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Future of TPP Trade Agreement in doubt because of Mexico

10.11.15

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

Future of TPP Trade Agreement in doubt because of Mexico

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 1st- Weeks after the Obama Administration got the authority from the United States Congress to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement (TPPTA), the deal is being held-up by former trade deals while several counties are trying to protect their own interest including Mexico.

Despite intense lobbying by the labor community against the passage of the TPPTA, a measure meant to ease trade restrictions with Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Singapore, and Canada, the United States Senate passed the legislation in early summer allowing Democratic President Barack Obama to negotiate global trade deals that the United States Congress can only approve or reject but not change. The legislation had already passed the House of Representatives with the support of most Republicans and twenty-eight Democrats.

The legislation was opposed fiercely by the labor community which is being called “fast track” but was passed by the full Senate on June 25th, 60 to 38. Most of the Senate Democrats voted against the measure including Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey Jr. Pennsylvania’s other Senator Republican Pat Toomey voted in favor of the legislation that President Obama supported and signed into law.

President Barack Obama made the passage of TPPTA a major part of his agenda during his final two years in office.

The pact needed the approval by both chambers of Congress because it is considered to be a treaty.

The labor community has made it clear it opposed the trade agreement and implemented a new tactic is fighting against it. Many of the labor organizations that are affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) had froze campaign contributions to members of Congress to pressure them from supporting the trade deal. The legislation passed anyway with the help of some Democrats and shows how organized labor can no longer can by itself stop anti-union legislation from passing or getting pro-union legislation through Washington.

To get the trade-authority legislation through, Senate Republicans advanced a bill that continued the worker-aid program called the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).

The Trade Adjustment Assistance program has been used to help workers that lost their jobs because by foreign trade. TAA helps re-train workers for other jobs that have suffered from production being shift overseas to competition from imports. In the past many garment workers, electronic manufacturer workers, and steel makers received TAA. The worker-aid program must first be requested by an employer or union before any worker can receive help in re-training which includes federal funded higher education programs.

However, during trade-talks held in Hawaii several issues have emerged that has so-far delayed the deal from being completed and some involved have stated could “derail” the trade.

Mexico wants the provision to continue under the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which requires three-fifths of content of cars originating in North America before the automobiles could cross borders duty free. Japan wants automakers to be able to source a greater proportion of parts needed for production to be made outside of North America. Mexico, which is becoming a world automotive manufacturing leader, is fighting to keep the NAFTA rule in place, which could derail the TPPTA deal. Mexican negotiators have made in clear that their economy depends on the NAFTA provision.

Trade deal passes Congress and signed into law despite labor’s opposition

10.11.15

JULY 2015, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Trade deal passes Congress and signed into law despite labor’s opposition

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 25th- Despite intense lobbying by the labor community against the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement (TPPTA), a measure meant to ease trade restrictions with Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Singapore, and Canada, the United States Senate passed the legislation that will allow Democratic President Barack Obama to negotiate global trade deals that the United States Congress can only approve or reject but not change. The legislation had already passed the House of Representatives with the support of most Republicans and twenty-eight Democrats.

The legislation was opposed fiercely by the labor community which is being called “fast track” but was passed by the full Senate on June 25th 60 to 38. Most of the Senate Democrats voted against the measure including Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey Jr. Pennsylvania’s other Senator Republican Pat Toomey voted in favor of the legislation that President Obama supported and signed into law.

Mr. Casey, a member of the Committee on Finance, stated he was active in reviewing TPP, and had serious concerns about the deal. He had concerns about the potential impact the trade agreement would have on American workers, producers and innovators.

President Barack Obama made the passage of TPPTA a major part of his agenda during his final two years in office.

Senator Toomey stated he spoke with Secretaries of Treasury, Agriculture, and Commerce as well as the U.S. Trade Ambassador and all believe approving the deal will benefit Pennsylvania and the nation.

He said the opening of markets to Pennsylvania-made products will create more high-paying export-oriented jobs in the state and it will be a big help for Pennsylvania farmers.

The pact needed the approval by both chambers of Congress because it is considered to be a treaty.

The labor community has made it clear it opposed the trade agreement and implemented a new tactic is fighting against it.

Many of the labor organizations that are affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) had froze campaign contributions to members of Congress to pressure them from supporting the trade deal. The legislation passed anyway with the help of some Democrats and shows how organized labor can no longer can by itself stop anti-union legislation from passing or getting pro-union legislation through Washington.

