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The AFL-CIO working with Postal Workers Union regarding Staples boycott

07.02.14

JULY 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

The AFL-CIO working with Postal Workers Union regarding Staples boycott

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 21st- Under the endorsement of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, has announced a boycott of all Staples Inc. stores throughout the nation.

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

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

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

The APWU, which represents mail processing employees of the USPS throughout the nation, began a campaign against Staples Inc. stores and held a ‘national day of action’ in May by protesting at the retailers stores throughout the nation and in the Lehigh Valley because some of the Staples stores of the chain now provides the postal services. The action was conducted in 27 states including a store in Easton, which was protested by members of Local 268, which represents APWU members throughout the Lehigh Valley. The Easton location is the only local Staples store that the newspaper is aware of that currently provides postal service work.

According to Local 268 President Bernie Ogozalek, the pilot program with the USPS will hurt his members by providing postal services that are now done by APWU members.

Mr. Ogozalek voiced his disappointment with the USPS for agreeing to the new pilot program that surely is intended to begin the privatization of the postal service.

The USPS Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe suggested that the partnership between the postal service and Staples will not result in job losses at the USPS, but will grow the business. However, Mr. Ogozalek and his International Union find that hard to believe.

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

The APWU fears that if the new pilot agreement between the USPS and Staples is considered successful it may be expanded to the retailers other 1,600 stores and other retailers may follow, resulting in job losses for their members, therefore the reason for the boycott.

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

The AFL-CIO Campaigns Department spokesperson David Keicher stated that Staples needs to realize that it is not in their interest to help the USPS turn decent, middle class jobs into low wage work.

Mr. Ogozalek stated the union is requesting fellow union members not purchase office supplies at Staples unless the retailer negotiates with the APWU about manning the postal services department with their members.

The American Postal Workers Union and the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Union represents the majority of the USPS workers. The two labor organizations have a combined membership of around 390,000 workers.

Protest held at McDonalds’ supporting higher wages

06.11.14

JUNE 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Protest held at McDonalds’ supporting higher wages

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, May 18th- On May 16th workers employed at fast-food restaurants within 150 American cities participated in what was called as a global strike against the industry protesting in front of McDonald’s Restaurants.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Washington DC, supported the event and organized the protest.

Most workers of McDonald’s earn only the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Many of the surrounding states have raised their wage above the federal bench-mark but Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett does not support increasing the state’s wage.

The SEIU is supporting a national campaign, “Fast Food Forward,” which includes protesting at McDonalds Restraurants across the nation, including in Pennsylvania, and requesting the company pay their workers a living-wage.

In the previous edition of the newspaper it was reported that the SEIU supports a new union that was recently formed that wants to represent fast food workers employed at McDonalds, that historically pays their workers the minimum wage or slightly more. The New York based union is called the “Fast Food Workers Committee.” The labor organization filed with the United States Department of Labor (DOL) in February, 2014.

The fast-food industry associations have said that raising the wages of their workers would force them to cut positions or hours of work.

The Fast Food Workers Committee comes to existence after several media reports indicated that McDonalds franchise owners have violated provisions of the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSAct) or have paid their workers through debit cards, which required the employees pay bank penalties for transactions.

New formed union wants to represent fast food workers

05.26.14

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

New formed union wants to represent fast food workers

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 2nd- The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is supporting a national campaign, “Fast Food Forward,” which includes protesting at McDonalds Restaurants across the nation, including in Pennsylvania, and requesting the company pay their workers a living-wage. Also in Pennsylvania the event is being used to push for a minimum wage increase.

Currently, the Pennsylvania minimum wage is the same as the federal wage at $7.25 an hour, despite New York and New Jersey having a higher wage than the federal bench-mark.

The newspaper is not aware of any event that has taken place in Northeastern Pennsylvania regarding the McDonalds rally. However, the labor community in and around Philadelphia have particiapted in several McDonald Restraurants rally’s.

A new union has emerged that wants to represent fast food workers employed at McDonalds, that historically pays their workers the minimum wage or slightly more. The New York based union is called the “Fast Food Workers Committee.” The labor organization filed with the United States Department of Labor (DOL) in February.

The Fast Food Workers Committee comes to existence after several media reports indicated that McDonalds franchise owners have violated provisions of the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSAct) or have paid their workers through debit cards, which required the employees pay bank penalties for transactions.

In February, the DOL announced that former McDonald’s franchisee Cheung Enterprises LLC, based in Middletown, Pennsylvania, agreed to pay more than $205,900 in back wages and liquidated damages to 291 employees. An investigation by the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division found that the company violated the minimum wage and overtime provisions of FLSAct at the company’s six locations in central Pennsylvania.

Investigators from the Wilkes-Barre Office found Cheung Enterprises made improper deductions from employee paychecks, bringing the rate of pay for some employees below the federal minimum wage. Also the company was found to have failed to pay student workers properly.

In addition to paying back wages and liquidated damages, the company will pay a $5,000 civil money penalty for the willful nature of the FLSAct violations.

