Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

August Guests Line-up for Democratic Talk Radio’s Thursday morning Lehigh Valley (PA) show

07.30.08

Here are the upcoming guests for August on our Lehigh Valley area, Pennsylvania show

August 7th- Sam Bennett. Sam is the 15th District Democratic Congressional candidate, Vice Chair of the Lehigh County Democratic Party and Chair of the Allentown City Democratic Party.

Joe Long- Chair of the Northampton County Democratic Party, Chair of the Northeast Pennsylvania Democratic Caucus and retired UAW organizer.

August 14th- Harry Gravell, President of the Delaware Building Trades Council and Executive Board member of the Delaware AFL-CIO.

Kim Green, Organizer for the Road Sprinkler Fitters Local 669 in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania and surrounding areas. Kim will probably have other leaders from the local joining him.

August 21st- Jim Dean, National Chair of Democracy For America (DFA) for the first half hour.

Amos B. McCluney, Jr.- Chair of the UAW Local 1183 Retiree Chapter and former Delaware State Representative will be discussing healthcare for the second half hour. He may have other healthcare advocates joining him.

August 28th- Jim Schlener, Chair of the Bethlehem City Democratic Party, UFCW Local 1776 and IAFF member, Vice Chair of the Lehigh Valley Central Labor Council will be in studio along with the previous Bethlehem City Democratic Chair Jack Burks.

All shows air and stream live on WGPA SUNNY 1100AM Thursday mornings from 8:05am until 9am Eastern. They are hosted by Stephen Crockett (Editor of Mid-Atlantic Labor.com, NWU-UAW 1981 member, USW associate member, OPEIU 277 member and soon to be CWA member) and co-hosted by Dana Garrett (Delaware Watch blogger, labor activist and Progressive Voices talk show host).

Mailhandlers Union files charge against Postal Service

07.30.08

August 2008, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Mailhandlers Union files charge against Postal Service

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

LEHIGH VALLEY, July 11th- The National Postal Mailhandlers Union (NPMU) Lehigh Valley Branch in Bethlehem, filed a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia against the United States Postal Service (USPS) Lehigh Valley facility, alleging the postal service violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

According to the charge, obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, the union on July 1st, 2008 filed with the NLRB alleging the NLRAct was violated at the employers mail processing plant located on Commerce Way in Bethlehem.

According to the complaint, between March 8th, 2008 through June 6th, 2008 and many dates in between, management attempted to direct the Union in its choice of Shop Stewards. The union alleges the USPS violated Section 8(a), subsections (1) and subsections 8(a)2, and 8(a)3 of the NLRAct.

The NPMHU alleges in the complaint management has discriminated against a Shop Steward by issuing excessive discipline and wrongful removel, the same Shop Steward that they had asked the Union not to use, the Unfair Labor Practice states.

“Management has refused to bargain in good faith. They have refused to allow interviews necessary to the investigation of this discipline. They have refused and/or delayed information needed for grievances. Management at several levels have met and conferred over discipline for this Shop Steward while maintaining that each was making their own independent evaluation of discipline,” states the charge.

Under NLRB rules, after receiving a charge the agency will conduct a investigation into whether there is merit in the complaint. Should the NLRB find there is merit in the charge, the agency will scheduled a hearing on the matter.

The employer representative named on the complaint is Neil Heller, identified as the Plant Manager of the United States Postal Service, Lehigh Valley facility. The union representative that filed the complaint is Pamela Baum, identified as the NPMU Contract Administrator Manager, Kutztown, Pennsylvania.

The complaint adds management has threatened discipline for another Mailhandler that wrote a witness statement regarding the Shop Steward.

The NPMHU represents approximately 450 workers employed at the USPS Lehigh Valley mail processing facility in Bethlehem.

The newspaper each month request under the Freedom of Information Act all Representation Elections petitions and Unfair Labor Practice charges filed by labor organizations or individuals at the NLRB Region Four office in Philadelphia which covers the Lehigh Valley.

IBEW Local 375 pursuing new members through organizing

07.30.08

August 2008, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

IBEW Local 375 pursuing new members through organizing

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, July 15th- According to the President of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 375 in Allentown, the union is aggressively pursuing the expansion of their membership through union organizing.

