Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

United States Postal Service wants to expand into grocery delivery business

10.14.14

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

United States Postal Service wants to expand into grocery delivery business

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 3rd- While labor organizations have called for a boycott of Staples office supply stores throughout the nation, wanting to get the retailer out of the postal business, the United States Postal Service (USPS) wants to deliver groceries for Amazon.com and other retailers.

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.

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, which represents mail processing employees of the USPS throughout the nation, began a campaign against Staples Inc. stores have conducted protest at the retailers stores throughout the nation and in Pennsylvania because some of the Staples stores of the chain now provides the postal services.

The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Harrisburg announced on July 21st, which approximately 800,000 union members from throughout Pennsylvania are affiliated through their labor organizations, it endorsed the Staples boycott and requested their affiliated labor organizations stop purchasing office supplies at the retailer. “We are asking our members, friends, family members and colleagues to take their business elsewhere,” stated Richard Bloomingdale, President of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO.

Meanwhile, other labor organizations have joined the boycott requesting their members and affiliated local unions to not patronize Staples.

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

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, something the APWU is finding hard to believe.

Meanwhile, the USPS is seeking approval for a two-year test run of a plan where the agency could deliver prepackaged groceries in the morning.

The USPS filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission requesting permission to expand their services and suggested the business could bring in as much as $10 million a year in revenue.

Meanwhile, Staples primary competitor, Office Depot Inc., announced it has lost more than $190 million so far this year despite the recent merger with OfficeMax, another competitor.

That announcement only strengthens the APWU question of why the USPS would enter into an agreement with a business model that clearly is in decline, and should it fail it would leave many customers without access to any nearby post offices.

Labor community requesting their members participate in election mobilization

10.13.14

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

Labor community requesting their members participate in election mobilization

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 3rd- Activity by the labor community members during this political campaign with the biggest prize being who will be the Governor of Pennsylvania for the next four years, has so-far been lite.

The labor community is attempting to mobilized their members for the November 4th political campaign to hopefully defeat anti-union Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett and deny him of a second four-year term.

The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg and affiliated members of the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council in Harrisburg along with non-affiliated labor organizations, such as the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) Union, have began to prepare to energize their members leading-up to the election. The labor community has put a high priority on defeating Mr. Corbett in 2014.

However, with just weeks ahead of the election, the labor community is finding it difficult energizing their members, most likely because independent polls show Pennsylvania gubernatorial Democratic candidate Tom Wolf ahead by a large margin.

The labor community have mostly endorsed Mr.Wolf, an York businessman. Mr. Wolf defeated three other Democrats that were seeking their party’s nomination for Pennsylvania Governor that wanted the chance to deny Mr. Corbett a second four-year term as Pennsylvania’s governor. There has been several labor organizations that have endorsed Mr. Corbett for the fall election.

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

“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.

“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 responsiveto the hopes, needs and aspirations of working people in Pennsylvania,” added Mr. Sirianni.

“We will be deploying our activists and volunteers to reach the worksites and households of workers in every region of the state on behalf of our endorsed candidates,” stated Frank Snyder, Secretary/Treasurer of the PA AFL-CIO. “This election will be won or lost on voter turnout and we are determined to educate and motivate through Election Day,” continued Mr. Snyder.

However, in Northeastern Pennsylvania union represented volunteers so-far during the fall political season have been hard to come by. The volunteers are being utilized to participate in door-to-door member labor walks, which includes knocking on the doors of fellow union members homes. Also, conducting phone banks, which involves calling union members at home on the phone, and speaking to them about how important it is to get out and vote on November 4th and support Mr. Wolf and the other labor endorsed candidates.

Mr. Wolf has made it clear if elected he would support issues important to the labor community if elected in November.

State Representative candidate Cipriani labor endorsed

10.13.14

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

State Representative candidate Cipriani labor endorsed

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 3rd- Pennsylvania State Representative 120th Legislative District Democratic candidate Eileen Cipriani is being supported by the labor community throughout Luzerne County and was endorsed to replace retiring Representative Phyllis Mundy by the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Harrisburg.

