delay until likely until the spring of 2016 or possibly later.

“We just don’t know. All we now know is it will not happen this July,” added Mr. Gallagher.

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

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

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

There are approximately 25 mail delivery positions currently unfilled in Scranton that the APWU members could be transferred to, around 21 available in Wilkes-Barre, and 17 in Pittston, Mr. Gallagher stated.

Mr. Gallagher told the newspaper that since the USPS changed mail delivery standards several months ago, customer complaints have increased because it now takes longer for letters and other correspondence to reach their destignation.

Labor opposes Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement

05.25.15

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

Labor opposes Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION- May 5th- The success of passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement (TPPTA), a measure meant to ease trade restrictions with Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Singapore, and Canada, is still unknown in the United States House of Representatives. The measure is being called “fast track” and few Democrats in the House of Representatives are supporting it.

President Barack Obama supports passage of the trade deal and his administration negotiated the pact often without congress involvement.

Meanwhile, while the trade deal is being debated, a new report by the United States Commerence Department in Washington indicated that the nation’s trade deficit reached its highest level in more than six years. The government reported that imported goods increased by 7.7 percent in March from February to $239.2 billion with the trade deficit rising by $51.4 billion.

The labor community has made it clear it opposes the trade agreement and has implemented a new tactic is fighting against it.

Many of the labor organizations that are affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) the largest labor federation in North America, has froze campaign contributions to members of Congress to preasure them from supporting the trade deal. And it indicates it may be working.

For TPPTA to pass the House of Representatives political insiders have stated that at least 32 Democrats are needed to vote in favor of it. However, currently only around 16 have indicated they would. Around 60 House Republicans, mostly tea-party members, have indicated they also do not support the deal.

With most Democrats opposing TPPTA and if in fact 60 Republicans vote against the pact, Mr. Obama and deal supporters will likely fall short of enough votes needed for passage.

Meanwhile, one the most vocal labor leaders against the pact is United Steelworkers Union (USW) International President Leo Gerard. The USW represent rubber workers that manufacturer American made tires that have been hurt by cheap Pacific countries manufactured tires.

Mr. Gerard after Prime Misister Shinzo of Japan spoke to a joint session of Congress several weeks ago about why the United States should pass the trade deal, stated Japan supports the deal because of the continued lopsided trade benefits it enjoys.

Hazleton nursing home operator continues to appeal rulings

05.25.15

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

Hazleton nursing home operator continues to appeal rulings

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 4th- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington DC is seeking a summary judgment against an operator of a area nursing home that could result in fines being levied against the company every day they do not honor their findings and ruling.

The newspaper has exclusively been reporting about how a Hazleton nursing home has attempted to stop some of their employees from being represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87. District Council 87 represents AFSCME members throughout nine counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania including Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties.

The NLRB ruled against the operators of the Manor and Pavilion at St. Luke’s Village Nursing Home on Stacie Drive in Hazleton after they appealed the agency’s findings that Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN’s) employed at the facility had the right to vote in a NLRB conducted election to determine if they wanted AFSCME to represent them for the purpose of collective bargaining.

AFSCME won the right to represent the LPN’s after the NLRB held a representation election in June 2013 and the union won the right to represent them 26 for to 12 against.

However, according to Matt Balas, Business Representative of District Council 87, the employer immediately took the position they would not bargain with AFSCME urguing the employees were supervisors and not able to join a union. However, throughout the nation LPN’s have become members of labor unions and are represented through a collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

The employer challenged the right of whether the LPN”s had the right to participate in the election in which the NLRB ruled they were eligible to vote to join a labor organization.

Mr. Balas previously told the newspaper the St. Luke’s operators refused to meet with AFSCME to discuss negotiating for a first-time CBA resulting in the Union filing charges against the employer. The NLRB in Washington DC ruled in favor of AFSCME however again the employer refused to begin bargaining.

AFSCME and management of St. Luke’s have had a positive working relationship for many years, Mr. Balas told the newspaper. AFSCME has represented for many years a separate unit of workers that include dietary aids and other food service workers. The parties have reached a successor CBA for those workers late in 2014.

Anti-union businesses seeking help with new election rule

05.25.15

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

Anti-union businesses seeking help with new election rule

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 3rd- Businesses throughout the nation have made it clear they are worried about the new National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rule that will expedite representation elections through the agency.

