Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

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

12.17.14

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

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

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Building trades supported Keystone XL pipeline bill defeated

12.03.14

DECEMBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Building trades supported Keystone XL pipeline bill defeated

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 19th- The United States Senate recently narrowly defeated legislation that would have approved the building trades supported Keystone XL pipeline. The legislation needed 60 votes for approval and it received only 59. Most Democrats voted against the bill while all 45 Republicans voted in favor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12.03.14

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

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

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

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

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

The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg and affiliated members of the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council in Harrisburg along with non-affiliated labor organizations, such as the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) Union, attempting to energize their members leading-up to the election. The labor community put a high priority on defeating Mr. Corbett.

The labor community mostly endorsed Mr. Wolf, an York businessman. Mr. Wolf defeated three other Democrats that were seeking their party’s nomination for Pennsylvania Governor that wanted the chance to deny Mr. Corbett a second four-year term as Pennsylvania’s governor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

12.02.14

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

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

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, November 5th - With the election season over and the Republican party being successful in strengthening their ability to have legislation passed through both sides of the Pennsylvania General Assembly by gaining seats in both chambers of the legislature, raising the minimum wage for state workers becomes even more complicated and unlikely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Republicans back increasing wage in their home states

09.30.14

OCTOBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Some Republicans back increasing wage in their home states

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report states increasing minimum wage would help economy

09.01.14

SEPTEMBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Report states increasing minimum wage would help economy

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO joins national federation and APWU on boycott of Staples stores

09.01.14

SEPTEMBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO joins national federation and APWU on boycott of Staples stores

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, August 1st- The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Harrisburg announced the labor federation has endorsed the boycott of Staples office supply stores.

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

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

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

The APWU 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 Pennsylvania 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 nearest 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.

On July 21st, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, which approximately 800,000 union members from throughout the state are affiliated through their local labor organizations, endorsed the Staples boycott.

“We are asking our members, friends, family members and colleagues to take their business elsewhere,” stated Richard Bloomingdale, President of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO.

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, the APWU is finding 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 work together in developing methods to convince Staples to withdraw from the partnership with the USPS.

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO stated that since the deal with Staples was announced, the USPS has reduced the hours of service in more than two dozen San Francisco area post offices, all of which are near a Staples store with a postal counter.

“It is apparent that more cuts in postal services are planned, along with the eventual closing of U.S. Post Offices,” added Mr. Bloomingdale.

Meanwhile, the APWU wonders why the USPS would enter into an agreement with a company like Staples that announced in March it would close fifteen percent fo their stores this year, putting the health of the retailer in question.

“Staples itself is experiencing a decline in sales and has plans to close at least 225 stores by the end of 2015. we are concerned that in pursuing its arrangement with Staples, the USPS will leave many customers without access to any nearby Post Office,” added Mr. Bloomingdale.

The APWU 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.

Minimum wage increase fight to begin again in fall

08.23.14

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

Minimum wage increase fight to begin again in fall

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pennsylvania gubernational campaign getting underway for labor community

07.28.14

AUGUST 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Pennsylvania gubernational campaign getting underway for labor community

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, July 20th- The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg and affiliated members of the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council in Harrisburg along with nonaffiliated labor organizations such as the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) Union, are beginning to prepare to energize their members in a attempt to defeat Incumbent Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett in the November election.

The labor community has put a high priority on defeating Mr. Corbett in 2014.

The labor community, including those that supported other Democratic candidates in Pennsylvania’s primary election in May, have been endorsing Democratic nominee York businessman Tom Wolf. Mr. Wolf defeated three other Democrats that were seeking their party’s nomination for Pennsylvania Governor that wanted the chance to deny Mr. Corbett a second four-year term as Pennsylvania’s governor.

The majority of the labor organizations that made endorsements for the primary election supported Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord. However, many within the labor community, including the AFL-CIO, did not support any of the candidates seeking the Democratic nomination deciding to wait and support the primary winner.

The two largest public sector labor organizations that endorsed Mr. McCord for the spring election have since announced they will support Mr. Wolf for the November election.

The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union Council 13 voted to endorse Mr. Wolf only days after the primary election.

Mr. Wolf has made it clear if elected he would support issues important to the labor community including: improving oversight of charter and cyber charter schools; protect the right of workers to unionize and collectively bargain; veto any legislation that restricts the rights of workers, including repealing the agency fee, doing away with union dues deduction, eliminating the right of school employees to strike, and any change to the prevailing wage law.

