Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

CWA and Verizon begin successor contract negotiations

10.11.15

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

CWA and Verizon begin successor contract negotiations

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 1st- The Communications Workers of America (CWA) Union in Washington DC has publicly challenged Verizon Communications for not repairing broken copper land-line telephone service throughout the Northeast section of the nation.

The once very profitable copper wire land-line telephone business, which most was once operated by Verizon Communications, still makes money but has seen the use of the wire line decrease by around twenty-five percent over the past several decades due to the increase of wireless services.

The CWA recently said Verizon is not repairing the copper lines in mostly the Northeast instead have attempted to get their customers to switch to wireless, which has a lot less infrastructure and shifts the responsibility of their phone problems to the customer. Customers must buy a new wireless phone every couple of years and often be required to purchased their service for several years in advance.

The CWA filed public information request with state regulators in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey to look if whether the Union can find data showing Verizon’s extent of not fixing problem phone lines. Tele-communications company’s including Verizon Communications are required to report information regarding service issues but the CWA believes the company is not fully disclosing the problems to the general public.

The CWA represents most of the Verizon Communications workforce including line workers and operators. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union represents mostly inside repair personnel. The CWA and Verizon have just began successor collective bargaining agreement negotiations. It is estimated that the CWA still has around 35,000 members employed by Verizon Communications.

Verizon Communications has approximately 10.5 million residential land-line customers with more than fifty percent still using copper land-lines. One of the benefits of copper land-lines is a customer does not lose their phone service in an event of a power outage, while wireless phone systems will stop working when the batteries die, such as what happen in New Jersey several years ago after Hurricane Sandy. With the power off wireless phone customers lost their phone service for as much as several weeks.

Meanwhile, in February 2015 Verizon Communications announced that it had agreed to sell about twenty-five percent of their copper hard-line customers to Frontier Communications Corporation.

The deal is awaiting federal regulators approval of the sale. After the deal is completed Verizon will not operate wire line telephone service in three states, Texas, California, and Florida. The remaining phone business of Verizon Communications will be mostly in the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

The selling of the assets to Frontier Communications will continue what Verizon began several years ago, selling-off much of their land-line telephone service business that they received in 2000 after Bell Atlantic merged with GTE, forming Verizon Communications.

According to Verizon, sixty-nine percent of the $127 billion of annual revenue is created through their wireless business. However, despite the need of more infrastructure in the hard-line telephone business it still makes money.

The CWA stated that Verizon is systematically abandoning their copper hand-line phone business and as a consequence their customers quality of service has plummeted. However, Verizon management denied it is abandoning their copper hard-line phone service network.

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.

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.

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.

Some Republicans back increasing wage in their home states

09.30.14

OCTOBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Some Republicans back increasing wage in their home states

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

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

The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, has made it clear it does support raising the federal minimum wage to the bench-mark of $10.10 an hour, which President Obama proposed in his “state-of-the-union” address earlier this year.

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, in five states that Republicans control, including Alaska, Arkansas, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Illinois, GOP legislators have voiced their support for raising the bench-mark in their states but not to $10.10 an hour.

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

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

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

Report states increasing minimum wage would help economy

09.01.14

SEPTEMBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Report states increasing minimum wage would help economy

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Minimum wage increase fight to begin again in fall

08.23.14

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

Minimum wage increase fight to begin again in fall

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Minimum wage increase fight to begin again in fall

07.28.14

AUGUST 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Minimum wage increase fight to begin again in fall

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009.

Organized labor supporting raising federal minimum wage

05.19.14

MAY 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Organized labor supporting raising federal minimum wage

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, April 16th- The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, have began to rally support for the raising of the federal minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSAct).

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 from the Department of Labor, is $7.25.

The AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka recently attended a pro-minimum wage increase rally in New Jersey, and Philadelphia stating that increasing the federal minimum wage would be good for workers and the community where they work. The AFL-CIO has participated in rallies with a bus with the slogan painted in blue with the words on its side “Give America a Raise.”

