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Northeast Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation continuing Staff Representative search

02.21.15

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

Northeast Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation continuing Staff Representative search

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Former Machinists Union member seeks funds for park

02.21.15

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

Former Machinists Union member seeks funds for park

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

02.21.15

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

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

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Government oversight of Teamsters Union to be phased-out

02.21.15

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

Government oversight of Teamsters Union to be phased-out

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Labor supported Rob McCord resigns State Treasurer post

02.21.15

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

Labor supported Rob McCord resigns State Treasurer post

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

02.21.15

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

MSA’s unemployment rate decreases to 5.9 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

The last report was released approximately one month before. The Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties of Pennsylvania. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was 8.4 percent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

02.18.15

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

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

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

USPS again delays moving mail processing to Lehigh Valley

02.18.15

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

USPS again delays moving mail processing to Lehigh Valley

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

United Auto Workers getting ready for negotiations

02.18.15

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

United Auto Workers getting ready for negotiations

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA’s unemployment rate at 6.0 percent, remains highest

02.18.15

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

MSA’s unemployment rate at 6.0 percent, remains highest

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 4th- The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) decreased by three-tenths of a percentage point to 6.0 percent. The MSA continues to have the highest unemployment rate among the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania but according to the recently released data the current unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since June 2008 when it was also at 6.0 percent. The MSA has had the highest unemployment rate within Pennsylvania for more than six consecutive years.

The last report was released approximately one month before. The Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties of Pennsylvania. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was 8.5 percent.

The main reason the MSA’s unemployment has decreased during the past year is because of the decline of the workforce, not because the job market has improved much. The MSA’s civilian labor-force was 279,400 twelve months ago but currently the labor-force is at 273,600. One year ago there were 255,500 civilians employed within the MSA while currently there are 257,100 employed within the civilian workforce.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 5.1 percent, also decreasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,368,000 with 323,000 not working. Pennsylvania has 6,045,000 civilians with employment. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate decreased by one and eight-tenths of a percentage point over the past twelve month. Meanwhile, the nation’s unemployment rate was reported to be at 5.8 percent, unchanged from the previous report but dropping by one and two-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago.

The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 5.9 percent, the Philadelphia MSA has the third highest unemployment rate at 5.6 percent while the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the fourth highest unemployment rate in the state at 5.3 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 3.9 percent. The Lancaster MSA and the Lebanon MSA are tied for the second lowest at 4.1 percent while the Harrisburg MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.2 percent.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fifth largest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 273,600 civilians. There are 16,500 civilians without employment, decreasing by 800 from the previous report. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor-force in Pennsylvania at 2,973,600 with 167,800 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor-force at 1,242,000 with 59,200 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor-force at 427,000 with 22,800 not working.

The Williamsport MSA has the smallest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 63,000 civilians and 3,300 of them have no jobs. The Altoona MSA has the second smallest labor-force with 64,100 civilians with 3,000 without employment and the Johnstown MSA is third with a labor-force of 65,300 and 3,800 of them are not working.

Wyoming County has the lowest unemployment in the MSA at 5.4 percent, decreasing by five-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by two and two-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before. Wyoming County has 700 civilians of their work-force without jobs.

Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate within the MSA at 6.2 percent, rising by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by two and five-tenths of a percentage point from one year before. Luzerne County has 9,700 civilians without employment.

Lackawanna County’s unemployment rate is 5.8 percent, unchanged from the previous report. There are 6,000 Lackawanna County residents reported to be unemployed.

LEHIGH VALLEY MSA’s unemployed rate decreases to 5.3 percent

01.28.15

FEBRUARY 2015, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

MSA’s unemployed rate decreases to 5.3 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, January 14th- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Center for Workforce Information and Analysis in Harrisburg, the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 5.3 percent, decreasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. The unemployment rate for the MSA is the lowest it has been since May 2008 when it was also at 5.3 percent.

The MSA includes Lehigh, Northampton, and Carbon Counties of Pennsylvania and Warren County, New Jersey. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was at 7.3 percent.

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

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.0 percent. The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 5.9 percent, and the Philadelphia MSA has the third highest at 5.6 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3.9 percent. The Lancaster MSA and the Lebanon MSA are tied for the third lowest at 4.1 percent. The Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth lowest unemployment rate at 4.2 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 5.1 percent, dropping by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report, and decreasing by one and eight-tenths percentage points from twelve months before.