One the most vocal labor leaders against the pact was United Steelworkers Union (USW) International President Leo Gerard. The USW represent rubber workers that manufacturer American made tires that have been hurt by cheap Pacific countries manufactured tires.

Mr. Gerard after Prime Minister Shinzo of Japan spoke to a joint session of Congress several weeks ago about why the United States should pass the trade deal, stated Japan supports the deal because of the continued lopsided trade benefits it enjoys.

To get the trade-authority legislation through, Senate Republicans said they would advance a bill that would continue the worker-aid program called the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).

The Trade Adjustment Assistance program has been used to help workers that lost their jobs because by foreign trade. TAA helps re-train workers for other jobs that have suffered from production being shift overseas to competition from imports. In the past many garment workers, electronic manufacturer workers, and steel makers received TAA. The worker-aid program must first be requested by an employer or union before any worker can receive help in re-training which includes federal funded higher education programs.

The federal government then investigates the requests and determines if workers jobs were lost because of foreign trade or imports. The program was to expire in September 2015.

As promised, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf vetoes Liquor Stores privatization

10.11.15

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

As promised, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf vetoes Liquor Stores privatization

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 5th- Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Tom Wolf rejected the pro-business anti-union Republican plan in the General Assembly to privatize the state liquor stores by vetoing their plan. Mr. Wolf days earlier vetoed the Republicans state budget with no Democrats voting in favor of the legislation. The budget passed both sides of the Republican controlled legislature leaving the state currently without a spending plan to begin the fiscal year.

Mr. Wolf last year while campaigning for governor made it clear he would not support the privatization of the State Wine and Spirits Stores, which are unionized. Also, the Republican legislature wants to privatize the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) which oversees the selling of the wine and liquor in Pennsylvania.

The Republican members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly have been pushing for the selling-off of the system, which provides millions of dollars of profits for Pennsylvania, for several terms of the legislature. However, this is the first time a privatization proposal has reached any governors desk. When the Republican’s controlled both the House of Representatives and the Senate and fellow Republican Tom Corbett was Pennsylvania Governor last year no privatization legislation passed both sides of the General Assembly.

Meanwhile, net profits of the latest reporting period under the current system was $123.68 million on gross revenue of $2.27 billion, amounting to a net profit margin of 5.44 percent.

Mr. Wolf campaigned during his attempt to unseat Incumbent anti-union Republican Governor Tom Corbett in 2014 against the privatization of the 600-plus wine and spirit store system. Mr. Wolf made it clear he would veto any legislation that would sell-off the stores should it reach his desk wanting instead to modernized the system.

He has proposed a plan for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), which operates the system, to “modernized” the system by extending Sunday hours and Holiday sales, improve store locations, having more flexible pricing, create a system of competitive pricing, and more customer engagement. Under Mr. Wolf’s proposal he estimates the system would be even more profitable creating an additional annual profit of $185 million by fiscal 2018. However, as expected Mr. Wolf’s plan was greeted was skepticism by Republicans, and they have not taken any action on his proposal.

The selling of the system will put more than 5,000 family sustaining jobs in harms way. The United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union represents the majority of the stores employees, including clerks and shelve stockers. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union represents mainly the office employees of the system including the PLCB auditors. UFCW Local 1776 represents the workers within the eastern part of Pennsylvania while UFCW Local 23 represents the western part.

On July 2nd Mr. Wolf vetoed the privatization plan that would have allowed private retailers to sell wine and liquor, and lease the PLCB’s wholesale operations which will result in the closing of the State Stores. As more licenses are purchased to sell booze any state store in that area would be closed and the employees would be fired.

Labor community grateful for President Obama’s support

10.11.15

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

Labor community grateful for President Obama’s support

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 31st- While most within the labor community in the nation disagree with President Barack Obama’s support for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement (TPPTA), a measure meant to ease trade restrictions Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Brunie, Singapore, and Canada, they are grateful for support of the new National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rules regarding representation election that took effect on April 14th.

Businesses throughout the nation have made it clear they are worried about the new National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rule that will expedite representation elections through the agency.In the previous edition of the newspaper it was reported that the labor community applauded President Barack Obama’s veto of a Republican led resolution that would have overturned the NLRB rule that will expedite representation elections.

Mr. Obama’s veto was seen as a victory for the labor community, and the Democrats in the United States Congress. The resolution to overturn the new rules was passed by both the House of Representatives and the United States Senate in March. The anti-union legislation was supported and passed by mainly members of the Republican party.