David Reichard, President and Union Organizer of Local 375, told the newspaper his union was successful during 2007 is winning several Representation Elections in the Lehigh Valley.

Currently, the union is awaiting a decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia Director on which employees of Bollinger Electric Inc. will be eligible to vote on whether they want to be union represented.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 375 filed on May 5th a petition with the NLRB requesting the agency conduct a election to determine if around 19 Bollinger Electric Inc. employees want to be represented by the union for the purpose of collective bargaining.

Local 375 represents workers employed within the electrical construction industry and employees of Service Electic Cable TV Company.

However, according to Mr. Reichard the union gained members employed by Upper Macungie Township and North Whitehall Township after the union won representation elections conducted by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) in Harrisburg in 2007.

On November, 2007 the PLRB certified the results of the tabulation of ballots of eleven eligible to vote workers employed by North Whitehall Township. Local 375 received 8 votes with 2 voting against being represented by the union for the purpose of collective bargaining.

On July 12th, 2007, the PLBR certified the results of the tabulation of ballots of sixteen eligible workers of Upper Macungie Township. The union received 10 votes while 6 workers voted against being represented by Local 375 in the secret ballot election.

On November 16th, 2007, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued the results of ballots cast by employees of PHI Operating Services Company. The union received 16 votes while 8 workers voted against being members of Local 375.

Union wanting to represent RR Donnelley employees withdraws petition

07.30.08

August 2008, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Union wanting to represent RR Donnelley employees withdraws petition

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, July 15th- The newspaper has learned the International Chemical Workers Council of the United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union have withdrawn their petition filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

In the previous edition of the newspaper it was exclusively reported the union requested the agency conduct a Representation Election to determine if workers employed by RR Donnelley Corporation wanted to be represented by the union.

According to the petition, obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, the union filed on May 20th, 2008 requesting the agency conduct an election at the company’s Nestle Way in Breiningsville facility.

The petition stated the union wanted 31 employees of RR Donnelley to participate in the election.
The union wanted all full time and regular part time employees of RR Donnelly in the print center (printing, binding) to participate in the election. The union requested all warehouse workers, clerical and supervisory employees be excluded from participating in the union election.

RR Donnelley operates a printing plant at the Breiningsville facility. The company’s principal product or service is identified as printing materials which includes the printing of phone books. According to the Lehigh Valley phone directory RR Donnelley business office is located on 12th Street in Allentown.

According to the NLRB, a hearing was held between the agency, the union, and company representatives to determine which employees will be eligible to vote in the secret ballot election. The agency ruled on July 11th there was 120 employees eligible to vote in the election.

The NLRB ruled workers employed in the warehouse must be included in any union election. However, the union was not attempting to organize those workers and withdrew their petition.

The newspaper made several attempts to contact Gerald Setley, who is idenified on the petition as the unions’ Vice-President/Regional Director but he did not return phone messages left on his cell phone.

The International Chemical Workers Union address given on the petition is 1799 Akron Peninsula Road, Akron Ohio 44313.

Pennsylvania’s Labor 2008 Program in Full Swing

07.30.08

http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/07/29/pennsylvanias-labor-2008-program-in-full-swing/

Pennsylvania’s Labor 2008 Program in Full Swing

by Seth Michaels, Jul 29, 2008

U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO has kicked its political program into high gear. Last week, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO General Board affirmed its commitment to get out the union vote to elect Sen. Barack Obama and a working family-friendly Congress.

The presidential contest in Pennsylvania was decided by a few percentage points in 2000 and 2004, and it’s a crucial state this year as well. Every vote will count, and a strong, energized union movement will make the difference.

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO’s Labor 2008 political program already is mobilizing union members across the state through worksite leafleting, door-to-door walks and more. Volunteers around the state are educating union members about Obama’s record and his vision for the country.

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President William George says Obama is a candidate who’s on the side of working families, not corporate special interests.

