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Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA unemployment rate second highest in Pennsylvania

05.11.08

May 2008 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA unemployment rate second highest in Pennsylvania

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

REGION, April 29th- According to labor data provided by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Industry, the region’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 5.8 percent, decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), includes Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wyoming Counties. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was 4.7 percent.

The MSA’s unemployment rate continues to remain higher than Pennsylvania and the nation. The unemployment rate in the state is 4.9 percent, unchanged from the month before. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,324,000 with 308,000 not working and 6,016,000 with employment. The national unemployment rate is 5.1 percent, increasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month. There are 7,815,000 civilians in the nation without employment.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA civilian labor force, workers between eighteen and sixty-five years old, decreased by 1,800 from the previous month to 278,700. There are 16,100 civilians not working, decreasing by 300 from the month before.

The MSA has the fifth largest labor force in Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor force at 2,959,700 with 144,100 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA is second at 1,201,100 with 58,800 without jobs; the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force at 415,700 with 21,900 not working; and the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest civilian labor force at 283,200 with 11,600 without employment.

Of the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA is tied with the Williamsport MSA for the second highest unemployment rate. The Johnstown MSA has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 5.9 percent. The Erie MSA has the fourth highest unemployment rate in the state at 5.5 percent.

The Lebanon MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 3.6 percent. The Lancaster MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate at 3.8 percent, with the State College MSA third at 4.0 percent.

Within the MSA, Lackawanna County has the lowest unemployment rate at 5.4 percent, decreasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the month before. Lackawanna County has a labor force of 105,900. There are 5,700 residents in Lackawanna County without employment.

Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 6.0 percent, unchanged from the previous month. Luzerne County has a labor force of 158,300, the largest in the MSA. There are 9,400 Luzerne County residents not working.

The unemployment rate in Wyoming County is 5.8 percent with a labor force of 14,400, There are 800 residents in Wyoming County without jobs.

CMC and Nurses Union reach agreement on first-time labor contract

05.11.08

May 2008 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

CMC and Nurses Union reach agreement on first-time labor contract

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

SCRANTON, May 1st- Registered Nurses (RN’s) represented by the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP), which is affiliated with the California Nurses Association (CNA), voted to approve a first-time labor agreement with the Scranton Community Medical Center (CMC).

According to the union, the approximately 410 bargaining unit nurses will receive sizable pay and pension increases. Of the membership that voting on the contract, approximately eighty-two percent voted for the agreement. The contract will expire on December 8th, 2010.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four conducted a secret ballot Representation Election at the medical center on July 19th, 2007. The RN’s voted 209 to 117 to be represented by PASNAP.

The union also represents nurses employed at the Wyoming Valley Health Care System Medical Center on River Street in Wilkes-Barre.

Contract negotiations between officials of the union and the medical center began in September, 2007.
Bill Cruice, PASNAP’s executive director and chief contract negotiator, stated in the April edition of the newspaper, achieving a first-time contract between the parties was slowed because of the “stall tactics” of the CMC labor attorney and chief negotiator Robert Ufberg. Mr. Cruice told the newspaper his negotiating committee was frustrated with Mr. Ufberg’s negotiating tactics that included cancelling meetings.

Mr. Ufberg disagrees with Mr. Cruice’s opinion regarding how long it took before the parties reached an agreement.

“We had to negotiate more than ninety pages. The first meeting was held in September. We just talked at that meeting about the ground-rules. To negotiate a first-time contract in just seven months is incredibly quick,” said Mr. Ufberg.

Mr. Ufberg added that a hospital contract is extremely complex and takes many hours to negotiate. “I bet if you talk to other unions that represent hospital employees, and asked them what would be normal for reaching a first-time contract, you would find out we did great.”

The union held several events to inform the public contract negotiations were moving slower than they would like.

The public campaign included sponsoring advertisements on billboards throughout Lackawanna County and holding a labor rally at Nay Aug Park in Scranton.

Department of Labor announces new prisoner employment re-entry initiative

05.11.08

May 2008 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Department of Labor announces new prisoner employment re-entry initiative

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

REGION, April 20th- Pennsylvania is one of 22 states to receive a $130,434 grant that in turn will fund faith-based and community organizations to deliver employment services to prisoners returning to civilian life.

The United States Department of Labor (DOL) announced on April 10th, grants totaling almost $3 million for the “Prisoner Re-entry Initiative.”

According to the DOL, the initiative is designed to strengthen urban communities through an employment-centered program that incorporates mentoring, job training and other comprehensive transitional services benefiting ex-offenders.

“These grants will advance partnerships with local faith-based and community organizations to equip ex-prisoners with basic job skills, couseling and opportunities to earn an honest living in our communities,” said United States Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao.

Ms. Chao is the longest serving cabinet member of President George W. Bush and the wife of Kentucky Republican Senator Mitch McConnell.

According to the DOL, the program “has significantly reduced the rate of recidivism by helping non-violent ex-inmates find meaningful employment through the assistance of local faith-based and community organizations.”

Pennsylvania’s criminal justice agency was named as one of 22 states, along with the District of Columbia, to receive post-release services grants. Neighboring states of Ohio and New Jersey will also receive the post-release grants.

Over the next two years, the funds will be used to offer services such as basic skills remediation, job-skills training, couseling and on-the-job training. Job placement efforts will be co-ordinated with local One-Stop Career Centers, businesses, educational institutions and other employment providers.

For more information on the Prisoner Re-entry Initiative visit http://www.doleta.gov/pri.

Building Trade Unions conducting informational picketing in Taylor

05.11.08

May 2008 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Building Trade Unions conducting informational picketing in Taylor

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

TAYLOR, May 1st- The retail development under construction on Main Avenue In the Borough of Taylor, Lackawanna County, which will include a Wal-Mart Supercenter store, is being picketed by unionized construction workers.

The site formerly contained multible retail stores including a pizza shop, a bargain store and the building where Lackawanna County housed their voting machines.

The union members are conducting the informational picketing to inform the public their members want to be hired for the construction of the Mal-Mart store and any other building project that may be constructed on the site. It has not been confirmed, but possibly a Home Depot store may be built on the site.

According to Jack Figured, Field Representative of the International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Union Local 5, the only building trade union that should have been hired for the project so-far, is the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Union Local 542. Local 542 members operate heavy construction equipment.

Before the site can be ready for the construction of the retail center it requires a lot of excavation work including providing backfill of soil in the rear area of the development.

There are sixteen local unions affiliated with the Scranton Building and Construction Trades Council labor federation.

Mr. Figured, Vice President of the organization, told the newspaper members of many of the affiliated construction trade unions are picketing with members of the IUOE to support them for solidarity purposes. He added a Wal-Mart official, who is a local resident, has been given a list of local unionized contractors.

According to Gene Arcurie, Treasurer of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 81, his union is participating with the informational picketing and a unionized electrical contractor has not yet been hire for the project. However, Mr. Arcurie indicated the electrical work will not be needed until a later stage of the project.

“I’m hopeful we get hired for the project, but I personally don’t shop at Wal-Mart. They are anti-union, and treat their workers like dirt,” said Mr. Arcurie.

The union protests in Taylor often consist of a large inflatable rat, which is owned by the labor federation.

According to John Gatto, Assistant Business Manager of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) Union District 21, his union is also participating in the picketing and does not yet know if a contractor under contract with the union will be hired for the project.

Pat Andes, President and Organizer of the Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 44 told the newspaper his union is participating with the informational picket line and has personally walked with his fellow union members. “On May 1st, I almost got run over by a nonunion driver,” said Mr. Andes.