Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Awards presented to labor community members by United Way

11.11.12

NOVEMBER 2012 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Awards presented to labor community members by United Way

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 19th- The United Way of Wyoming Valley’s Labor Participation Department presented the “Unsung Labor Hero Awards” at their recently held annual United Way Kick-Off event. The award is the way the organization recognizes those union members who provides special assistance in a vaiety of ways to the agencies of the Wyoming Valley United Way and the community at-large.

According to Walter Klepaski, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) United Way of Wyoming Valley Community Services Liaison, this years three recipients of the Unsung Labor Hero Award personify and serve as an example of the great monetary and voluntary work humbly being done throughout the area by the labor community.

Mr. Klepaski added he hopes that the award serves as a way to show that the time and effort being put forth by members of organized labor in supporting their community is not going unnoticed by him and the United Way.

This year’s recipients were Gil Cooney, a United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1776 Union retiree and President of the NEPA Retirees Alliance District 3; James Murphy, President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 401; and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 163.

Thomas Raub, President of IBEW Local 163 and Michael Kwashnik, Business Manager of IBEW Local 163, represented their union and received the award at the event.

Mr. Cooney has been a supporter of the United Way since 1947, going back to the time when he first represented the Boot & Shoe Workers Union and solicited funds for the community organization. He currently is a generous donor and is serving as a co-chair for a special fund raising campaign among union retirees.

Mr. Murphy has also been a generous donor and is part of the Labor Leadership Giving Society, at the Platinum Level, which is $1,000 or more. He helps annually toward the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council/United Way Christmas project, soliciting for donations from IBT shops to fill 500 stockings for needing kids.

Local 163 Apprenticeship Program for the past 5 years has provided members to help with the annual NALC Food Drive each May. Also, each year IBEW volunteers help postal carriers unload donated food collected by NALC members.

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

”Sam Bianco Labor Award” recipient is Kerri Gallagher

08.16.12

AUGUST 2012 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

”Sam Bianco Labor Award” recipient is Kerri Gallagher

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 30th- This year’s recipient of the “United Way of Wyoming Valley’s Sam Bianco Labor Award” is American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87 Staff Representative Kerri Gallagher.

The award was originally created in 1977 to recognize either a union member or labor organization for their monetary or voluntary support to the United Way, their member agencies or community in general.

After the legendary labor leader Sam Bianco died in 2010, the United Way of the Wyoming Valley changed the name of the award to honor Mr. Bianco for his more than 55 years of volunteer service to the community based organization.

Mrs. Gallagher received the award on May 30th at the annual meeting of the organization, which was held a the Mohegan Sun Casino at Pocono Downs. She was presented with the award by the United Way of the Wyoming Valley President Bill Jones.

Walter Klepaski, the United Way of the Wyoming Valley’s American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) Community Services Liason, the go-beteen the labor community and the United Way, stated Mrs. Gallagher deserved the award because of her wide variety of volunteer activities, as well as her generous financial support to the organization over the years.

She is a current United Way board member and Labor Participation Committee member and chairs the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council (GWLC) labor federation Community Services Committee and their Workers Memorial Day Program.

Also, Mrs. Gallagher volunteers for the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Annual Food Drive in May, and the GWBLC’s Labor Christmas Stocking Project in December.

More than 70 million pounds of food collected by NALC

07.15.12

JULY 2012 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

More than 70 million pounds of food collected by NALC

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION- REGION, June 14th- The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Union collected more than 70.5 million pounds of food in this years nationwide food drive, at a time when hunger is a major problem because of the weak economy and workers exhausting their unemployment benefits.

According to Linda Giordano, NALC Food Drive Coordinator, the NALC annual one-day drive, the largest in the nation, was conducted in 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam. The event was held throughout the Lehigh Valley. Ms. Giordano stated the NALC, which represents letter carriers of the United States Postal Service (USPS), celebrated the 20 th year of the annual food drive in 2012.

“These results will enable the food pantries that we supply across the country to help feed the 50 million Americans, one-third of them children, who live in families that lack sufficient food,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said.

“Six days a week, as we deliver mail to every address in America, letter carriers see first-hand the needs in the communities we work in, and we’re privileged to lead an effort that brings out the best in so many Americans,” Mr. Rolando added.

Each year customers of the USPS are asked to place non-perishable food donations near their mailboxes so that the nation’s 200,000 letter carriers can collect them while they deliver mail.

“This drive allows letter carriers to help replenish food banks during difficult summer months when millions of children have no school breakfast or lunch programs to count on,” Ms. Giordano told the newspaper.

This was the ninth consecutive NALC food drive surpassing 70 million pounds of food collected. Several NALC Branches were still compiling their figures as of June 15th, however already this year’s total tops 2011’s 70.2 million pounds.