Barack Obama comes from a working-class family, with working-class values. He fought for equal pay, minimum wage, prevailing wage improvements, card check, responsible bidder and unemployment for locked-out workers. He stands up for working people and he will turn our economy around so that all Americans will benefit from fair trade, affordable health care, pension protections and the right to form a union.

George also announced the state federation’s endorsements in all 19 of the state’s U.S. House districts, as well as for the state House, Senate, auditor and treasurer.

These candidates have proven themselves to be the friends and supporters of working families. They understand that workers are struggling in this economy with stagnant wages, soaring prices for health care, gas and food. They advocate and support an agenda that mirrors the priorities of the labor movement. We are confident that they will put this country back on track toward prosperity and opportunity for all, not the few.

U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire, from western Pennsylvania’s 4th District, is one of the four new members of Congress elected in 2006, and he understands the union vote was crucial in sending him and other pro-worker candidates to Congress from Pennsylvania that year.

The reason we had the change that we saw in November of 2006 was because of the work of organized labor and of working families getting involved in the political process, talking about health care, talking about education costs and fuel costs, Social Security and pensions. We need to continue moving forward, talking about those issues, and we’re going to continue this fight through November.

Altmire is a supporter of the Employee Free Choice Act, which he calls “very necessary” to ensure workers’ freedom to form unions and fight for their rights in the workplace.

In addition to Altmire, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO has endorsed three other new members running for their critical first re-election: Reps. Joe Sestak (7th District), Patrick Murphy (8th District) and Chris Carney (10th District).

For a full list of federal endorsements, check out the Pennsylvania page http://www.aflcio.org/issues/politics/PA.cfm at Working Families Vote 2008 http://www.aflcio.org/issues/politics/ .

_______________________________________

9,400 Philadelphia Workers Settle New Contract and More Bargaining News

07.30.08

http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/6pa31_F1NPYR/

9,400 Philadelphia Workers Settle New Contract and More Bargaining News

by May Silverstein, Jul 28, 2008

Thousands of Philadelphia workers and Southwest Airlines attendants settle contracts, and more news from the “Bargaining Digest Weekly.” The AFL-CIO Collective Bargaining Department delivers daily, bargaining-related news and research resources to more than 900 subscribers. Union leaders can register for this service through our website, Bargaining@Work.

SETTLEMENTS
AFSCME, Philadelphia: Some 9,400 blue-collar workers and members of Philadelphia’s largest union, AFSCME District Council 33, agreed to a one-year contract that includes no raises but holds the line on health care costs.

AFA-CWA, Atlantic Southeast Airlines: More than 1,000 flight attendants at Atlantic Southeast Airlines, a wholly owned subsidiary of SkyWest, represented by the Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), reached a new three-year contract with the carrier. Details have not been released.

USW, Latrobe Specialty Steel: In Pennsylvania, steelworkers at Latrobe Specialty Steel, represented by the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1537, voted to end their 81-day work stoppage by approving a five-year labor agreement. The contract gives each steelworker a $6,000 lump sum payment this year and a $5,000 lump sum payment in 2009, plus a 50-cent-an-hour raise in the third year.

USW, MeadWestvaco: Members of USW Local 8-490 at MeadWestvaco in Low Moor, Va., ratified a four-year agreement that includes a $2,000 lump sum payment, a 2 percent immediate wage increase and additional 2.25 percent wage increases effective Aug. 31, 2009, and Aug. 30, 2010.

CWA, Kaleida Health: In Buffalo, N.Y., about 3,900 workers and members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) at Kaleida’s Flint Road Labs and Kaleida Health facilities, including Buffalo General, DeGraff Memorial, Millard Fillmore Gates Circle and Millard Fillmore Suburban hospitals, ratified a three-year deal containing a 12.5 percent wage increase.

AFM, Shreveport Symphony Orchestra: In Louisiana, Shreveport Symphony Orchestra musicians, represented by American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM) Local 116, are working under the terms of an imposed contract. The new contract switches full-time musicians to a per-service pay structure, resulting in a 75 percent salary cut and the elimination of 24 full-time core positions as of Sept. 1.

