Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

GOP Says They’ll Continue Racist Voter Suppression Tactics


GOP Says They’ll Continue Racist Voter Suppression Tactics
By Steven Rosenfeld

Thursday 27 September 2007

In 2004, Republicans used a Jim Crow-era tactic to target the voter registrations of a half-million likely Democratic voters - often minorities - for Election Day challenges in nine states, a national voting rights group has charged in a new report.

“The intended effect of voter caging operations is to suppress minority votes,” Project Vote said in its report, “Caging: A Fifty-Year History of Partisan Challenges to Minority Voters. “Several court decisions and occasional public comment by Republican officials lend support to this conclusion.”

But Republicans say Project Vote’s report is biased because it excludes Democratic examples of filing fraudulent voter registrations to pad voter rolls and because it ignores Democratic efforts to “knock” opponents off the ballot, such as Ralph Nader in 2004, after identifying fraudulent signatures on his nominating petitions.

“When you send out a letter to people who have registered recently and the letter comes back as an address of an empty lot or is undeliverable, you tell me is that fraud or not?” said Heather Heidelbaugh, Republican National Lawyers Association vice president for Election Education. “When people say to me there is no such thing as evidence to commit voter fraud, it is false. I’ve seen it. I’ve witnessed it. I’ve lived through it.”

Project Vote’s report is likely to draw more congressional scrutiny of tactics that may continue in the upcoming presidential election. Since 2004, three battleground states - Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania - have “made it easier for private individuals to challenge a voter’s eligibility,” the report said, while two states, Washington and Minnesota, have passed laws “making it harder.”

While the report - like many Democrats - says the GOP is relying on voter suppression methods developed in once-segregated South, Republicans like Heidelbaugh say mass registration drives intended to bring in new Democratic voters often are rife with errors that can be used to pad vote totals. She defended the GOP’s use of mailings to identify voters to be challenged on Election Day as a legitimate tool to ensure fair elections.

“Both sides should recognize that voter fraud exists and both sides should want to minimize it without prohibiting anybody’s right to vote,” Heidelbaugh said. “The integrity of elections has to be maintained for the credibility of the system.”

Project Vote organizes voter registration drives among low-income voters and in 2004 worked with ACORN, another low-income advocacy group, to register 2.3 million people across the country. In several states, ACORN workers filed a handful of registrations that were shown to be false and some of its workers were subsequently tried and convicted. That
relationship undermines the credibility of the Project Vote report, said Heidelbaugh, who was Election Counsel in Pennsylvania for the Bush/Cheney ‘04 Campaign.

“It is telling me what I have seen for 23 years doesn’t exist,” she said. “It is a waste of my time to hear ACORN, which has been indicted for voter fraud, say that voter fraud doesn’t exist.”

Project Vote Deputy Director Michael Slater said GOP criticism of his group’s ties to ACORN was fair, but he said Project Group, which is non-partisan, did not find any evidence that Democrats had used the same “caging” tactic to try to repress likely Republican supporters from voting.

“We didn’t target the Republicans in our research,” Slater said. “We did a broad review, using multiple sets of tools and didn’t find incidents of Democratic voter caging. If we missed something, we’d like to know about it. We think vote caging is a problem. If Democrats did it we’d want it stopped as well.”

The Republican National Committee did not return phone calls to comment. However other RNLA members, who often oversee their party’s Election Day legal activities at the state level, said the voter challenges could reappear in 2008.

“I wish there was no need for any of this stuff,” said Michael Theilen, RNLA executive director. “But I don’t think we are there yet.”

“I think we are going to have big problems in many urban areas - Philadelphia, St. Louis, Madison, Los Angeles, Miami, Jax (Jacksonville), Washington, D.C.,” Thomas Spencer, RNLA vice chair, a Florida lawyer, said in an e-mail this summer. “I think that it is a huge and solvable problem.”

Republican Ballot Security

The Project Vote report details a half-century of Republican “ballot-security” efforts, culminating in a multi-state effort in 2004 to disenfranchise likely Democratic voters through a tactic called “caging.” That effort begins with a mailing Republicans send to newly registered voters. If those letters are returned, the GOP assumes the recipient’s
address on their voter registration form is incorrect and the registrationis fraudulent.

Republicans identified 500,000 individuals whose registrations were to be challenged on Election Day in 2004, Project Vote reported. The GOP, usually at the state party level, recruited thousands of volunteers to monitor who signs in to vote at local precincts with the goal of contesting the registrations of the people who did not respond to its mailing. This practice is legal and allowed in most states.

Project Vote noted that relying on undelivered mail was weak standard to disqualify voters, because postal delivery rates tend to fall off in lower-income neighborhoods. In 2004, journalist Greg Palast reported soldiers serving in Iraq were among those who did not receive mailings and were put on GOP lists in Florida to be challenged.

Federal courts have found “caging” can violate the Voting Rights Act, which bars race-based discrimination in elections. Comparing the demographics of zip codes where the mailings are sent and the challenges are conducted is one tool used by federal courts to make that determination.

A 1982 federal court decree barred the Republican National Committee from caging after the RNC targeted African-American and Hispanic voters in New Jersey. That decision was reaffirmed in 1986 in a separate case involving African-American voters in Louisiana. Since then, state Republican Parties have contended in recent litigation that these rulings only apply to the RNC, as state parties are different political entities.

According to Project Vote, Republican Parties in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin targeted hundreds of thousands of voters in 2004. Individuals who described themselves as partisan Republicans did the same thing on a smaller scale in Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Kentucky, the report found. These efforts were mostly unsuccessful due to a mix of factors: ensuing litigation that stopped or delayed the challenges; and protests by local election officials and in some cases by African-American Republicans who were angered they had been targeted by their political party.

“The party went too far for some of its members,” the report said.

Republicans say the measures are necessary to prevent “voter fraud,” a widespread belief among some Republicans that large numbers of Democratic voters are voting more than once, stuffing ballot boxes and doing other illegal actions to win elections. Independent studies - including a recent U.S. Election Assistance Commission report that was initially censored - have found rare instances of this kind of abuse on both sides of the aisle, although it is usually insignificant in terms of swaying election outcomes.