In the Primary Election held on May 20th, Mrs. Cipriani easily defeated her Democratic party challenger to gain her party’s nomination to face-off against Republican Aaron Kaufer.

Mr. Kaufer challenged Ms. Mundy in 2012 and received fourty-four percent of the vote.

Phyllis Mundy announced in early 2014 she would not seek a thirteenth two-year term representing the 120th Legislative District in Harrisburg, which is made-up of part of Luzerne County including Exeter, Jackson and Kingston Townships. Also, the district includes the boroughs of Forty-Fort, Kingston, Pringle, Swoyersville, West Wyoming and Luzerne.

Because of re-districting, the 120th will include the Borough of Edwardsville in 2015.

Mrs. Cipriani worked for more than twenty-four years as a Medical Technologist at Nesbitt Hospital and the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, but was not part of the bargaining unit at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.

She told the newspaper if elected she would support the labor community and is thankful for the endorsement of organized labor.

IBT Local 229 files petition seeking NLRB election

10.13.14

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

IBT Local 229 files petition seeking NLRB election

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 6th- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 229 in Dunmore, filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia after getting more than 65 percent of the workers at the Pocono FedEx facility to sign union authorization cards. Local 229 must now wait until the agency conducts a hearing and schedules an election to determine if the workers want to be represented by the union for the purpose of collective bargaining.

In the previous edition of the newspaper, it was reported that the IBT in Washington DC, has began to attempt to organize FedEx ground employees by conducting a national campaign to gain enough signatures of workers to petition the NLRB to conduct a representation election. So-far eleven petitions have been filed nationally.

It was previously report that according to information provided by the IBT there is no time-table to file petitions with the NLRB requesting the agency conduct an election to determine if FedEx Ground employees want to be represented by the union.

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

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

Local 229 and workers of the Pocono facility of FedEx have met several times over the past several months and each time more workers have signed authorization cards that request the NLRB conduct a election. Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct), at least 30 percent of the workforce unit must sign the cards before they can request an election.

However, most labor organizations wait until a clear majority sign the cards before requesting the NLRB conduct a election. A labor organization must receive 50 percent plus one of the participating eligible to vote employees in the election to become their bargaining representative.

Charlie Miller, Business Representative of Local 229, told the newspaper the IBT in Washington, DC requested that a local wait until at least 70 percent of the workers of FedEx sign authorization cards before they petition the NLRB.

Delaware State AFL-CIO Endorses Candidates for 2014 General Election

09.30.14

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release Contact: Samuel E. Lathem
September 27, 2014 (302) 283-1330 or 740-5151

Delaware State AFL-CIO Endorses Candidates
2014 General Election

The Delaware State AFL-CIO concluded a Special Endorsement Convention where delegates unanimously cast their ballots for candidates in federal, state, and county races to be held this November.

Samuel E. Lathem, President of the Delaware State AFL-CIO and Vice-President James Maravelias, presided over the convention representing the 30,000 members of this state’s largest organized labor organization.

The convention was the culmination of a lengthy and scrutinizing selection process that began in December, 2013. The Delaware State AFL-CIO’s Political Education Committee chaired by Michael Harrington, IATSE #284, conducted a long and arduous review of the qualifications of candidates. According to Harrington, “The candidates selected are the ones who have deserve our support and loyalty.”

AFL-CIO President Lathem enthusiastically echoes Harrington: “We feel the candidates chosen at this time; will represent the sincere interest of the working families’ throughout the state and in our local communities. We are proud to stand together as a unified labor movement with these endorsements and pledge our loyalty to their campaigns.” President Lathem emphasizes that “because these candidates support not only labor causes but the health and welfare of all our citizens, they have earned the support of our members and all Delawareans.”

With 40 (forty) days remaining in this campaign season, these endorsements will enable each candidate to mobilize our resources and integrate Organized Labor into their respective campaign strategies.