Labor united against anti-union dues check-off legislation

02.25.14

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

Labor united against anti-union dues check-off legislation

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 3rd-The labor community in Pennsylvania appears to be united against a proposal in Harrisburg that if passed would ban payroll deduction clauses in labor agreements in all levels of governments.

On January 13th the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg President Richard Bloomingdale held a conference call with national AFL-CIO President Rick Trumka participating, to announce the pending dues deduction legislation being considered in the state capitol.

House Bill (HB 1507) eliminates the payroll deduction of union members and fair-share fees of government workers. Should it pass, the bill will force unions to represent non-members without any meaningful way to collect fees for the service of representation.

House Bill 1507 is being called by anti-union forces the “Payroll Protection” bill. The groups have been claiming, without facts, that taxpayers are paying for union dues collection for public employees and that teachers and state workers are being forced to contribute to political and legislative activism.

However, automatic payroll deduction of union dues is not mandated by any law rather it is bargained for during labor contract negotiations, the same as any other provision within a collective bargaining agreement.

The companion Senate Bill (SB 1034), would also ban the dues check-off from government contracts in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Bloomingdale stated during the conference call that big money, and corporate interests are now working in Harrisburg to get commitments from legislators on the legislation. He added they appear to have a duel objective, to pass legislation that will significantly hamper public employee unions; and to use this as a litmus test for anti-union legislation they wish to target in the future.

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO held a press conference/rally at the Capitol Building rotunda on January 28th, in which more than 1,400 union members and their leaders attended. In fact, many more bus loads of supporters from across the state were not able to participate in the rotunda event because it reach full capacity. Northeastern Pennsylvania was well represented at the rally with the building and construction trades unions and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council 87 sponsoring a bus load to Harrisburg.

According to Mr. Bloomingdale, six Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives have indicated they currently will not support the anti-union legislation. He wants the labor community throughout the state to contact and meet with their representatives and senators to request they support the labor community and not sign on to the legislation.

During the conference call Mr. Trumka stated the AFL-CIO in Washington stands with the Pennsylvania labor community and will do everything they can to help defeat the legislation.

Mr. Bloomingdale added that the labor movement in Pennsylvania has had a good track record in defeating anti-union legislation in the past which includes privatization, protecting good pensions, expanding healthcare for all, and advocating for good jobs and decent wages.

Mike Carroll, Pennsylvania House of Representative (Democrat-118th Legislative District), and Chairman of the Northeast Pennsylvania Democratic Caucus, told the newspaper the issue of dues deduction legislation is “non-negotiable”. “I will not support 1507 or any other bill that would make it harder to be a union member in Pennsylvania. This legislation is nothing but an attempt to hurt organize labor,” said Mr. Carroll.

The AFL-CIO stated the payroll deduction legislation is similar to that of which was introduced in Wisconsin and union members throughout the state must understand it is a strategic attack against all union members.

Joe Rowe, Acting Director of AFSCME District Council 87, stated if such legislation as the dues deduction be passed in Pennsylavnia, is right-to-work legislation far behind. “Union members better wake-up and understand, their union is under attack. The huge turn-out in Harrisburg was encouraging that they are beginning to understand,” said Mr. Rowe.

NLRB tells Wal-Mart to settle with protesting workers

12.15.13

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

NLRB tells Wal-Mart to settle with protesting workers

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, November 30th- The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington, DC encouraged their affiliated central labor councils throughout the nation to conduct a “Walmart Black Friday” protest on November 29th in front of the retailers stores.

Many current and former Wal-Mart employees have spoken against the retailers poor treatment of workers throughout the United States in recent years.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is a notoriously lousy employer which makes billions of dollars each year but pays their workers poorly. The company is the largest retailer in the world and has been found in the past of not paying their workers proper overtime payments and of violating other employment regulations.

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, made his request on November 6th, stating with the holiday season upon us, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union is leading a growing coalition in an escalation to ensure the Wal-Mart workers see justice.

“As many of you know, thousands of Wal-Mart workers from across the country have joined together through Organization United for Respect to offer strength and support in addressing the challenges that arise in Walmart stores every day,” stated Mr. Trumka.

Wal-Mart has resisted labor union organizing for their stores. The retailer has went as far as to close a store that workers voted for unionization and reopened at another site several miles away avoiding bargaining for a collective bargaining agreement with a union.

Last year similar protest was held on the day after Thanksgiving and Wal-Mart seeked a federal injuction to stop the worker protest by filing a labor complaint against the UFCW in Washington DC, alleging the labor organization was behind the action of employees and former workers that participated.

The UNI Global Alliance, a international network of labor unions headquartered in Switzerland, conducted a world drive to force Wal-Mart to change their business practices and respect workers’ rights.

Meanwhile, the NLRB recently announced it is prepared to file complaints against Wal-Mart alleging the company violated workers’ rights to protest, unless the parties settle first.

How FirstEnergy CEO Is a ‘Poster Child for What Is Wrong in Our Country Today’

12.13.13

How FirstEnergy CEO Is a ‘Poster Child for What Is Wrong in Our Country Today’

FirstEnergy Corp.’s lockout of 150 utility workers in central Pennsylvania has stirred up a hornet’s nest that CEO Anthony Alexander already regrets.