In the previous edition of the newspaper it was reported that the labor community applauded President Barack Obama’s veto of a Republican led resolution that would have overturned the NLRB rule that will expedite representation elections. The new rules and President Obama’s veto was clearly under reported by the main-stream media. However, this newspaper had several news articles regarding the new election rule.

Mr. Obama vetoed the Republican attempt to overturn the NLRB rule that took effect on April 14th. The veto was seen as a victory for the labor community, and the Democrats in the United States Congress. The resolution to overturn the new rules was passed by both the House of Representatives and the United States Senate in March. The legislation was supported and passed by mainly members of the Republican party.

The new rules, which was created by the five-member NLRB in Washington DC in December, is entended to streamline NLRB conducted Representation Elections. The labor community has complained for years that the current process favors companies, mainly larger employers, that have used the procedures of the old system to often delay, sometimes for months or years, of having the election conducted by the NLRB, which oversees the election. The tactic often is used to stall NLRB elections, especially when it appears the union would likely win.

Republicans were unable to override President O’Bama’s veto because there were not enough Senate Republicans in the chamber. There are 54 Republican seats in the Senate and under the chamber rules 67 is needed to override a presidential veto.

Under NLRB rules, at least 30 percent of a unit of workers must request the agency conduct an election. In the election at least 50 percent plus one of the eligible to participate employees must vote to be represented by a labor organization to become their bargaining representative for the purpose of collective bargaining.

Employers will be required to post an “NLRB Notice of Election,” which contains information about the representation petition that was filed, and advises the two parties their rights and obligations. A “Statement of Position” form will need to be submitted by the employer to the NLRB within seven days after the receipt of the petition.

The document must include a list of eligible voters, their job classifications, their shift schedules, and work locations. However, the employer can not present any opinion or evidence on the issue of the representation election or request a delay in the vote.

Under the rules, employers can not challenge voter eligibility before the election, often used to delay elections, and must wait for the post-election hearing. Also, pre-election hearings will be limited to ‘Statement of Position’ the employer submitted not questioning the election merit.

The eligible to participate employees list must be filed electronically two days after the election notice was filed and must include employees names, home addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses.

Anti-union companies throughout the nation have been contacting law firms and consultant groups for strategic advice how to not have their employees vote to be unionized. They fear more workers may vote to become affiliated with a labor organization for the purpose of collective bargaining and have stated their “first amendment “ rights will be violated under the new rule.

It is expected that the new rule will increase the current average election time from 38 days after filing to 20 days.

Auditor General DePasquale audit indicates lack of Act 102 law enforcement

05.25.15

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

Auditor General DePasquale audit indicates lack of Act 102 law enforcement

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 5th - Pennsylvania Democratic Auditor General Eugene DePasquale audit released on April 22nd indicated that enforcement by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s (DOL) law to protect healthcare workers from excessive mandatory overtime was poor and his findings came as no surprise to Terry Marcavage, Staff Representative of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP) union in Conshohocken, just outside of Philadelphia. PASNAP represents nurses at the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, River Street in Wilkes-Barre.

The Union was involved with a long protracted labor dispute with the operators of the medical facility, the Commonwealth Health System (CHS) Inc., the nation’s largest for profit conglomerate of hospitals in the nation. CHS also operates the Regional Hospital of Scranton, formerly the Scranton Mercy Hospital, the Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton and the Tyler Memorial Hospital in Tunkhannock. The company also owns and operates several smaller medical facilities in the region.

PASNAP represented nurses employed at the Wilkes-Barre General Hosptial bargained with the company for more than sixteen months without gaining a successor collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with CHS and was forced to strike for several days last July. The company responded by hiring scabs to temporarily replace the striking workers. The two sides agreed to a new CBA in August 2014. The previous contract between the parties expired on April 30th, 2013.

Ms. Marcavage indicated to the newspaper more than one year before Mr. DePasquale released his findings regarding the lack of enforcement of Pennsylvania Act 102 (the Prohibition of Excessive Overtime in Health Care Act of 2008), that PASNAP believed the Department of Labor was not investigating and enforcing the law at the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. “We knew all along there were problems at Wilkes-Barre General,” Ms. Marcavage stated.

“To put it simply, the implementation of the law to protect healthcare workers and their patients was clearly not a priority at the Department of Labor and Industry. In addition to missing, by more than four years, the legislatively mandated deadline to adopt regulations to enforce the law, Labor and Industry summarily dismissed eight precent of the complaints it received during our audit period,” stated Mr. DePasquale.