The RNLA’s Heidelbaugh, who ran the GOP’s legal efforts in Pennsylvania in 2004, said there was a “national concerted effort by Democrats to try to convince the American public that voter fraud doesn’t occur.”

However, in 2004 in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh where several universities are located, she said she witnessed hundreds of students being bussed in from New York who demanded to vote after local precincts had run out of provisional ballots. Heidelbaugh said local election judges allowed the students - who she said were John Kerry supporters - to vote, creating a stir that did not end until sheriffs impounded the voting machines. She said the media did not cover the incident and no charges were brought after the election.

“Bush won. Where are the kids?” she said. “Who am I going to bring
charges against?”

Jim Crow Roots

Caging and other ballot security measures have their roots in the South after the Civil War when “former Confederate states reacted to strong political participation” by African-Americans, the report said. “The Southern system had five salient features: burdensome residency requirements, periodic registration, imposition of poll taxes, literacy or understanding requirements and stringent disqualification provisions.”

Today’s push by Republicans for new voter identification laws, aggressive voter roll purges, and more elaborate voter registration requirements are seen as continuing this political legacy, according to the report’s authors.

“Many of the state challenges laws have their roots in the post-Reconstruction Era and are relics of Jim Crow laws intended to deprive African-Americans of their franchise,” it said. “The origin of Florida’s voter challenge statute, for example, illuminates the racial bias behind its passage … In 1887, federal law pre-empted Florida law and extended the right to vote to African-American men. The newly re-enfranchised African-American voters responded by voting in large numbers. In response, one year later, the Florida legislature enacted a challenge voters statute that extended the power to challenge to private poll watchers.

“The current Florida statute on voter challenges permits poll watchers to challenge a voter merely by signing an oath that states they have “reason to believe” that the voter is ineligible to vote and stating the reasons for the challenge.”

There is little question that “caging” and other “ballot security” issues are alive in 2008.

Last week, a coalition of civil rights groups sued Florida alleging that new technology used to create statewide voter databases was disenfranchising thousands of minority voters because of mistakes in the state records used to validate the registrations. And this week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a suit on whether Indiana’s new voter I.D.
requirements unfairly keep poor people and minority groups from voting.

## ## -
Steven Rosenfeld is a senior fellow at and co-author of
What Happened in Ohio: A Documentary Record of Theft and Fraud in the 2004
Election, with Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman (The New Press, 2006).

USW Launches North American Awareness Campaign to Combat Toxic Imports


USW Launches North American Awareness Campaign to Combat Toxic Imports

Distributing thousands of lead screening kits in U.S., Canada.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The United Steelworkers (USW) today launched a major public awareness and lead screening campaign to combat the massive influx of toxic imports endangering North American families.

The “Protect Our Kids – Stop Toxic Imports” campaign offers a limited number of free Get the Lead Out screening kits through or and provides other tools to fight the failed trade and inadequate regulatory policies that are allowing dangerous products to threaten our children and jobs.

The U.S. leg of the campaign was announced at the Capitol a day after the effort kicked off in Toronto at the union’s Women of Steel Conference, where nearly 1,000 activists received lead screening kits and planned international mobilization against toxic trade.

Women of Steel and the USW’s Health, Safety and the Environment team will conduct “Safe Home Sessions” across the United States and Canada, where they will do lead screening and provide training on how to remove lead products. Education about trade issues and tips for political action also will be provided.

“Toxic toys. Lead-laced baby bibs. Poisoned pet food. Red lead in Chinese-made steel. Every day the list of imported products that endanger our families and workers grows. It’s time for this to stop – our political leaders must deal with the failed trade policies that are the root cause of this crisis,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard.

Millions of North American manufacturing jobs have been lost to globalization, including several hundred union jobs at an Etch A Sketch factory in Ohio that moved production to China, where a lack of workers rights and safety and environmental standards is well documented.

Yet in the U.S., the number of Food and Drug Administration inspectors has been cut every year since 2003 while the volume of food imports has almost doubled. And as the $233 billion trade deficit with China grows at 20 percent a year, the import-inspecting Consumer Product Safety Commission has seen its staff of 800 slashed to about half that - and the Bush administration proposed cutting 19 more staffers.

“China’s attempt to export its poor standards is a serious problem but a huge number of dangerous imports are made for North American manufacturers that choose profits over safety. Meanwhile, our government regulatory agencies are being gutted. Those facts are equally as disturbing,” Gerard said.

Earlier this year, U.S.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. recalled more than 10,000 vinyl bibs because they contained lead. Other toxic imports include toothpaste, seafood, children’s lunch boxes and pet food.

“The ‘Stop Toxic Imports’ campaign will put pressure on politicians and multinational corporations to address unregulated trade while also drawing on the USW’s lead safety expertise to empower people to protect our kids, grandkids and our workers,” said Ken Neumann, the USW’s National Director in Canada.

The USW has a long history when it comes to lead safety. In the 1960s, former Steelworkers President George Becker led the effort to protect workers from lead, including writing the lead standard adopted by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Now, the Health, Safety and the Environment Departments in the U.S. and Canada continue that work by fighting for improved standards and regulations for lead and other dangers.

The USW wanted to share its expertise with consumers as they deal with the massive list of recalled lead-laced and defective Chinese-made toys, including more than 20 million recalled by the world’s largest toy maker, Mattel Inc. Lead can cause a variety of health problems, including learning disabilities, stunted growth, kidney damage and even death.

U.S. Sen. Brown, (D-Ohio), who hosted the Capitol announcement, said the union is offering a critical public service. “From food to toothpaste, toys to tires, we must do more to protect our families from contaminated and defective imports. Safeguarding consumers from unsafe products is the most basic of government functions – we must protect our families and our children.”

“Safe Home Sessions” are scheduled throughout the fall across North America, including in Toronto, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Mobile, Ala., Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Pa., Des Moines, Iowa, and Chicago, home of grandmother Marilyn Furer.

Furer tested her baby grandson’s bibs and discovered high lead levels – a discovery that prompted the Wal-Mart recall. She later joined the USW as an Associate Member because of the union’s fight against flawed trade policies.

