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Staples store boycott continues into sixth month

12.18.14

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

Staples store boycott continues into sixth month

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, December 5th- The national boycott by many labor organizations of Staples office supply stores is continuing.

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 represents mail processing employees of the USPS throughout the nation.

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO labor federation in Harrisburg supports the boycott and has called on for their affiliated labor organizations to not purchase office supplies from the retailer.

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.

The labor unions’ want Staples to stop selling postage unless they hire APWU members.

Northeastern Chapter of the Coalition of Union Women application to be sent

12.18.14

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

Northeastern Chapter of the Coalition of Union Women application to be sent

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, December 5th- Melissa Matoushek, a Staff Representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87, O’Neill Highway in Dunmore, which represents AFSCME members throughout nine counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania, and who is working to form a regional Chapter of the Coalition of Union Women (CLUW), stated the application to the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation will be sent by the end of 2014.

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

In the previous edition of the newspaper it was reported that enough people have signed-up to become members of CLUW, which is sanctioned by the AFL-CIO. Before a chapter could be awarded enough people must become members of the organization. The minimum amount needed before a chapter would be awarded is 25.

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

The first meeting of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter was held in August at the AFSCME District Council 87 building, 1258 O’Neill Highway in Dunmore, Lackawanna County.

CLUW is a organization within the labor movement that is sanctioned by the AFL-CIO. 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.

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.

Right-to-work passage would have been likely in 2015 if not for Tom Wolf election

12.17.14

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

Right-to-work passage would have been likely in 2015 if not for Tom Wolf election

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, December 4th- Pennsylvania House of Representatives Mike Carroll (Democrat-118th Legislative District) believes the only thing standing it the way of Pennsylvania becoming the twenty-fifth state in the nation to be a right-to-work state is incoming Democratic Governor Tom Wolf. Mr. Wolf easily defeated incumbent anti-union Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett in the November election.

“Without him, labor will be in huge trouble,” said Mr. Carroll. He pointed out that Mr. Corbett was generally unsuccessful in getting most of the anti-union legislation through the Pennsylvania General Assembly the past four years because there were enough Democrats and pro-worker Republicans to stop most of it.

However, the Republican party were successful is gaining seats to their majority in November and come January 2015 they will have a ten seat majority in the State Senate.

Mr. Carroll, the Chairman of the Northeast Pennsylvania Democratic delegation, expressed to the newspaper that Mr. Wolf will be the only “fire-wall” the labor community will have over at least the next two years.

But, the labor community will have to work even harder to put the brakes on the anti-union bills that will surely by pushed by the pro-business legislature in Harrisburg the next two years, Mr. Carroll stated.

Labor community political candidates were generally successful in Northeastern Pennsylvania that faced an opponent for the November 4th election. However, one labor endorsed candidate seeking to replace retiring Pennsylvania House of Representative Phyllis Mundy (Democrat-120th Legislative District) was defeated. Eileen Cipriani, easily defeated her Democratic party challenger in the May Primary Election but was defeated by Republican Aaron Kaufer.

With other the losses across the state, the Democratic party will be outnumber in the State House beginning in January by more than 30 votes. Also, several labor supported political candidates running for state senate seats also loss and the Republican party, who have many members that are anti-union, will hold a 30 to 20 majority.

The issue of pushing legislation in Harrisburg to ban union security clauses in labor bargaining agreements was “front and center” during 2013 after billionaire Dick Yuengling Jr., leader of the D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc. brewery, said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett should push for legislation banning union security clauses in labor contracts.

Mr. Carroll, who now represents citizens’ in Lackawanna and Monroe Counties because of re-districting due to the 2010 census, stated anti-union legislation will be on the Republican menu in 2015 but, Mr. Wolf will be there to at least slow it down or stop it.

Teamsters win FedEx elections, local petition withdrawn

12.17.14

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

Teamsters win FedEx elections, local petition withdrawn

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, December 8th- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 229 in Lackawanna County, filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia requesting the agency conduct a election after getting more than 65 percent of the workers at the Pocono FedEx facility to sign union authorization cards, however the union withdrew the petition just days before the agency was scheduled to conduct the representation election.

In the previous edition of the newspaper, it was reported that the IBT in Washington DC, has began to attempt to organize FedEx Ground Freight employees by conducting a national campaign to gain enough signatures of workers to petition the NLRB to conduct representation elections. 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. 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 currently nonunion. The pilots of the company voted to be represented by the Airline Pilots Association (APA) International Union several years ago.