Frank Sirianni, President of the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council, a statewide federation of construction trade unions’, stated the organization unanimously voted to endorse Mr. Wolf on June 30th.

“Our members, who are employed in virtually every community of Pennsylvania by more than 3,500 construction contractors and subcontractors, have spoken and they have told us with a forceful clarity that Tom Wolf represents a shining voice in the battle to make our Commonwealth’s government responsive to the hopes, needs and aspirations of working people in Pennsylvania.

Tom Wolf is a voice of welcoming reason who knows, first and foremost, that strengthening our communities, assuring a family sustaining wage for working families, focusing on access to health care for all Pennsylvanians, rationally protecting our resources, fairly securing our economy and enhancing the quality of education for our children are the keys to the return of fairness and progress in our society,” Mr. Sirianni said.

The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) District Council of Western Pennsylvania and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 154 have endorsed Mr. Corbett despite being considered to be one of or the most anti-union governors in Pennsylvania’s history.

Unions still expect anti-union payroll deduction legislation to re-appear in fall legislative session

07.28.14

AUGUST 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Unions still expect anti-union payroll deduction legislation to re-appear in fall legislative session

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, July 19th- Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett is struggling to energize the conservative base of his political party and trails Democratic nominee Tom Wolf by around 20 percentage points according to the latest polling. Mr. Corbett is continues to be receiving pressure from the party’s right to push legislation that would allow public sector workers to opt-out paying union dues in the fall legislative session.

Anti-union groups have spent thousands of dollars on mailings and lobbying to attempt to get House Bill (HB 1507) and Senate Bill (SB 1034) passed by the legislature that would prohibit the payroll deduction of union dues and fair-share fees of government workers. Should the legislation 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 anti-union group, the Commonwealth Foundation, has falsely stated that taxpayer resources are being used to collect political campaign contributions.

However, any financial cost occured by any government for the collection of political contributions by union members is reimbursed by the union.

Also, before any contribution is deducted for political purposes by a union, the individual public employee must first sign a card requesting the contribution be taken from their paycheck.

The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg released the list of State Republican legislators that have indicated they will not support the legislation or is leaning against support.

Pennsylvania Senator Patrick Browne (Republican-16th Legislative District), which includes part of Lehigh, Northampton and Monroe Counties, is listed on the labor federation’s list as leaning against supporting the legislation.

Minimum wage increase fight to begin again in fall

07.28.14

AUGUST 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Minimum wage increase fight to begin again in fall

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009.

Unions begin endorsing Tom Wolf for governor while several support Mr. Corbett

07.15.14

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

Unions begin endorsing Tom Wolf for governor while several support Mr. Corbett

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, June 19th- Labor community members, including those that supported other Democratic candidates seeking the chance to face incumbent Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett in November, have begun endorsing businessman Tom Wolf.

Mr. Wolf defeated three other Democrats that were seeking their party’s nomination for Pennsylvania Governor in the May primary election. Mr. Wolf will likely gain most of the support of organized labor and has already gained the support of the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg for the November election, along with several labor labor unions..

The labor community has put a high priority on defeating Mr. Corbett in 2014.

Mr. Wolf is receiving the endorsements of the labor community despite that most of the unions that did endorse a candidate for the primary election supported Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord. Many within the labor community did not make a endorsement of any candidate.

The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) District Council of Western Pennsylvania and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 154 have endorsed Mr. Corbett despite being considered to be one of or the most anti-union governor in Pennsylvania’s history.

The two largest public sector labor organizations that endorsed Mr. McCord for the spring election have since announced they will support Mr. Wolf for the November election.

The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union Council 13 voted to endorse Mr. Wolf only days after the primary election.

Mr. Wolf has made it clear if elected he would support issues important to the labor community including: improving oversight of charter and cyber charter schools; protect the right of workers to unionize and collectively bargain; veto any legislation that restricts the rights of workers, including repealing the agency fee, doing away with union dues deduction, eliminating the right of school employees to strike, and any change to the prevailing wage law.

Unions begin endorsing Tom Wolf for governor while several support Mr. Corbett

07.02.14

JULY 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Unions begin endorsing Tom Wolf for governor while several support Mr. Corbett

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 19th- Labor community members, including those that supported other Democratic candidates seeking the chance to face anti-union Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett in November, have begun endorsing businessman Tom Wolf.

Mr. Wolf defeated three other Democrats that were seeking their party’s nomination for Pennsylvania Governor in the May primary election. Mr. Wolf will likely gain most of the support of organized labor and has already gained the support of the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg for the November election.