There are 323,000 Pennsylvania residents without jobs and the state has a civilian labor-force of 6,368,000 with 6,045,000 employed.

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 5.8 percent, unchanged from the previous report and dropping by one and two-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before.

Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 5.9 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the month before. Carbon County has a labor-force of 31,500 civilians with 1,900 unemployed.

Northampton County has the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 5.2 percent, rising by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by two full percentage points from one year before. Northampton County has a labor-force of 153,200 civilians with 7,900 not employed.

Lehigh County has a unemployment rate of 5.3 percent, rising by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Lehigh County has a labor-force of 183,600 with 9,800 unemployed.

Yuengling Brewery products not welcomed at Tom Wolf’s Inauguration in Harrisburg

01.28.15

FEBRUARY 2015, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Yuengling Brewery products not welcomed at Tom Wolf’s Inauguration in Harrisburg

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, January 23rd- Rick Bloomingdale, President of the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg, told the newspaper that while he supports the decision to not serve beverages manufactured by Pottsville based Yuengling Brewery at Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s inauguration recently held in Harrisburg, he did not request the action and doesn’t know who did.

Pennsylvania House of Representative Mike Vereb (Republican-150th Legislative District) complained that he was made aware that Yuengling Brewery products were not to be served at Mr. Wolf’s inauguration party and suggested that it was not a accident that Pennsylvania’s largest nonunion brewery was left-off the list of beverage suppliers.

“If Mr. Wolf or someone within his inner circle deliberately left Yuengling off the list of beer suppliers, good for them, but I did not request it. However, I like the decision,” stated Mr. Bloomingdale when contacted by the newspaper. Several other Pennsylvania beverage companies participated in the post inauguration parties.

Dick Yuengling Jr., the leader of D.G. Yuengling, in 2014 stated that he supports legislation that would eliminate union security clauses in labor agreements in Pennsylvania, often called ‘right-to-work’ laws. The labor community refers to the legislation as ‘no-rights-at-work’ laws.

Currently, any new hire by a employer in Pennsylvania that is unionized, it is required for the employee to become a member of the bargaining unit after serving a probationary period. Also, an employee to continue to work at a unionized employer that has a union security clause in their collective bargaining agreement and working within the unions jurisdiction must be a member of the union.

Mr. Yuengling stated at a Pennsylvania Press Club appearance last year that Pennsylvania would attrack more businesses if there was a “right-to-work” law on the books. Also he added that former Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett was a “great man”.

Forges Magazine estimates that Mr. Yuengling’s worth is more than $1.3 billion and Mr. Bloomingdale said with that wealth he supports legislation that if passed would result in a decrease of wages for workers.

The labor community held a rally in Pottsville on November 9th, 2014 to protest Mr. Yuenglings remarks and show the public-at-large and Harrisburg political leaders that they will fight against legislation that removes union security clauses from labor agreements in the state.

“I don’t know who got in Wolf’s people ear about not having Yuengling products there, but I support it,” Mr. Bloomingdale said.

TPP Trickery

01.22.15

TPP Trickery

So-called “free trade” deals have a long history associated with the tricky ways they have been sold to the American public. The very term “free trade” itself is word trickery. They are not really free at all.

First of all, they have a cost in terms of American jobs, damage to our environment, undermining our democratic form of government, income inequality effects and much more. Secondly, they still manage trade but in a very complex and opaque way. They tend to very, very long complicated agreements. They manage trade often in ways that reward certain corporation and punish others.

If they really were designed to benefit the general public in the nations involved, they would be publicly negotiated with full input from all the stakeholders to the agreement. This means labor leaders, consumer advocates, small businesspersons, family farmers, food safety advocates, health care experts, environmentalists and average taxpayers would be fully involved from the beginning of the processes in every such trade deal. They are not! Only government officials (mostly from Wall Street) and representatives of large international corporations are involved in drafting these so-called “free trade” deals.

The American people have been promised huge benefits from every deal passed for decades. None of those deals produced the promised benefits in terms of jobs or impacts on our trade deficits. Environmental and labor protection provisions promised were largely ignored in reality. Our manufacturing base and our middle class has been devastated by those so-called Free trade” deals.

Decades of broken so-called “free trade” deals leaves the American public highly distrustful of even more deals with non-specific lofty promises. Where are the specific terms in advance of our support of a fast track process?