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.

“I am proud of these guys at the East Philadelphia terminal, who stayed strong and united despite the company spending truckloads of money to hire union-busters,” said William Hamilton, President and Principal Officer of Local 107.

IBT Local 229 and workers of the Pocono facility of FedEx had met over the past 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 conducted election to become their bargaining representative.

Charlie Miller, Business Representative of Local 229, told the newspaper the IBT wants a local to get around 70 percent of the FedEx workers to sign cards before they petition the NLRB for a election.

The NLRB was scheduled to conduct Representation Election at the Pocono facility on December 11th to determine if the workers want to be represented by the IBT for the purpose of collective bargaining, however Mr. Miller told the newspaper the Union felt they would not win the election at this time and withdrew the petition which will allow Local 229 to refile it in six months.

Meanwhile, 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.

“Like the drivers in Philadelphia and in South Brunswick, New Jersey, who voted to join the Teamsters, the workers in Charlotte want to be treated fairly and they want to have consistent, fair work rules,” stated IBT Local 71 President Steve Bess.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA’s unemployment rate drops, but remains highest in state

12.17.14

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

MSA’s unemployment rate drops, but remains highest in state

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, December 4th- The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) continues to have the highest unemployment rate among the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania but according to the recently released data the rate has decreased by four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. The MSA has had the highest unemployment rate within Pennsylvania for more than six 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 6.3 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 8.7 percent. The current unemployment rate for the MSA is the lowest since August 2008 when it was also at 6.3 percent.

The main reason the MSA’s unemployment has declined during the past year is because of the decline of the workforce, not because the job market has improved. The MSA’s civilian labor-force was 280,000 twelve months ago but currently the labor-force is at 273,600. Also, one year ago there were 255,800 civilians employed within the MSA while currently there are 256,200 employed within the civilian workforce. The main-stream newspaper, reported that the local economy has improved from twelve months ago because the lowering of the MSA’s unemployment rate.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 5.4 percent, decreasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,363,000 with 345,000 not working. Pennsylvania has 6,019,000 civilians with employment. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate decreased by one and seven-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 5.8 percent, decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report.

The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 6.1 percent, the Philadelphia MSA has the third highest unemployment rate at 5.8 percent while the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the fourth highest unemployment rate in the state at 5.6 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.1 percent. The Lancaster MSA and the Lebanon MSA are tied for the second lowest at 4.3 percent while the Harrisburg MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.4 percent.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fifth largest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 273,600 civilians, unchanged from the previous report. There are 17,300 civilians without employment, decreasing by 900 from the previous report. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor-force in Pennsylvania at 2,976,500 with 173,800 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor-force at 1,239,600 with 61,800 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor-force at 427,400 with 23,700 not working.

The Williamsport MSA has the smallest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 62,800 civilians and 3,400 of them have no jobs. The Altoona MSA has the second smallest labor-force with 63,900 civilians with 3,100 without employment and the Johnstown MSA is third with a labor-force of 65,300 and 4,000 of them are not working.

Lackawanna County has the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 5.7 percent, dropping by four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report.

Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate within the MSA at 6.1 percent, dropping by seven-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Wyoming County’s unemployment rate is 5.9 percent.

Teamsters win FedEx elections, petition NLRB for more

12.03.14

DECEMBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Teamsters win FedEx elections, petition NLRB for more

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 19th- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 229 in Lackawanna County, filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia requesting the agency conduct a election after getting more than 65 percent of the workers at the Pocono FedEx facility to sign union authorization cards.

In the previous edition of the newspaper, it was reported that the IBT in Washington DC, has began to attempt to organize FedEx ground Freight employees by conducting a national campaign to gain enough signatures of workers to petition the NLRB to conduct representation elections. 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. 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 currently nonunion. The pilots of the company voted to be represented by the Airline Pilots Association (APA) International Union several years ago.

Meanwhile, 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.

“I am proud of these guys at the East Philadelphia terminal, who stayed strong and united despite the company spending truckloads of money to hire union-busters,” said William Hamilton, President and Principal Officer of Local 107.

IBT Local 229 and workers of the Pocono facility of FedEx had met over the past 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 conducted election to become their bargaining representative.