The new rules, which was created by the five-member NLRB in Washington DC in December, is intended to streamline NLRB conducted Representation Elections. The labor community has complained for years that the current process favors companies, mainly larger employers, that have used the procedures of the old system to often delay, sometimes for months or years, of having the election conducted by the NLRB, which oversees the election. The tactic often is used to stall NLRB elections, especially when it appears the union would likely win.

Republicans were unable to override President Obama’s veto because there were not enough Senate Republicans in the chamber. There are 54 Republican seats in the Senate and under the chamber rules 67 is needed to override a presidential veto.

Under NLRB rules, at least 30 percent of a unit of workers must request the agency conduct an election. In the election at least 50 percent plus one of the eligible to participate employees must vote to be represented by a labor organization to become their bargaining representative for the purpose of collective bargaining.

Mr. Obama has made it clear he will sign TPPTA into law should if reach his desk. The legislation successful passed the Senate however, it is not yet known if the trade agreement will get enough votes for passage in the House of Representatives. There are 435 members of the House and the legislation will need to gain a majority of the representatives votes to successfully pass the chamber. It is expected the House will vote on TPPTA later in June, likely just before congress recesses for the summer.

Under the new NLRB election rules, employers will be required to post an “NLRB Notice of Election,” which contains information about the representation petition that was filed, and advises the two parties their rights and obligations. A “Statement of Position” form will need to be submitted by the employer to the NLRB within seven days after the petition receipt.

The document must include a list of eligible voters, their job classifications, their shift schedules, and work locations. However, the employer can not present any opinion or evidence on the issue of the representation election or request a delay in the vote. Employers can no longer challenge voter eligibility before the election, often used to delay elections, and must wait for the post-election hearing. Also, pre-election hearings will be limited to ‘Statement of Position’ the employer submitted not questioning the election merit.

Labor haters continue pushing for right-to-work laws

10.11.15

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

Labor haters continue pushing for right-to-work laws

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 24th- Anti-union forces have continued their attack on labor organizations by pushing for more states in the nation to pass legislation that would ban union security clauses in collective bargaining agreements (CBA’s). Banning union security language in CBA’s is commonly known as “right-to-work” legislation.

Wisconsin became the twenty-fifth state in the nation to ban employers and labor organizations from agreeing to union security clauses this past winter.

Without “right-to-work” law, or what the labor community often refer to as “no-rights-at-work”, CBA’s could include contract language that makes employees become an union member after working a probationary period. The clause is a term of collective bargaining and must first be negotiated between the union and the employer and ratified by the membership.

A new wave of legislative bills has been introduced in some states including Maine and Pennsylvania that would ban union security clauses. Clearly, the legislation in intended to weaken the numbers of union members. Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Tom Wolf has made it clear he would veto any right-to-work bill if it should reach his desk.

Labor haters throughout the nation believe the banning of union security clauses will come more easily because of last years pro-business Republican party gaining seats in legislatures throughout the United States.

Wiscomsin Republican Governor Scot Walker, wasted little time in signing into law the legislation that made the badger state the twenty-fifth state in the nation to ban employer and labor organizations from agreeing to union security clauses within their CBA’s. Mr. Walker is a possible candidate for his party’s nomination in next years presidential campaign.

Pro-right-to-work supporters, including the America Chamber of Commerce, and many business groups, have stated that the removing of union security clauses from labor agreements would bring economic prosperity. However, no independent data has shown that states that have passed right-to-work legislation has seen a significant increase in job creation.

In Pennsylvania, success of right-to-work legislation is unlikely because of Mr. Wolf’s threat of a veto and despite the Republicans controlling both the House of Representatives and the Senate, there are not enough votes to overturn it. Two-thirds of both chambers are needed to over-ride Governor Wolf’s veto.

Pennsylvania liquor store union’s watching for privatization

05.26.15

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

Pennsylvania liquor store union’s watching for privatization

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 5th- The labor organization’s the represent employees of the State Wine and Spirits Stores are quietly optimistic that the selling-off of the system will not happen before the legislative session ends for the summer this June. However, they are still talking to legislators to ensure they don’t change their position regarding the privatization of the liquor system.

The pro-business anti-union Republican members of Pennsylvania General Assembly have been pushing for the selling-off of the system, which provides millions of dollars of profits for Pennsylvania. Net profits of the latest reporting period under the current system was $123.68 million on gross revenue of $2.27 billion, amounting to a net profit margin of 5.44 percent.

First-term Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Tom Wolf campaigned during his attempt to unseat Incumbent anti-union Republican Governor Tom Corbett in 2014 against the privatization of the 600-plus wine and spirit store system. Mr. Wolf made it clear he would veto any legislation that would sell-off the stores should it reach his desk wanting instead to modernized the system.