The way they are negotiated and passed are inherently dishonest. These deals are really treaties between national governments but are never passed by congress on that legal basis. Treaties are required to be passed by votes much larger than simple one vote majorities. Because these deals are not supported by large majorities of the American public, they are not called treaties when presented to Congress for passage. If the treaties were in reality highly beneficial to most Americans, they would command massive public support and could be passed into law as treaties.

The TPP is no exception to the above general statements on so-called “free trade” deals. In fact, it is much worse. The very name Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is kind of dishonest. Real partnerships are not formed in secret. They are not negotiated in secret from the parties involved. This one has been done so. The citizens of the nations involved are the real parties involved. The government officials are only acting as our agents. As our agents, they should be telling us everything about this proposed deal as the negotiations proceed. Instead, the process has been secret.

This writer calls the TPP by a more honest name. It is in reality the Trans Pacific Pact and has nothing to do with a partnership of the citizenry of the nations involved. Secret negotiators from the corporate world cannot enter me into a partnership agreement that I do not know the terms of and that I cannot through my elected representatives modify the terms.

This TPP pact is falsely named and completely anti-democratic from top to bottom. We cannot let it be fast-tracked into passage. The fast track process means we have no say through our elected representatives in Congress to modify the secret terms negotiated. We cannot even fully know what those terms are in advance of granting fast track authorization.

Nobody in their right mind would agree to this kind of business contact in their personal finances. Why is it acceptable in our government? The answer is that it is not acceptable. These so-called “free trade” deals are contracts that bind us as American citizens to bear the costs in terms of jobs, and in the case of the TPP, as taxpayers from lawsuits by international corporations. The TPP will primarily benefit international corporations and the global financial elite at our expense.

As a nation, we need a full say in the passage or rejection of the TPP through our democratic election process in the 2016 elections after the complete text of the deal has been made public.

Written by Stephen Crockett :

(Stephen Crockett is the founder & former Host of Democratic Talk Radio www.DemocraticTalkRadio, a small business owner, College Marketing. com www.CollegeMarketing.com, and Editor, Mid-Atlantic Labor. com www.midatlanticlabor.com. He can be reached by email at demlabor@aol.com.)

NLRB files complaints against McDonalds Restaurants

01.15.15

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

NLRB files complaints against McDonalds Restaurants

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 4th- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently announced it had brought multiple charges against McDonald’s Restaurants alleging they violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct) when some of their franchise owners retaliated and threatened workers for protesting low pay.

The national campaign by fast-food workers, mostly at McDonald’s Restaurants, to push for higher wages has gained momentum during 2014 with protest and strikes by workers in cities across the nation, however, the newspaper is not aware of any action taken by workers employed by regional McDonald’s franchise operators.

In the spring, a new labor organization was formed to attempt to organize fast-food workers throughout the United States.

The New York City based “Fast Food Workers Committee” Union filed with the United States Department of Labor (DOL), in Washington DC to be recognized as a labor organization that wants to represent workers employed within the fast-food industry including those working for McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and Dunkin’ Donuts.

The NLRB complaints allege McDonald’s and some franchise operators illegally retaliated against their workers and threatened firing them for joining the national campaign to raise wages to $15.00 an hour for fast-food workers.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is supporting a national campaign called “Fast Food Forward” which includes calling for McDonald’s and other fast-food restaurants to pay their workers a “living wage.”

Several other unions, including the United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union is also supporting the unionization of the workers and their attempt to earn a higher living wage.

McDonald’s, many of their franchise owners, and other business groups have challenged the NLRB’s complaints stating that the agency was wrong to consider the company a “joint employer” and hold McDonald’s Restaurants responsible for the action of some of their franchise owners and operators.

According to McDonald’s, approximately 90 percent of the stores with the McDonald’s name in the nation are operated by franchise owners.

The NLRB alleges the company violated the NLRAct by disciplining workers who protested their low wages, spied on them and attempted to restrict them from contacting or speaking to representatives of anyone associated with an labor organization.

Fast-food franchise operators fearful of worker protest and calling for wage increases and possible unionization

01.15.15

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

Fast-food franchise operators fearful of worker protest and calling for wage increases and possible unionization

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 5th- Fast-food franchise owners lead by the International Franchise Association, a group of approximately 17,000 fast-food restaurant owners and operators, have began to release information and business profits hoping to convince their employees and the public at-large that most of the franchise owners which includes McDonalds, Wendy’s, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, Subway and others are just small business-people and can not afford to pay their workers much above the federal minimum wage.

The national campaign by fast-food workers, mostly at McDonald’s Restaurants, to push for higher wages is continuing.