DELAWARE STATE AFL-CIO SPECIAL ENDORSEMENT CONVENTION
September 27, 2014

Recommendation Office Party Name
Endorse United States Senator D Christopher A. Coons
Endorse Representative in Congress D John C. Carney, Jr.
Endorse Attorney General D Matthew Denn
Endorse State Treasurer D Sean Barney
Endorse Auditor of Accounts D Brenda R. Mayrack
Endorse Senate District 2 D Margaret Rose Henry
Endorse Senate District 3 D Robert I. Marshall
Endorse Senate District 4 D Sarah L. Buttner
Endorse Senate District 6 D R. Claire Snyder-Hall
Endorse Senate District 10 D Bethany Hall-Long
Endorse Senate District 11 D Bryan Townsend
Endorse Representative District 2 D Stephanie T. Bolden
Endorse Representative District 3 D Helene M. Keeley
Endorse Representative District 4 D Gerald L. Brady
Endorse Representative District 6 D Debra Heffernan
Endorse Representative District 8 D S. Quinton Johnson
Endorse Representative District 9 D Jason Horitz
Endorse Representative District 10 D Sean Matthews
Endorse Representative District 11 D Lynne W. Newlin
Endorse Representative District 12 D Jeffrey Porter
Endorse Representative District 13 D John L. Mitchell, Jr.
Endorse Representative District 15 D Valerie Longhurst
Endorse Representative District 16 D James Johnson
Endorse Representative District 17 D Michael Mulrooney
Endorse Representative District 18 D Michael Barbieri
Endorse Representative District 19 D Kimberly Williams
Endorse Representative District 21 R Michael Ramone
Endorse Representative District 24 D Edward S. Osienski
Endorse Representative District 27 D Earl Jaques
Endorse Representative District 29 D William Charles Paradee, III
Endorse Representative District 30 D Jonathan E. Gallo
Endorse Representative District 31 D Sean M. Lynn
Endorse Representative District 32 D Andria Leigh Bennett
Endorse Representative District 33 D John Kevin Robbins
Endorse Representative District 37 D Paulette Ann Rappa
Endorse NCCo Recorder of Deeds D Michael E. Kozikowski
Endorse NCCo Council District 1 D Joseph M. Reda
Endorse NCCo Council District 3 R Janet Kilpatrick
Endorse NCCo Sheriff D Trinidad Navarro

Some Republicans back increasing wage in their home states

09.30.14

OCTOBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Some Republicans back increasing wage in their home states

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, September 20th- During this mid-term election year some Republicans throughout the nation have backed the raising of the minimum wage while legislation supported by President Barack Obama lies in Washington likely to die because most federal members of the GOP will not support it.

The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, has made it clear it does support raising the federal minimum wage to the bench-mark of $10.10 an hour, which President Obama 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, in five states that Republicans control, including Alaska, Arkansas, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Illinois, GOP legislators have voiced their support for raising the bench-mark in their states but not to $10.10 an hour.

Those five states have measures up for a vote and the bench-mark would be increased from their current wage between $1.25 an hour, such as South Dakota, to $2.00 an hour, such as Alaska.

In 2014, 13 states have so-far increased their bench-mark above the federal minimum wage and those states have added jobs faster than those that did not raise the wage.

A recently release report by the Congressional Budget Office projected that a higher minimum wage of $10.10 an hour would cut 500,000 jobs throughout the nation but the report also stated that more than 16.5 million American workers wages would be increased, producing an overwhelmingly positive impact for the economy.

IASTE Union meets at the USW Building in Bethlehem

09.30.14

OCTOBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

IASTE Union meets at the USW Building in Bethlehem

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, September 17th- The affiliated Pennsylvania local union’s of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts (IATSE) Union, which represents workers employed as stage hands, moving picture film operators and crew shots, and film projection operators, throughout the nation and Canada, recently held their annual meeting in Bethlehem.

The event was held at the United Steelworkers Union (USW) Local 2599 building on East Lehigh Street in Bethlehem on September 8th, at noon.

Local 200 represents IATSE members throughout the Lehigh Valley and Stroudsburg, Monroe County.