He has proposed a plan for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), which operates the system, to “modernized” the system by extending Sunday hours and Holiday sales, improve store locations, having more flexible pricing, create a system of competitive pricing, and more customer engagement. Under Mr. Wolf’s proposal he estimates the system would be even more profitable creating an additional annual profit of $185 million by fiscal 2018.

However, as expected Mr. Wolf’s plan was greeted was skepticism by Republicans, business-people that want to purchase a license, and some within the media, including Times-Shamrock Communications, the parent publishers ofthe Scranton Times-Tribune, the Citizens’ Voice, and the Hazleton Standard-Speaker.

The newspaper’s would benefit financially should the stores be privatized by creating advertising competition between license owners and perhaps even the publishers plan to purchase one of the licenses and go into the booze business. Recently, several family members of the publishers of Times-Shamrock became part owners of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Railriders baseball team, breaking away from the media business.

The selling of the system will put more than 5,000 family sustaining jobs in harms way. The United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union represents the majority of the stores employees, including clerks and shelve stockers. UFCW Local 1776 represents the workers within the eastern part of Pennsylvania while UFCW Local 23 represents the western part. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union represents mainly the office employees of the system including the PLCB auditors.

Pro-privatization groups and individuals have stated selling more liquor would be good for Pennsylvania and even suggested that school funding could be increased by the selling of more booze.

The UFCW is concerned that allowing wine sales in grocery stores and other outlets, the largest volume of sales at the liquor stores, could be attached to other legislation before the summer recess, attempting a “back-door” privatization attempt.

U.S. Senator Robert Casey supports legislation to increase federal minimum wage

05.26.15

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

U.S. Senator Robert Casey supports legislation to increase federal minimum wage

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 6th- On April 30th Democratic Pennsylvania United States Senator Robert Casey Jr., joined by 33 fellow Senators, introduced a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020. Mr. Casey stated the wage increase would help more American families make ends meet, expand economic opportunity, and help build an economy that works for all families, not just the wealthiest few.

The legislation, “the Raise the Wage Act”, would also phase out the $2.13 tipped wage and would index the minimum wage to median wages.

The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour. In January of this year twenty states in the nation increased their bench-mark however minimum wage workers in Pennsylvania are still earning the federal level. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009, with more than 1.2 million Pennsylvania workers estimated earning the $7.25 an hour wage. The minimum wage in Pennsylvania is now lower than every neighboring state. Overall, more than 26 states now have a higher bench-mark wage than Pennsylvania.

It is estimated that raising the bench-mark wage to $10.10 an hour would boost spending in the state by $1.8 billion, and create 6,000 jobs, a new study released by the Keystone Research Center, a economic research group in Harrisburg indicated.

The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg supports the increasing of the minimum wage, whether through federal legislation or through the Pennsylvania legislators.

“By passing legislation to raise the minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour, not only will over one million working families get a much needed raise in their wages, it will help boost the local economies of communities across Pennsylvania. Raising the minimum wage will not only fight poverty, it will increase profits for local businesses because every dollar goes right back into the local economy,” stated Rick Bloomingdale, President of the Pennsylavnia AFL-CIO.

“It has been nearly eight years since Congress last passed a minimum wage increase. It’s time to deliver for working families and raise the wage. It’s important to remember that many of those paid the minimum wage are single mothers who are the sole providers for their household. Raising the wage and indexing it will have a substantial impact for these workers and their children,” Mr. Casey stated.

Mr. Casey estimates that the annual pay raise for the eligible workers would be $3,100 by 2020. Republican Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey was not one of the Senators that co-sponsored the legislation to increase the minimum wage and likley would vote against it.

Passage of the bill is unlikely with Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress. Republicans and their bussiness supporters claim that raising the bench-mark would kill nearly one million jobs. However, the United States Labor Department data shows average job growth in states that increased their bench-mark was higher than those that have not.

Labor opposes Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement

05.25.15

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

Labor opposes Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION- May 5th- The success of passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement (TPPTA), a measure meant to ease trade restrictions with Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Singapore, and Canada, is still unknown in the United States House of Representatives. The measure is being called “fast track” and few Democrats in the House of Representatives are supporting it.

President Barack Obama supports passage of the trade deal and his administration negotiated the pact often without congress involvement.

Meanwhile, while the trade deal is being debated, a new report by the United States Commerence Department in Washington indicated that the nation’s trade deficit reached its highest level in more than six years. The government reported that imported goods increased by 7.7 percent in March from February to $239.2 billion with the trade deficit rising by $51.4 billion.