Throwing workers off their jobs right before the holidays has energized working families in four states and focused negative international attention on the nation’s largest investor-owned electric utility company. As a result, Alexander has made himself the poster child for what is wrong in our country today.

“Our members were exercising their legal right to collectively bargain, something FirstEnergy obviously does not respect,” Utility Workers (UWUA) President D. Michael Langford said Nov. 25, the day the company locked out UWUA Local 180 members employed by the company’s Penelec utility in central Pennsylvania…

(read more of this article by clicking on the link below)

http://www.aflcio.org/Blog/Organizing-Bargaining/How-FirstEnergy-CEO-Is-a-Poster-Child-for-What-Is-Wrong-in-Our-Country-Today

AFL-CIO wants affiliates to protest Wal-Mart on black Friday

12.10.13

DECEMBER 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

AFL-CIO wants affiliates to protest Wal-Mart on black Friday

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 12th- The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington, DC has encourage their affiliated central labor councils throughout the nation to conduct a “Walmart Black Friday” protest on November 29th in front of the retailers stores. Protest are expected in the Lehigh Valley.

Many current and former Wal-Mart employees have spoken against the retailers poor treatment of workers throughout the United States in recent years.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is a notoriously lousy employer which makes billions of dollars each year but pays their workers poorly. The company is the largest retailer in the world and has been found in the past of not paying their workers proper overtime payments and of violating other employment regulations.

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, made his request on November 6th, stating with the holiday season upon us, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union is leading a growing coalition in an escalation to ensure the Wal-Mart workers see justice.

“As many of you know, thousands of Wal-Mart workers from across the country have joined together through Organization United for Respect to offer strength and support in addressing the challenges that arise in Walmart stores every day,” stated Mr. Trumka.

Wal-Mart has resisted labor union organizing for their stores. The retailer has went as far as to close a store that workers voted for unionization and reopened at another site several miles away avoiding bargaining for a collective bargaining agreement with a union.

Also, employees, which Wal-Mart call associates, are required to view anti-union videos at work.

Anti-right-to-work Rally and Protest held November 9th in Pottsville

12.10.13

DECEMBER 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Anti-right-to-work Rally and Protest held November 9th in Pottsville

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 12th- The labor community came together on November 9th to participate in a anti-right-to-work rally in Pottsville, the headquarters of Yuengling Brewery Inc.

Several months ago Dick Yuengling Jr., the leader of the brewery of the D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc., stated Pennsylvania would attrack more businesses if it was the twenty-fifth state in the nation that had a “right-to-work” law on the books and Republican Pennsylvania anti-union Governor Tom Corbett is a great man.

Forbes Magazine has reported Mr. Yuengling’s worth is more than $1.3 billion and he supports legislation if passed would result in a decrease of wages for workers in Pennsylvania.

Yuengling is a nonunion brewer but their employees were once represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union but Mr. Yuengling spent thousands of dollars on anti-union consultants and the employees several years ago voted to decertify the union.

Mr. Yuengling said at a Pennsylvania Press Club appearance that Pennsylvania should adopt a “right-to-work” or “no-rights-at-work” policy that would make it more difficult for labor unions to organize and keep their membership. The “right-to-work” or “no-rights-at-work” measure would ban union security clauses in labor bargaining agreements.

His remarks have angered some within the labor community regarding adding Pennsylvania to the list of states with a “right-to-work” law on the books.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, census of Employment and Wages, on average workers in states with “right-to-work” laws earn $5,680 a year less than workers in states that have no such laws.

Gary Martin, Business Manager of the Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, & Reinforcing Iron Workers Union Local 420 in Reading, which represents workers in the Lehigh Valley, a Vice President of the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council, and a Executive Council member of the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg, requested Yuengling products be added to the federation’s boycott list.

The AFL-CIO sent ballots in early September to the fourty-nine Executive Council members of the labor federation requesting they vote on whether Yuengling Products should be placed on the National AFL-CIO Boycott list. The group voted unanimously to support the Yuengling boycott.

Approximately 400 participated in the march and rally in Pottsville, which included union officials, pro-labor radio host Rick Smith, and Allentown Democratic Mayor Edward Pawlowski, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania Governor in 2014.

Wyoming Valley labor community to conduct holiday events

12.10.13

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

Wyoming Valley labor community to conduct holiday events

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 29th- The labor community in the Wyoming Valley has volunteered to ring holiday bells for the Salvation Army on Wednesday, November 27th in Wilkes-Barre.

At the October meeting of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council (GWLC) labor federation held at the United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776 building on route 315 in Pittston, federation President Edward Harry stated while several union members have signed-up to participate in the event more volunteers are still needed.

The labor union members will stand in front of the Scheils Market on George Avenue in the Parson Section of Wilkes-Barre on November 27th between 10am and 9pm ringing holiday bells with coin drop containers.