Charlie Miller, Business Representative of Local 229, told the newspaper the IBT wants a local to get around 70 percent of the FedEx workers to sign cards before they petition the NLRB for a election.

The NLRB will conduct a Representation Election at the Pocono facility on December 11th to determine if the workers want to be represented by the IBT for the purpose of collective bargaining.

Meanwhile, 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.

“Like the drivers in Philadelphia and in South Brunswick, New Jersey, who voted to join the Teamsters, the workers in Charlotte want to be treated fairly and they want to have consistent, fair work rules,” stated IBT Local 71 President Steve Bess.

Several members of IBT Local 773 in Allentown are assisting Local 229 against FedEx anti-union campaign which includes anti-IBT leaflets and information.

IBEW Local 375 celebrates 100th anniversity of their Unions’ Charter

12.03.14

DECEMBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

IBEW Local 375 celebrates 100th anniversary of their Unions’ Charter

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 14th- The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 375, Liberty Street in Allentown, in 2014 celebrated their 100th year of the charter of the union by the IBEW.

IBEW Local 375 represents workers employed within the construction industry within the Lehigh Valley and workers employed within several other industries in the region. Local 375 active membership is around 900.

Local 375 moved from their previous office in Whitehall Township to their current building at 1201 Liberty Street in Allentown on January 1st, 1999. The previous location was sold to the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Local 36. Local 36 previously rented space in Bethlehem.

Last year the Iron Workers Union sold the building after Local 36 was merged into Local 420 of Reading. Also, some of the jurisdiction of Local 36 was transferred to Iron Workers Local 489 of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Gary Martin is the Business Manager of Local 420 and Kevin McHugh is the Business Manager of Local 489.

The IBEW Local 375 Whitehall office had only 6,000 square feet while the Liberty Street building increased the space to more than 19,000 square feet. The Allentown location also includes a second floor which is used for training new members and continued training for current members.

The first floor of the building provides general office space, meeting rooms, and the memberships meeting hall.

The Liberty Street location was previously used as a factory and was vacant for several years before the Union purchased it.

William Newhard, IBEW Local 375 Business Manager in 1999, told the newspaper according to a story published in February 1999, that the additional space was needed because of the increase in membership due to organizing gains for several years. “Our membership continues to grow and we needed more space,” Mr. Newhard was quoted stating in the newspaper in February 1999 edition. Paul Anthony Jr. is the Business Manager of Local 375 currently serving his first four-year term.

“This is a very proud moment in Local 375’s history. We’re pround to play such an important role in building the Lehigh Valley, and I’m sure we’ll continue to do so for another 100 years,” stated Dave Reichard, President of Local 375.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment for one of the oldest unions in the state, and I’m pround that they are a member of the Lehigh Valley Building and Construction Trades,” said Jim Reilley, Business Representative of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Union Local 542 and President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Lehigh Valley.

Building trades supported Keystone XL pipeline bill defeated

12.03.14

DECEMBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Building trades supported Keystone XL pipeline bill defeated

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 19th- The United States Senate recently narrowly defeated legislation that would have approved the building trades supported Keystone XL pipeline. 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.

President Obama has not supported the XL Keystone pipeline construction, which the administration has reviewed for six years.

In the spring President Obama extended the decision of whether to construct the pipeline project, that would carry oil from Canada throughout the heart of the nation’s midwest to refineries in Texas.

The Building and Construction Trades unions support the construction because most of the work will be done with their members. The pipeline will be mostly built with federal money which would put the project under the Davis-Bacon law, meaning union wages would be paid to the construction workers.

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

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.

Republicans plan to bring the pipeline construction up for a another vote in January after they take control of the Senate. The party won enough seats in the November election to gain control.

Scranton mail processing slated for Lehigh Valley in January

12.03.14

DECEMBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Scranton mail processing slated for Lehigh Valley in January

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 15th- The labor organizations that represent workers of the United States Postal Service (USPS) distribution center in Scranton are meeting with federal elected representatives hoping they will support not changing mail delivery standards and moving their processing work to the Lehigh Valley that is currently scheduled for early 2015.

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 then 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 and stated around 5,000 workers would be affected by the consolidation. However, no lay-offs 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.

The first plan released by the USPS was to consolidate 92 mail processing centers in February 2013 and 89 more in 2014. However, the agency in November 2013 suspended closing any more processing centers that were previously slated for closure or merging, including the Scranton facility.