The labor community has made it clear it opposes the trade agreement and has implemented a new tactic is fighting against it.

Many of the labor organizations that are affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) the largest labor federation in North America, has froze campaign contributions to members of Congress to preasure them from supporting the trade deal. And it indicates it may be working.

For TPPTA to pass the House of Representatives political insiders have stated that at least 32 Democrats are needed to vote in favor of it. However, currently only around 16 have indicated they would. Around 60 House Republicans, mostly tea-party members, have indicated they also do not support the deal.

With most Democrats opposing TPPTA and if in fact 60 Republicans vote against the pact, Mr. Obama and deal supporters will likely fall short of enough votes needed for passage.

Meanwhile, one the most vocal labor leaders against the pact is United Steelworkers Union (USW) International President Leo Gerard. The USW represent rubber workers that manufacturer American made tires that have been hurt by cheap Pacific countries manufactured tires.

Mr. Gerard after Prime Misister Shinzo of Japan spoke to a joint session of Congress several weeks ago about why the United States should pass the trade deal, stated Japan supports the deal because of the continued lopsided trade benefits it enjoys.

Auditor General DePasquale audit indicates lack of Act 102 law enforcement

05.25.15

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

Auditor General DePasquale audit indicates lack of Act 102 law enforcement

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 5th - Pennsylvania Democratic Auditor General Eugene DePasquale audit released on April 22nd indicated that enforcement by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s (DOL) law to protect healthcare workers from excessive mandatory overtime was poor and his findings came as no surprise to Terry Marcavage, Staff Representative of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP) union in Conshohocken, just outside of Philadelphia. PASNAP represents nurses at the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, River Street in Wilkes-Barre.

The Union was involved with a long protracted labor dispute with the operators of the medical facility, the Commonwealth Health System (CHS) Inc., the nation’s largest for profit conglomerate of hospitals in the nation. CHS also operates the Regional Hospital of Scranton, formerly the Scranton Mercy Hospital, the Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton and the Tyler Memorial Hospital in Tunkhannock. The company also owns and operates several smaller medical facilities in the region.

PASNAP represented nurses employed at the Wilkes-Barre General Hosptial bargained with the company for more than sixteen months without gaining a successor collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with CHS and was forced to strike for several days last July. The company responded by hiring scabs to temporarily replace the striking workers. The two sides agreed to a new CBA in August 2014. The previous contract between the parties expired on April 30th, 2013.

Ms. Marcavage indicated to the newspaper more than one year before Mr. DePasquale released his findings regarding the lack of enforcement of Pennsylvania Act 102 (the Prohibition of Excessive Overtime in Health Care Act of 2008), that PASNAP believed the Department of Labor was not investigating and enforcing the law at the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. “We knew all along there were problems at Wilkes-Barre General,” Ms. Marcavage stated.

“To put it simply, the implementation of the law to protect healthcare workers and their patients was clearly not a priority at the Department of Labor and Industry. In addition to missing, by more than four years, the legislatively mandated deadline to adopt regulations to enforce the law, Labor and Industry summarily dismissed eight precent of the complaints it received during our audit period,” stated Mr. DePasquale.

Act 102 of 2008 limits healthcare facilities including hospitals, nursing homes and outpatieent facilities from requiring hourly, nonsupervisory employees involved in direct patient healthcare to work more than agreed to predetermined and regularly scheduled work shifts.

Mr. DePasquale indicated that the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry was very cooperative during his audit which covered July 1st, 2009, when the full act went into effect, through August 31st, 2014. During that time the DOL was overseen by officials appointed by anti-worker Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett. Mr. Cobett was defeated by current Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Tom Wolf in November 2014 and took over as Pennsylvania Governor this past January.

PASNAP stated that in late August of 2009 the union brought to the Auditor General DePasquale attention the numerous violations of Act 102 throughout Pennsylvania, including at the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, and the failure by the Corbett administration’s DOL to enforce the law.

“The results of this audit shine an important light on the reluctance of past administrators blatant unwillingless to enforce the law. Because of the persistence and determination of our members, particularly at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, we now have proof of what we’ve known all along. Too many hospitals violate with impurity a law established to protect patients and nurses,” stated Patricia Eakin President of PASNAP.

PASNAP also represents nurses employed at the Geisinger Community Medical Center (GCMC) in Scranton, covered under a seperate CBA with Geisinger Health Systems.

Under the Wolf administration, Pennsylvania Labor and Industry has hired an additional five investigators for the Bureau of Labor Law Compliance, which works in the field investigating any complaint or tip regarding Department of Labor and Industry rule violations.