Act 102 of 2008 limits healthcare facilities including hospitals, nursing homes and outpatieent facilities from requiring hourly, nonsupervisory employees involved in direct patient healthcare to work more than agreed to predetermined and regularly scheduled work shifts.

Mr. DePasquale indicated that the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry was very cooperative during his audit which covered July 1st, 2009, when the full act went into effect, through August 31st, 2014. During that time the DOL was overseen by officials appointed by anti-worker Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett. Mr. Cobett was defeated by current Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Tom Wolf in November 2014 and took over as Pennsylvania Governor this past January.

PASNAP stated that in late August of 2009 the union brought to the Auditor General DePasquale attention the numerous violations of Act 102 throughout Pennsylvania, including at the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, and the failure by the Corbett administration’s DOL to enforce the law.

“The results of this audit shine an important light on the reluctance of past administrators blatant unwillingless to enforce the law. Because of the persistence and determination of our members, particularly at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, we now have proof of what we’ve known all along. Too many hospitals violate with impurity a law established to protect patients and nurses,” stated Patricia Eakin President of PASNAP.

PASNAP also represents nurses employed at the Geisinger Community Medical Center (GCMC) in Scranton, covered under a seperate CBA with Geisinger Health Systems.

Under the Wolf administration, Pennsylvania Labor and Industry has hired an additional five investigators for the Bureau of Labor Law Compliance, which works in the field investigating any complaint or tip regarding Department of Labor and Industry rule violations.

DOL stated it is addressing Mr. DePasquale’s report that showed failures within the audit by streamlining central record keeping, updating their database, and having more boots on the ground to investigate and talk to employees involve with any possible violation. One finding was that DOL tracking system was so bad it made it almost impossible to determine if there was not compliance of the law.

May Day March and Rally in Philadelphia, by John O. Mason

05.04.15

May Day March and Rally in Philadelphia, by John O. Mason

Members of the Labor movement and allied causes in Philadelphia joined in the May Day March and rally on Friday, May 1, 2015.
The events were sponsored by the Philadelphia Area Project for Occupational Safety and Health (PHILAPOSH) and the May Day USA Education Committee.
The march started at the McDonald’s restaurant on 40th and Walnut streets, to emphasize the movement for supporting fast-food workers’ right to a living wage and to organize. State Senator Daylin Leach spoke to reporters of a bill he introduced in the General Assembly that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $15.00 an hour.
The bill, said Leach, would help low income workers “who have been left behind I this economy, and it’s time that stopped.” Also, the bill, added Leach, “would eliminate the tip minimum wage, which hasn’t gone up in twenty-one years. It’s $2.83 an hour in Pennsylvania, if you have a job where you supposedly get tips. Often tipped workers don’t even make close to the $7.25 an hour minimum wage.”
The problem with the current minimum wage, said Leach, is “if you work full-time in hard back-breaking work, often you live in poverty, and that’s not what the minimum wage was designed to do, and in a time of the greatest income inequality in a hundred years, it’s just not an appropriate way to be…In Seattle, they raised (the minimum wage) to $15.00, which is what (his bill) proposes to do, and they’re doing great in Seattle.”