However, the USPS changed their plan again during the summer and announced it would move most of the mail processing currently being done at the Scranton facility to the Lehigh Valley in January, 2015.

The change of delivery standards means that any overnite mail delivery will be done away with and a two-day delivery time will take effect next year. Therefore, the Scranton, Lancaster and Erie facilities will be consolidated around January 10th.

The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 101 represents the majority of the workers that will be effected by the USPS action in Scranton. However, because of the job bidding requirement under the collective bargaining agreement’s with the APWU and the other postal unions’, some of the APWU members could end-up delivering mail.

According to the APWU, the USPS have began to post job bidding under the CBA. However, the union is still hopeful the USPS will change their plan yet again with pressure from federal legislators and delay consolidating anymore centers.

Local 268 represents APWU members in the Lehigh Valley. Should the Scranton workers be moved to the Bethlehem USPS mail processing facility, they will become Local 268 members.

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate at 5.8 percent

12.03.14

DECEMBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate at 5.8 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 22nd- 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 5.8 percent, decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point the previous report. The unemployment rate for the MSA is the lowest it has been since August 2008 when it was 5.7 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 7.5 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 continues to have the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.7 percent. The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 6.4 percent, and the Philadelphia MSA has the third highest at 6.0 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 4.2 percent. The Lancaster MSA and the Lebanon MSA are tied for the third lowest at 4.5 percent. The Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth lowest unemployment rate at 4.7 percent.

Lehigh County has the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 5.4 percent, dropping by seven-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. There are 9,800 civilians of a 183,000 workforce in Lehigh County without jobs.

Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate in MSA at 6.2 percent, decreasing by nine-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. The labor-force of Carbon County is 31,500 with 1,900 jobless.

Northampton County has a unemployment rate of 5.5 percent, dropping by seven-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Northampton County has a 153,800 civilian labor-force and 8,500 of them are unemployed.

Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of CLUW on the way

12.03.14

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

Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of CLUW on the way

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, November 4th- Melissa Matoushek, a Staff Representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council 87 Union in Dunmore, which represents AFSCME members throughout nine counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania, and who has worked over the past several months getting individuals to join CLUW (Coalition of Union Women) so a regional chapter can be established, told the newspaper a application will be sent to Washington DC this month.

In the previous edition of the newspaper it was reported that Ms. Matoushek had gotten enough people to sign-up to become CLUW members so that a regional chapter can be created. Before a chapter could be awarded enough people must become members of the organization. The minimum amount needed before a chapter would be awarded is 25.

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

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.

Ms. Matoushek stated everything is a “go” but she was released by AFSCME to help labor supported political candidates in November’s election, and she just did not have enough time to apply for the charter. However, now that the election season is over she will summit the application to Washington AFL-CIO for the establishment of a charter.

Painters Union members not hired for construction project

12.03.14

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

Painters Union members not hired for construction project

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

November 4th- The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 21 in Drums, which represents painters, glazing/glass workers, and drywall finishers of the building trades industry, members will not be hired for the new University of Scranton building under construction on Jefferson Avenue in Scranton.

John Gatto, Assistant Business Manager of District Council 21, told the newspaper that a IUPAT signatory contractor was not hired for the painting contracting for the new University of Scranton $47 million eight-story rehabiliation building on Jefferson Avenue. In May 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.

Mr. Gatto stated that he has been waiting for months to see if the school of higher education would hire a signatory contractor that would employ District Council 21 members. However, he told the newspaper that they have not hired a union painting contractor for the huge project. Members of IUPAT Local 218, which is affiliated with District Council 21, will be picketing the construction site when the nonunion painters are working in the new building, which will likely will not be until early in 2015.

“Our members and the inflatable rat will be there,” said Mr. Gatto.

Pro-labor Congressman Matt Cartwright wins second term

12.03.14

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

Pro-labor Congressman Matt Cartwright wins second term

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, November 5th- Labor community endorsed incumbent Democratic United States House of Representative Matt Cartwright of Lackawanna County, easily won a second two-year term in the massive territory area of the 17th Legislative District. The district includes Northeastern Pennsylvania cities of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Easton of the Lehigh Valley.

Mr. Cartwright defeated Republican party challenger David Moylan, which had several challengers from the Lehigh Valley in the spring primary election for the Republican nomination, on November 4th by more than 20,000 votes and captured a second term in Washington DC of representing the 17th legislative district.