The union member volunteers will work one hour shifts and they would like to have enough participates to have two individuals working each hour during the eleven hours of the event.

The Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federations in Washington DC and Harrisburg.

Mr. Harry also announced the labor federation’s annual Christmas stocking stuffing event will be held on December 10th at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 401 building, 401 South Washington Street in Wilkes-Barre.

Each holiday season union member volunteers along with their families gather to help pack 500 candy-filled stockings for special needs children in the Wyoming Valley.

The candy for the stockings is donated by labor organizations affiliated with the labor federatrion.

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO calling for boycott of Yuengling

12.10.13

NOVEMBER 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO calling for boycott of Yuengling

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, September 29th- The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg has forwarded to the Secretary-Treasurer of the National AFL-CIO in Washington, DC, which the Pennsylvania based labor federation is affiliated, the results of the balloting of their Executive Council that supports the boycott of Yuengling beer products.

Recently, Dick Yuengling Jr., the leader of the brewery of the D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc. which is Pottsville based, stated Pennsylvania would attract more businesses if it was the twenty-fifth state that had a “right-to-work” law on the books and Republican Pennsylvania anti-union Governor Tom Corbett is a great man.

Forbes Magazine has reported Mr. Yuengling’s worth is more than $1.3 billion and he supports legislation if passed would result in a decrease of wages for workers in Pennsylvania.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, census of Employment and Wages, on average workers in states with “right-to-work” laws earn $5,680 a year less than workers in states that have no such laws. Also, the rate of workplace deaths is 36 percent higher in states with “no-rights-at-work” laws.

The agency data also states some 92 percent of private-sector union workers have access to medical insurance through their jobs compared with 67 percent of nonunion workers. And 70 percent of private-sector union workers have access to guaranteed (defined-benefit) retirement plans through their jobs, compared with 14 percent of nonunion workers.

Yuengling is a nonunion brewer but their employees were once represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union but Mr. Yuengling spent thousands of dollars on anti-union consultants and the employees several years ago voted to decertify the union.

Mr. Yuengling said at a recent Pennsylvania Press Club appearance that Pennsylvania should adopt a “right-to-work” or “no-rights-at-work” policy that would make it more difficult for labor unions to organize and keep their membership. The “right-to-work” or “no-rights-at-work” measure would ban union security clauses in labor bargaining agreements.

Before Indiana passed the anti-union legislation in 2011 and Michigan in 2012 the last state to successfully pass right-to-work laws was Oklahoma in 2001.

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO sent ballots in early September to the forty-nine Executive Council members of the labor federation requesting they vote on whether Yuengling Products should be placed on the National AFL-CIO Boycott list.

According to Richard Bloomingdale, President of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, the group voted unanimously to support the Yuengling boycott, which would ask union members and their families to not purchase Yuengling products.

“We are pleased to have unanimous support from our Executive Council regarding requesting a Boycott from the National AFL-CIO for Yuengling products,” stated Mr. Bloomingdale. The National AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler has received Mr. Bloomingdale’s letter regarding the unanimous vote result.

No “right-to-work” legislation rally to be held at Yuengling brewery

12.03.13

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

No “right-to-work” legislation rally to be held at Yuengling brewery

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, November 4th- The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg has forwarded to the Secretary-Treasurer of the National AFL-CIO in Washington, DC, which the Pennsylvania based labor federation is affiliated, the results of the balloting of their Executive Council that supports the boycott of Yuengling beer products.

Several months ago Dick Yuengling Jr., the leader of the brewery of the D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc. which is Pottsville based, stated Pennsylvania would attract more businesses if it was the twenty-fifth state in the union that had a “right-to-work” law on the books and Republican Pennsylvania anti-union Governor Tom Corbett is a great man.

Forbes Magazine has reported Mr. Yuengling’s worth is more than $1.3 billion and he supports legislation if passed would result in a decrease of wages for workers in Pennsylvania.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, census of Employment and Wages, on average workers in states with “right-to-work” laws earn $5,680 a year less than workers in states that have no such laws. Also, the rate of workplace deaths is 36 percent higher in states with “no-rights-at-work” laws.

The agency data also states some 92 percent of private-sector union workers have access to medical insurance through their jobs compared with 67 percent of nonunion workers. And 70 percent of private-sector union workers have access to guaranteed (defined-benefit) retirement plans through their jobs, compared with 14 percent of nonunion workers.

Yuengling is a nonunion brewer but their employees were once represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union but Mr. Yuengling spent thousands of dollars on anti-union consultants and the employees several years ago voted to decertify the union.

Mr. Yuengling said at a Pennsylvania Press Club appearance that Pennsylvania should adopt a “right-to-work” or “no-rights-at-work” policy that would make it more difficult for labor unions to organize and keep their membership. The “right-to-work” or “no-rights-at-work” measure would ban union security clauses in labor bargaining agreements.

His remarks have angered some within the labor community regarding adding Pennsylvania to the list of states with a “right-to-work” law on the books.

On November 9th a anti-right-to-work rally was scheduled at the Yuengling Brewery facility in Pottsville.