Ms. Giordano stated the good 2012 results were achieved despite the continuing tough economy, which made the drive all the more important.

“We could not achieve these results without the contributions of our national and local sponsors, the assistance of those groups that help our branches collect the food, and the generosity of our postal customers,” stated NALC Assistant to the President Pam Donato.

NALC members brought the food collected to local food banks, pantries or shelters, including many affiliated with feeding America, a national partner in the drive. Assisting approximately 1,600 NALC Branches nationwide were rural letter carriers, other USPS employees, civic volunteers and other members of the labor community, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union member truck drivers.

Other national partners were Campbell Soup Company, the National Rural Letter Carriers Association, and the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation.

Walter Klepaski, the AFL-CIO Community Services Liaison for the United Way of the Wyoming Valley, the go-between the community based organization and the labor community, stated the food drive is helping to meet a critical need in communities across America.

“Most of the general public feel this is a United States Postal Service project and do not realize that it is a project that was started by and conducted by members of the National Association of Letter Carriers union. NALC members are not mandated to pick up food in addition to delivering the mail on Letter Carriers Food Drive Day, but rather volunteer to do so on one of their busiest mail delivery days of the year, the day before Mother’s Day,” said Mr. Klepaski.

How to help UAW Local 1183 keep their community food bank running

06.26.12

UAW Local 1183 once represented thousands of active Chrysler auto workers in the now closed Newark, Delaware assembly plant. The plant has been torn down and the local has only a few hundred actively working members althoughthere are thousands and thousands of retirees. Exceptional management by the union leaders have kept the local active in helping the community in these difficult times.

The local somehow has managed to stay open. Hats off to their elected leaders for this accomplishment!

One of their greatest services to residents in northern Delaware along with those in nearby counties in Maryland and Pennsylvania is their community food bank. It is serving up to 10 times as many people or more than before the Great Recession hit. Thanks to the tireless work of UAW Local 1183 Financial Secretary Alena Bandy, they are helping the poor and hungry feed their families. This is being done with only a small fraction of dues paying members as before the Chrysler plant closed!

They need financial help. They need your help. You or your union can send donation checks if that is possible to: UAW Local 1183, attention: Alena Bandy, 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702.

Or you can support the weekly Flea Market fundraiser by shopping it or setting up to sell your unwanted items. All the table rents go to the UAW Local 1183 Food Bank. If you can, please help us spread the word about this worthy cause as widely as possible.

UAW 1183 “Food Bank Fund Day” every Sunday this summer

Flea Market Fundraiser- Weekly all Summer

When: every Sunday –weather permitting

Where: UAW 1183 (union hall parking lot) at : 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702

Space rental is $15 (cash only) -
Bring your own tables

Time: 8am until 2pm (seller set-up time starts at 7am)
Additional Contributions: UAW 1183 Food Bank, 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, DE 19702

UAW 1183 phone number is 302-738-4500.

More than 70 million pounds of food collected by NALC

06.26.12

JULY 2012, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

More than 70 million pounds of food collected by NALC

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June14th- The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Union collected more than 70.5 million pounds of food in this years nationwide food drive, at a time when hunger is a major problem because of the weak economy and workers exhausting their unemployment benefits.

According to Linda Giordano, NALC Food Drive Coordinator, the NALC annual one-day drive, the largest in the nation, was conducted in 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam. The event was held throughout the Lehigh Valley. Ms. Giordano stated the NALC, which represents letter carriers of the United States Postal Service (USPS), celebrated the 20 th year of the annual food drive in 2012.

“These results will enable the food pantries that we supply across the country to help feed the 50 million Americans, one-third of them children, who live in families that lack sufficient food,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said.

“Six days a week, as we deliver mail to every address in America, letter carriers see first-hand the needs in the communities we work in, and we’re privileged to lead an effort that brings out the best in so many Americans,” Mr. Rolando added.

Each year customers of the USPS are asked to place non-perishable food donations near their mailboxes so that the nation’s 200,000 letter carriers can collect them while they deliver mail.

“This drive allows letter carriers to help replenish food banks during difficult summer months when millions of children have no school breakfast or lunch programs to count on,” Ms. Giordano told the newspaper.

This was the ninth consecutive NALC food drive surpassing 70 million pounds of food collected. Several NALC Branches were still compiling their figures as of June 10th, however already this year’s total tops 2011’s 70.2 million pounds.

Ms. Giordano stated the good 2012 results were achieved despite the continuing tough economy, which made the drive all the more important.

“We could not achieve these results without the contributions of our national and local sponsors, the assistance of those groups that help our branches collect the food, and the generosity of our postal customers,” stated NALC Assistant to the President Pam Donato.

NALC members brought the food collected to local food banks, pantries or shelters, including many affiliated with feeding America, a national partner in the drive. Assisting approximately 1,600 NALC Branches nationwide were rural letter carriers, other USPS employees, civic volunteers and other members of the labor community, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union member truck drivers.