The district includes all or parts of Lackawanna, Luzerene, Carbon, Schuylkill and Northampton Counties of Pennsylvania.

Congressman Cartwright defeated incumbent Democratic Representative Tim Holden two years ago. Mr. Holden was a “blue dog” Democrat, meaning his voting record indicated he did not always support Democratic party legislation.

Mr. Holden voted against progressive initiatives such as housing finance reform and the American auto company loans. He had served for 20 years in Washington before being defeated by Mr. Cartwright.

However, since taking office Mr. Cartwright has voted for all progressive legislation and has supported all labor endorsed initiatives. He is regularly seen with labor community leaders and members and often visits with labor leaders from his district.

Scranton mail processing center slated for closure in 2015

12.03.14

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

Scranton mail processing center slated for closure in 2015

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, November 1st- The labor organizations that represent workers of the United States Postal Service (USPS) distribution center in Scranton are meeting with federal elected representatives hoping they will support not changing mail delivery standards and moving their processing work to the Lehigh Valley that is currently scheduled for 2015.

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 then 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 and 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.

The first plan released by the USPS was to consolidate 92 mail processing centers in February 2013 and 89 more in 2014. However, the agency in November 2013 suspended closing any more processing centers that were previously slated for closure or merging, including the Scranton facility.

However, the USPS changed their plan again during the summer and announced it would move most of the mail processing currently being done at the Scranton facility to the Lehigh Valley in January, 2015.

The change of delivery standards means that any overnite mail delivery will be done away with and a two-day delivery time will take effect next year. Therefore, the Scranton, Lancaster and Erie facilities will be consolidated around January 10th.

The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 101 represents the majority of the workers that will be effected by the USPS action. However, because of the job bidding requirement under the collective bargaining agreement’s (CBA’s) with the APWU and the other postal unions, including the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Union, some of the APWU members could end-up delivering mail.

According to the APWU, the USPS have began to post job bidding under the CBA. However, the union is still hopeful the USPS will change their plan yet again with pressure from federal legislators and delay consolidating anymore centers.

New OSHA workplace reporting rules begin in 2015

12.03.14

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

New OSHA workplace reporting rules begin in 2015

BY PAUL TUCKER

THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM
REGION, November 1st- Beginning on January 1st, 2015 employers must report any and all workplace fatalities within eight hours of the accident or incident within the workplace. The United States Labor Department (DOL) recently moved to tighten their rules on the workplace injury reporting mandating that under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) all work-related hospitalizations, losses of an eye, or any body amputations, must be reported to OSHA within 24 hours.

OSHA rules previously stated that such reporting of accidents or incidents would need to be filed only if three or more workers were killed or were hospitalized while working on the job. Under the old rules reporting amputations, loss of an eye or a single employee hospitalization was not required, but some employers would still notify their local OSHA office anyway. In Northeastern Pennsylvania the OSHA office is located in the Stegmaier Building, North Wilkes-Barre Boulevard in Wilkes-Barre.

According to OSHA, no company or manufacturer in the nation will be exempt from the new reporting format, no matter how large or small.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez stated in a press released that the Obama Administration made it clear in the beginning that workers must be protected and feel safe while working on the job.

“We can and must do more to keep America’s workers safe and healthy. Workplace injuries and fatalities are absolutely preventable and these new requirements will help OSHA focus its resources and hold employers accountable for preventing them,” stated Mr. Perez.

The DOL also released their annual report for 2013 involving how many workers were killed while working within the United States.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 4,405 workers were killed while working in 2013, the latest numbers available.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHAct) was passed by Congress in 1970 and each year the labor community through the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, honors its passage by conducting ‘Workers Memorial Day’ on April 28th.

The Obama Administration has moved to strengthen protections in the workplace and construction sites with tougher enforcement on serious violators and proposed new safeguards for workplace hazards.

However, business groups and the Republican majority in the House of Representatives have attack the stronger measures claiming they have and will kill jobs.

OSHA believes the new standards are needed because workplace accidents can be a clear signal that workplace hazards are likely and the agency involvement is warranted to protect workers.

Teamsters win FedEx election, petition NLRB for more

12.03.14

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

Teamsters win FedEx election, petition NLRB for more

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 27th- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 229 in Lackawanna County, filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia requesting they conduct a election after getting more than 65 percent of the workers at the Pocono FedEx facility to sign union authorization cards.