DOL stated it is addressing Mr. DePasquale’s report that showed failures within the audit by streamlining central record keeping, updating their database, and having more boots on the ground to investigate and talk to employees involve with any possible violation. One finding was that DOL tracking system was so bad it made it almost impossible to determine if there was not compliance of the law.

NEA report finds fault with provision of Health Care Act

04.17.15

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

NEA report finds fault with provision of Health Care Act

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 4th- The National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest labor organization that represents teachers and education support staff and other educational professionals with more than 3 million members, released a report that finds fault with one of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) is affiliated with the NEA. The report analyzed a key tax provision, the excise tax on high-cost health plans.

The NEA stated that the report finds that although the excise tax is often referred to as a tax on overgenerous health benefits, it’s likely to be a tax driven by other things, including where health plan members live, employees and workers in high-cost insurance markets.

“We continue to support the Affordable Care Act because it already has strengthened health benefits for kids and families and provided an opportunity for millions of Americans to obtain quality, affordable care. This new report however, highlights a significant and damaging flaw in the excise tax. The excise tax on high-cost plans can randomly and unfairly cause hardship to American workers and their families. In fact, the excise tax will disproportionately hurt women and older workers,” stated Kim Anderson, senior director of the NEA’s Center for Advocacy and Outreach.

The NEA report stated the excise tax wrongly equates high premiums with overly generous health benefits. It is flawed that some plans offering moderate benefits will face a steep tax, while plans with better benefits may not face any tax at all.

Employers are already preparing to shift health care costs to workers by cutting benefits or passing the tax liability to employees even though the law doesn’t hold employees responsible for paying the tax.

“We believe that it’s more accurate to call the excise tax on high-cost plans an ‘Age Sex-Geography Tax,’ added Ms. Anderson.

Poll indicates the selling of state stores is minor priority

04.15.15

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

Poll indicates the selling of state stores is minor priority

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 5th- While some members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, mainly pro-business Republicans, continue to press for the selling-off of the State Wine and Spirits Stores, a new poll conducted and released by Franklin & Marshall College, indicates that Pennsylvanians really believe there are bigger issues facing the state than privatizing the system.

Again this legislative season has seen another attempt to pass legislation that would allow the selling-off of the around 600-plus wine and spirits stores currently operated by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB). The selling of the system will put more than 5,000 mostly union family sustaining jobs in harms way.

The United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union represents the majority of the stores employees, including clerks and shelve stockers. UFCW Local 1776 represents the workers within the eastern part of Pennsylvania while UFCW Local 23 represents the western part.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union represents mainly the office employees of the system including the PLCB auditors, which operates the stores.

According to the March 26th released Franklin & Marshall College poll only one percent of respondents believe selling of the system should be a “priority” of state lawmakers.

Also, only thirty percent feel the system should be sold. The majority of respondents would rather see the system modernized, as Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Tom Wolf has proposed, or allow the stores to remain owned by the taxpayers.

Governor Wolf promises to veto any legislation that would lead to the privatization of the store system. He has proposed a plan for the PLCB, which operates the system, to “modernized” the system by extending Sunday hours and Holiday sales, improve store locations, having more flexible pricing, create a system of competitive pricing, and more customer engagement.

Net profits of the latest reporting period under current system was $123.68 million on gross revenue of $2.27 billion, amounting to a net profit margin of 5.44 percent. Under Mr. Wolf’s proposal he estimates the system would be even more profitable creating an additional annual profit of $185 million by fiscal 2018.

The survey was conducted between March 17th to 23rd. The poll involved 597 Pennsylvania registered to vote citizens.

Pennsylvania liquor store system again facing privatization

04.03.15

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

Pennsylvania liquor store system again facing privatization

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 5th- The pro-business anti-union Republican members of Pennsylvania General Assembly have yet again proposed the selling-off of the State Wine and Spirits Stores.

Their latest measure passed the Republican controlled House of Representatives last month that would sell licenses to sell booze which they estimated would bring in $1 billion.

Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Tom Wolf promises to veto the legislation should it reach his desk. He has proposed a plan for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), which operates the system, to “modernized” the system by extending Sunday hours and Holiday sales, improve store locations, having more flexible pricing, create a system of competitive pricing, and more customer engagement.

However, as expected Mr. Wolf’s plan was greeted was skepticism by Republicans, business-people that want to purchase a license, and some within the media, including Times-Shamrock Communications, the parent publishers of the Scranton Times-Tribune, the Citizens’ Voice, and the Hazleton Standard-Speaker.