Meanwhile, New Jersey and New York have increased their minimum wage above the federal level, in Pennsylvania the wage remains at $7.25 an hour. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009. President Obama wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

On April 7th, Pennsylvania neighboring state Maryland voted to raise their minimum wage above the federal standard. Maryland lawmakers voted to gradually raise the wage to $10.10 an hour. The pro-business, anti-worker Maryland legislators were able to delay the full phase-in of the $10.10 minimum wage until 2018. Pennsylvania will have a lower minimum wage than three of it’s neighboring states, Maryland, New York and New Jersey. Maryland was the fourth state in the nation to approve wage increases above the federal standard in 2014.

Currently, there are more than 20 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.

Several legislative bills have emerged that would increase the Pennsylvania minimum wage in 2014 but the bills will likely not see any action because Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett does not support increasing the wage. Pennsylvania Senator Christine Tartaglione (Democrat-2nd Legislative District) and Minority Caucus Secretary, has introduced a bill that would increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

The United States economy has lost almost 6 million manufacturing jobs since 2000 while the American worker productivity increased during the time and many of the lowest paid workers are employed by large companies that have given huge raises to their executives after they recovered from the great recession but most have been reluctant to increase their workers wages.

__________________

EDITOR’S NOTE: Delaware has increased the state minimum wage above the Federal rate this year with the strong support of organized labor.

Republican political candidates have received labor support

05.19.14

MAY 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Republican political candidates have received labor support

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, April 19th- While many of the mouth-pieces of the Republican party make claim that the labor community only support Democratic party elected officials and political candidates, actually many members of the GOP have received union endorsements and financial support.

Most recently, many of the labor unions affiliated with the building trades in Ohio are supporting or will likely endorsed the re-election of Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich in 2014.

Mr. Kasich is on the list of six Republican Governors the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, have targeted to attempt to defeat for supporting anti-public union legislation. Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett is also on the AFL-CIO list.

However, Mr. Kasich since being Ohio Governor has worked with the affiliated members of the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents approximately 90,000 union members within the construction trades industry, and many of the trade unions have already financially gave to Mr. Kasich campaign, some reaching the maximum contribution.

Mr. Kasich has supported the hiring of unionized contractors in Ohio for infrastructure projects. But, has gained the dislike of public sector unions when he signed into law a measure eliminating most collective bargaining rights for public employees. The citizens of Ohio overturned the law in 2011 in a voter referendum.

Frank Sirianni, President of the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council in Harrisburg, told the newspaper the building trades community never supports a political candidate based on party affiliation.

“We look at the candidate. If the candidate shows support for us, we support them,” stated Mr. Sirianni.

Mr. Sirianni said currently the financial political action committee records indicate that nearly 40 percent of labor contributions go to Republican candidates. Indicating that while the Republican mouth-pieces suggest organized labor only support Democrats the claim is untrue.

President Sirianni stated however, it is unlikely any union affiliated with the trades council will support Mr. Corbett for re-election in 2014, stating he has hurt all sectors of the labor community, building trades, industrial, and the public sector unions. There is little to no chance any labor union will support Mr. Corbett for another term in Harrisburg.

Also, the New Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council in 2013 supported the re-election of New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie over his Democratic party opponent.

Most food service workers lack access to paid sick days

03.25.14

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

Most food service workers lack access to paid sick days

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 3rd- According to a new study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), that conducts research to address women needs and families, less than twenty-four percent of employees in food preparation and serving related occupations have access to paid sick days while on their job.

Also, the IWPR findings indicate that less than thirty-one percent of workers in personal care and service providing occupations have access to sick days with pay.

“Workers who have close contact with the public, such as home care aides and restraurant workers, rarely have access to paid sick days. Expanding access to this important benefit is in everyone’s interest,” stated Barbara Gault, Vice President and Executive Director of IWPR.

The analysis found that access to paid days at work is unequally distributed across the population, with substantial differences by race/ethnicity, occupation, earnings, and employment status.

The organization reviewed the National Health Interview Survey, finding that sixty-one percent of private sector employees had access to paid sick days in 2012, up from fifty-seven percent in 2009, however more than forty-one million workers lacked access.

The study found that American hispanic workers are less likely to have paid sick days than black, white, and asian workers. Only forty-seven percent of hispanic workers have paid sick days, compared with sixty-four percent of white workers, sixty-two percent of black workers, and sixty-six percent of asian workers.