Other national partners were Campbell Soup Company, the National Rural Letter Carriers Association, and the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation.

UAW Local 1183 begins weekly Sunday summer flea market to help fund their community food bank

06.11.12

UAW 1183 “Food Bank Fund Day”

Fundraiser- Weekly all Summer

Flea Market

When: every Sunday –weather permitting

Where: UAW 1183 (union hall parking lot) at : 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702

Space rental is $15 (cash only) -
Bring your own tables

Time: 8am until 2pm (seller set-up time starts at 7am)

Additional Contributions: UAW 1183 Food Bank, 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, DE 19702

First annual Sam Bianco Golf Tournament to be held on May 19th

03.04.12

FEBRUARY 2012 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

First annual Sam Bianco Golf Tournament to be held on May 19th

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION- February 4th- The “Sam Bianco Bianco Memorial Scholarship Fund Golf Tournament” will be held on Saturday, May 19th, 2012 at the Sugarloaf Golf Club in Sugarloaf Township, Luzerne County.

According to John Rusak, Business Representative of the United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776, the cost to participate in the day of golfing is $75.00 per golfer. The funds raised will go to the scholarship fund named after the legendary labor leader.

“We need golfers. We have sponsors, but the course will not tie-up the club unless there are enough participants,” stated Mr. Rusak. He added at least 128 golfers are needed.

“I encourage union’s that are affiliated with the labor council to buy tickets to participate in the golf,” Mr. Rusak said.

Mr. Bianco served as President of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council labor federation, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Washington, DC, from 1978 to September 28th, 2010 when he passed away from complications related to cancer at the age of 88.

Mr. Bianco on the weekend before he died participated in helping pro-labor political candidates get elected during 2010 election campaign.

He was a retired District Manager of the International Ladies Garment Workers (ILGWU). The ILGWU once represented thousands of workers, mostly women, and garment shops throughout the region. Only a hand-full of shops remain today.

Also, Mr. Bianco represented the labor community on numerous boards and committees throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania including: Northeast Pennsylvania Area Labor Management Council, which recently folded; the United Rehabilitation Services; the United Way of the Wyoming Valley; St. Vincent de Paul Kitchen; and the American Red Cross Wyoming Valley Chapter.

Mr. Rusak stated the golf tournament will begin at 12 noon with registration and the cost includes golf, food and prizes.

“For all the things Sam did for the labor community and political leaders, there should be a lot of golfers at the event,” stated Gilbert Cooney, a long-time friend of Mr. Bianco and has been a member of the labor community for more than six decades.

Current Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council President Edward Harry, stated Sam Bianco made sure the labor federation was involved with not only the labor community but also the community at-large. “Lets hope that the labor community really comes out and supports Sam,” said Mr. Harry.

In April, 2010 the labor federation held a dinner to honor Mr. Bianco at the Genetti’s Hotel and Conference Center in downtown Wilkes-Barre. Approximately 300 people attended, which included members of the labor community, political officials and other dignitaries.

Mr. Rusak stated anyone wanting to participate or sponsor a hole they can contact him at (800) 635-6994, extension 305.

IBT Union Local 229 member receives help from flooding

12.29.11

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

IBT Union Local 229 member receives help from flooding

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, December 5th- A member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 229, Main Avenue in Scranton, received a check in the amount of $500.00 to help her recover from the floods in the region.

“It is impossible to forget the disastrous effects from the tropical storms which ravaged areas of Northeastern Pennsylvania during September 2011. Unfortunately every family was affected, either directly or indirectly. One such family was that of Teamsters Local 229 member Bernadine Hoover, a member of 229 for 21 years, she is employed by the Topps Company,” Craig Pawlik, Local 229 Secretary/Treasurer and Principle Officer told the newspaper.

Ms. Hoover resides in Duryea, which was badly damaged by the September flooding.

“Almost immediately the Disasters Relief Fund from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters swung into action offering assistance to all Teamsters in the effected areas,” added Mr. Pawlik.

Mr. Pawlik said Ms. Hoover contacted the IBT Disaster Relief Fund and on November 15th, he presented her with the check of $500.00. “Knowing that this assistance is another step in the long road that her family must travel to get their life back she smiled and thanked her Teamster family for this support when she thought all was lost,” added Mr. Pawlik.

OCCUPY WALL STREET: Separating Fact from Media

10.14.11

By WALTER BRASCH

Newspaper columnist Ann Coulter, spreading the lies of the extreme right wing, called the Occupy Wall Street protestors, “tattooed, body-pierced, sunken-chested 19-year-olds getting in fights with the police for fun.” She claimed the protestors, now in the thousands in New York, are “directionless losers [who] pose for cameras while uttering random liberal clichés lacking any reason or coherence.” (Several hundred thousand of these “directionless losers” are expected to attend rallies in more than 650 cities, Oct. 15.)