WORK STOPPAGES AND ACTIONS

USW, Calgon Carbon: A four-month lockout that began March 1 could end after members of USW Local 5032 at Calgon Carbon, outside of Pittsburgh, accepted a tentative three-year agreement. Health care benefits and pensions were two of the sticking points in the new contract, whose details have not been released.

IAM, Moncure Plywood: In North Carolina, some 200 workers at Moncure Plywood plant in Chatham County, represented by the Machinists (IAM), went on strike, after rejecting the company’s contract offer. The contract expired April 30, and parties have previously negotiated with the assistance of a federal mediator. According to union officials, key issues concern seniority rights, the company’s right to hire temporary workers, overtime, worker drug testing, health insurance premiums and the creation of a joint committee comprised of management and union workers to improve safety at the plant.

LEGAL DEVELOPMENTS

UAW, Foxwoods: The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a complaint against the Mashantucket Pequot tribe for refusing to bargain with the UAW, which represents nearly 3,000 dealers at the Foxwoods Resort Casino. The UAW won a representation election last November.

NEGOTIATIONS

ILWU, Pacific Maritime Association: Some 10,000 port workers across California, Oregon and Washington State, represented by 30 locals of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), are continuing to push hard for a new contract, after the previous one expired on July 1. According to ILWU President Robert McEllrath: “We’re making progress and moving in the right direction, but it’s going to take awhile longer.” The Longshoremen (ILA) union, which represents East Coast longshore workers, unanimously passed a resolution to offer full support to members of the ILWU in its negotiations.

ATU, Port Authority: A fact-finder is scheduled to visit Pittsburgh next week to start meetings with Local 85 of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and the Port Authority, as part of ongoing efforts to reach a new contract. Some 2,300 bus-trolley operators, mechanics and other hourly workers remain on the job under terms of their contract that expired June 30.

AFSCME, Philadelphia: AFSCME District Council 47, made up of Philadelphia’s white-collar city workers, publicly stated the district would be amenable to signing a one-year contract, as did the members of the independent Fraternal Order of Police (FOP-Ind.)—if the city agrees to the same raises and other terms the police received. The police officers’ contract awards the officers a 4 percent pay raise that will be instituted in two phases, plus a 1 percent longevity increase.

Disclaimer: This information is being provided for your information only. As it is compiled from published news reports, not from individual unions, we cannot vouch for either its completeness or accuracy; readers who desire further information should directly contact the union involved.

A Matter of Life and Death: Health care for all is a moral imperative.

07.27.08

A Matter of Life and Death

Health care for all is a moral imperative.
by Mary Kay Henry

http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj0808&article=a-matter-of-life-and-death

In May, Sen. Ted Kennedy was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. The news sent shock waves throughout Washington and across the country. The good news is that as an elected official of financial means, Sen. Kennedy has access to the very best medical care available. Shortly after his diagnosis, a team of nationally renowned oncologists and surgeons successfully removed parts of the tumor, improving his prognosis for a longer life.

One day after this surgery, a janitor and mother of two named Ercilia Sandoval stood before 3,500 fellow members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to tell her own—very different—health-care story.

Two years earlier, Ercilia and her fellow janitors at Houston’s biggest cleaning companies won a long fight to form a union and, for the first time, get health coverage. But for Ercilia that victory would come too late. The mother of two young daughters had already been diagnosed with cancer, and without insurance she had been unable to afford lifesaving treatments. “I don’t want what happened to me—to become sick without access to medical insurance—to happen to anyone else,” she said, describing what it was like “to be rejected by a hospital despite all the great pain you’re feeling.”

Ercilia Sandoval. Ted Kennedy. Two individuals fighting for their lives in the same country, but with dramatically different experiences. The scene compels us to cry out with the prophet Jeremiah, “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?”

This is the legacy of our health-care system’s moral and economic failure: nearly 10 million children without coverage; families one medical emergency away from bankruptcy; elderly and infirm people without the resources necessary to live—or die—in relative comfort and with dignity.

WE MUST find a solution. We must build a new, uniquely American health-care system that works for everyone, and that meets the following criteria:

• Affordable care must be accessible to all people, regardless of economic or employment status, age, race, or health condition.

• A basic level of competent, quality care must be available to all.