Connecticut in 2011 passed a state-wide paid sick days law and currently, Washington, Vermont, Maryland, Oregon, New Jersey, California, and Illinois legislatures are contemplating similar bills.

Labor movement often split during political campaigns

12.03.13

OCTOBER 2013, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Labor movement often split during political campaigns

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 1st- The main-stream media and conservative radio, television and newspaper political analyst often when discussing labor organizations refer to the group as “big labor” suggesting the labor community as a group supports political candidates that are always Democrats and the same person. However, the gubernatorial race in New Jersey again has shown that opinion to be nonfactual.

The corporate controlled media for decades suggests in a negative way that labor organizations always have the same reasons for supporting political candidates. But after more than two decades of publishing, this newspaper has found that opinion to be inaccurate.

Currently in the New Jersey Governor’s race, the affiliated unions of the New Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council are supporting Incumbent Republican Governor Chris Christie, while the state’s public sector unions which have contracts with New Jersey, are supporting Democrat Barbara Buono. Mr. Christie is reported to have a more than 34 point lead over his Democratic opponent.

The reason for the division is because of Mr. Christie’s push for the used of unionized construction workers after Hurricane Sandy for rebuilding the damage.

Next years Pennsylvania Govenors race in Pennsylvania promises to divide the labor community as well, at least within the Democratic party primary. There is little to no chance any labor organization will support current Pennsylvania Republican Governor for another term because of his political policies toward unions. Nearly all of his legislative initiatives involve union represented workers being eliminated.

Support by labor for the Democratic candidates for Governor of Pennsylvania next year will be split and their main goal will be to unite for the November 2014 election.

In Northeastern Pennsylvania the three groups of the labor community, the building trades, the public sector unions and the industrial trade unions, often support different political candidates for different reasons.

Hurricane Sandy message from Richard Trumka- President, AFL-CIO

10.29.12

I’m in Washington, D.C., right now and conditions are getting progressively worse.

I hope you and your family are staying safe. We wanted to share with you some resources and tips for dealing with Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath.

Click here to check out this information now.

I also wanted to take a minute to thank all the workers who began preparing for the storm early, will be working through it and will keep up their work long after it passes to help repair and rebuild our communities.

Mario Cilento, president of the New York State AFL-CIO, said it best in a statement yesterday:

We’re hopeful that preparations will prove unnecessary, but we have peace of mind knowing that union workers–public sector, private sector and building trades–will be there for us: supermarket and retail workers making sure that supplies are available; utility and communication workers laboring day and night to keep the lights and phones on; police officers, firefighters and EMS professionals maintaining our safety; transportation workers preserving our subway, commuter rail and bus infrastructure; state, county and municipal employees keeping the roads clear; construction workers repairing our homes, businesses and communities; hospital workers providing care to our family, friends and neighbors; teachers and child care workers keeping our children safe until we can be with them; and hotel workers making sure there is a place to stay for those who cannot remain home.

Their work and the work of others will get our communities back up and running.

Find important resources and information for dealing with Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath at the link below:

http://go.aflcio.org/Stay-Safe

We hope you and your family and friends stay safe. Thanks for all you do.

In Solidarity,

Richard Trumka
President, AFL-CIO

Initial unemployment claims decrease from previous week

09.20.11

SEPTEMBER 2011 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Initial unemployment claims decrease from previous week

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 2nd- According to the United States Employment and Training Administration, in the week ending August 27th the seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims was 409,000 a decrease of 12,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 421,000.

The four-week moving average was 410,250, an increase of 1,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 408,500. The numbers indicate jobs are still hard to find, in fact some economist have predicted a second recession is likely toward the end of 2011 or the beginning of 2012. The unemployment rate was reported to be 9.1 percent, however, besides the 14 million reported to be unemployed, there are 8.8 million American workers that are not counted, part-timers who want full-time work or those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits. There are 14 million workers reported to be unemployed.

The advance unseasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate is 2.8 percent, unchanged from the prior week.