Recent worker protests throughout the nation, including in Philadelphia, marked the one-year anniversary of the fast-food workers effort to raise their wages. Organizers stated that the protests were held in more than 150 cities throughout the nation.

In the spring of 2014, a new labor organization was formed to attempt to organize fast-food workers throughout the United States.

The New York City based “Fast Food Workers Committee” Union filed with the United States Department of Labor (DOL), in Washington DC to be recognized as a labor organization that wants to represent workers employed within the fast-food industry.

The Union comes into existence after reports indicated that some McDonald’s franchise owners violated the Federal Fair Standards Act (FLSAct) or have paid their workers through debit cards, which required the employees pay bank penalties for transactions.

In February, the DOL announced that former McDonald’s franchisee Cheubg Enterprises LLC, based in Middletown, Pennsylvania, agreed to pay more than $205,900 in back wages and liquidated damages to 291 employees.

A investigation by the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division found that the company violated the minimum wage and overtime provisions of FLSAct at the company’s six locations in central Pennsylvania.

Investigators from the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division in Wilkes-Barre investigated the complaint and found the violations of the FLSAct.

The trade group recently released information that stated only six percent of their affiliated members operate or own more than 100 separate franchise businesses. Also, the organization stated almost fifty percent operate just one. However, fewer than fifty percent of all franchise owners are affiliated with the organization and the trade group did not include nonaffiliated franchise owners in their data.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is supporting a national campaign called “Fast Food Forward” which includes calling for McDonald’s and other fast-food restaurants to pay their workers a “living wage.”

The “Fast Food Forward” stepped-up their campaign to raise the wages of fast-food workers and other employees of companies that pay their workers the minimum wage or just above, during the last quarter of 2014.

The workers pay and benefits, or lack of it, has turned into a national news story with worker strikes and protests, often resulting in fast-food workers being threatened or disciplined for their legally protected activity.

The nationwide worker protest at fast-food restaurants and demonstrations have resulted in workers and protesters also being arrested.

“Fast Food Forward” is being supported and sponsored by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and has provided manpower and financial help to the organization in its quest to raise the workers wages and become represented by an labor organization.

The International Franchise Association has created a web-site and hotline phone number to help counter the worker protest and wage increases demands.

A review of the web-site by the newspaper indicated that the trade group is fearful and warns their members because of the escalating worker protest, labor union involvement it the employees cause, state minimum wage law increases clearly made to target their affiliated members, and the attempt of the newly formed labor organization to organize their workforce which would likely increase wages and create new working conditions under a collective bargaining agreement for their workers.

Scranton USPS processing center still scheduled for closure

01.15.15

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

Scranton USPS processing center still scheduled for closure

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 5th- As of press time the United States Postal Service (USPS) was still going ahead with moving the mail processing work currently being done at their facility in Scranton to the Lehigh Valley. The union that represents the workers that will be mostly effected was hoping the agency would at least delay the action.

Kevin Gallagher, President of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 101 in Scranton, which represents the majority of the USPA most effected by the distribution center’s closing, failed to return the newspapers phone message requesting the status of the situation.

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

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

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

Mr. Gallagher, along with other officials of other postal service labor organizations, have been meeting with federal and state elected representatives hoping to get them to recommend to the USPS not to move the processing work to the Lehigh Valley, or at least delay the action.

However, several members of the APWU have been reasigned to other duties including becoming mail delivery carriers. The National Letter Carriers Union (NALC) represents the mail delivery carriers of the USPS. The USPS has scheduled to consolidated their Scranton, Lancaster and Erie facilities around January 14th.

The APWU Local 101 represents the majority of the workers that will be effected by the USPS action at the Scranton processing center.

Because of the job bidding requirement under the collective bargaining agreement’s (CBA’s) with the APWU, the NALC, and the other labor organizations that represent the USPS employees, some of the APWU members will end-up delivering mail or conducting other duties and may need to transfer to other USPS facilities to remain workers of the postal service.

Due to the closing of the Scranton based processing center, although the building will remain open but not process in-coming or out-coming mail, all mail and packages will now be rerounted from Northeastern Pennsylvania to the Lehigh Valley. The USPS closed the Wilkes-Barre processing center around seven year ago moving the work to the Scranton facility.

Under the new system, after a customer mails a letter in the region, it must be sent to the Lehigh Valley for processing before being brought back to the region for delivery.