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), House majority leader, called the protest nothing more than “growing mobs,” completely oblivious to his myriad statements that he supports “mobs” when they are from the Tea Party. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, tacking as far right as possible to avoid anyone thinking he was once a moderate, called the protest “dangerous.”

Republican presidential contender Herman Cain, in a moment that demonstrated how out of touch he is with the economic reality of the five-year recession, argued, “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks; if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself!”

Glenn Beck, too irrational even for Fox News, which terminated him less than two years after it tried to make him a TV superstar, told his radio audience, the protestors “will come for you and drag you into the streets and kill you.”

Lauren Ellis of Mother Jones, at one time a cutting edge magazine for social justice, believed that the protestors have a “lack of focus.” Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, wrote, “A protest without an objective is like a party or a picnic of the unemployed and the indolent. Unless you have an objective, what are you doing out there?”

First, let’s see just who these protestors really are. And then, let’s see what they stand for, since the mainstream media, of which Fox News is an entrenched part, don’t seem to be getting the message from the people.

The protestors rightly say they are part of the 99 percent; the other one percent have 42 percent of the nation’s wealth, the top 20 percent have more than 85 percent of the nation’s wealth, the highest accumulation since 1928, the year before the Great Depression. Even the most oblivious recognize the protestors as a large cross-section of America. They are students and teachers; housewives, plumbers, and physicians; combat veterans from every war from World War II to the present. They are young, middle-aged, and elderly. They are high school dropouts and Ph.D.s. They are from all religions and no religion, and a broad spectrum of political views.

Support has come from senior politicians with very different philosophies. Vice President Joe Biden believes the protests are because “In the minds of the vast majority of the American–the middle class is being screwed.” Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), unlike a vast majority of Republican politicians, stated, “If they were demonstrating peacefully, and making a point, and arguing our case, and drawing attention to the Fed—I would say, ‘good!’”

Second, like all protests, there are different opinions within the ranks. But, there is a core of beliefs. The protestors are fed up with corporate greed that has a base of corporate welfare and special tax benefits for the rich. They support the trade union movement, Medicare and Social Security, affordable health care for all citizens, and programs to assist the unemployed, disenfranchised, and underclass. A nation that cannot take care of the least among us doesn’t deserve to be called the best of us.

They’re mad that the home mortgage crisis, begun when greed overcame ethics and was then magnified by the failure of regulatory agencies and the Congress to provide adequate oversight, robbed all of America of its financial security. During the first half of this year alone, banks and lending agencies have sent notices to more than 1.2 million homeowners whose loans and mortgages are in default status, according to RealtyTrak. Of course, less regulation is just what conservatives want—after all, their mantra has become, “no government in our lives.”

The protestors are mad that the wealthiest corporations pay little or no taxes. They point to the Bank of America, part of the mortgage crisis problem, which earned a $4.4 billion profit last year, but received a $1.9 billion tax refund on top of a bailout of about $1 trillion. They look at ExxonMobil, which earned more than $19 billion profit in 2009, paid no taxes and received a $156 million federal rebate. Its profit for the first half of 2011 is about $ 21.3 billion.

They rightfully note that it is slimy when General Electric, whose CEO is a close Obama advisor, earned a $26 billion profit during the past five years, but still received a $4.1 billion refund.

They’re mad that the federal government has given the oil industry more than $4 billion in subsidy, although the industry earned more than $1 trillion in profits the past decade.

They’re mad that Goldman Sachs, after receiving a $10 billion government bailout, and a $2.7 billion profit in the first quarter of 2011, shipped about 1,000 jobs overseas. During the past decade, corporations, which have paid little or no federal taxes, have outsourced at least 2.4 million jobs and are hoarding trillions which could be used to spur job growth and the economy.

They’re mad that corporations that took federal bailout money gave seven-figure bonuses to their executives.

They’re mad that the U.S., of all industrialized countries, has the highest ratio of executive pay to that of the average worker. The U.S. average is about 300 to 475 times that of the average worker. In Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, and England, the average CEO earns between 10 and 20 times what the average worker earns, and no one in those countries believes the CEOs are underpaid.

They’re mad that 47 percent of all persons who earned at least $250,000 last year, including about 1,500 millionaires, paid no taxes, according to Newsmax. If you’re a Republican member of Congress, that’s perfectly acceptable. They’re the ones who thought President Obama was launching class warfare against the rich by trying to restore the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans. They succeeded in blocking tax reform and a jobs bill, but failed to understand the simple reality—if there is class warfare, it is being waged by the elite greedy and their Congressional lackeys.