The march went south on 40th Street to Baltimore Avenue, then to Clark Park, 43rd and Baltimore Avenue, for the rally. Literature tables were set up such groups as the Green Party, Socialist Party USA, Socialist Alternative, the Philadelphia chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), and the Socialist Workers Party. Chapter 31 of the Veterans for Peace had their “Precision Grill Team” provide food for participants.
Paul Grubb, one of the co-chairs of the May Day committee, welcomed people to the rally and introduced Evette Jones, a staff member of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT). “The PFT,” said Jones, “believes in and supports our brothers and sisters who are out there fighting to get a fifteen dollar minimum wage…As educators, we have the great responsibility of preparing our school children for the future, whether that means college or joining the work force.”
The fight for the fifteen-dollar minimum wage, said Jones, “is not only for future generations, but is for today’s working parents of our Philadelphia school children. It is proven, that children from more economically stable homes do better school. Raising the standard of living in Philadelphia means raising the achievement levels for our students. And when we raise the achievement level of our students, we can stop the hedge-funders and the fat cats from trying to close our schools (and from) trying to close public education.”
Jim Moran, veteran Labor activist and co-chair of the May Day Committee, introduced Cheri Honkala, veteran homeless activist and a leading figure in the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. “I bring you greetings,” she began,” from the poor and homeless brothers and sisters” in Philadelphia, and added, “I’ve been working with other poor and homeless families in the last twenty-five years in this city.
“People have always said” added Honkala, “that homeless people are lazy, they don’t have a work ethic. They are some of the hardest working brothers and sisters I’ve ever met in my life. Every day, they lay down on a couch, a sidewalk, in a car, wherever in this city because you can’t get a place, a room or a shelter, and you haven’t been able to in five years, and when they lay down at night, they know the next morning they’re going to get up and (work) at McDonald’s or Wendy’s or wherever. And they’re going to continue to live in homelessness working in that poverty wage job.”
Jim Moran presented the Aggie Moran Human Rights Award to Books through Bars, an organization that supplies prison libraries with books for inmates to read; Cathy Brady, an activist for SEIU Health Care PA and Vice Presidetn of Friends of Elmwood Park, for her work in developing the Labor Monument at Elmwood Park, 71st Street and Buist Avenue, which honors the struggles of Organized Labor; and 15 Now and Fight for 15, groups advocating for the $15.00 an hour minimum wage.
Music before the rally and in intermission was provided by DJ Raul. ON the stage performing were singer-guitarist Shanta Bristow, folk singer Andi Antipin, hip-hop artist Joie Kathos, soloist Dina Yarmus, and folk singer Dave Marley.

LEHIGH VALLEY MSA’s unemployment rate unchanged from previous report

05.04.15

MAY 2015, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

MSA’s unemployment rate unchanged from previous report

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, April 20th- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Center for Workforce Information and Analysis in Harrisburg, the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged from the previous report at 5.5 percent. There are eight-teen MSA’s within the state and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the fifth highest unemployment rate.

The MSA includes Lehigh, Northampton, and Carbon Counties of Pennsylvania and Warren County, New Jersey. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was at 5.5 percent.

The East Stroudsburg MSA has the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.6 percent. The Johnstown MSA has the second highest at 6.5 percent, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the third highest unemployment in the state at 6.2 percent, and the Philadelphia MSA and the Williamsport MSA are tied for the fourth highest unemployment rate at 5.6 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3.9 percent. The State College MSA traditionally has the lowest unemployment within the state, however, the MSA also has one of the smallest workforces with 76,300 civilians. The Lancaster MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate at 4.1 percent, while the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA and the Gettysburg MSA are tied for the third lowest unemployment rate at 4.3 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the fourth lowest rate in Pennsylvania at 4.5 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania was reported to be at 5.2 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report, while decreasing by one full percentage point from twelve months before.

There are 329,000 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 6,372,000 and 6,044,000 of them have employment.

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 5.5 percent, decreasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. The national unemployment rate was down one and two-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before, partly because of workers that have exhausted their unemployment benefits. After workers exhaust their unemployment benefits they are no longer counted within the civilian labor-force.

The data indicates that there are 8,705,000 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 424,300 civilians, rising by 700 from the previous report and decreasing by 2,800 during the past twelve months. There are 23,400 civilians without employment within the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA, increasing by 200 from the month before and dropping by 4,900 from one year ago.

The Philadelphia MSA has the largest seasonally adjusted labor force in Pennsylvania at 3,042,200 with 170,200 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,207,800 with 62,300 without jobs. The Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest labor-force in Pennsylvania at 290,500 and 12,500 are jobless while the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA is fifth at 282,700 civilians and 17,500 are unemployment.

Within the MSA, all three counties have the same unemployment rate at 5.4 percent. Carbon County’s unemployment rate dropped by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and decreased by one and seven-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before. Carbon County has a civilian labor force of 31,300, the smallest within the MSA, with 1,700 without employment, decreasing by 500 from twelve months ago.

Lehigh County has the largest civilian labor-force within the MSA at 180,800, increasing by 200 from the previous report. The unemployment rate decreased by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report and dropped by one full percentage point from one year before. There are 9,800 civilians in the county without jobs, decreasing by 100 from the previous report.

Northampton County’s unemployment rate was unchanged from the month before and dropped by one and four-tenths of a percentage point from one year before. Northampton County has a civilian labor force of 154,500, increasing by 300 from the previous report and also rising by 300 during the past twelve months. There are 8,300 without jobs, the same as the month before and dropping by 2,200 during the past twelve months.