“Nothing is more important than keeping my family safe so I’m angry. It’s bad enough that we’ve seen so many jobs go overseas but now lead-covered bibs and other dangerous products have been allowed to find their way into our homes,” Furer said. “The USW is helping grandparents and parents send the message that a cheaper price tag is not worth our babies’ health. We are tired of businesses putting profits before our families. It’s time to get the lead out and stop toxic trade.”

The Steelworkers’ campaign is supported by the Public Health Institute ( and the Center for Environmental Health (

The USW represents 850,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada employed in the industries of metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service sector. For more information:

Following Bush Over a Cliff- By David S. Broder


Following Bush Over a Cliff

By David S. Broder
Thursday, September 27, 2007; A25

Link to Washington Post column

The spectacle Tuesday of 151 House Republicans voting in lock step with the White House against expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) was one of the more remarkable sights of the year. Rarely do you see so many politicians putting their careers in jeopardy.

The bill they opposed, at the urging of President Bush, commands healthy majorities in both the House and Senate but is headed for a veto because Bush objects to expanding this form of safety net for the children of the working poor. He has staked out that ground on his own, ignoring or rejecting the pleas of conservative senators such as Chuck Grassley and Orrin Hatch, who helped shape the compromise that the House approved and that the Senate endorsed.

SCHIP has been one of the most successful health-care measures created in the past decade. It was started in 1997 with support from both parties, in order to insure children in families with incomes too high to receive Medicaid but who could not afford private insurance.

The $40 billion spent on SCHIP in the past 10 years financed insurance for roughly 6.6 million youngsters a year. The money was distributed through the states, which were given considerable flexibility in designing their programs. The insurance came from private companies, at rates negotiated by the states.

Governors of both parties ## 43 of them, again including conservatives such as Sonny Perdue of Georgia ## have praised the program. And they endorsed the congressional decision to expand the coverage to an additional 4 million youngsters, at the cost of an additional $35 billion over the next five years. The bill would be financed by a 61-cents-a-pack increase in cigarette taxes. If ever there was a crowd-pleaser of a bill, this is it. Hundreds of organizations ## grass-roots groups ranging from AARP to United Way of America and the national YMCA ## have called on Bush to sign the bill. America’s Health Insurance Plans, the largest insurance lobbying group, endorsed the bill on Monday.

But Bush insists that SCHIP is “an incremental step toward the goal of government-run health care for every American” ## an eventuality he is determined to prevent.

Bush’s adamant stand may be peculiar to him, but the willingness of Republican legislators to line up with him is more significant. Bush does not have to face the voters again, but these men and women will be on the ballot in just over a year ## and their Democratic opponents will undoubtedly remind them of their votes.

Two of their smartest colleagues ## Heather Wilson of New Mexico and Ray LaHood of Illinois ## tried to steer House Republicans away from this political self-immolation, but they had minimal success. The combined influence of White House and congressional leadership ## and what I would have to call herd instinct ## prevailed.

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) argued that “rather than taking the opportunity to cover the children that cannot obtain coverage through Medicaid or the private marketplace, this bill uses these children as pawns in their cynical attempt to make millions of Americans completely reliant upon the government for their health-care needs.”

In his new book, former Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan wrote that his fellow Republicans deserved to lose their congressional majority in 2006 because they let spending run out of control and turned a blind eye toward misbehavior by their own members. Now, those Republicans have given voters a fresh reason to question their priorities ## or their common sense.

Saying no to immigration reform and measures to shorten the war in Iraq may be politically defensible, because there are substantial constituencies who question the wisdom of those bills ## and who favor alternative policies. But the Bush administration’s arguments against SCHIP ## the cost of the program and the financing ## sound hollow at a time when billions more are being spent in Iraq with no end in sight. Bush’s alternative ## a change in the tax treatment of employer-financed health insurance ## has some real appeal, but it is an idea he let languish for months after offering it last winter. And, in the judgment of his fellow Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee, Bush’s plan is too complex and controversial to be tied to the renewal of SCHIP.

This promised veto is a real poison pill for the GOP.

Arbitrator rules for union in dispute with IRS


Arbitrator rules for union in dispute with IRS

By Alyssa Rosenberg September 26, 2007

An independent arbitrator has ruled that Internal Revenue Service officials acted improperly in unilaterally terminating certain provisions of the agency’s contract with employees represented by the National Treasury Employees Union.

Managers’ prerogative to assign and schedule work did not outweigh the IRS’ obligation to bargain in good faith with NTEU, arbitrator Roger Abrams said in a Sept. 21 decision. He ordered the agency to give proper notice if it wishes to bargain over the measures.

“NTEU now has two highly respected and independent arbitrators ruling that the decisions management made in structuring its term bargaining strategy were illegal from beginning to end,” said NTEU President Colleen Kelley in a statement.

Robert Marvin, an IRS spokesman, said the agency had no comment on either the decision or any possible follow-up actions.

In June 2006 when the contract expired, IRS officials announced the agency was withdrawing from three “permissive and unenforceable” provisions, even though the old contract remained in effect until new terms were reached. The provisions gave NTEU the right to review training materials and certain performance standards, assign members to work teams in accordance with IRS specifications, and hold 30-minute meetings without supervisors present after formal meetings convened by the IRS and related to conditions of employment.

The IRS argued that the provisions constituted an undue restriction on the rights of management to direct and schedule work assignments. That claim was at the core of Abrams’ decision.

“A federal agency must bargain in good faith about terms and conditions of employment, so-called ‘mandatory subjects of bargaining’,” he wrote. “It is not required, however, to engage in substantive bargaining about decisions that fall within managerial control . . . . Management is permitted to bargain about these matters, but it is not required to do so by law.”

Determining what falls under that managerial scope was difficult, Abrams said.

“When employees would benefit and the burden on management is minimal, the matter is negotiable,” he stated.

Abrams concluded that in the case of the 30-minute meetings, “the union presented evidence . . . that these time-limited but timely meetings are more efficient than meeting with each employee separately. . . . Communicating with all of the employees in one place may, in fact, result in less disruption of management rights to assign work than the alternative.”

Abrams also argued that because the IRS “determines the precise qualifications of the persons who would serve” on the working groups that could veto or approve training materials and performance measurements, “it is able to maintain its overall status and control.”