Herman Cain, Fox TV pundit Sean Hannity, and others from the extreme right wing said the protestors are un-American, apparently for protesting corporate greed. The Occupy Wall Street protestors aren’t un-American; those who defend the destruction of the middle class by defending greed, and unethical and illegal behavior, are.

[Walter Brasch is an award-winning syndicated columnist, and the author of 17 books. His latest book is Before the First Snow, a social issues mystery set in rural Pennsylvania.]

President Obama: MIA

03.17.11

by Walter Brasch

As expected, Michael Moore, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka were in Madison, Wisc., to support and rally the workers in their fight against the union-busting governor and Republican-dominated state legislature.

But, so were union members Bradley Whitfield, Susan Sarandon, Tony Shaloub, and dozens of musicians and singers, including Peter Yarrow who, as part of Peter, Paul, and Mary, was at almost every major social protest for more than 40 years.

“This is not merely a protest on the steps of the Capitol here in Madison,” said Shalhoub, “this is the birth of . . . a nationwide movement destined to restore the rights of workers, to safeguard quality education for our children and to reassemble and reconstitute the fragmented and wounded middle class.” Shalhoub, who won three Emmys, was born in Green Bay; his sister is a Wisconsin teacher.

“Workers,” Sarandon told a crowd of almost 100,000, “had to organize, go on strike, defy the law, defy the courts to create a movement which won the eight-hour workday and caused such a commotion that Congress was forced to pass a minimum wage law, Social Security, unemployment insurance and the right to assemble in collective bargaining.”

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) told thousands of cheering protestors they had to “reclaim the essence of economic justice before it is lost on the corporate scaffold.” Former senator Russ Feingold, the only senator brave enough to oppose the PATRIOT Act when it was created, said the actions of the governor and legislature were “an outrageous assault on working people.”

The people, the workers, were there when newly-elected Gov. Scott Walker first announced, Feb. 11, he was going to demand hard concessions from the public sector unions. They were there when he lied about the budget and his intentions. They were there when the truth came out that at the same time Walker and his Republican cabal were taking away worker rights and demanding more wage and pension sacrifices, they were also assuring significant tax rebates and making innumerable promises to Big Business. They were there when a Wisconsin Policy Research Institute poll revealed that in less than a month Walker’s approval rate had plunged to only 43 percent. And they were there after he signed a bill, March 13, deviously manipulated through the Senate in the middle of the night, to strip collective bargaining rights of public employees.

But, while the masses protested the shredding of their rights, not at any rally anywhere in Wisconsin were several people who should have been there. Senate minority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (R-Calif.), Vice-President Joe Biden, and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis have been conspicuously absent. So are almost all major national Democratic political leaders, obviously afraid to publicly support their largest constituency, the American working class.

One person, more than any other, needed to be there, if only to prove that campaign rhetoric and one’s promises mean something after the election.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Sen. Barack Obama told energized and reinvigorated crowds, both small and large, “If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself [and] I’ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.”

As president, Obama may be wearing comfortable shoes, but he hasn’t gone to Wisconsin to stand by the workers, nor has he ever walked a picket line at least in the past two years. His only public comments, and even then weak ones, were to call the actions in Wisconsin an “assault upon the workers,” and several days later to add, “I don’t think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified, or their rights are infringed upon.” It was a statement that could have been said by any Democratic president—and most Republican ones as well.

There are dozens of reasons and excuses why President Obama is not in Wisconsin. The one that seems to be most probable is that going into a re-election campaign he doesn’t want to alienate any of his constituencies. It’s doubtful, however, that anyone on the extreme right wing will vote for him, no matter what he does or doesn’t do. It’s also probable that the core of the Democratic party—the unions and workers, the youth, the alienated and disenfranchised, and those who believe in social justice, who awakened in 2008 to give him a mandate for change—may give him only lukewarm approval or, worse, be silent in 2012. They have every reason to believe they had been betrayed.

Good presidents do what is best for the country. Great presidents, however, do not only what is best for the people, but are also willing to speak to the courage of their beliefs, of their principles, even if it may be unpopular among many of their constituencies. They don’t put their “finger in the air” to judge what’s popular. Republican Theodore Roosevelt, and Democrats Franklin Delano Roosevelt and “Give ’em Hell, Harry” Truman were among the great presidents. If Barack Obama doesn’t soon speak out on behalf of the working class, he may find his legacy mired in the struggle to become even a good president.

[Assisting on this column was Brian LeCloux of Sun Prairie, Wisc. Walter Brasch is an award-winning columnist, and the author of 16 books. You may contact him at walterbrasch@gmail.com]

NALC Union will conduct annual food drive on May 14th

02.22.11

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

NALC Union will conduct annual food drive on May 14th

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 26th- The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Union, which represents city delivery letter carriers of the United States Postal Service (USPS) in all 50 states and United States jurisdictions, will conduct their annual food drive on Saturday May 14th. The NALC has approximately 300,000 members.