There are 348,200 nonfarm jobs within the MSA, increasing by 5,300 during the past twelve months.

USW Local 2599 to hold annual Ed O’Brien Dinner on May 8th

05.04.15

MAY 2015, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

USW Local 2599 to hold annual Ed O’Brien Dinner on May 8th

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, April 24th- The United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union 2599, East Lehigh Street in Bethlehem, will hold their annual Ed O’Brien Legislative Dinner/Dance on Friday May 8th at the USW building.

The cost of a ticket to the event is $50.00, with cocktails starting at 5:30 pm and dinner at 6:30 pm. Beverages will be served throughout the event.

Local 2599 is one of the largest labor organizations in the Lehigh Valley and is the largest USW Union. Local 2599 has fifteen seperate bargaining units throughout the Lehigh Valley.

Jerry Green is President of Local 2599 and just recently the membership voted to give him a sixth consecutive three-year term, breaking the previous record held by Louis Schrenko of five terms. Mr. Schrenko served as President from 1964 to 1979.

Local 2599, along with several other USW local unions, once represented workers employed at Bethlehem Steel, just several blocks away from the union hall. The site of the steel mill is now the location of the Sands Casino. After Bethlehem Steel closed the mill in 2000 the USW merged the four unions that represented the workers into Local 2599.

During last years Ed O’Brien Legislative Dinner, former United States Navy 3-star Admiral and current candidate for the Democratic nomination for the 2016 United States Senatorial seat from Pennsylvania Joe Sestak addressed the events guest. Allentown Mayor Edward Pawlowski is also a candidate for the Democratic nomination. The seat is currently held by Lehigh Valley resident Republican Pat Toomey. Mr. Toomey represented the 15th Legislative District, which represents most of the Lehigh Valley in Washington DC, before defeating Mr. Sestak five years ago. Mr. Sestak is seeking a “rematch” against Mr. Toomey next year.

Mr. Green stated that this year Pennsylvania Democratic Lieutenant Governor Michael Stack will be the keynote speaker. Mr. Stack was previously a member of the Pennsylvania State Senate.

Mr. Green was the lead organizer when the USW was successful in organizing Registered Nurses and Social Workers employed at Gracedale Nursing Home in Northampton County in 2003.

Also, nearly eight years later headed-up the group that wanted to defeat Northampton County’s plan to sell the Gracedale Nursing Home in 2011. Mr. Green was very instrumental, along with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union, which also represents Gracedale workers, in helping to convince Northampton County voters to reject the plan to sell the nursing home.

The USW selected Mr. Green as their 15th congressional legislative district Rapid Response Co-ordinator and serves on the Pennsylvania State Workers Compensation Advisory Board, being appointed by former House Speaker Keith McCall.

“I am very honored that the membership has given me the opportunity to serve them for more than 15 years. I will continue to do my very best to lead this great union forward,” stated Mr. Green.

Bob Sheridan wants labor member support in election

04.18.15

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

Bob Sheridan wants labor member support in election

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 2nd- Bob Sheridan, Scranton School Board member and former police officer of the Scranton Police Department is requesting members of the labor community vote for him in the May primary election to become the Democratic party nominee for Lackawanna County Clerk of Judicial Records beginning in 2016.

The winner of the primary election will likley be successful gaining the seat because there were no Republicans filing. However, there are six Democratic candidates seeking the position.

Mr. Sheridan attended the March delegate assembly of the Scranton Central Labor Union (SCLU) labor federation held at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87 building in Dunmore.

Mr. Sheridan stated that he was always a supporter of the labor community and once was a member of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Union Lodge Number 2, which represents the police officers of the Scranton Police Department. “Many of you know me. You know that I have always supported the labor community. While serving on the Scranton School Board, I many times spoke-up on behalf of the unions,” Mr. Sheridan told those attending the meeting.

In fact in 2013, Mr. Sheridan, while serving as the Vice-President of the Scranton School District, made a public issue of the hiring of non-union construction workers for a senior housing building project in Scranton after the developers requested tax breaks for the project. At the time Mr. Sheridan stated he was “disappointed that local union members were not hired” for the project.