In the previous edition of the newspaper, it was reported that the IBT in Washington DC, has began to attempt to organize FedEx ground Freight employees by conducting a national campaign to gain enough signatures of workers to petition the NLRB to conduct representation elections.

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, 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.

“I am proud of these guys at the East Philadelphia terminal, who stayed strong and united despite the company spending truckloads of money to hire union-busters,” said William Hamilton, President and Principal Officer of Local 107.

IBT Local 229 and workers of the Pocono facility of FedEx have met several times over the past 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 conducted election to become their bargaining representative.

Charlie Miller, Business Representative of Local 229, told the newspaper the IBT wants a local to get around 70 percent of the FedEx workers to sign cards before they petition the NLRB for a election.

Local 229 is awaiting official notification from the NLRB of when the election at the Pococno FedEx facility will take place. However, according to Mr. Miller, the two sides have already argeed to which employees will be eligible to participate in the election.

Labor supported Tom Wolf easily defeats anti-union Governor Tom Corbett

12.03.14

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

Labor supported Tom Wolf easily defeats anti-union Governor Tom Corbett

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, November 6th- Labor community political candidates were generally successful in Northeastern Pennsylvania that faced an opponent for the November 4th election. However, one labor endorsed candidate seeking to replace retiring Pennsylvania House of Representative Phyllis Mundy (Democrat-120th Legislative District) was defeated.

Eileen Cipriani, easily defeated her Democratic party challenger in the May Primary Election but was defeated by Republican Aaron Kaufer. Mrs. Cipriani worked for more than twenty-four years as a Medical Technologist at Nesbitt Hospital and Wilkes-Barre General Hospital in Luzerne County. With the lose of the 120th legislative district the Democratic party will be outnumber beginning in January by more than 30 votes. Also, several labor supported political candidates running for state senate seats also loss and the Republican party, who have many members that are anti-union, will hold a 30 to 20 majority.

However, the largest prize of the November election was the Pennsylvania Governor’s face, in which the labor supported Democratic candidate Tom Wolf easily defeated the anti-union incumbent Republican Governor Tom Corbett.

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, attempting to energize their members leading-up to the election. The labor community put a high priority on defeating Mr. Corbett.

The labor community 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 were several labor organizations that did endorsed Mr. Corbett, including the Laborers’ District Council of Western Pennsylvania and the Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers Union Local 154.

In Northeastern Pennsylvania, Marty Flynn (Democrat-113th Legislative District; Sid Michaels Kavulich (Democrat-114th Legislative District); Eddie Day Pashinski (Democrat-121st Legislative District) and State Senator John Blake (Democrat-22nd Senatorial District) all were endorsed by the labor community and defeated their opponents.

The remaining legislators in the region were unopposed including Mike Carroll (Democrat-118th Legislative District) and the Chairman of the Northeast Pennsylvania Democratic delegation. Mr. Carroll told the newspaper after the election that the labor community’s only “fire-wall” against anti-union legislation beginning in 2015 is Mr. Wolf and his pro-worker agenda.

“Without him, labor will be in huge trouble,” said Mr. Carroll. He pointed out that Mr. Corbett was generally unsuccessful in getting most of the anti-union legislation through the Pennsylvania General Assembly the past four years because there were enough Democrats and pro-worker Republicans to stop most of it.

However, the labor community will have to work even harder to put the brakes on the anti-union bills that will surely by pushed by the pro-business legislature in Harrisburg the next two years, Mr. Carroll stated.

Pennsylvania minimum wage falls below surrounding states, raising federal level becomes unlikely

12.02.14

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

Pennsylvania minimum wage falls below surrounding states, raising federal level becomes unlikely

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, November 5th - 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 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 has proposed.

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

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

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

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

However, in Pennsylvania raising the wage has been blocked by Republican legislators and their business supporters. Republican Governor Tom Corbett, who lost to Democrat Tom Wolf on November 4th denying him of a second four-year term, made it clear he did not support raising the benchmark. Mr. Corbett stated the higher was would harm Pennsylvania’s economy despite that the wage in surrounding states is higher.

But, according to data released by the Department of Labor in July, 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.

Mr. Wolf made it clear he would support rasing the benchmark and before his victory stated he will push for the increase if elected.

Meanwhile, on October 10th the United States Conference of Mayors urged Congress to raise the wage to $10.10 and mobilized existing support from mayors across the county who favor the increase.

More than 70 mayors signed the a letter supporting the raising of the federal minimum wage.