According to NALC International President Fredric Rolando, the collection is the largest one-day food drive in the nation. This year will mark the 19th collective year the food drive will be held.

The Campbell Soup Company and the United States Postal Service will jointly provide over 120 million full-color postcard flyers for mailing to homes in participating communities just before the drive to encourage donations. In addition, for the sixth year, Valpak direct marketing systems will promote the drive on more than 44 million envolope packets.

Customers of the mail delivery service will be asked to leave can goods in the area of their mail boxes. The items collected will be collected by the letter carriers on May 14th, seperated and donated to area food banks. The three NALC branches that represent letter carriers in Northeastern Pennsylvania will participate.

In 2010 the postal workers collected 77.1 million pounds of food, the seventh consecutive year above 70 million, and delivered the donations to local community food banks, pantries and shelters. Last year almost 1,500 NALC local branches participated.

The effort began in 1991 when the NALC, with the support of the USPS and the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington, DC, which the NALC is affiliated, conducted a 10-city pilot program as a “first step” in developing a coordinated, same-day nationwide food drive. Over 290 tons of food were collected in those 10 cities. The drive was not held in 1992 as plans were being developed to expand the efford nationwide.

In 1993 the drive expanded to 200 NALC barnches in all 50 states, covering more than 1,000 communities. A record 12 million pounds (6,000 tons) of non-perishable food donations were collected by city carriers, with help from their rural carrier counterparts in many communities.

The effort, called “Stamp Out Hunger,” is a example of organized labor working to advance the common good in communities throughout the United States, stated the NALC.

Until the Crisis in Wisconsin is over we are all Wisconsin workers and on Thursday 2/24/11 Philadelphia is Madison!

02.20.11

Rally for Wisconsin’s Workers!

Until the Crisis in Wisconsin is over we are all Wisconsin workers and on Thursday 2/24/11 Philadelphia is Madison!

What: Rally to stand with Wisconsin’s Workers

When: Thursday 2/24/11 @ 11:30 PM

Where: Thomas Paine Plaza; in front of Phila.’s MSB, across from Phila. City Hall

Wear your Union Colors to show your union pride and something RED to show solidarity with Wisconsin’s workers.

John Meyerson

Director of Legislation & Political Action

United Food & Commercial Workers 1776

WISCONSIN WAVE OF RESISTANCE to announce next steps in anti-austerity movement

02.20.11

http://wisconsinwave.org/

WISCONSIN WAVE OF RESISTANCE to announce next steps in anti-austerity movement

MADISON - At this Monday’s 10am media conference in room 125W of Wisconsin’s capitol, union presidents together with student, business, and community leaders will announce their plans to work together in the new Wisconsin Wave of resistance to austerity and corporatization. Confirmed speakers includee:

Joe Conway, IAFF, President, Fire Fighters Local 311
Kabzuag Vaj, Executive Director, Freedom, Inc.

Beth Huang, Student Labor Action Coalition

Lee Abott, President, Milwaukee Graduate Assistants Association

Lisa Graves, Executive Director, Center for Media and Democracy

Ben Manski, Executive Director, Liberty Tree Foundation

John Matthews, Executive Director, Madison Teachers, Inc. (MTI)

The Wisconsin Wave’s next protests come this Wednesday against Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) at the corporate lobby group’s statewide conference in Madison.

“The Wisconsin Wave is a non-partisan democracy movement initiated by over 100 Wisconsin leaders, with hundreds more signing on every day,” says Ben Manski, Executive Director of Liberty Tree and coordinator of the Wave. “We are moving forward together to overcome the agenda of Walker and his extraction industry backers, and to create for Wisconsin the positive economic and political future all of us deserve.”

A formal call for the Wisconsin Wave has been initiated by over 100 signators. That list, as well as the call, is on the website - http://wisconsinwave.org/

Statement by Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale on the Need to Pass the Unemployment Extension

12.14.10

Statement by Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale on the Need to Pass the Unemployment Extension

“Don’t Leave the Jobless Out in the Cold”

At midnight last night, 800,000 unemployed workers lost their unemployment insurance benefits. By the end of December, 2 million are projected to lose their unemployment insurance. Shame on those in Congress who aren’t supporting this emergency lifeline.

Today, more than fifty workers from across Pennsylvania descended on Washington, DC to fight for an emergency extension, joining jobless workers from across the nation at a press conference to tell the stories of their struggles.

Following the press conference, workers set out to lobby their members of Congress. The participants were armed with more than 150,000 petition signatures calling on Congress to maintain unemployment insurance. The petition signatures supported their call for an immediate, one-year UI extension that would prevent 2 million jobless workers from losing their lifeline by the end of this year.