According to Richard Bloomingdale, President of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, the The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO fourty-nine Executive Council members voted unanimously to boycott Yuengling products.

“We are pleased to have unanimous support from our Executive Council regarding requesting a Boycott from the National AFL-CIO for Yuengling products,” stated Mr. Bloomingdale.

The newspaper spoke to several Business Managers of labor organizations which represent workers employed within the building and construction trade industry, and was told that union signatory contractors have been hired for construction projects by Yuengling and they would not participate in the event.

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO supports Yuengling boycott

12.03.13

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

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO supports Yuengling boycott

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 29th- The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg has forwarded to the Secretary-Treasurer of the National AFL-CIO in Washington, DC, which the Pennsylvania based labor federation is affiliated, the results of the balloting of their Executive Council that supports the boycott of Yuengling beer products.

Recently, Dick Yuengling Jr., the leader of the brewery of the D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc. which is Pottsville based, stated Pennsylvania would attract more businesses if it was the twenty-fifth state that had a “right-to-work” law on the books and Republican Pennsylvania anti-union Governor Tom Corbett is a great man.

Michigan became the twenty-fourth state in the nation to pass the anti-union legislation in early December 2012.

Approximately 20 states had introduced “no-rights-at-work” bills in 2012 but they were bogged down in committees. However, banning of union security clauses in Michigan have given backers, mostly profiteers and their supporters in the legislature, renewed hope that similar legislation could be passed in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Forbes Magazine has reported Mr. Yuengling’s worth is more than $1.3 billion and he supports legislation if passed would result in a decrease of wages for workers in Pennsylvania.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, census of Employment and Wages, on average workers in states with “right-to-work” laws earn $5,680 a year less than workers in states that have no such laws. Also, the rate of workplace deaths is 36 percent higher in states with “no-rights-at-work” laws.

The agency data also states some 92 percent of private-sector union workers have access to medical insurance through their jobs compared with 67 percent of nonunion workers. And 70 percent of private-sector union workers have access to guaranteed (defined-benefit) retirement plans through their jobs, compared with 14 percent of nonunion workers.

Yuengling is a nonunion brewer but their employees were once represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union but Mr. Yuengling spent thousands of dollars on anti-union consultants and the employees several years ago voted to decertify the union.

Mr. Yuengling said at a recent Pennsylvania Press Club appearance that Pennsylvania should adopt a “right-to-work” or “no-rights-at-work” policy that would make it more difficult for labor unions to organize and keep their membership.

The “right-to-work” or “no-rights-at-work” measure would ban union security clauses in labor bargaining agreements.

Before Indiana passed the anti-union legislation in 2011 and Michigan in 2012 the last state to successfully pass right-to-work laws was Oklahoma in 2001.

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO sent ballots in early September to the fourty-nine Executive Council members of the labor federation requesting they vote on whether Yuengling Products should be placed on the National AFL-CIO Boycott list.

According to Richard Bloomingdale, President of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, the group voted unanimously to support the Yuengling boycott, which would ask union members and their families to not purchase Yuengling products.

“We are pleased to have unanimous support from our Executive Council regarding requesting a Boycott from the National AFL-CIO for Yuengling products,” stated Mr. Bloomingdale. The National AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler has received Mr. Bloomingdale’s letter regarding the unanimous vote result.

Mr. Yuengling also stated that anti-union Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is a “great man” who is trying to do the right thing.

Mr. Corbett is currently serving the third year of a four-year term in Harrisburg and has supported many anti-union initiatives while being the Pennsylvania Governor.

Yuengling Brewery could be added to national boycott list

11.30.13

OCTOBER 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Yuengling Brewery could be added to national boycott list

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, September 14th- Billionaire Dick Yuengling Jr., the leader of the brewery of the D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc. which is Pottsville based, stated Pennsylvania would attrack more businesses if it was the twenty-fifth state that had a “right-to-work” law on the books and Republican Pennsylvania anti-union Governor Tom Corbett is a great man.

Michigan became the twenty-fourth state in the nation to pass the anti-union legislation in early December 2012.

Approximately 20 states had introduced “no-rights-at-work” bills in 2012 but most were bogged down in committees. However, banning of union security clauses in Michigan have given backers, mostly profiteers and their supporters in the legislature, renewed hope that similar legislation could be passed in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Yuengling is a nonunion brewer but their employees were once represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union but Mr. Yuengling spent thousands of dollars on anti-union consultants and the employees several years ago voted to decertify the union.

Mr. Yuengling said at a recent Pennsylvania Press Club appearance that Pennsylvania should adopt a “right-to-work” or “no-rights-at-work” policy that would make it more difficult for labor unions to organize and keep their membership.

The “right-to-work” or “no-rights-at-work” measure would ban union security clauses in labor bargaining agreements.

Before Indiana passed the anti-union legislation in 2011 and Michigan in 2012 the last state to successfully pass right-to-work laws was Oklahoma in 2001.