But regardless of the substance of the individual provisions at issue, Abrams ruled that the IRS’ actions damaged the relationship between the agency and the union.

“The union says the agency’s actions on June 30, 2006, undermined its status as the exclusive bargaining representative, and that is true,” Abrams wrote. “Even more importantly, it undermined the structure of the parties’ relationship. As such, the unilateral abrogation of those provisions constituted an unfair labor practice and the failure to bargain about the impact and implementation of the decision violated the National Agreement.”

This decision was the second issued by an arbitrator in response to the dispute between the IRS and NTEU. A July decision by David Vaughn said that the “totality of agency conduct [toward contract negotiations] establishes bad-faith bargaining.” A decision on a third grievance is pending.

NTEU has asked the Federal Labor Relations Authority to prevent the Federal Service Impasses Panel from imposing bargaining rules on the union and the IRS, arguing that Vaughn’s decision said that bad-faith bargaining meant the parties were not yet at impasse.

“The FSIP is composed entirely of individuals appointed by this president without Senate confirmation and who have shown consistently low regard for employee collective bargaining rights,” Kelley said.

GM Strike by UAW


From AFL-CIO Blog:

Sept. 25, 2007

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger says General Motors’ refusal to
address workers’ job security as the “No. 1 issue” in
negotiations was akin to being “pushed off a cliff.” The 73,000
striking union members have made extraordinary efforts to help
GM through hard times. Says Gettelfinger, “We’ve done a lot of
things to help that company. There comes a point in time when
you have to draw the line in the sand.” Negotiations are

UAW Strikes General Motors

EDITOR’S NOTE: I spent a little over 4 hours today walking a picket line for UAW Local 435 in Wilmington, Delaware at a GM plant. I urge all union activists and union supporters to volunteer time to walk picket lines. Contact your closest UAW local for details about how best to support the effort. All loyal Americans need to draw a line in the sand and demand an end to greedy corporations sending good American jobs to Third World nations.

We need to change government policies to make it unprofitable to outsource and profitable to produce goods in America. It is time to tax and regulate imports. It is time for government provided universal healthcare. We should forbid American companies from undermining the American economy for private financial gain.

Please stand with the auto workers. The next job lost might be your own!


UAW Members Back on Job

Abolish Norfolk Southern Camp Cars


Abolish Norfolk Southern Camp Cars

The men who build and maintain railroad tracks and bridges endure inhuman living conditions on the Norfolk Southern railroad. Norfolk Southern is the only railroad corporation in the U.S. that continues to use camp cars.

View this video to see for yourself how these employees are forced to live:

The company’s camp cars are no more than converted freight cars or trailers. Except that these cars house up to eight men per car. That’s approximately 50 square feet of space, per person. In comparison, a typical cell at a Supermax prison has 84 square feet per person and comes with an indoor toilet. Most Norfolk Southern camp cars don’t even have indoor toilets.

Now the lobbyists of Norfolk Southern are pounding the pavement on Capitol Hill, trying to convince lawmakers to strip out language in House Bill 2095, the 2007 Rail Security Bill. The bill currently contains language that eliminates camp cars.

Let’s fight to keep the elimination of camp cars in the House bill. Click here to easily send a message to your Congressmen telling them to support this bill.


Lehigh Valley (PA) Unions calling for removal of the United Way President Susan Gilmore


October, 2007 edition of the Union News

Unions calling for removal of the United Way
President Susan Gilmore


REGION, September 14th- The number of unions from throughout the Lehigh Valley calling for the President of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley to resign is growing.
Some within the labor community are disappointed with the decertification of the United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union Local 2599 in May as the bargaining representative for administrative secretaries employed at the organization’s office in Bethlehem.
Local 2599 President Jerry Green believes United Way President Susan Gilmore was behind the decertfication of his union.
Bill Newhard, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Lehigh Valley labor federation agrees with Mr. Green, Ms. Gilmore encouraged some of the employees to decertify the union. “As far as we are concerned, she must go. She is anti-union and we won’t support the United Way until she is gone,” said Mr. Newhard.
The labor federation represents 20 affiliated construction trade unions throughout the Lehigh Valley. Mr. Newhard is also the Business Manager and Principal Officer of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 375, which represents workers employed within the electrical construction industry.
Ms. Gilmore stated in the August edition of the newspaper, she was not involved in attempting to convince the employees to remove the union. She has been President of the community organization for around two years, and acknowledged to the newspaper prior to moving to the Lehigh Valley had no relationship with organized labor. “I was raised in Texas, a right-to-work state. I didn’t have any involvement with labor, but I respect them,” Ms. Gilmore said.
Edward Balukus, President of the United Auto Workers of America (UAW) Union Local 677 Allentown, which represents around 1,600 workers employed at Mack Trucks, told the newspaper his union also will no longer support the United Way. He said most of his member’s have already signed cards removing their United Way pledges, funds deducted from their paychecks.
Mr. Green said it is outragous that Susan Gilmore is being paid $142,000 a year to bust unions by the United Way of America. “Our union feels that it would be in the community’s best interest if Susan Gilmore would get out of the way and make room for somebody workers can trust to lead our United Way,” said Mr. Green.