Teamsters Local 229 continues to monitor FedEx facility

01.15.15

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

Teamsters Local 229 continues to monitor FedEx facility

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 4th- Craig Pawlik, Secretary-Treasurer and Principal Officer of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 229, O’Neill Highway in Dunmore, which represents IBT members in Lackawanna, Susquehanna, Wayne Counties and part of Monroe County of Northern Pennsylvania, told the newspaper his union withdrew the Representation Petition filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia in December because some of the union supporters employed at the FedEx facility in Monroe County changed their minds about being represented by the IBT.

In previous editions of the newspaper it was exclusively reported that Local 229 was attempting to represent FedEx workers employed at the company’s facility in Mount Pocono Township and the union filed a petition with the NLRB requesting the agency conduct an election to determine if the workers wanted to be represented by the IBT for the purpose of collective bargaining after more than 65 percent of the workforce signed union authorization cards.

The IBT in Washington DC, has began to attempt to organize FedEx Ground Freight employees. The workers haul packages throughout the FedEx system. They do not deliver packages to customers homes and businesses.

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.

IBT Local 229 and workers of the Pocono facility of FedEx had met over several months and each time more workers signed authorization cards that requested 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 a election. A labor organization must receive 50 percent plus one of the participating eligible to vote employees in a NLRB election to become their bargaining representative.

However, after conducting a campaign leading-up to the NLRB scheduled election for December 11th, both Mr. Pawlik and Charlie Miller, Vice President and Business Representative of Local 229, determined that if the election was conducted on December 11th, the union would lose in the balloting count. Mr. Pawlik and Mr. Miller jointly were conducting the union campaign. Mr. Pawlik stated FedEx conducted a very anti-union campaign against the IBT, both he and Mr. Miller, and against Local 229. “Employees received a lot of negative information, some just made-up, about the union,” stated Mr. Pawlik.

Under NLRB rules should a labor organization lose a election one year must past before being able to file again requesting the agency conduct another election. Mr. Pawlik told the newspaper that they are continuing to monitor the situation at FedEx and should it appear the employees would be more likely to vote in favor of the IBT, they will refile the petition and request a election. By withdrawing the petition the union can request the agency conduct a election after six months from the date the petition was withdrawn.

Meanwhile, the IBT Local 107 in Philadelphia won the right to represent 47 drivers at FedEx East Philadelphia terminal in Croydon, Pennsylvania after the workers voted 26 for to 18 against being represented by Local 107 on October 14th in a NLRB conducted election.

Also, on November 19th, approximately 222 drivers of FedEx at their Charlotte, North Carolina facility voted to become members of IBT Local 71 in a NLRB conducted election.

NLRB overturns 2007 ruling regarding workers e-mail use

01.15.15

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

NLRB overturns 2007 ruling regarding workers e-mail use

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 5th- Often short of victories in the federal court system, a recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington DC., will help the labor community in union organizing through employers e-mail system.

The NLRB ruled that workers with access to their employers internet e-mail system have the right to use it for a union organizing campaign and other communications regarding wages earned and working conditions. However, the workers can only use the e-mail system during nonworking time, not while being paid by the employer.

The labor community anticipated the ruling for several months and it reverses a 2007 ruling that stated employers had the right to restrict employees from using their internet e-mail system for union organizing campaigns.

However, since that ruling of 2007, the five-member counsel of the NLRB has changed under President Obama. All five members of the NLRB in Washington have been appointed by Mr. Obama. The NLRB General Counsel was also appointed by the President and has pushed for the reversal of the 2007 ruling, stating the rule was too restrictive because it was the way today that employees communicate with each other.

The NLRB is made-up of five members. Three from the party of the president, and two from the other, meaning there are currently three Democrats and two Republicans serving.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) which represents workers employed in the broadcast industry, print media and telecommunications industry, challenged the 2007 ruling after being unsuccessful in organizing workers in 2012 that provided services to deaf people and the e-mail rule interferred with the elections.

The company’s rule forbid workers from using their e-mail system for anything else but conducting company business, meaning since many of the workers were themselves deaf or hard of hearing, the CWA had little opportunity to communicate with them.

The CWA and other labor unions believe workplace e-mail is the modern-day way workers conduct workplace discussions and conversations. The latest NLRB ruling agreed with that conclusion.

Both Republican NLRB members dissented.