The meeting was held to discuss several issues that involve the eastern Pennsylvania region including the new rock and roll rehearsal space in Lititz, the opening of the Global Spectrum Arena in downtown Allentown and other various issues regarding the region.

One major issue involving IATSE during 2014 is in Philadelphia.

Members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and the International Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Union were “locked-out” of their jobs at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Race Street in Philadelphia in May after their union’s failed to sign a new agreement in the scheduled time frame management created.

Members of other affiliated unions’, including IATSE, have been doing their work since the dispute began.

The IBT and the Carpenters have picketed the Convention Center and sponsor advertisements requesting management of the center go back to the table to settle the lock-out.

The IATSE local’s included those from York, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Philadelphia and Allentown.

Labor community requesting their members support Tom Wolf for Governor

09.30.14

OCTOBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Labor community requesting their members support Tom Wolf for Governor

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, September 15th- The laber community has began to mobilized themselves for the fall political campaign to hopefully defeat anti-union Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett and deny him of a second four-year term.

The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg and affiliated members of the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council in Harrisburg along with non-affiliated labor organizations, such as the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) Union, have began to prepare to energize their members leading-up to the general election, November 4th. The labor community has put a high priority on defeating Mr. Corbett in 2014.

The labor community have mostly endorsed Democratic nominee York businessman Tom Wolf. Mr. Wolf defeated three other Democrats that were seeking their party’s nomination for Pennsylvania Governor that wanted the chance to deny Mr. Corbett a second four-year term as Pennsylvania’s governor. There has been several labor organizations that have endorsed Mr. Corbett for the fall election.

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

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

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

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

“We will be deploying our activists and volunteers to reach the worksites and households of workers in every region of the state on behalf of our endorsed candidates,” stated Frank Snyder, Secretary/Treasurer of the PA AFL-CIO. “This election will be won or lost on voter turnout and we are determined to educate and motivate through Election Day,” continued Mr. Snyder.

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.

AFGE Local 1647 conducts recruiting drive for members

09.22.14

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

AFGE Local 1647 conducts recruiting drive for members

BY PAUL TUCKER

REGION, September 2nd- The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Union Local 1647 in Tobyhanna, which represents employees of the federal government employed at the Tobyhanna Army Depot, Northeastern Pennsylvania largest employer, conducted a “pig roast” recruiting event on August 20th that was conducted in a attempt to enroll more workers to join the AFGE.

Because veterans affairs facilities and other federal agencies are mandated by law to be a open shop, meaning employees don’t belong to a union unless they actively join, workers employed by the government at Tobyhanna must first sign enrollment forms before they become Local 1647 members.

According to Edward Sabecky, a member of Local 1647 Executive Board, and a delegate for his Union to the Scranton Central Labor Union (SCLU) labor federation in Dunmore, AFGE Local 1647 currently represents approximately 1,200 workers of the 3,000 that could be AFGE union members employed at Tobyhanna Army Depot.

In early 2013, Local 1647 had around 2,300 members of the 5,100 Tobyhanna employees. However, some of the those workers were actually employed by contractors that provided indutrial trade and electronics workers.

The International Association of Machinists (IAM) Union Local Lodge 1717, represented many of those workers.

Many of those workers were laid-off in 2013 following the down-sizing of the military involement by the Defense Department in Iraq and Afghanistan. The workers were employed by URS Federal Support Services Inc.

Also, because of sequester in Washington DC in 2013, and earilier in 2011 because of mandated spending cuts under the Budget Control Act of 2011, many jobs within the private sector were lost.

Mr. Sabecky stated his Union held the “Pig Roast” event at the VFW Post 509 in Tobyhanna Twp. and all regional federal elected representatives were invited and only U.S. House of Representative Matt Cartwright (Democrat-17th Legislative District) attended. He said 100 people showed-up for the recruiting drive but only one signed an enrollment card to join Local 1647.

The AFGE National Veterans Affairs Council recently conducted a national recruiting drive and signed-up their 100,000th member. The milestone was reached on August 25th when AFGE Local 2382 in Phoenix signed-up a new member.