The newspapers’ would benefit financially should the stores be privatized by creating advertising competition between license owners and perhaps even the publishers plan to purchase one of the licenses and go into the booze business. Recently, several family members of the publishers of Times-Shamrock became part owners of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Railriders baseball team, breaking away from the media business.

Net profits of the latest reporting period under current system was $123.68 million on gross revenue of $2.27 billion, amounting to a net profit margin of 5.44 percent. Under Mr. Wolf’s proposal he estimates the system would be even more profitable creating an additional annual profit of $185 million by fiscal 2018.

The selling of the system will put more than 5,000 family sustaining jobs in harms way. The United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union represents the majority of the stores employees, including clerks and shelve stockers. UFCW Local 1776 represents the workers within the eastern part of Pennsylvania while UFCW Local 23 represents the western part.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union represents mainly the office employees of the system including the PLCB auditors, which operates the stores.

There are currently 600-plus wine and spirit stores within the current system statewide.

“Right-to-work” legislation becomes law in Wisconsin

03.31.15

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

“Right-to-work” legislation becomes law in Wisconsin

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 3rd- The State of Wisconsin legislature passed and the Republican Governor Scott Walker signed into law legislation that will make the badger state the twenty-fifth in the nation to ban employers and labor organizations from agreeing to union security language within their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the two parties. The legislation is commonly known as “right-to-work”.

A new wave of legislative bills that are intended to weaken the numbers of members of labor unions is expected this year after the pro-business Republican party gaining seats in legislatures across the United States.

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

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

Recently union workers held a “right-to-work” legislation protest at the Wisconsin Capitol in Madison. Media reports indicated that only several thousand union members participated in the event because it is believed legislation banning the mandatory payment of union dues in Wisconsin will likely pass and be signed into law by the anti-union Walker, a possible Republican candidate for President of the United States in 2016.

In Pennsylvania the issue of banning union security clauses in labor agreements, or what the labor community often calls “no-rights-at-work,” was front and center during 2013 after billionair Dick Yuengling Jr., leader of the D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc. brewery, said Pennsylvania should become a right-to-work state.

Before Wisconsin legislation was signed into law, there were 24 states that banned union security clauses, which makes workers join the union after working a probationary period. The clause is a term of collective bargaining and must first be agreed to by the union and the employer and ratified by the membership.

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

02.18.15

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

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

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

01.28.15

FEBRUARY 2015, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

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

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TPP Trickery

01.22.15

TPP Trickery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Stephen Crockett :

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

Pennsylvania’s minimum wage earners fall further behind

01.15.15

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

Pennsylvania’s minimum wage earners fall further behind

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Obama will veto Keystone XL pipeline legislation

01.15.15

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

Mr. Obama will veto Keystone XL pipeline legislation

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voters not Congress should decide TPP trade pact

01.11.15

Voters not Congress should decide TPP trade pact

We need to slow the TPP (Trans Pacific Pact) approval process down until after the 2016 elections. After the final full terms are made public, the voters should decide this issue using our democratic electoral processes. We need this to be a campaign issue in the Senate, House and Presidential elections. It will increase voter turnout (which is good for American democracy) and give the decision real legitimacy.

There are many stakeholders in this deal. Large international corporations, domestic corporations, small businesses, American workers, farmers, consumers, citizens who care about the environment, those with intellectual property, citizens concerned with food safety, those concerned with preserving control of our economy as expressed via our democratic elections, taxpayers and many more elements of our society are stakeholders. Most of these stakeholders have been largely left out of the secretive process of drafting the TPP trade pact.

It seems that large international corporations were the only stakeholders who had a major role in the drafting the trade deal. There is no way that fast tracking approval of the TPP (Trans Pacific Pact) should be under serious consideration. Fast tracking this trade deal is being pushed by those who are politically under the control of large corporate interests.

Regardless of which political party controls the US House of Representatives, the Senate or the White House, they should defer to the will of the American people on an issue as important as the TPP (Trans Pacific Pact) because the deal impacts the role of our democratically controlled government in our economy and many other parts of our economic future. The TPP (Trans Pacific Pact) is widely seen as a massive international power grab based on the leaks pushed in the press from these secretive negotiations.

Few Americans have a deep understanding of the TPP (Trans Pacific Pact) terms. This includes most members of the House of Representatives and the US Senate.

Our corporate controlled press has not given the TPP (Trans Pacific Pact) the kind of serious, extensive reporting that previous trade deals like NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) received. The public has not been effectively informed on the terms of the deal. There has not been enough time for stakeholders to examine the potential impacts of the terms on the American nation.