PA 15th Congressional candidate Sam Bennett wants labor support


October, 2007 edition of the Union News

Congressional candidate Sam Bennett wants labor support


REGION, September 13th- Sam Bennett, Democratic United States House of Representatives 15th District candidate, told the newspaper she wants to represent the working people and their unions in Washington beginning in 2009.
According to Ms. Bennett two term incumbent Republican Congressman Charles Dent has not supported the working people in the Lehigh Valley since being in Washington. She told the newspaper, Mr. Dent has shown what he thinks of the labor community by voting against the Employee Free Choice Act, which passed the House of Representatives in March 241-185. The legislation would replace how union elections are conducted in workplaces with a “card check” system. Despite being passed by the House of Representatives the legislation failed to become law.
Ms. Bennett also pointed out that Congressman Dent voted against raising the federal minimum wage.
Interviewed by telephone, Ms. Bennett stated organized labor has already got involved with her political campaign for Congress for 2008. All 435 United States House of Representatives two-year terms will expire in 2008.
“Charlie can be beat. I want to represent the working people in Washington, he won’t and never has,” said Ms. Bennett.
In the previous edition of the newspaper it was reported Pennsylvania Senator 18th Legislative District, Democrat Lisa Boscola, is putting some serious consideration into running for Mr. Dent’s seat in 2008. “He is beatable. Since being in Washington he has voted against the working people more than he voted to support them,” said Ms. Boscola.
Ms. Boscola told the newspaper if she decides to challenge Mr. Dent, she too will ask the labor community for their support.
According to Bill Newhard, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Lehigh Valley labor federation and Business Manager and Principal Officer of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 375, Allentown, which represents workers employed in the electrical construction industry, his union and many of the 20 affiliated building trade unions of the labor federation, have contributed to Sam Bennett’s 2008 campaign, and plans to ask their members to vote for her in next years election.
Mr. Newhard added however, Lisa Boscola has a great relationship with the members of the construction trade unions, and the unions may “reuvaluate” their position should Senator Boscola decide to enter the race.
Sam Bennett believes as does Ms. Boscola, Congressman Dent has been a “rubber stamp” for President Bush. “He promised to be a moderate, but he almost always votes to support President Bush and his anti-union conservative policies,” said Ms. Bennett.
“Charlie Dent is vulnerable. He doesn’t represent the thinking of the working people in the Lehigh Valley,” said Ms. Bennett.
Congressman Dent has no intention of conceding the labor vote to the Democratic party nominee, said Shawn Millan, Campaign Manager of Dent for Congress. “No way are we conceding any votes. The congressman may disagree with some of the positions unions have, but also he agrees with them on issues as well,” said Mr. Millan.

Good News from Lehigh Valley (PA) on CWA Organizing at LifePath


Good afternoon,

In a vote of 166 yes vs. 138 no, over 465 LifePath workers will now be represented by CWA Local 13500!! Congratulations to all of the new members at LifePath and to CWA Organizer, Pam Tronsor and Asst. to the V.P. Marge Krueger on their tireless work to bring this one home for Labor!! The Lehigh Valley Labor Council assisted in this drive, and the big prizes were letters from former LifePath employee Mike D’Amore, who also serves as Allentown City Councilman, Rep. Joe Brennan, and especially Auditor General Jack Wagner.

Once again, an example of having strong political allies in place to assist Organized Labor when it is needed. The real work begins now with negotiations for a first contract. We will in all probability be calling on elected officials to assist and put pressure on LifePath to negotiate in good faith. Now, on to a first contract!!

In unity,

Gregg J. Potter
President, Lehigh Valley Labor Council

Unions Boost Productivity


Unions bring higher wages and better benefits to the workers they represent, but they also bring increased productivity to employers and the overall economy.

Anti-union critics say unionization lowers productivity. But according to recent data from the International Labor Organization and some anecdotal analysis of highly unionized employers like United Parcel Service, that argument is bogus.

The media pumped out stories on U.S. productivity over the Labor Day weekend with headlines proclaiming the “U.S. Leads in Productivity”. But the fine print in the ILO data on which they were based tells another story. The reality is that U.S. workers produce more than workers in other advanced nations because they work 300 to 400 hours longer per year than workers in Europe and Japan.

The media grabbed the raw output numbers in the ILO report, but looking at the real measures of productivity in the ILO data - output per hour worked and productivity growth over time - the U.S. falls to the bottom of the heap among the industrialized nations. And one of the reasons for the drop in U.S. relative productivity that is never talked about is the impact of declining real wages.

Basic economics says that as labor costs rise the incentive for capital investment increases - hence rising productivity. The opposite holds as well - when wages fall there is a relative disincentive to make new capital investments.

As real wages in the U.S. have fallen, so too has the incentive for companies to make productivity enhancing capital investments. In fact, in the U.S., where real wages are lower than they were in the 1970s, there is a perverse incentive to substitute labor for capital.

Recent data (ILO, Bureau of Labor Statistics) shows that where union density and real wages are high, for example in the manufacturing sector, productivity growth is more rapid.

The European countries with strong productivity growth have much higher unionization rates than the United States. In Ireland, for example, where 40 percent of the manufacturing workforce is unionized, productivity per hour worked rose at an average annual rate of 8.5 percent from 1980 to 2005, more than double the U.S. rate.

Higher productivity growth rates and higher wages go hand-in-hand in Europe, where unions remain strong and the wage-setting power of unions reaches a much larger portion of the labor force through pattern bargaining and nationwide agreements. In virtually every European nation with strong productivity growth, total compensation has increased at a higher annual rate than in the U.S.

We can also see that phenomenon in highly unionized firms in the U.S., including in the service sector. The New York Times did a story in July that showed that productivity at United Parcel Service - the most highly-unionized and highly-paid service sector company in America - is skyrocketing as a result of extensive technological research and innovation. UPS has spent more than $600 million in research on package flow technology in recent years.

The research at UPS is paying off. Last year, it cut 28 million miles from truck routes in good part by mapping routes that minimize left turns.

While not the only reason for UPS’ heavy investment in technological research, the fact that UPS’s workers receive high wages and benefits as a result of their Teamster union contract is certainly an added incentive for the company to operate more efficiently. If UPS drivers and sorters were making the same wage and benefit package as their lesser-paid counterparts at FedEx, the drive to be more efficient and keep delivery rates down would not be as great.

In the end, higher wages and better conditions - the result of unions - are good for workers and good for America.

Greg Tarpinian is the Executive Director of Change to Win.

Corzine Defies Bush on SCHIP Limits


Corzine Defies Bush on SCHIP Limits

When the Bush administration tried a stealth attack on the State
Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), late one Friday
evening last month, by announcing rules limiting families’
eligibility for the health care coverage, it sparked outrage.
Now it’s generated outright defiance. New Jersey Gov. Jon
Corzine says his state will not follow the rules, which could
deny health coverage to as many as 10,000 children. Instead, the
state will continue to enroll children under the current rules
and may take legal action against the new eligibility rules.
Congress has passed legislation to renew SCHIP. Bush says he
will veto the bill because it gives health coverage to too many

Philadelphia Organized Labor Mobilization Against Iraq War


Dear CLUW Members:

Read on for a response to General Petraeus’ report to Congress this week from United for Peace and Justice.