Northeastern chapter of CLUW likely to be formed

09.22.14

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

Northeastern chapter of CLUW likely to be formed

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

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

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

CLUW is a organization within the labor movement that is sanctioned by the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC. The organization was formed in 1974 and currently has more than 75 chapters throughout the nation and a membership of approxiamtely 20,000 women and men.

CLUW’s primary goal is to be a resource to all union represented women to develop action programs within the framework of the labor community to deal with women objectives in the workplace.

The basic objective of CLUW is to promote affirmative action in the workplace, increase participation of women in their labor unions, organize the unrepresented, and engage women in the political and legislative process.

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

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

The local chapters of CLUW help educate members regarding the resources of support for women and also providing a network for women that are union represented. Also, CLUW local chapters help keep women and their families up-to-date on job related issues.

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

Labor community requesting there members support Tom Wolf for State Governor

09.22.14

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

Labor community requesting there members support Tom Wolf for State Governor

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg and affiliated members of the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council in Harrisburg along with non-affiliated labor organizations, such as the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) Union, have began to prepare to energize their members leading-up to the general election, November 4th.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Painters planning picket if not hired for U of S project

09.22.14

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

Painters planning picket if not hired for U of S project

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

09.22.14

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

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

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 30th- The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) continues to have the highest unemployment rate among the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania however, the rate declined by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. The MSA has had the highest unemployment rate within Pennsylvania for more than five consecutive years.

According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Center for Workforce Information and Analysis in Harrisburg, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 6.8 percent. The last report was released approximately one month before. The Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties of Pennsylvania. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was 9.0 percent. The current unemployment rate for the MSA is the lowest since October 2008 when it was 6.7 percent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

General Dynamics scheduled to lay-off workers in Scranton

09.22.14

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

General Dynamics scheduled to lay-off workers in Scranton

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

APRI Banquet at Spirit of Philadelphia by John O. Mason

09.21.14

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

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

The honorees were:

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

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

Additional labor organizations announce support for Staples office supply store boycott

09.18.14

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

Additional labor organizations announce support for Staples office supply store boycott

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

In June the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), and the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, announced a boycott of all Staples Inc. stores throughout the nation.

The APWU is boycotting all Staples office supply stores in the United States, Staples.com and Staples Advantage. The boycott also covers all Staples branded proprietary products.

In 2013 the United States Postal Service (USPS) entered into an agreement with Staples to establish a ‘pilot program’ that placed knock-off ‘post offices’ in 82 Staples stores nationwide. The APWU stated the office supplier chain was utilizing nonunion, low-paid Staples employees instead of unionized, and well-trained USPS employees.

The APWU has filed labor complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) because the USPS will not provide information about the contract with Staples.

The APWU, which represents mail processing employees of the USPS throughout the nation, began a campaign against Staples Inc. stores and held a ‘national day of action’ in May by protesting at the retailers stores throughout the nation and in Pennsylvania because some of the Staples stores of the chain now provides the postal services.

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

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

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

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

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

The USPS Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe suggested that the partnership between the postal service and Staples will not result in job losses at the USPS, but will grow the business. However, the APWU is finding that hard to believe.

According the the APWU International Union office, the USPS and Staples are attempting to incorporate postal revenues into Staples Inc. stores, not expand the business.

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

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

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

Teamsters Union looking to organize FedEx employees

09.18.14

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

Teamsters Union looking to organize FedEx employees

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IBT Local 401 member receives Hoffa Scholarship

09.18.14

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

IBT Local 401 member receives Hoffa Scholarship

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report states increasing minimum wage would help economy

09.01.14

SEPTEMBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Report states increasing minimum wage would help economy

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

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

The current minimum wage, which covers most workers employed within many industries excluding some retail and service establishments and farms and also employ students at wages of no more than 15 percent below the minimum with proper certification, is $7.25. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consolidation of mail sorting centers facing opposition

09.01.14

SEPTEMBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Consolidation of mail sorting centers facing opposition

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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