Teamsters looking to organize Mt. Pocono FedEx workers

04.18.15

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

Teamsters looking to organize Mt. Pocono FedEx workers

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 1st- Representatives of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union in Washington, DC are scheduled to begin meeting with FedEx workers employed at the company’s facility in Mount Pocono Township in Monroe County, to determine if they would like to become union members.

In previous editions of the newspaper it was exclusively reported that IBT Local 229 in Dunmore was attempting to organize the FedEx workers employed at the Mount Pocono facility. The workers haul packages throughout the FedEx system, not deliver packages.

The IBT in Washington DC, announced in 2014 they plan to attempt to organize FedEx Ground Freight employees.

FedEx is a competitor of UPS, which employees are represented by the IBT. The Union represents all drivers and warehouse workers.

The majority of FedEx workers are currently nonunion. The pilots of the company voted to be represented by the Airline Pilots Association (APA) International Union several years ago. The IBT has had some success in gaining the right to represent FedEx workers for the purpose of collective bargaining by winning representation elections conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

IBT Local 107 in Philadelphia won the right to represent 47 drivers at FedEx East Philadelphia terminal in Croydon, after workers voted 26 for to 18 against being represented by Local 107 on October 14th. Also, in November, approximately 222 drivers of FedEx at their Charlotte, North Carolina facility voted to become members of IBT Local 71 in a NLRB conducted election.

Last fall Local 229 petitioned with the NLRB requesting the agency conduct an election to determine if the workers wanted to be represented by the IBT after more than 65 percent of the workforce signed union authorization cards. Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct), at least 30 percent of an workforce unit must sign the cards before they can request a election.

However, according to Craig Pawlik, Secretary-Treasurer and Principal Officer of Local 229, which represents IBT members in Lackawanna, Susquehanna, Wayne Counties and part of Monroe County, after conducting a campaign leading-up to the NLRB scheduled election for December 11th, the union withdrew their petition. By withdrawing the petition the union can request the agency conduct a election after six months from the date the petition was withdrawn, meaning early this summer.

More retailers announce they will also raise their wages

04.18.15

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

More retailers announce they will also raise their wages

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 30th- This month the anti-union Wal-Mart Inc. will begin raising the starting wage of their workers. The nation’s largest retailer announced in February it would increase their starting wage to around $10.00 an hour, well above the federal minimum wage but will not raise the top level wages of their current workforce.

Wal-Mart Inc. is known to be extremely anti-union but they will increase the starting wage of workers while the federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour.

However, current Wal-Mart workers wages “top-out” around $11.00 an hour no matter how long they are employed by the company. Meaning, while new and recent hires will receive a higher wage than previously, long-time employees wages will not increase and see new workers wages be close to their’s despite only recently being hired.

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

Target Corporation also announced in mid-March that they would boost their workers pay to no less than $9.00 an hour, beginning this month.

Unlike Wal-Mart’s big announcement and media release, Target Corporation officials mainly announced to their employees of the wage increase.

TJX Inc. also stated they would raise the wages for all of their hourly workers to no less than $9.00 an hour this year and up to $10.00 an hour in 2016. TJX Inc. operates T.J. Maxx stores, Marshalls stores, and HomeGoods stores throughout the United States. The company will begin to raise their workers wages starting in June.

Target, the nation’s second largest retailer, has 347,000 workers and pays all of them within their 1,800 stores more than the federal minimum wage.

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

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

USPS still planning to move processing work to Lehigh Valley

04.18.15

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

USPS still planning to move processing work to Lehigh Valley

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION- April 2nd- According to Kevin Gallagher, President of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 101 In Scranton, his members are preparing for the moving of the processing work currently be done at the United States Postal Service (USPS) facility in Scranton to the Lehigh Valley, but there are still many unanswered questions regarding the action.

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

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

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

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

Mr. Gallagher told the newspaper that should the processing work be moved to the Lehigh Valley most effected workers will most likley become letter carriers and they will be represented by another union.

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

There are approximately 25 mail delivery positions currently unfiled in Scranton that the APWU members could be transferred to, around 21 available in Wilkes-Barre, and 17 in Pittston, Mr. Gallagher stated.

However, there would still be around 30 more people that the USPS would need to find jobs for that would be affected by the processing center consolidation.

Mr. Gallagher added that USPS management officials in Pittsburgh indicated to him that those employees without job placement could end-up just sitting in the “lunch-room” during work hours with nothing to do.