• A full range of public health, preventive, primary care, acute care, and long-term and palliative care services must be accessible for all people.

• In our wonderfully diverse society, care must be delivered in a way that is sensitive to a patient’s culture and traditions.

• The system of health-care delivery must be transformed, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable.

There is no shortage of reform proposals that include these critical elements. Our challenge in solving this problem is not a lack of ideas, but a lack of political will. That’s why SEIU is working to mobilize our nation for change: We’re pulling together coalitions of business, labor, civic, and faith leaders; we’re sponsoring a nationwide bus tour, the Road to American Health Care, that is highlighting the real people struggling to afford care; and we’re galvanizing people across the country to elect leaders committed to fixing health care. It’s up to all of us to hold those leaders accountable, to make sure they get the job done.

All of this work is guided by a core belief in the inherent dignity of working people—a mission we share with the faith community. Ours is a partnership that has helped bring about monumental change at crucial moments in our nation’s history. Now we face another such moment. It has never been more important that the labor movement and the church stick together in this, the civil rights struggle of this generation: the fight to transform our broken health-care system.

As a nation we are called to follow the example of the Good Samaritan, who bandaged wounds and provided care without regard to the social or economic status of the sufferer. Priest or Samaritan, senator or janitor, we must heed the call to do the same.

SEIU Executive Vice President Mary Kay Henry is a 25-year veteran of the labor movement, a leading health-care strategist, and a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on Catholic Health Care and Work.

THE MYTH OF A TOSS-UP ELECTION

07.26.08

THE MYTH OF A TOSS-UP ELECTION

By Alan Abramowitz, Thomas E. Mann, and Larry J. Sabato

http://www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/article.php?id=AIA2008072401

“Too close to call.” “Within the margin of error.” “A statistical dead heat.” If you’ve been following news coverage of the 2008 presidential election, you’re probably familiar with these phrases. Media commentary on the presidential horserace, reflecting the results of a series of new national polls, has strained to make a case for a hotly contested election that is essentially up for grabs.

Signs of Barack Obama’s weaknesses allegedly abound. The huge generic Democratic Party advantage is not reflected in the McCain-Obama pairings in national polls. Why, according to the constant refrain, hasn’t Obama put this election away? A large number of Clinton supporters in the primaries refuse to commit to Obama. White working class and senior voters tilt decidedly to McCain. Racial resentment limits Obama’s support among these two critical voting blocs. Enthusiasm among young voters and African-Americans, two groups strongly attracted to Obama, is waning. Blah, blah, blah.

While no election outcome is guaranteed and McCain’s prospects could improve over the next three and a half months, virtually all of the evidence that we have reviewed## historical patterns, structural features of this election cycle, and national and state polls conducted over the last several months## point to a comfortable Obama/Democratic party victory in November. Trumpeting this race as a toss-up, almost certain to produce another nail-biter finish, distorts the evidence and does a disservice to readers and viewers who rely upon such punditry. Again, maybe conditions will change in McCain’s favor, and if they do, they should also be accurately described by the media. But current data do not justify calling this election a toss-up.

Consider the following.

Except for a few days when the Gallup and Rasmussen tracking polls showed a tie, Barack Obama has led John McCain in every national poll in the past two months. Obama’s average margin has consistently been in the 4-6 point range during this time. By contrast, the polls in 2000 and 2004 showed much more variation over time. State polling results have also consistently given Obama the advantage. According to realclearpolitics.com, Obama is currently leading in 26 states and the District of Columbia with a total of 322 electoral votes; McCain is currently leading in 24 states with a total of 216 electoral votes. Obama is leading in every state carried by John Kerry in 2004 along with six states carried by George Bush: Iowa, New Mexico, Ohio, Indiana, Nevada and Colorado. A seventh Bush state, Virginia, is tied.

Obama is leading in 11 of the 12 swing states that were decided by a margin of five points or less in 2004 including five of the six that were carried by George Bush. And while Obama has a comfortable lead in every state that John Kerry won by a margin of more than five points in 2004, McCain is in a difficult battle in a number of states that Bush carried by a margin of more than five points including such solidly red states as Indiana, Montana, North Dakota, Virginia, and North Carolina.