The domino effect of the unemployment insurance expiration will affect more than just the families of the unemployed. When jobless families are unable to pay their mortgage, buy groceries or generate tax revenue, local communities, businesses and governments all suffer. The expiration of unemployment insurance benefits slows our economy down when we need to speed it up.

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and working families are calling on Congress to approve a one year emergency extension of unemployment insurance. Never before has Congress allowed unemployment insurance to expire when so many people are looking for work but unable to find jobs. There are five job seekers for every job opening, and the percentage of people unemployed for longer than six months is the highest on record. But instead of focusing on working families, the newly-elected GOP Congress is pushing to pass tax cuts for millionaires by extending the Bush tax cuts for those making over $250,000.

Representatives Thompson, Shuster and Pitts were wrong to vote no and help Republicans block extending unemployment benefits to workers on the wrong end of this troubled economy. They must rethink their “just say no” mentality and not leave Pennsylvania’s workers in the cold this December. Common decency and common sense require them to act to keep our communities and jobless families afloat and support a one year emergency extension of unemployment insurance.

###

Support Xerox workers

08.20.10

Compliments of American Rights At Work:

Xerox just told 19 workers they must transfer departments or leave the company. What do all these workers have in common? They’re all fighting for a fair union contract.

At the same time, Xerox is shipping thousands of American jobs overseas.

It’s greed, pure and simple.

Just a few months ago, Xerox fired union workers – and then, after thousands of people protested, gave them their jobs back. It looks like Xerox needs a reminder that we’re still watching, and we still won’t stand for this type of behavior.

Click here to join me in helping Xerox workers keep their jobs:

http://act.americanrightsatwork.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=576&track=201008_tafp_xerox

Support the Jewish Labor Committee

07.25.10

Support the Jewish Labor Committee

by John O. Mason

The Jewish Labor Committee is the Jewish voice within the Labor movement, and the Labor voice within the Jewish community, serving as a liaison between the two causes, sharing each side’s values. It was founded in February 1934 by Yiddish-speaking trade unionists, plus members of the Workmen’s Circle, the United Hebrew Trades, and the Jewish Socialist Bund, in order to combat the rise of Fascism in Europe and America.

In recent years, JLC has been active in the fight for the rights of immigrant workers, and has protested the abusive labor practices found in the Agroprocessors meat processing plant in Iowa, supported the Republic Windows and Doors workers in Chicago, and has worked for dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian trade unionists. One of JLC’s programs is the Labor Seder, linking the freedom struggle of the ancient Israelites to current and past Labor struggles.

Recently, the Philadelphia JLC has lost its funding from the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, which jeopardizes its ability to conduct its programs. Other JLC chapters may be facing this plight. If you want to help JLC, contact the main JLC office:

Jewish Labor Committee
25 East 21st Street
New York, NY 10010
(212)477-0707
www.jewishlabor.org

REPUBLICANS JUST DON’T LIKE THE UNEMPLOYED, CONT’D….

07.13.10

July 12, 2010
REPUBLICANS JUST DON’T LIKE THE UNEMPLOYED, CONT’D….

I’ve been marveling in recent months at the ways in which Republican lawmakers and candidates seem to actively dislike ## on a personal level ## those who’ve lost their jobs in the recession. It’s kind of odd, given that the unemployed don’t seem to have done anything to offend the GOP and earn the party’s disdain.

In the latest example, we see Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett (R), the frontrunner in this year’s gubernatorial race, arguing publicly that jobless workers in his state are choosing not to work, preferring to live on meager unemployment aid.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett on Friday accused some jobless Pennsylvanians of choosing to collect unemployment checks rather than going back to work, prompting swift criticism from his Democratic opponent and one of the state’s top labor leaders.

“The jobs are there. But if we keep extending unemployment, people are just going to sit there,” Corbett told Harrisburg radio station WITF at a campaign stop in Elizabethtown. “I’ve literally had construction companies tell me, ‘I can’t get people to come back to work until . . . they say, “I’ll come back to work when unemployment runs out.” ‘ ”

I obviously can’t speak with confidence about what some guy told some other guy who in turn told Corbett. But the general argument is getting quite tiresome.

“The jobs are there”? No, they’re really not. Nationwide, there are five applicants for every one opening, which is a terribly painful ratio. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate is currently at a 26-year high.

Corbett not only seems confused about economic conditions, but his animosity about the jobless’ attitudes is awful. Yes, I can appreciate the fact that an unemployed worker who’s exhausted his/her benefits will be more desperate to take any job than an unemployed worker who’s still receiving public aid. But this dynamic matters a whole lot more when there are plenty of job opportunities for those who want them. That’s just not the current reality.