CLUW (Coalition of Labor Union Women) will be participating in a major regional mobilization against the war here in Philadelphia on Saturday, October 27, sponsored by UFPJ and many other groups, including the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO. Watch for a mailing in the next week or two with more details. Please mark that date on your calendar and plan to join us for a couple of hours.

In Solidarity,
Kathy Black
Chapter President
[Here’s page one; use link to download entire document]

Produced and distributed by United for Peace and Justice

The so-called Petraeus Report-actually written within the White House-is supposed to evaluate “progress” in
the U.S. war and surging occupation of Iraq based on a set of congressionally-determined benchmarks.
Those evaluations will ostensibly provide an overview of how far along U.S.-occupied Iraq is in achieving
“stability,” “democracy,” “equity between groups,” and more.

But however the White House drafters and General Petraeus and the spindoctors assess the benchmarks,
what the report will almost certainly NOT do is provide a true glimpse of what the shattered lives of the 25
million Iraqis look like today.

It will almost certainly NOT mention the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians dead because of the U.S.
war and occupation: the British medical journal Lancet reported 650,000 dead as of two years ago and casualties
have increased since.

It will probably NOT say much about the two million Iraqis who have fled the war to seek hard-to-find refuge
in neighboring countries, nor the additional two million Iraqis forced by war-fueled violence to flee their homes
and who remain displaced and homeless inside Iraq.

It will very likely NOT mention that most Iraqis have electricity for only about five hours a day, that clean
water remains scarce for most and unobtainable for many, and that Iraq’s oil production remains a fraction of
what it was before war.

It is NOT likely to highlight the fact that the Pentagon has already spent $456 billion or so of our tax dollars,
occupation, war and violence have so devestated the Iraqi economy that unemployment has reached up to
40% and higher, and underemployment an additional 10% or more.

If the report has anything close to a true assessment, it would acknowledge that the lives of people in 2007
Iraq are worse than ever.

It will NOT admit to another set of truths as well. The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq was illegal, and in violation of
the United Nations Charter. It was based on lies, and those lies have NOT become truths just because the
U.S. occupation has now continued for 4 and 1/2 years.

• The war was NOT launched because Iraq had weapons of mass destruction; it didn’t;
• The U.S. did NOT invade Iraq because Saddam Hussein was tied to al-Qaeda; he wasn’t;
• The U.S. did NOT invade to bring democracy to the people of Iraq; it hasn’t.

The failure of the Iraq War has also meant a huge cost to our
democracy at home. We have paid an enormous price: in the
deaths and shattered minds and bodies of our young soldiers; in
the threats to an economy ravaged by billion-dollar bills to pay for
an illegal war; in the destruction of so much of our infrastructure,
security and social fabric because of human and financial
resources diverted to Iraq; and in the shredding of our Constitution
and civil rights as fear becomes a weapon in the hands of the
Bush administration aimed at Congress, the courts and the people
of this country.

//////// \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW)
\\\\\\\\ ////////////////////////////////////////////////////
PMB 153
1718 “M” Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
Voicemail: 202/521-5265
Co-convenors: Kathy Black, Gene Bruskin, Maria Guillen, Fred Mason,
Bob Muehlenkamp, and Nancy Wohlforth
Michael Eisenscher, National Coordinator & Webmaster
Adrienne Nicosia, Administrative Staff
Tom Gogan, Organizer

Many Governors siding against American workers on H-1B visa issue- ask yours to side with us!


Link to Information Week article

Governors Send Letter Urging Congress To Raise H-1B Visa Cap

A bi-partisan group of 13 governors told Congress that more visas for
foreign workers are needed to ensure economic growth and innovation.

By Marianne Kolbasuk McGee, InformationWeek
Sept. 12, 2007

Just when it seemed that the prospect of raising the H-1B visa cap looked
improbable this year, a bi-partisan group of 13 governors is urging
Congress to resume those discussions now.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Senate and House of Representative minority and
majority leaders, the 13 governors urge Congress to act this year on
raising the cap, despite “wholesale immigration reform” not being possible
in the current Congress.

Proposals for raising the visa cap from a current total of 85,000 to
115,000 annually appeared to be a causality of Congress’ failed
comprehensive immigration reform bill this summer. In the letter, the
governors ## many from states with large tech-related industries ## remind
Congress that the H-1B “supply ran out on the first day of the filing
period” this year. The U.S. begins accepting applications for H-1B visas on
April 1 for issuance in the next fiscal year starting Oct. 1. This year,
within two days, the U.S. received nearly double the requests for H-1B
visas than can be issued. H-1B visa is the most popular visa used to allow
foreign technologists to work in the U.S.

“If states like ours are to remain world leaders in innovation and intend
to continue to see the job growth that is so vital to our economies, we
must keep our employers in our states and ensure there is a skilled
workforce in this country to fill their immediate needs,” says the letter
signed by governors including Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, Deval
Patrick of Massachusetts, Rick Perry of Texas, Chris Gregoire of
Washington, and Elliot Spitzer of New York.

The other governors signing the letter include Jim Doyle of Wisconsin,
Mitch Daniels of Indiana, Bill Ritter of Colorado, Dave Freudenthal of
Wyoming, Janet Napolitano of Arizona, Jim Gibbons of Nevada, Kathleen
Sebelius of Kansas, and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota.

Until now, members of Congress have been pressured to raise the H-1B cap
primarily by tech companies and industry lobbyists. The organized push by a
group of governors is new.

Drive Union


Drive Union
by Mike Hall, Sep 9, 2007

Before you venture down to an auto showroom and match wits and bargaining skills with the sales staff—before you decide exactly “what will it take for you to drive off in one of these beauties today”—make sure you’ve found quality, whether it’s a dependable family sedan, sporty crossover, hybrid or rugged pickup truck.

How do you know? Step over here and take a look at this beauty—the UAW’s 2008 Union-Built Car and Truck Guide. Says UAW President Ron Gettelfinger:

Union members in the United States and Canada make a wide variety of top-quality vehicles in every category and in every price range….Members of our union are totally dedicated to safety, quality and productivity, and their hard work is paying off.