The advance number for seasonally adjusted unemployment during the week ending August 20th, was 3,735,000, a decrease of 18,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 3,753,000. The four-week moving average was 3,726,000, a decrease of 3,250 from the preceding week’s revised average of 3,729,250.

The advance number of actual claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 334,372 in the week ending August 27th, a decrease of 10,498 from the previous week. There were 383,135 initial claims in the comparable week in 2010. However, since August 2010 thousands of workers have expired their benefits and are no longer counted as unemployed.

States reported 3,118,042 persons claimed Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits for the week, a increase of 31,261 from the prior week.

There were 4,556,751 claimants in the comparable week in 2010. The EUC weekly claims include first, second, third and fourth tier activity.

There are 31 states and the District of Columbia, which includes Pennsylvania, that extended unemployment benefits were available.

Pennsylvania was first among all fifty states with the highest insured unemployment rates in the week at 4.2 percent. New Jersey is second at 3.9 percent, Alaska, California and Connecticut were tied for third at 3.8 percent.

The largest increases in initial claims, (just recently laid-off), were in Pennsylvania, increasing by 1,904; Oregon, increasing by 698; Rhode Island, increasing by 634; and California, increasing by 615.

The largest decreases were in Massachusetts, dropping by 1,698; South Carolina, dropping by 1,058; Georgia, dropping by 978; Nevada, dropping by 695; and Florida, dropping by 670.

CWA Targets Rep. Harris and Other Members in House Battleground Districts over Their Role in FAA Shutdown

08.30.11

CWA Targets Rep. Harris and Other Members in House Battleground Districts over Their Role in FAA Shutdown

25 House Districts Targeted in New Component of “Countdown to Shutdown” Campaign

Washington – Today, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) announced a new campaign to target two dozen House Republicans, including Rep. Andrew Harris (R-MD-01), for their willingness to shut down the Federation Aviation Administration (FAA) over a union-busting provision inserted into the House version of the multi-year FAA Reauthorization bill. CWA calls on Rep. Harris and other targeted House members to deliver the benefits of a FAA bill without the contentious and unrelated union elections provision.

With less than 30 days until the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) faces another potential shutdown due to the union-busting ideology of Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee John Mica (R-FL) and many of his Republican House colleagues like Rep. Harris, CWA’s “Countdown to Shutdown” campaign is spending over half a million dollars on efforts to educate voters about the causes and consequences of the FAA shutdown. Included in this effort is the new direct mail effort, which will target over 600,000 voters in key battleground House districts.

The direct mailing highlights that “Americans are losing jobs because Congress is playing politics. Call Congress now and tell them to stop grounding our economy. Pass the FAA Reauthorization Bill.”

The mailing explains that “the FAA got shut down because Chairman John Mica and some Republicans would rather play politics with real people’s lives and the FAA Reauthorization bill. At the request of their big corporate airline donors, like Delta, Republicans snuck unrelated union provisions into this critical legislation. Then Congress took off on vacation and shut down the FAA. The result of their political games…”

100,000 hard working employees out of work
$400 million in taxpayer money pocketed by airline executives
$11 billion in stalled construction projects
“Another shutdown could happen Sept. 16 because of their political games. Tell them no more FAA shutdowns and to pass a clean FAA Reauthorization bill free of special interest provisions.”

The announcement of the targeted mailings follows after the announcement of a new MicaWatch website, highlighting the union-busting ideology of Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee John Mica (R-FL). In conjunction with Delta Air Lines, Rep. Mica was the lead driver behind the recent FAA shutdown that put nearly 100,000 people out of work and cost the U.S. government $400 million. Instead of forging a bi-partisan solution that would deliver hundreds of thousands of jobs and aviation infrastructure upgrades through the long-term FAA bill, Rep. Mica and Rep. Harris continue to insist that the legislation include an unrelated union-busting provision requested by Delta. This provision would change the rules for union elections overseen by the National Mediation Board (NMB) and seeks to count ballots not actually cast – in violation of democratic principles and the rules of every other type of American election.