American democracy has not been served. American democracy has been ignored. Obviously, the will of the American people should have the final say on the fate of the TPP (Trans Pacific Pact).
We need a long, vigorous public debate and a full election cycle in 2016 fought in part on this issue so the American people can be heard before TPP (Trans Pacific Pact) approval decision by a newly elected Congress and President.

Written by Stephen Crockett -

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

Related articles:

Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Is a Pending Disaster (by Robert Reich)
www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-reich/why-the-transpacific-part_b_6422088.html

Bernie Sanders’ Brutal Letter On Obama’s Trade Pact Foreshadows 2016 Democratic Clash (by Zach Carter)
www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/05/bernie-sanders-michael-froman-tpp_n_6419874.html

Democrats Slam Obama Over Secretive Trade Deals, Say He Needs Economics ‘Refresher’ (by Dana Liebelson and Jennifer Bendery)
www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/08/trade-deal_n_6438288.html

Mitch McConnell Pledges Fast Action For Secretive Trade Deals (by Michael McAuliff)
www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/07/mcconnell-fast-track_n_6432118.html

Will Fast-Track/TPP Warnings Reach The Public? It’s Up To You.
(by Dave Johnson)
ourfuture.org/20150107/will-fast-tracktpp-warnings-reach-the-public-its-up-to-you

Obama’s Covert Trade Deal (by Lori Wallach and Ben Beachy)
www.nytimes.com/2013/06/03/opinion/obamas-covert-trade-deal.html?_r=0

Democrats Step Up Efforts to Block Obama’s Trade Agenda (by Julie Hirschfeld Davis)
www.nytimes.com/2015/01/09/business/democrats-step-up-efforts-to-block-obama-on-trade-promotion-authority.html

Bernie Sanders Slams The Trans-Pacific Partnership As A Disaster For Workers (by Jason Easley)
www.politicususa.com/2014/12/29/bernie-sanders-trans-pacific-partnership-disaster-workers.html

Tell Congress to Vote NO on TPP and Fast Track Authority for Trade Deals (Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund)
www.farmtoconsumer.org/news_wp/?p=17355

National Survey on Fast-Track Authority for TPP Trade Pact
fasttrackpoll.info/docs/Fast-Track-Survey_Memo.pdf

AFSCME leader states union members must mobilize against conservative agenda

01.02.15

JANUARY 2015, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

AFSCME leader states union members must mobilize against conservative agenda

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, December 23rd- David Fillman, Executive Director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 13 in Harrisburg, told the newspaper that the next Pennsylvania General Assembly of Pennsylvania will be more conservative and more likely be more anti-union than the previous legislative body. However, like Pennsylvania House of Representative Mike Carroll (Democrat-118th Legislative District) believes incoming Democratic Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf will be the “fire-wall” in Harrisburg that will hopefully stop any anti-union legislation from becoming law. Mr. Wolf will be sworn-in as Pennsylvania Governor on January 20th. AFSCME represents more workers employed by the state than any other labor organization. There are eight statewide AFSCME District Council’s affiliated with Council 13.

With bigger Republican party majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, even more anti-union legislation is likely than the previous General Assembly. The Republicans raised their Senate majority from twenty-seven to thirty seats in 2015. The Democrats previously had twenty-three seats and will hold only twenty seats beginning in 2015.

Mr. Fillman told the newspaper that Council 13 has spend time and funds educating their members on why being politically involve and aware is so neccessary to preserve their jobs and livelihoods.

“Whether we are talking about prevailing wage laws, the privatization of the state stores, right-to-work laws, or paycheck protection legislation, the membership must understand the neccessity of being involved and mobilized,” stated Mr. Fillman. “There is no question the next General Assembly will be more conservative than the previous one.”

Because of the majority gains of the Republicans, relationships with moderate members of the party will be very important for the labor community Mr. Fillman added. Should Mr. Wolf veto any anti-union legislation, which he has stated he would, a two-thirds majority vote by both sides of the legislature will be needed to over-ride his veto for the legislation to become law, making the pro-worker Republicans important. Those legislators and Mr. Wolf are the only way the labor community can defeat any anti-worker, anti-union legislation over at least the next two years, Mr. Fillman told the newspaper.

Mr. Wolf easily defeated incumbent anti-union Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett in the November election.

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

AFSCME represents both state and nonstate workers in Pennsylvania including those employed in nursing homes, the Pennsylvania Lottery system, corrections, and public services.