The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg, sent ballots to the 49 Executive Council members of the labor organization requesting they vote on whether Yuengling Products should be placed on the boycott list. The Executive Council gave unanimous support of requesting the National AFL-CIO in Washington, DC to add Yuengling to their boycott list.

Gary Martin, Business Manager of the Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers Union Local 420 in Reading and Allentown, and a Vice-President of the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council in Harrisburg, stated he does not understand why the billionair nonunion brewer Dick Yuengling would get involve in the anti-union issue of right-to-work.

“This guy with all of his billions, wants workers in Pennsylvania to earn less. What the hell is wrong with him,” stated Mr. Martin.

Mr. Martin supports adding Yuengling and Son Inc. to the national AFL-CIO boycott list that would request union members and their families not purchase their products. “I’m all for it. This billionaire has no business in pushing a measure that would hurt working people,” added Mr. Martin.

Yuengling Brewery could be added to national boycott list

11.30.13

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

Yuengling Brewery could be added to national boycott list

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 3rd- Billionair Dick Yuengling Jr., the leader of the brewery of the D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc. which is Pottsville based, stated Pennsylvania would attrack more businesses if it was the twenty-fifth state that had a “right-to-work” law on the books and Republican Pennsylvania anti-union Governor Tom Corbett is a great man.

Michigan became the twenty-fourth state in the nation to pass the anti-union legislation in early December 2012.

Approximately 20 states had introduced “no-rights-at-work” bills in 2012 but most were bogged down in committees. However, banning of union security clauses in Michigan have given backers, mostly profiteers and their supporters in the legislature, renewed hope that similar legislation could be passed in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Yuengling is a nonunion brewer but their employees were once represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union but Mr. Yuengling spent thousands of dollars on anti-union consultants and the employees several years ago voted to decertify the union.

Mr. Yuengling said at a recent Pennsylvania Press Club appearance that Pennsylvania should adopt a “right-to-work” or “no-rights-at-work” policy that would make it more difficult for labor unions to organize and keep their membership.

The “right-to-work” or “no-rights-at-work” measure would ban union security clauses in labor bargaining agreements.

Before Indiana passed the anti-union legislation in 2011 and Michigan in 2012 the last state to successfully pass right-to-work laws was Oklahoma in 2001.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, census of Employment and Wages, on average workers in states with “right-to-work” laws earn $5,680 a year less than workers in states that have no such laws. Also, the rate of workplace deaths is 36 percent higher in states with “no-rights-at-work” laws.

The agency data also states some 92 percent of private-sector union workers have access to medical insurance through their jobs compared with 67 percent of nonunion workers. And 70 percent of private-sector union workers have access to guaranteed (defined-benefit) retirement plans through their jobs, compared with 14 percent of nonunion workers.

Gary Martin, Business Manager of the Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and reinforcing Ironworkers Union Local 420 in Reading and Allentown, and a Vice-President of the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council in Harrisburg, stated he does not understand why the billionaire nonunion brewer Dick Yuengling would get involve in the anti-union issue of right-to-work.

“This guy with all of his billions, wants workers in Pennsylvania to earn less. What the hell is wrong with him,” stated Mr. Martin.

The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg, has sent ballots to the 49 Executive Council members of the labor organization requesting they vote on whether Yuengling Products should be placed on the National Boycott list.

Mr. Martin supports adding Yuengling and Son Inc. to the national AFL-CIO boycott list that would request union members and their families not purchase their products. “I’m all for it. This billionair has no business in pushing a measure that would hurt working people,” added Mr. Martin.

Mr. Yuengling also stated that Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is a “great man” who is trying to do the right thing.

Mr. Corbett is currently serving the third year of a four-year term in Harrisburg and has supported many anti-union initiatives while being governor.

The labor community has put a high priority on defeating Mr. Corbett in 2014, when he seeks a second four-term term as Pennsylvania Governor.

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

Don’t Count Out the Labor Movement

09.01.12

by WALTER BRASCH

Almost every conservative political columnist, pundit, commentator, blogger, and bloviator has written about the decline and forthcoming death of the labor movement.

They happily point to Wisconsin, where Republican Gov. Scott Walker shortly after taking office in January 2011 took advantage of a Republican majority in the House and Senate to ram through legislation that stripped numerous collective bargaining rights for public employee unions. Among collective bargaining rights are those that assure decent working conditions and a fair grievance process to prevent arbitrary and discriminatory discipline.

The Republicans point to Ohio, where Republican Gov. John Kasich, with similar legislative support, signed legislation in March 2011 that restricted collective bargaining rights for public sector employees.

They point to state after state where Republican legislators, with the financial support of private industry, have brought forth self-serving bills to oppose collective bargaining.

The conservative mantra is to pander to the middle-class pocketbook by creating a pseudo-populist appeal. The right-wing claims they are the ones who care about the people enough to cut government spending, which will lower all kinds of taxes. They altruistically scream that inflated payrolls and pensions caused economic problems, and the best way to help those who are struggling in a depressed economy is to lower those costs by curtailing the perceived power of unions. It sounds nice; it’s also rhetoric encased in lies.