The guide lists all vehicles made by UAW members, members of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and IUE-CWA. They include the familiar brands such as Buick, Chevrolet, Ford, Mercury, Dodge and Jeep, as well as union-made models from Isuzu, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Saab, Suzuki and Toyota—even several Hummer models, the Suzuki XL7 and the Mazda 6.

Car shoppers should remember: Not all vehicles made in the United States or Canada are built by union-represented workers. The Toyota Corolla, for example, is made in the United States by UAW members, but the Canadian model is made in a nonunion plant and other models are imported from a third country.

To sort that out and to make sure your eye is on a union-made car or truck, be sure to download the 2008 guide and drive union.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Please go to original article by clicking link at the top of this post. The original article has links built into the article that provide important additional information.)

Frank Kratovil for Congress in the 1st Congressional District of Maryland


This writer recently had a chance to meet with this Democratic Congressional candidate. He has an excellent chance of replacing Republican incumbent Wayne Gilchrest. Gilchrest is no friend of working Americans to say the least.

Gilchrest voted against the Employee Free Choice Act. He voted against expanding healthcare for children. He supported almost every evil thing the Bush Republicans did to American workers for the past 7 years.

Gilchrest has a strong primary challenger from even further to the Right in Senator Harris. It is likely that Gilchrest will be defeated in the Republican Primary. The Maryland Republicans are badly divided at every level.

Kratovil is a likely new pro-labor vote in Congress if he can meet the campaign funding challenge. As Queen Annes County States Attorney, Kratovil is used to winning in Republican-leaning areas. He is very friendly on most issues important to working families.

Major Labor Action at Camden Yards in Baltimore


Cleaning Up After the Orioles
by Dave Zirin

Finally something newsworthy is happening at Camden Yards in September. No, it’s not the Baltimore Orioles limping toward another lackluster finish at their ornate ballpark, famous for selling old-time baseball nostalgia at high-end prices. It’s the scrappy members of the United Workers Association, fighting both the resistance of the Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA) and the apathy of Orioles owner Peter Angelos for a living wage.

The UWA, a human rights group founded by homeless day laborers in Baltimore, represents 800 low-wage workers who make up the pool of the 100-120 people who keep Camden Yards clean. Stadium workers## the people who clean out the bathroom stalls, sweep up the small mountains of cigarette butts and make the Camden Yards experience as pristine as promised## make poverty wages, just $7 an hour.

Work schedules for stadium workers can vary as well. Some workweeks can be well over forty hours; in other weeks, if the Orioles are on the road, the laborers don’t work at all. Take-home pay varies accordingly, depending on the number of home games in a week and how long the games last. The windfall earned from a game that goes into extra innings can make a real difference in the way a family eats in a given week.

Because they are doing “day labor,” members of the UWA who show up to work are sent home if they’re not needed. The wages are so low, and the job so “flexible,” that some workers live in homeless shelters. One worker was kicked out of public housing because her pay that month couldn’t match the monthly rent.

For three years, stadium workers have been demanding to be paid Baltimore’s official living wage of $9.62 an hour. They soon could even make a claim to more: On October 1 the state’s newly passed living wage law will require state government contractors to pay their employees $11.30 an hour. Both of the city’s stadiums## Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium, where the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens play## were paid for on the public dime.

In this solidly blue state, paying stadium workers a living wage should be common sense, but it is not. The MSA contends that stadium workers are not eligible because they are temporary workers. And what makes them temporary? That they don’t have to work “away” games.

The response by UWA members has been to raise public awareness and ask that most basic question to the city of Baltimore: Is this just? They’re conducting panel discussions, protests and concerts, and have even threatened a hunger strike. Along the way they have garnered the support of heavyweights like Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon. It’s the kind of grassroots labor organizing that doesn’t make the nightly news shows. But now the UWA and the stadium workers appear close to reaching a settlement.

On Labor Day, the UWA called off the planned hunger strike after hearing that a meeting of the MSA on Thursday could end with very positive results. Frederick Puddester, chairman of the MSA, even remarked to the Baltimore Sun, “[Living wage is] the policy of the state. Can the Stadium Authority argue that they’re exempt on a technicality? Yes, they could. But I don’t plan to take that approach.”

As Carl Johnson, a former stadium cleaner and striker, told me: “On Friday the governor and the MSA chairman came out publicly in favor of living wages. We considered their public comments to be an indication of a good-faith effort at figuring out how to end poverty wages at Camden Yards. We’re postponing the start date [of the hunger strike] to give the MSA some breathing room so that they can turn words into actions…. After three years of organizing and fighting for a living wage, we want to make sure that a living wage is actually won in the end. We’d prefer to call off the hunger strike altogether once a binding living-wage solution is in place, and we’re hopeful that the breathing room will help get the MSA to the needed solution.”

The progress made on a living wage for day laborers in a hard-edged, damaged metropolis, which locals lovingly call Charm City, could open a new chapter in grassroots labor organizing not seen since the early days of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaigns, a model that puts the poor in charge of movements to fight poverty. “The United Workers Association was founded to try and start a ‘human rights’ model of organizing led by low-wage workers themselves,” Greg Rosenthal, a UWA organizer, told me. “It’s all about leadership development from the ranks of the poor, a movement to end poverty led by the poor.”

Three of the six paid organizers for the UWA come from the ranks of workers. Of the 800 that the UWA represents, according to Rosenthal, as many as 100 are active worker/organizers. Whenever there is a reporter who needs to be talked to, a home visit that needs to be made, a speech that needs to be given, the workers themselves are front and center. Also of note is that the UWA is largely composed of African-American and Latino workers. In an era when communities of color are often pitched against one another, their solidarity inspires hope.

It’s interesting that the UWA will win or lose without a lick of help from Orioles owner Peter Angelos. The UWA claims that in 2004 Angelos promised to make up the difference in a living wage out of his own deep pockets. It’s a promise he has failed to keep. Angelos loves to tout his credentials as a union-supporting, lifelong Democrat. He made his fortune as an attorney representing trade unions in class-action suits against the ill effects of asbestos. He further burnished his credentials as the “worker boss” when he was the only owner to publicly support the players’ union in the 1994 strike.