In addition to Rep. Mica, some of his Republican colleagues in the House, including Rep. Harris, have been all too willing to go along with Rep. Mica’s ideological intransigence and insistence that the unrelated union provision be included in the FAA Reauthorization bill. In addition to Rep. Harris, Republican targets of the mailing include: Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ-01), Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ-05), Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA-03), Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA-45), Rep. Thomas Latham (R-IA-04), Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL-14), Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-IL-17), Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN-03), Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN-08), Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH-01), Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH-02), Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ-07), Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV-03), Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-NY-19), Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY-24), Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY-29), Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA-06), Rep, Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA-08), Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA-11), Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA-15), Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX-27), Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler (R-WA-03), and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI-07). All Democratic and independent households in Rep. Mica’s district (FL-07) also will receive a mailing highlighting their Member’s lead role in blocking hundreds of thousands of new jobs and aviation infrastructure upgrades that would be generated by the FAA Reauthorization bill.

The targeted mailings are part of the larger CWA “Countdown to Shutdown” campaign, which, among other components, features a petition highlighting Delta’s role in pushing the union-busting provision; flyering and events at airports throughout the nation; the MicaWatch website; and other targeted district events such as phone calls and picketing.

Legislation passed to combat fly-by-night contractors

10.28.10

NOVEMBER 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Legislation passed to combat fly-by-night contractors

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 13th- Legislation was signed into law by Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Edward Rendell that was praised by members of the Building and Construction Trades Unions. The law will enable the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, as well as county district attorneys and the State Attorney General, to crack down on construction firms that classify their employees as “Independent contractors,” thereby avoiding responsibility to pay Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation and Workers Compensation taxes.

House Bill No. 400 was amended by the Pennsylvania Senate on September 21st, and was signed by Mr. Rendell on October 13th.

Under the legislation, no employer shall require or demand that an individual enter into an agreement or sign a document which results in the improper classification of that individual as an independent contractor.

A violation shall be punishable by an administrative fine of not less than $1,000 and not more than $2,500. Each violation shall be considered a separate offense under the law.

“It shall be unlawful for an employer, or an officer or agent of an employer, to discriminate in any manner or take adverse action against any person in retaliation for exercising rights protected under this act. Rights protected under this act include, but are not limited to, the right to file a complaint or inform any person about an employer’s noncompliance with this act,” states the legislation.

Twenty other states, including Delaware, New York, New Jersey and Maryland, have passed similar laws in the past eighteen months.

“For too long, the state was powerless to act against these fly-by-night firms that skirted Pennsylvania law to the detriment of everyone else. With the governor’s signature on House Bill 400, honest firms will no longer be outbid and undercut simply because they obey the law and pay their taxes,” stated Jack Brooks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Pennsylvania State Council of Carpenters.

LABOR AND CITIZEN ACTION GROUPS TO CHALLENGE CORBETT ON PROPOSED WORKER TAX AT RALLY WITH NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE

10.11.10

AFL-CIO
Media Release

October 11, 2010

For Immediate Release
Contact: Marty Marks 412.352.0317
Marc Stier, Penn Action 215.880.6142


LABOR AND CITIZEN ACTION GROUPS TO CHALLENGE CORBETT ON PROPOSED WORKER TAX AT RALLY WITH NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE

Workers and Activists Say Corbett’s Proposal to Tax Workers for $3 Billion Unemployment Debt is a Fowl Idea

Williamsport, PA – Labor and citizen action groups will use the occasion of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s campaign stop for Tom Corbett in Williamsport today (Monday, October 11) at 10:00 AM to launch a “Quack Attack” on the Republican candidate for governor’s proposal to increase pay roll taxes on workers for purposes of repaying a $3 billion debt owed to the federal government for unemployment compensation.

“If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck – it’s a duck!” declared Marc Stier, leader of the citizen issue advocacy group Penn Action. “Tom Corbett cannot mask a payroll tax hike imposed on working people simply by calling it another name. He can’t have his duck and eat it too,” Stier said.

Corbett, who earlier this year took a no-tax pledge, has consistently denied the payment made by workers into the unemployment fund is a tax. By referring to the workers’ payroll deduction as a contribution, Corbett has suggested he did not violate his no-tax pledge when he proposed increasing the workers portion of the payment but not the employers.

Corbett and Christie will be greeted by a coalition of citizen and labor activists armed with rubber ducks, hand-made signs and assorted other web-footed paraphernalia as the two Republican leaders converge on the Lycoming County Republican campaign headquarters at 1750 East Third Street in Williamsport for a Monday morning rally.