Numerous economic studies have shown that the pay for public union employees is about the same as for private sector employees in similar jobs. And in some jobs, public sector workers earn less than non-unionized private sector workers, leading to professionals and technical specialists often switching jobs from government to private industry, usually at higher wages and benefits.

So what, exactly, is the problem? Tax cuts. Bill Clinton left office, having given the nation a strong economy. During the Go-Go years in the first part of the 21st century, under the Bush–Cheney administration, states and the federal government created tax cuts for individuals, and held out generous tax cuts, tax waivers, and subsidies to corporations. The Republican theory was that these tax cuts would eventually “trickle down” to the masses by stimulating the economy.

What happened is that instead of benefitting the masses, these forms of wealthfare and corporate welfare have done little to stimulate an economy that was heading down because the Republican executive and legislative branches, preaching less government, didn’t want government interference in financial institutions, the most politically conservative business. As a result of deregulation or, in many cases minimal regulation oversight, came the twin catastrophes of the Wall Street scandals and the housing mortgage crisis that spun the nation into the deepest recession since the Depression of the 1930s.

But you don’t hear the Republicans tell you they caused it, only that a run-away economy is because of those fictional high government salaries that need to be cut.

Joseph Slater, professor of law at the University of Toledo, says because of the 2008 crisis, states experienced massive budget shortfalls because growing unemployment decreased tax revenue. The problem in the states and the federal government, Slater told NEA Today, isn’t because of collective bargaining, “because some of the worst state budget problems are in the small handful of states that prohibit public sector collective bargaining, states like Texas and North Carolina.” However, said Slater in an article for the American Constitution Society, “states with strong public sector collective bargaining laws . . . have smaller than average deficits.”

In response to conservative calls to curtail “pension abuse” in the public sector, Slater pointed out that “the vast majority of states don’t allow unions to bargain over public pension benefits,” and that some of the worst pension problems are in the so-called right-to-work states that have no public employee unions.

In contrast to the all-out assault upon the workers by Republicans, Govs. Dan Malloy of Connecticut and Jerry Brown of California, both Democrats, have been reducing budget deficits, sometimes with a heavy hand as they slash programs and the number of workers, in consultation with the unions and without curtailing union rights. Unionized workers in both private and public sectors have taken temporary pay cuts or agreed to taking vacation days without pay. Few corporate executives and no state legislators have willingly matched the sacrifices of the workers.

Now, as for those conservatives who are dancing on what they think are the graves of the working class labor movement. There are a few stories they aren’t happily reporting.

In Wisconsin, the recall election of Scott Walker did fail, as out-of-state individuals, PACs, and corporations contributed about two-thirds of his $30 million campaign to keeping him in office, as opposed to his opponent raising only about one-eighth of that amount. However, in subsequent elections, all three Democratic senators survived recall votes, and two of six Republican senators were recalled, leading to a change in Senate membership from 19–14 Republican to 17–16 Republican, but effectively blocking a “super majority” from ramrodding further anti-worker legislation into law.

In Ohio, voters overwhelmingly rejected, 62–38 percent, the new Ohio law that stripped collective bargaining rights of public employee unions. In defeat, Gov. Kasich, whose attacks upon collective bargaining were a central part of his campaign, said “It’s clear the people have spoken.”

Monday is Labor Day. It’s more than just picnics and a three-day weekend. It’s a time to honor the working class, and the unions that gave them the rights of collective bargaining. They may be struggling but they are far from dead.

[Walter Brasch is a syndicated social issues columnist and author. His latest book is the critically acclaimed journalistic novel, Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution, which has an underlying union theme. He is a proud member of several professional and trade unions, including The Newspaper Guild/Communication Workers of America.]

Verizon workers still without contracts following strike

04.20.12

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

Verizon workers still without contracts following strike

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 2nd- Members of the Communications Workers of America International Union (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union that are employees of Verizon conducted a “day of action” against the corporate communications giant. There were 23 events held throughout Pennsylvania on March 22nd including in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Dickson City. Also, 270 events were held across the country.

The rally’s were held to protest what the CWA stated was Verizon’s corporate greed, support good jobs and the United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Act.

On August 7th, 2011 members of the two international unions went on strike against Verizon because of the failure of reaching a successor labor contract. The previous contract expired on August 6th, 2011.

The workers returned to their jobs without reaching new pacts on August 23rd, 2011 with the understanding that negotiations would continue and the workers would work under the “terms and conditions” of the expire contract agreements.

The strike effected approximately 45,000 union verizon workers which included 35,000 workers represented by CWA Local 13000 and CWA Local 13500. The IBEW represents around 10,000 of the employees.

The CWA stated the two sides were unable to reach an agreement because of Verizon’s management insistence of contract “give-backs” and job cuts, due to thousands of American jobs being moved overseas. The company also wanted to outsource even more jobs, gut pensions, charge current and retired employees more for health insurance benefits, and make cuts to disability benefits for workers injured on the job.

Union members have been randomly conducted informational picketing and leafleting at Verizon Wireless stores throughout the region since last August but the most recent action was held at more locations on the same date and time.