And remember these June and July polls may well understate Obama’s eventual margin. Ronald Reagan did not capitalize on the huge structural advantage Republicans enjoyed in 1980 until after the party conventions and presidential debate. It took a while and a sufficient level of comfort with the challenger for anti-Carter votes to translate into support for Reagan. If Obama’s performance over the last eighteen months is any guide, a similar pattern could unfold in 2008.

Aside from the horserace results, there is evidence of a growing Democratic party advantage in the electorate. A recent analysis by Rhodes Cook of voter registration data in 29 states and the District of Columbia that permit registration by party shows that since November of 2004, Democratic registration has increased by almost 700,000 while Republican registration has declined by almost one million.

Democrats now enjoy a substantial lead over Republicans in voter identification. According to the Gallup Poll, the two parties have gone from near parity four years ago to a 12 point Democratic advantage in the first half of 2008. And polling data continue to show that Democrats are more satisfied with their party’s nominee than Republicans voters and more highly motivated to vote. While Republicans normally benefit from higher turnout among their supporters, that may not be the case this year.

In order to defeat Barack Obama, John McCain will have to convince a lot of currently disgruntled Republicans to turn out and vote for him. Yet mobilizing the Republican base, a strategy employed successfully by Karl Rove in 2002 and 2004, won’t be enough for McCain to win in 2008. He’ll also have to convince a majority of independents and a substantial number of Democrats to vote for him. That’s a task that proved too difficult even for Rove in the 2006 midterm election and it may be still more difficult in 2008. That’s because since 2006 the political environment has gone from bad to worse for Republicans.

It is no exaggeration to say that the political environment this year is one of the worst for a party in the White House in the past sixty years. You have to go all the way back to 1952 to find an election involving the combination of an unpopular president, an unpopular war, and an economy teetering on the brink of recession. 1952 was also the last time the party in power wasn’t represented by either the incumbent president or the incumbent vice-president. But the fact that Democrat Harry Truman wasn’t on the ballot didn’t stop Republican Dwight Eisenhower from inflicting a crushing defeat on Truman’s would-be successor, Adlai Stevenson.

Barack Obama is not a national hero like Dwight Eisenhower, and George Bush is no Harry Truman. But if history is any guide, and absent a dramatic change in election fundamentals or an utter collapse of the Obama candidacy, John McCain is likely to suffer the same fate as Adlai Stevenson.

Abramowitz is a professor of political science at Emory University. Mann is a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution. Sabato is a professor of politics at the University of Virginia and director of its Center for Politics.

The right to unionize- Make it a constitutionally guaranteed civil right

07.26.08

Six little words

By David Sirota

http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_9988069

History books teem with six-word phrases, from the comforting (”Nothing to fear but fear itself”) to the inspiring (”Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”) to the embarrassing (”Read my lips: no new taxes”). But the six words “on the basis of union membership” could be more momentous than any of those. Though hardly Roosevelt’s rhetoric, Reagan’s bluster or Bush’s clumsiness, the clause could solve America’s wage crisis.

Of course, when Tom Geoghegan told me this in a Chicago park two weeks ago, I almost snarfed my coffee through my nose. Solving major social problems typically demands more than six words. But as the longtime labor lawyer and author explained his idea to me on a muggy afternoon, it started making sense.

Geoghegan reminded me that data show the more union members in an economy, the better workers’ pay. The problem, he said, is that weakened labor laws are allowing companies to bully and fire union-sympathetic workers, thus driving down union membership and wages.

Enter Geoghegan’s six words. If the Civil Rights Act was amended to prevent discrimination “on the basis of union membership,” it would curtail corporations’ anti-labor assault by making the right to join a union an official civil right.

“Hang on,” I interrupted. “Joining a union isn’t a civil right?”

Correct.

Under current law, if you are fired for union activity, you can only take your grievance to the National Labor Relations Board — a byzantine agency deliberately made more Kafkaesque by right-wing appointees and budget cuts. Today, the NLRB takes years to rule on labor law violations, often granting victims only their back pay.