“This is the kind of political double speak that turns voters off,” said Ben Uzdilla, President of Utility Workers of America Local 406, one of the labor leaders participating in the demonstration today outside of the Lycoming County Republican event. “The bottom line is we can’t be distracted by no-tax pledges and other nonsense. Taxing workers and not their employers is grossly unfair and we have to stop it,” said Uzdilla.

Patrick Gleason is a spokesperson for Americans for Tax Reform, the group that authored the no-tax pledge Corbett signed. Speaking about Corbett’s proposal, Gleason said, “It is what is commonly known as a payroll tax, and this is not a matter of dispute.”

“Raising payroll taxes on workers and letting corporations off the hook is a pretty fowl smelling duck of an idea if you ask me,” Uzdilla said.

EFCA’s Dead, but Fear of It Still Driving Anti-Worker Measures

08.24.10

EFCA’s Dead, but Fear of It Still Driving Anti-Worker Measures

By Mike Elk

IN THESE TIMES article link

Months after Arizona politicians passed S.B. 1070, the controversial and now delayed immigration law, the right wingers are going on the attack against not just hispanic workers, but all workers.

Earlier this month, Gov. Jan Brewer called a special session of the legislature into session to put an anti-union amendment on the November ballot. If voters approve the measure, it would block any charges to labor law made by federal passage of the proposed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).

Eight other states have similar measures on their respective ballots that aim to do the same thing. For a variety reasons, many legal scholars question whether these measures are even constitutional—one reason being that Congress never actually passed the Employee Free Choice Act. In fact, early this month the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that as crafted, the amendment is illegal.

Beyond that obvious obstacle, the larger question is: Why would big business and its Republican allies in the Arizona legislature want to push the measure if card check (as EFCA was often referred to) is already dead? Answer: They want to crush the ability of organized labor to shape the overall political agenda.

They want to beat up labor so badly that they will never push for EFCA again. The Chamber of Commerce keeps pushing against the bill because they want to push unions back into making concessions on weakening current law. We have already seen the success of Big Business to change the political dynamic by its ability to stop the routine nomination of Craig Becker to the NLRB.

Organized labor spent tens of millions of dollars to fight for EFCA, and it got nothing in the way of labor law reform in return. Instead, labor’s defeat and the loss of the public narrative about the role of unions have created political openings for big business to go on the attack against labor.

If labor had passed even a compromised version of the Employee Free Choice Act, we would have never had the problems over appointing Democrats to the National Labor Relations Board. Instead, Democrats fumbled on offensive and labor finds itself on the defensive once again.

Big Business was able to so successfully tar and feather labor that now we are seeing dramatic changes in the way the public views labor. As a result, the popularity of U.S. unions is at a 70-year low—a Pew survey this year showed that unions had a favorability rating of 41 percent, down dramatically from 58 percent in 2007.

Public employees and their pension funds are under attack all over the country as a result of the negative public narrative against unions. The public hysteria against union is so high that even labor’s allies and its own union members are turning against organized labor.

The person helping to lead the attack against unions in New Jersey is an Ironworkers union leader himself, Democratic State Senate President Stephen Sweeney. Sweeney was quoted in the New York Times saying “I’m a labor leader, but I’m also elected to do right by all the people in the state of New Jersey, and not just union members.”

Let the example of Sweeney serve as a stern lesson to the labor leaders who stayed silent and made a deal with Rahm Emanuel to wait to push EFCA until after healthcare “reform” passed. If you don’t stand up to the corporate interests and their political allies, you will be forced to sit down and work on their side. Any time you don’t take advantage of even a small opportunity to win, your opponents will turn it into an even greater defeat.

As one of my mentors, legendary DC press man Toby Chaudhuri, is famous for saying, “If you’re not winning, you’re losing. If you’re not defining yourselves, your opponents are defining you.” Labor’s defeat on EFCA has allowed Big Business to increasingly define organized labor’s power, and the public’s perception of it.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: I advise readers to check out this article at the original IN THESE TIMES link. It has many embedded links not reproduced here.