Raising the wage would give approximately 28 million across the county a wage hike.

Members of the right-wing pro-business groups recently stated, without facts, that minimum wage increares are “Union lifesavers.”

They argue that raising the wage enables labor union organizers to approach a nonunion employer struggling to pay the new wage and assist them in unionizing their workers by signing a “neutrality agreement” in return for the union will then use collective bargaining waiver within the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct) to allow the employer to pay less than the minimum. The action would be against the law and would subject the labor organization to legal ramifications. The measures will increase the minimum wage in San Francisco to $15 an hour by 2018.

On November 4th voters overwhelming approved raising the minimum wage for workers in the Bay Area of California. Voters passed two initiatives in Oakland and San Francisco by huge margins that will increase the wages for 190,000 workers in that area.

With the Republicans gaining enough seats in the United States Senate that will allow them to hold the majority beginning in 2015 for at least the next two years, it is extremely unlikely the federal benchmark will be increased.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA’s unemployment rate drops, but remains highest in state

12.02.14

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


MSA’s unemployment rate drops, but remains highest in state

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, November 1st- The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) continues to have the highest unemployment rate among the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania and according to the recently released data but the rate has decreased by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. The MSA has had the highest unemployment rate within Pennsylvania for nearly six 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 6.7 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 8.8 percent. The current unemployment rate for the MSA is the lowest since October 2008 when it was also at 6.7 percent.

The main reason the MSA’s unemployment has declined during the past year is because of the decline of the workforce, not because the job market has improved. The MSA’s civilian labor-force is 7,400 lower than twelve months ago. Also, one year ago there were 256,200 civilians employed within the MSA while currently there are 255,300 employed within the civilian workforce.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 5.7 percent, also decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,347,000 with 360,000 not working, dropping by 7,000 from the previous report. Pennsylvania has 5,987,000 civilians with employment. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate decreased by one and six-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 5.9 percent, decreasing by two-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report.

The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 6.4 percent, the Philadelphia MSA has the third highest unemployment rate at 6.0 percent while the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the fourth highest unemployment rate in the state at 5.8 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.2 percent. The Lancaster MSA and the Lebanon MSA are tied for the second lowest at 4.5 percent while the Harrisburg MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.7 percent.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fifth largest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 273,500 civilians, dropping by 600 from the previous report. There are 18,200 civilians without employment, decreasing by 500 from the previous report. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor-force in Pennsylvania at 2,975,500 with 177,800 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor-force at 1,235,900 with 64,400 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor-force at 426,300 with 24,800 not working.

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

Lackawanna County has the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 6.1 percent, dropping by seven-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Lackawanna County has a civilian labor force of 103,600, with 6,300 jobless.

Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate within the MSA at 6.7 percent. Luzerne County has a labor force of 155,400 with 10,400 jobless. Wyoming County’s unemployment rate is 6.5 percent.

New region ‘e-commerce’ facility being built by Wal-Mart

12.02.14

NOVEMBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

New region ‘e-commerce’ facility being built by Wal-Mart

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, October 19th- The largest anti-union retailer in North America is planning to build a new ‘e-commerce’ facility in the Lehigh Valley where shoppers can purchase goods by phone.Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced plans that instead of building a new store in the United States of more than one a day, it will build more high-tech warehouses that will ship purchases to customers rather than through their brick and mortar stores.

The world’s largest retailer unveiled they would cut the number of supercenters it plans to build in coming years and invest in e-commerce, the fastest growing sector in the retail business in the nation.

Wal-Mart will open 70 or fewer supercenters in 2015, down from the 120 built this year. Also, the anti-union retailer will slash how many ‘Neighborhood Market’ stores and Wal-Mart Express stores it opened in 2014 next year.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart which is Pennsylvania’s largest private employer, is building a new giant distribution center near its current facility, which is also close to Amazon’s in Bethlehem.

The “fulfillment e-commerce centers” will ship goods straight to consumers that have been purchased through the internet.

The site of the e-commerce center was a former Bethlehem Steel mill facility and is within what is called a “Special Development Zone” by Pennsylvania. Wal-Mart will receive a tax break for each of the next ten years.

It is estimated that Wal-Mart will get a more than $6 milion tax break it would have paid to Pennsylvania over the period if the new facility was build out-side the “Special Development Zone”. Wal-Mart made more than $16 billion in 2013.