The labor community has put a high priority on defeating Mr. Corbett in 2014.

Mr. Wolf is receiving the endorsements of the labor community despite that most of the unions that did endorse a candidate for the primary election supported Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord. However, most of the labor community did not make a endorsement of any of the candidates.

The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) District Council of Western Pennsylvania and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 154 have endorsed Mr. Corbett despite being considered to be one of or the most anti-union governors in Pennsylvania history.

The two largest public sector labor organizations that endorsed Mr. McCord for the spring election have since announced they will support Mr. Wolf for the November election.

The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union Council 13 voted to endorse Mr. Wolf only days after the primary election.

Mr. Wolf has made it clear if elected he would support issues important to the labor community including: improving oversight of charter and cyber charter schools; protect the right of workers to unionize and collectively bargain; veto any legislation that restricts the rights of workers, including repealing the agency fee, doing away with union dues deduction, eliminating the right of school employees to strike, and any change to the prevailing wage law.

PASNAP Union wants GMO labeling in United States

07.02.14

JULY 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

PASNAP Union wants GMO labeling in United States

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 14th- The Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP) Union, in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, which is affiliated with the California Nurses Association (CNA), have joined the campaign to recognize the health affects of the presence in food of Genetically Engineered Organisms (GMO’s).

GMO’s are currently present in the American food supply and PASNAP, which represents nurses in hospitals in the Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Philadelphia areas, and other health groups want to bring attention to the use of GMO’s in the American food supply.

The leadership of PASNAP unanimously passed a resolution in April at their annual delegate meeting in Harrisburg that request that food containing GMO ingredients be labeled.

The labor organization has requested that other members of the labor community join them in passing resolutions that would demand that GMO ingredients be labeled.

The PASNAP resolution stated that GMO food have been associated with significant health risks, including autoimmune diseases. Also, the GMO foods have been released into the food supply with no independent scientific analysis of the potential harm to human health.

GMO crops have been banned for human consumption in more than sixty countries including Japan, the European Union and Australia.

Unions waiting to see what happens with dues-deduction bills

06.20.14

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

Unions waiting to see what happens with dues-deduction bills

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, June 2nd- The labor community is quietly optimistic that the anti-union legislation that would ban payroll deduction clauses in labor agreements in all levels of governments will not be passed, at least before the Pennsylvania General Assembly recesses for the summer at the end of June.

Anti-union groups have spent thousands of dollars on mailings and lobbying to attempt to get House Bill (HB 1507) and Senate Bill (SB 1034) passed by the legislature that would prohibit the payroll deduction of union members and fair-share fees of government workers. Should the legislation 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 anti-union group, the Commonwealth Foundation, has falsely stated that taxpayer resources are being used to collect political campaign contributions.

However, any financial cost occured by any government for the collection of political contributions by union members is reimbursed by the union. Meaning, the claim made by the Commonwealth Foundation is inaccurate.

Also, before any contribution is deducted for political purposes by a union, the individual public employee must first sign a card requesting the contribution be taken from their paycheck.

If the legislation became law, organized labor would be singled-out because all other paycheck deductions, such as insurance companies, banks, and financial companies, would still be allowed.

The well financed anti-union out-of-state corporate special interest groups that seem to be determined to hurt labor organizations that represent government employees in Pennsylvania, have stated inaccuately that public employees are charged for political lobbying expenses. However, the employee is not even charged when the lobbying helps them too.

Washington Republicans block increase of minimum wage

06.20.14

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

Washington Republicans block increase of minimum wage

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 29th- The Senate Republicans in Washington DC did what they promised to do, block an increase of the federal minimum wage. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009.

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

The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, has been lobbying Washington legislators and organizing rallies supporting the raising of the federal minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSAct).

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

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

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

Several legislative bills have emerged that would increase the Pennsylvania minimum wage in 2014 but the bills will likely not see any action because Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett does not support increasing the wage and has been lobbying fellow Republicans to not support the increase of the hourly wage, stating the higher wage would harm the economy. The legislators begin their summer recess at the end of June.

On April 30th, the Minimum Wage Fairness Act was unsuccessful in gaining the 60 Senate votes needed to proceed that would have raised the wage to $10.25 an hour. The vote was 54 for to 42 against allowing debate on the measure.

There was only one Republican that voted in favor of the legislation. Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey voted against proceeding with the measure while Democratic Senator Robert Casey voted in favor.

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.