More than 30,000 protesters rally against budget cuts in Trenton

05.23.10

More than 30,000 protesters rally against budget cuts in Trenton

TRENTON — Teachers, police officers and state workers filled the street around the Statehouse today to rally against Gov. Chris Christie and his budget cuts.

State Police spokesman Sgt. Stephen Jones said the final crowd estimate was between 30,000 and 35,000 people, making it the largest protest ever staged in Trenton. No arrests or other problems were reported.

“Everything went very smoothly,” Jones said.

The rally was centered around a stage in front of the New Jersey State Museum, where a series of speakers began taking the stage around 12:20 p.m.

New Jersey Education Association President Barbara Keshishian criticized Christie for his “arrogant, destructive policies.” The governor and the state teachers’ unions have been feuding for months over pay freezes.

“We are not the problem! We are not the problem!” New Jersey Education Association President Barbara Keshishian said, leading the crowd in a chant.

James Harris, president of the New Jersey chapter of the NAACP, criticized Christie’s aggressive tactics…….

Read more at link below:

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/05/public_workers_turn_out_in_for.html

NJ Gov. Christie To Deny Tenure To State’s Court’s Only African-American Justice

05.10.10

NJ Gov. Christie To Deny Tenure To State’s Court’s Only African-American Justice

By Susie Madrak

http://crooksandliars.com/susie-madrak/nj-gov-christie-deny-tenure-states-co

I predict New Jersey will very shortly be the California of the East. The voters’ insistence on punishing the Democrats in the last gubernatorial election leaves the heavily populated state in the hands of someone who’s very unsympathetic to anyone who isn’t white, suburban and Republican. Already he’s pulling the same accounting tricks utilized by Christine Todd Whitman - the same tactics that left the state in a massive financial hole.

But hey, he promised no tax increases!

TRENTON ## On a court known nationally for its judicial activism, state Supreme Court Justice John Wallace’s legacy may be bound to the one ruling that wasn’t his to make: Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to deny him tenure.

Christie’s action, unprecedented since the state revamped its constitution in 1947, fulfilled a campaign promise to reshape the court and drew cheers from the right.

Wallace is also the court’s only African-American justice in a state that’s 12 percent black.

It also brought cries from Democrats that the governor is politicizing the high court, threats that they will stall the nomination of Morris County attorney Anne Patterson and a virtually unheard of rebuke from the state’s chief justice.

The looming fight extends far beyond this one justice and could have an impact on the New Jersey court for decades to come.

“Batting the ball back and forth on political grounds is not going to be good for the independence of the court,” Rutgers Law School professor Robert Williams. “If judges have to gauge the perception their cases are going to receive in the political world, they may be a little less assertive in interpreting the constitution.”

Justices should look over their shoulders, said Steve Lonegan, a conservative whose Americans for Prosperity group waged a phone and e-mail campaign imploring Christie to keep his promise to change the court — starting with Wallace.

“This is what voters asked for,” Lonegan said. “For decades, I’ve watched governors and legislators run in fear from this court. It’s about time … it’s a great first step.”

Ah, yes, our good friends at Americans for Prosperity! Just another in the long list of wingnut front groups funded by right-wing billionaire David Koch! They’re the group behind the “grassroots” Tea Party, too. In fact, they front for just about any wingnut cause you can name - including climate change denial.

Christie will have the opportunity to reappoint or dismiss two more justices, and another will reach retirement age.

That could change the nature of the court, which has a national profile for rulings that include the Karen Ann Quinlan right to die case, the Baby M decision that condemned surrogate motherhood and the finding that the Boy Scouts’ ban on homosexuality violated state anti-discrimination laws. The court’s decisions also include school funding and affordable housing rulings criticized by some because of their price tag. “The Supreme Court is the driving force behind New Jersey’s high taxes,” Lonegan said.

Alan Tarr, director of the Center for State Constitutional studies at Rutgers, said there’s always been a political element to judicial appointments. More significant, he said, is Christie is “trying to give himself more leeway in school finance.”

By “more leeway,” he means Christie wants to channel extra funds to the heavily-Republican suburban districts. The court’s interpretation of the state constitution calls for equitable distribution ## and we can’t have that, can we?