Union leaders are now focused on reforming the NLRB — an admirable goal — but Geoghegan’s plan implies that workers are harmed by being legally leashed to Washington in the first place. His proposal says rather than being forced to rely on an unreliable bureaucracy for protection, workers should be empowered to defend themselves.

The six words would do just that. Regardless of whether the NLRB is strengthened or further weakened, persecuted workers would be able to haul union-busting thugs into court. There, unlike at the NLRB, plaintiffs can subpoena company records and win costly punitive damages.

Bolstering his argument, Geoghegan told me to consider variations in corporate behavior.

For example, because the Civil Rights Act bars racial discrimination, businesses are motivated to try to prevent bigotry — they want to avoid being sued. But when it comes to unions, there is no such deterrent. The lack of civil rights protection effectively encourages businesses to punish pro-union employees — and publicize the abuse to intimidate their workforce. By making the six words law, the dynamic would shift. Companies would have a reason — fear of litigation — to respect workers’ rights.

When Geoghegan and I finished chatting, I remembered why I believe he is America’s most talented writer and thinker on labor issues. His relative anonymity is a tragicomic commentary on the media and the American left. The Milton Friedmans are celebrated by pundits and cast in bronze by conservative think tanks, while the Geoghegans are dismissed by the chattering class and ignored by a progressive movement that regularly venerates Hollywood celebrities as its heroes.

Perhaps, though, this proposal will change things. In developing a way to shift incentives, Geoghegan has discovered a solution that both unionists and economists can love. It cribs the best from liberals’ pro-union sympathies and conservatives’ distrust of Big Government, and should make him famous (or at least a cabinet secretary).

After all, anyone who can bring such disparate ideologies and adversaries together is worthy of serious consideration — as is his six-word stroke of genius.

Denver political analyst David Sirota (http://www.credoaction.com/sirota) is author of “The Uprising,” published in June. He is a fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future and a board member of the Progressive States Network.

UMWA Joins Labor Groups Endorsing Single Payer National Health Care

07.26.08

UMWA Joins Labor Groups Endorsing Single Payer National Health Care

http://www.laborradio.org/node/9053

By Doug Cunningham

The United Mine Workers of America has endorsed a single-payer universal national health care system for the U.S. The mine worker’s union has joined more than 440 other labor organizations in backing the bill sponsored by Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan. UMWA President Cecil Roberts.

: “When George Bush gets sick who pays for that? Aw come on, who pays for that?
: “We do!”)
“When ol’ Dick Cheney gets sick who pays for that?”
: “We Do!”)
“When Condaleeza Rice gets sick, who pays for that?”
:”We Do!”
“When Clarence Thomas gets sick, who pays for that?”
: “We Do!”
“I submit to you whatever they got when we’re out there knockin’ on doors we just simply say we want what they got and we’ll be happy!”

Roberts says the chances of getting universal single payer health care will go up with a political change in November.

: “We’re gonna get national single payer health care when we elect us a new President and a new Congress who will stand up for the American people!”

AFL-CIO political co-ordinator states Senator John McCain won’t support labor if elected President

07.25.08

August 2008, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

AFL-CIO political co-ordinator states Senator John McCain won’t support labor if elected President

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, July 11th- Rod Muchnok, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation Field Representative, told the newspaper Arizona Republican Senator John McCain hasn’t supported the labor community while in Washington and will oppose labor legislation if elected President in November.

Mr. Muchnok a former coal miner and member of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) Union will co-ordinate the AFL-CIO political program throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania. The program is intended to better educate union members about issues pertaining to the November election and how it will effect them and the working people.

Since 1996 the AFL-CIO have conducted their political program which includes contacting union members by mail, phone and at their homes.

The AFL-CIO recently endorsed Illinois Senator Barack Obama for President. Mr. Obama is the Democratic party presidential nominee-in-waiting. The AFL-CIO did not endorse any presidential candidate during the primary election season.

Change-to-Win (CtW) labor federation endorsed Mr. Obama for the primary election season and their affiliated unions will participate with the AFL-CIO affiliated unions in their political program called “Labor 2008.”

According to information provided by Mr. Muchnok, Senator McCain opposes the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) and on June 26th, 2007 voted against the legislation.