To hear Corbett tell it, the unemployed prefer to be unemployed ## turning down job opportunities that pay more, choosing to rely on aid that offers far less. Worse, Corbett doesn’t seem to realize that his approach makes the larger problem worse ## cutting people off from unemployment benefits undercuts consumer spending, which in turn leads to less demand and fewer job opportunities……

Read the rest of this article at

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2010_07/024674.php

NALC Union members collect a record amount of food

07.11.10

July 2010, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

NALC Union members collect a record amount of food

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 5th- Members of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Union collected a record amount of food during their national food drive held across the nation on May 8th.

Americans donated 77.1 million pounds of nonperishable food to help stamp out hunger in their communities this year in the annual Letter Carriers National Food Drive.

NALC President Fredric Rolando stated 77,132,180 pounds of food were collected in the drive and delivered to local food banks, pantries and shelter to help needy families. It is the nation’s largest one-day effort to combat hunger. “The results of the May 8 effort easily eclipsed the previous record, set last year of 73.4 million pounds,” said Mr. Rolando.

The 18th annual food drive boosted the total donations collected since the drive began in 1993 to more than 1 billion pounds.

“Despite the lingering effects of the recession, postal customers came through again this year in the continuing fight against hunger in America. Our members and the thousands of rural letter carriers and other volunteers were proud to deliver the generous donations from millions of caring citizens who wanted to help needy families in their communities,” added Mr. Rolando.NALC members in the Lehigh Valley are represented by Local Branch 389 in Easton, Local Branch 274 in Bethlehem and Local Branch 254 in Allentown.

The food drive is held in all fifty states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. It is the largest one-day food drive in the nation.

The effort by the union began in 1991 with a 10-city pilot program. The union members colllected 290 tons of food that year.

NALC members collect the food as they deliver mail along their postal routes. The NALC represents mail delivery employees of the United States Postal Service (USPS).

Tampa, Florida, NALC Branch 599 members collected 2,062,529 pounds, the most food in the nation. West Coast Florida, Branch 1477 was second and Buffalo/Western New York, Branch 3 was third.

NALC has 295,000 active and retired members throughout the nation.

Have You Seen Them?

07.05.10

Have you seen them?
By Ed Knox

I refer to beautiful stress balls that have been distributed throughout the United States of America, specifically at Veterans’ Administration Hospitals and similar locations.

These balls are beautifully imprinted with red, white & blue background and then with “DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS’ AFFAIRS” imprinted along with a toll-free telephone number and a statement regarding the courage it takes for a Warrior to ask for help.

(I think that statement is in reference to those of us who served in the Military and might be experiencing difficulties coping with the effects of our service.)

So what? Guess where they’re made. Yep. That’s right; these balls are made in China!

It is an insult to those who fought and died for the Freedoms we enjoy here in the United States of America. You’ve heard the quote: “For those who fought for it, Freedom has a taste the protected will never know!”

We obviously cannot go backwards in time to correct the past. The best resolution moving forward is to let our Veterans know whether or not we as a Country care about them and their employment situation.

There are companies here in America that would be happy to manufacture these balls. I’m certain that these companies would hire Veterans. These companies - right here in the United States - would be proud to not only hire Veterans, but would be even more proud to know that they have helped Veterans who others might consider to be handicapped.

Think about what a wonderful message we SHOULD be shouting: “Because the United States of America actually intends to keep its word to the Veterans of Military Service, we will insist that first hiring priorities will go to Companies within the United States of America. These companies will receive even more ‘priority’ when they hire Veterans. Still more ‘priority’ will be assigned to them if those Veterans happen to have a Service-Connected disability. Companies who do not manufacture within the USA will not be considered a resource for items that could have and should have been manufactured in the USA! This is without regard to whether or not the ‘bottom line’ seems to be cheaper. That ‘bottom line’ is NEVER cheaper when it creates an increase in unemployment of Americans.” That statement becomes even stronger when you consider the employment situation of our Nation’s Veterans!

As a Viet Nam Veteran, a Member of the DAV, NABVETS, the American Legion, a lifetime Member of the VFW, and a true American Patriot; I am appalled and sickened by the situation as it currently stands.

One of the items that you might want to consider is to ask your Senators and Congressmen to continue funding the wonderful program called HELMETS TO HARDHATS. ( www.helmetstohardhats.com ) This is a program that assists our Service Members in their transition from Military to Civilian life. It helps them find a career pathway. Another item to consider is to donate your time and/or some Dollars to help HOMES FOR OUR TROOPS. ( www.homesforourtroops.org ) This fine organization builds special-needs homes for some of our returning veterans who have been severely injured in combat.

Paying attention to the problems facing our Veterans, and helping to put America back to work in order to start repairing our economy are the two most important issues facing our Country today.

Be American, Buy American!!

Sincerely,

ED KNOX

Ed Knox is President of Local Union 68 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and is a Member of the Denver Musicians’ Association (DMA). There are photographs to accompany this article which were taken by Pete Vriesenga, President of the DMA; but I can’t figure out how to post them here. Any suggestions?