According to the CWA, Verizon has made tens of billions in profits and its top executives walked away with $283 million in the last four years. But, when it comes to the 45,000 union workers the company cries “bloke.” Verizon made more than $3 billion during the first seven months of 2011 leading-up to the strike.

The CWA stated for six months the company has “played hardball” with workers who only want a fair contract and a decent middle-class life.

AFTRA and SAG Union’s going forward with merging

02.12.12

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

AFTRA and SAG Union’s going forward with merging

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, January 20th- The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) International Union’s have reached a consensus on merging the two entertainment labor organizations.

Officials for the two union’s met for nine days in Los Angles in January and a Merger Package was approved and will now be sent to the respective boards of AFTRA and SAG for approval.

Details of the proposed merger package will not be released prior to the AFTRA and SAG board meetings. AFTRA board members willmeet on January 27th and if needed January 28th. Both labor organizations are headquartered in Los Angeles, California.

Both union’s are affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington, DC.

“What we have accomplished over the last year is tremendously gratifying. We are confident our members will agree that we have created something we can all be proud of, actors, singers, broadcasters, dancers, voiceover artists, background actors, stuntpersons and all entertainment and media professionals that will be represented by this new union,” SAG National President Ken Howard stated.

“The consensus process allowed our G1 (Group for One Union), members to fully discuss, debate and reach agreement on critical provisions that form a strong foundation for a single union that will protect and strengthen the future for all our members,” Mr. Howard added.

The Screen Actors Guild is the nation’s largest labor union representing working actors. Established in 1933, SAG has stood up to studios to break long-term engagement contracts in the 1940’s to fighting for actists’ rights amid the digital revolution sweeping the entertainment industry.

SAG has 20 Branches nationwide, and represents more than 125,000 actors who work in film and didital motion pictures and television programs, commercials, video games, industries, internet and new media formats.

AFTRA has 32 Local Union’s across the nation representing 70,000 professional performers. Their members work as actors, broadcasters, singers, dancers, announcers, hosts, comedians, disc jockeys, and other performers across the media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, audio books, non-broadcast industries, interactive games, the internet and other digital media.

SAG and AFTRA Union’s formally meeting to discuss merging

08.23.11

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

SAG and AFTRA Union’s formally meeting to discuss merging

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 16th- The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Union and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) Union are holding formal discussions to create one Union.

The two groups began face-to-face meetings beginning on June 20th after the sides formed groups to discuss merging.

The AFTRA New Union Commitee and the SAG Merger Task Force met together at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, Maryland on June 20th and will meet again on August 27th in New York to facilitate the creation of one successor union.

The Screen Actors Guild, headquartered in Los Angeles, California, is the nation’s largest labor union representing working actors. Established in 1933, SAG was created to standup to studios to break long-term engagement contracts in the 1940’s to fighting for artists’ rights amid the digital revolution sweeping the entertainment industry in the 21st century.

With 20 branches nationwide, SAG represents more than 125,000 actors who work in film and digital television programs, motion pictures, commercials, video games, music videos, industrials and all new media formats.

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists has 32 locals across the country. Their members work as actors, broadcasters, singers, dancers, announcers, hosts, comedians, disc jockeys, and other performers across the media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, audio books, non-broadcasters, and recording artists.

The two committees have established a series of work groups to discuss six key areas that rank-and-file members identified as important. The six workgroups are:

• Governance and Structure
• Finance and Dues
• Collective Bargaining
• Pension, Health and Retirement
• Operations and Staff
• Member Education and Outreach

The work groups will meet throughout 2011, formulate recommendations for how the successor union should address each area and bring those recommendations back to the members for approval.

These recommendations will work to create the Merger Agreement, National Constitution and uniform dues structure that will be required for review by both unions by January 2012.

Scranton Firefighters Union donates funds to aid September 11th Memorial

08.17.11

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

Scranton Firefighters Union donates funds to aid September 11th Memorial

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 22nd- The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Union Local 60, which represents Scranton Firefighters, donated $1,000 toward the construction of a newer memorial to the Heroes and innocents of the September 11th, 2001 terror attacks.

A citizens’ committee was formed to remember the September 11th terror attacks by former Scranton educator and member of the Scranton Federation of Teachers (SFT) Union Charlie Spano. The SFT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) International Union.

Mr. Spano told the newspaper the organization is raising funds to pay for the memorial that will be unveiled on Sunday, September 11th, 2011 at McDade Park.

The monument will consist of two four foot tall jet black granite monuments holding a dedicatory plaugue to the four airplanes and the logos of the Civilian Uniformed Emergency Services; Firefighters, Police and EMT’s.

To contribute make checks payable to 9/11 Memorial Committee, P.O. Box 20101, Scranton, PA 18502.

Photo: Scranton Fire Captain E.J. Gallagher; Scranton Fire Chief Tom Davis; IAFF Local 60 President David Gervasi; Committee members, Charlie Spano, Joe DeAntona, Francis Tyson, and Pat O’Malley.