But since 2004 he’s done little for the people scraping the crud off his stadium. The Baltimore Orioles, once one of baseball’s proudest franchises, has withered under his watch. What makes Marylanders smile about Angelos these days is the rumor that he is considering selling the team to a group led by Orioles icon Cal Ripken Jr. A victory for the UWA would be a victory for all Baltimore workers## and a nice slap back at Angelos, who apparently won’t unload the team soon enough for either the workers of the UWA or the residents of Charm City.

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A Renewed Bid For Mini-Unions


A Renewed Bid For Mini-Unions
By Cindy Skrzycki
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
The Washington Post

Labor unions are asking the Bush administration for an unlikely Labor Day present ## to make it easier for them to organize workers.

The United Steelworkers, United Auto Workers and five other unions petitioned the National Labor Relations Board on Aug. 14 to require employers to bargain with small groups of union members, even if the union doesn’t represent a majority of those in the workplace.

Business and NLRB officials say the request is far-fetched. Union leaders disagree, though they lost a similar case last year involving Dick’s Sporting Goods, the largest publicly traded sporting goods retailer.

Labor leaders are eager to build membership when only 12 percent of the U.S. workforce is organized and employers and regulators are increasingly anti-union.

“The feeling here was, legally, we are on solid ground,” said Michael Yoffee, organizing director for the steelworkers union. If the NLRB doesn’t act on the petition, he said, “our hope is that there will be a more pro-worker administration in place when it comes up in the hopper. And if this ends up in litigation, sooner may be better than later, since the courts don’t appear to be getting any more worker-friendly.”

Currently, an elected union representing a majority of workers has exclusive bargaining rights for all the workers in a unit, even those who aren’t members. The petition would force employers to recognize unions that would bargain only for their dues-paying members ## so-called members-only unions.

“The result would be pure chaos,” said Randel Johnson, vice president of labor, immigration and employee benefits of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Employers would be put in an impossible position to have to bargain with possibly numerous different unions governing pockets of employees in the same or similar positions,” he said.

The business community has been on the defensive with a Democratic-controlled Congress. It fought to defeat a labor-backed effort to allow workers to have union representation as soon as a majority signed cards supporting the union, instead of through an election. The bill has passed the House. It is being blocked in the Senate by threats of lengthy debate.

Unions and their supporters in Congress have viewed the Bush administration as especially anti-labor. Rep. George Miller, a California Democrat, issued a report last year saying the NLRB was rolling back labor protections. The report said that under President Bush, the board has sought court injunctions against unlawful conduct less often than any administration in the past 30 years.

In their petition, the unions argue that history is on their side, saying that both the United Steelworkers and the UAW started as unions representing only a workplace minority. They also read the 1935 National Labor Relations Act as allowing that practice.

The steelworkers union gave the approach a test run two years ago when it helped about 200 employees at a Dick’s Sporting Goods distribution center in Smithton, Pa., form an employee council.

The group rented office space, paid dues and tasted victory when two of its complaints to federal agencies got results. It had less success getting Dick’s, based in Pittsburgh, to recognize the council.

So the steelworkers filed an unfair-labor-practice charge with an NLRB regional office on Aug. 12, 2005, saying Dick’s was violating the law.

Barry Kearney, associate general counsel in the labor board’s division of advice, issued a 17-page memo on June 22, 2006, saying the charge should be dismissed. “The Employer in these circumstances had no obligation to recognize and bargain with the Council. This principle is well-settled and not an open issue.”

Douglas Smith, a Pittsburgh lawyer who represented Dick’s, called the union’s latest effort to get the board to approve members-only representation a “desperation move.” He said, “It’s a pitch to get membership.” The company declined to comment.

Kearney said in an interview that majority representation is “what gives stability to a collective-bargaining agreement, rather than sitting down at the table with five different minority unions.”

The issue is broader than the Dick’s case, according to the steelworkers’ Yoffee. “Our union and other unions are constantly in contact with thousands of groups of workers ## representing 20, 30, 40 percent of workers in their workplaces,” he said.

“These workers often desperately want union representation. We think the current labor law gives these non-majority groups of workers the right to the voice on the job they’re seeking.”

Twenty-five law professors wrote the NLRB to support the union petition.

Charles Morris, a professor emeritus at Southern Methodist University’s law school in Dallas who has done research and writing on minority unions, said the law has been misinterpreted and misapplied for years.

Workers are entitled to bargain on a minority basis where no “exclusive bargaining agency” has been selected by a majority of the employees, he said. “I believe this is what the law is. I didn’t invent it.”

Cindy Skrzycki is a regulatory columnist at Bloomberg News.

SEIU Healthcare Event in PA




As Contract Negotiations Near Deadline,
PMC Employees hold Candlelight Vigil for Quality Care and Quality Jobs

(East Stroudsburg, PA) – On Tuesday, August 28, employees at Pocono Medical Center, their friends and families, religious and community leaders, and elected officials will gather at St. Matthew’s Church for a “Candlight Vigil for Quality Care and Quality Jobs” that will proceed from the church to the front of the hospital.

Employees had called on the hospital to reach an agreement by Labor Day. In a recent meeting with workers, PMC administrators made a commitment to settle a contract by October 17.

While the Medical Center’s revenues rose 47% between 2003 and 2006 – posting profits of $8.6 million in 2006 alone – nearly half of the of the hospital’s service and maintenance employees had annual earnings below the federal poverty line. In a recent survey, two-thirds of workers said staffing levels were often inadequate to provide the highest quality of care and service.

What: Candlelight Vigil for Quality Care and Quality Jobs

When: 8:00 PM, Tuesday, August 28

Where: Gathering at St. Matthews’ Church (200 Broadhead Ave.) and proceeding to Pocono Medical Center in East Stroudsburg.

Who: PMC employees, families, elected officials, and clergy.

PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: Hundreds of supporters and health care workers with their families will carry candles, signs, and banners in a procession from the church and proceeding in front of Pocono Medical Center.

Lisa Williams
Communications Coordinator
Pennsylvania’s Health Care Union, SEIU 1199P