Pennsylvania’s minimum wage earners fall further behind

01.15.15

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

Pennsylvania’s minimum wage earners fall further behind

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 2nd- On Thursday January 2015 twenty states in the nation increased their minimum wage law however, workers in Pennsylvania are still receiving the federal wage of $7.25 an hour. And most likely, the federal wage will not be increased over the next two years, while the Republican party holds the majority in both chambers of the Congress in Washington DC.

With the election season over and the Republican party being successful in strengthening their ability to have legislation passed through both sides of the Pennsylvania General Assembly by gaining seats in both chambers of the legislature, raising the minimum wage for state workers becomes even more complicated and unlikely.

The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009 and some states have tired of waiting for the Republicans in Washington to support an increase and have began raising their bench-mark wage above the federal wage.

The minimum wage 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.

Pennsylvania’s minimum wage is now lower than every neighboring state. Overall, approximately 26 states now have a higher minimum wage than Pennsylvania.

New Jersey’s minimum wage increased January 1st to $8.38 an hour. New Jersey voters approved a automatic annual cost-of-living increase in 2013.

The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC supports increasing the federal bench-mark to $10.10 an hour, which President Obama had proposed in his last two State of the Union addresses. However, Republicans in Washington, including incoming majority Leader Mitch McConnell, opposes an increase.

The Republicans and their business supporters continue to claim that raising the wage would kill between 500 thousand and one million jobs if the wage was increased.

But, according to data by the Department of Labor, job growth in the 13 states in 2014 that have increased their minimum wage was more robust than states that did not. Average job growth in states that increased the benchmark was 0.85 percent this year while in states that have not increase their wage was 0.61 percent.

Mr. Obama will veto Keystone XL pipeline legislation

01.15.15

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

Mr. Obama will veto Keystone XL pipeline legislation

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 5th- President Barack Obama made it clear that he will not sign legislation that would pave the way of the construction completion of the building trades supported Keystone XL pipeline on January 6th. Mr. Obama stated that he would veto the legislation should it be passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

In December before their annual Christmas recess, the Senate narrowly defeated legislation that would have approved the pipeline construction. The legislation needed 60 votes for approval and it received only 59. Most Democrats voted against the bill while all 45 Republicans voted in favor.

However, Senate Republicans will bring the pipeline construction legislation up for another vote during the second week of January. In November the party won enough seats in the November election to gain control. They hold a 54 to 46 majority and need 60 votes to over-ride a Presidential veto.

President Obama has not supported the XL Keystone pipeline construction, which the administration has reviewed for six years. The majority of the pipeline construction will be built with American taxpayers money. Mr. Obama stated that he wanted a State Department review of the pipeline to be completed before his would support its construction.

On January 31st, a President Obama Administration analysis of the Keystone XL pipeline stated it wouldn’t likely alter the amount of oil removed from the Canadian oil sands, suggesting it would have little impact on any future climate change. The report at the time was considered to be one of the last steps before a up-or-down decision by Mr. Obama on the pipeline construction.

However, President Obama last spring extended his decision of whether to construct the pipeline until January 6th when made it clear he planned to veto the legislation when it reached his desk.

The proposed pipeline would be 1,179 miles long, 329 miles in Canada, and 850 miles in the United States. The pipeline would cross the United States border in Montana and travel through the midwest to Texas. It will be 36 inches in diameter with a total daily oil capacity of 830,000 barrels of oil. The lower portion of the pipeline has already been built and transports oil from Oklahoma to Texas.

The Building and Construction Trades unions support the pipeline construction because with federal money being used for its construction, the project would be built under the provisions of the David-Bacon Act, meaning better paying wages would be earned and most likely union members would be hired.

While construction unions and pro-oil business leaders support the development of the pipeline, most environmental groups and ranchers in the region oppose it.

The majority of the labor organizations that represent workers employed within the building trades are affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington, DC.

The support of the building trades unions of the pipeline is problematic for the AFL-CIO because federation President Richard Trumka was successful in getting affiliated member unions approval to let nonunion groups to join the consortium, including the Sierra Club, a environmental organization that opposes the pipeline construction.

Terry O’Sullivan, Internationl President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) in Washington DC, has been critical of Mr. Obama for not supporting the pipeline construction. Mr. O’Sullivan called President Obama “gutless” in the spring of 2014 after Mr. Obama extended the decision of whether to construct the pipeline.

Presidential press secretary Josh Earnest stated on January 6th that should the legislation pass Congress, Mr. Obama will not sign it, stating the bill would undermine a pipeline review process underway by the administration.