Organized labor supporting raising federal minimum wage

05.26.14

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

Organized labor supporting raising federal minimum wage

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 30th- The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, have began to rally support for the raising of the federal minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSAct).

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

AFL-CIO President recently attended a pro-minimum wage increase rally in New Jersey, stating that increasing the federal minimum wage would be good for workers and the community where they work.

Meanwhile, while both New Jersey and New York have increased their minimum wage above the federal level, in Pennsylvania the wage remains at $7.25 an hour. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009.

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

Several legislative bills have emerged that would increase the Pennsylvania minimum wage in 2014 but the bills will likely not see any action because Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett does not support increasing the wage and has been lobbying fellow Republicans to not support the increase of the wage.

President Obama wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Most of the lowest paid American workers are employed by large companies, many that have given huge raises to their executives after they recovered from the great recession. However, most have been reluctant to share their good fortune and increase their workers wages.

The United States economy has lost almost 6 million manufacturing jobs since 2000 while the American worker productivity increased during the time.

Pennsylvania Senator Christine Tartaglione (Democrat-2nd Legislative District) and Minority Caucus Secretary, has introduced a bill that would increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to what Mr. Obama requested, $10.10 an hour.

Anti-union dues deduction legislation still not passed

05.26.14

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

Anti-union dues deduction legislation still not passed

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 1st- The labor community seems to have slowed the momentum of the well financed anti-union out-of-state corporate special interest groups that seem to be determined to hurt labor organizations that represent government employees in Pennsylvania.

The labor community has been lobbying legislators against a proposal that if passed would ban payroll deduction clauses in labor agreements in all levels of governments. The attempt includes contacting union members at their homes by phone and requesting they call their state representatives requesting they not support the legislation.

Anti-union groups have spent thousands of dollars on mailings and lobbying to attempt to get House Bill (HB 1507) and Senate Bill (SB 1034) passed by the legislature that would prohibit the payroll deduction of union members and fair-share fees of government workers. Should the legislation 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 anti-union group, the Commonwealth Foundation, has falsely stated that taxpayer resources are being used to collect political campaign contributions.

However, any financial cost occured by any government for the collection of political contributions by union members is reimbursed by the union. Meaning, the claim made by the Commonwealth Foundation is inaccurate.

Also, before any contribution is deducted for political purposes by a union, the individual public employee must first sign a card requesting the contribution be taken from their paycheck.

If the legislation became law, organized labor would be singled-out because all other paycheck deductions, would still be allowed.

Local state representative election involves two labor community supporters

05.19.14

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

Local state representative election involves two labor community supporters

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 31st- Because of the 2010 census, two legislative districts of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in Lackawanna County that are currently represented by Democrats and have voted in the past to support the labor community in Harrisburg, are forced to run against each other.

Currently, the 112th Legislative District is represented by first-term Democrat Kevin Haggerty of Dunmore while 115th legislative District is represented by Frank Farina of Jessup.

Because of the new drawn 112th Legislative District, which will now include more of the mid-valley area of Lackawanna County, which is currently part of the 115th Legislative District, they must face each other on May 20th for their party’s nomination. There are three Democrats seeking their party’s nomination; Mr. Haggerty, Mr. Farina; and former Valley View School Director Bob Munley.

According to Mr. Haggerty, a 1991 Dunmore High School graduate, and a former United States Marine, who defeated incumbent fellow Democrat Ken Smith in 2012, he has the advanged in the May 20th Primary Election because most of the voters within the new 112th Legislative District he already represents and they know how hard he has worked for them during his time in Harrisburg.Mr. Farina as of press time April 6th, had not contacted the newspaper about his campaign or labor support.

“I think labor knows how hard I worked for them. I have supported legislation that helps them and voted against legislation that harms them,” said Mr. Haggerty.

In the fifteen months Mr. Haggerty has been in Harrisburg, many anti-union bills have been before the General Assembly including attempts to privatize the Pennsylvania Wine and Spirits stores, and weaken the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage law.

Mr. Haggerty’s wife is a member of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) Union. She is a teacher in the Riverside School District in Lackawanna County.

The labor community appears to be reluctant to voice public support for either Mr. Haggerty or Mr. Farina because they both have supported legislation important to the labor community while in Harrisburg.

Several labor leaders when contacted would not discuss on the record who they support in the May 20th election. Most of the labor community have not endorsed a candidate for the 112th district.

The winner of the May 20th election will likely be successful in November because no Republicans filed to challenged for the seat.