Under the legislation, employers would be required to recoginize unions that receive majority support by employees through a card-check program. EFCA would replace government overseen elections in the workplace which are held following a sometimes lengthy campaign.

Mr. McCain voted to prohibit application of Davis-Bacon laws in federal disaster areas, and repeatedly supported exceptions to Davis-Bacon prevailing wage rules. He opposed a resolution that would have expressed support for Davis-Bacon and opposition to its repeal.

Also, Mr. McCain on March 15th, 1995 voted to block President Bill Clinton’s order banning federal contractors from hiring permanent scabs to replace construction workers on strike.

Lori Jurczak, a resident of the Lehigh Valley and a 22-year member of the United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union, was hired by the AFL-CIO to co-ordinate the political program throughout six counties of Pennsylvania including Northampton and Lehigh. She told the newspaper the organization has conducted union member labor walks from the USW Local 2599 building in Bethlehem and the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) office on Airport Road in Allentown. The walks will be conducted throughout the summer and fall leading-up to the November election.

“We are up and running. The Lehigh Valley could make or break this election and we will do everything we can to bring home the Lehigh Valley for Mr. Obama,” said Ms. Jurczak.

MSA unemployment rate increases to 5.5 percent

07.25.08

August 2008, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

MSA unemployment rate increases to 5.5 percent

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, July 5th- According to labor data provided by the Department of Labor and Industry, the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month to 5.5 percent. The MSA includes Lehigh, Northampton, and Carbon Counties of Pennsylvania and Warren County, New Jersey. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was 4.2 percent.

Of the fourteen Metropolitan Statistical Area’s in the state, the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area is tied with the Erie MSA for the fourth highest unemployment rate.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 5.2 percent, increasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the month before. There are 331,000, increasing by 13,000 from the previous month, Pennsylvania residents without jobs. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted workforce of 6,405,000 with 6,074,000 employed. The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 5.5 percent, increasing by five-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month. There are 8,487,000 residents nationally unemployed.

The Johnstown MSA has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 6.1 percent, unchanged from the month before, with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA the second highest at 6.0 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month. The Williamsport MSA has the third highest unemployment rate in the state at 5.9 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the month before.

The Lebanon MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 3.9 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month. The Lancaster MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 4.0 percent, unchange from the month before, with the State College MSA the third lowest at 4.1 percent, unchange from the month before.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest civilian labor force, workers between eighteen and sixty-five years old, in Pennsylvania at 419,700 increasing by 2,600 from the month before. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest civilian labor force in Pennsylvania at 2,989,500 with 153,600 residents not working. The Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest civilian labor force in the state at 1,217,100, with 60,500 residents unemployed.

Within the MSA, Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate at 6.5 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month and increasing by one and three-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before. Carbon County has 2,000 civilians not working, increasing by 400 from twelve months ago within a labor force of 31,000, the smallest civilian labor force in the MSA.

Northampton County has the lowest unemployment rate in the MSA at 5.4 percent, increasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month and increasing by one and one-tenth percentage point from twelve months ago. Northampton County has 8,200 civilians without jobs, increasing by 1,800 from one year ago within a labor force of 151,800.

Lehigh County has a unemployment rate of 5.7 percent, increasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the month before and increasing by one and one-tenth of a percentage point from twelve months before. Lehigh County has 10,000 civilians not working, the most in the MSA, increasing by 2,700 during the past twelve months, within a labor force of 176,700, the largest in the MSA.

There are 347,000 nonfarm jobs in the MSA, increasing by 3,400 from the month before and decreasing by 300 during the past twelve months. Manufacturing jobs decreased by 1,100 during the past twelve months to 38,900. Government jobs in the MSA increased by 800 from one year before to 44,500.

Teen Works to provide funds for five community projects

07.25.08

August 2008, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union New

Teen Works to provide funds for five community projects

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, July 19th- The Teen Works Board of Directors held a meeting on July 8th at the Iron Workers Union Local 36 building in Whitehall. At the meeting, the organization voted to help fund five community projects being conducted by Boy Scouts of America teens from throughout the Lehigh Valley.

Unions and labor organizations in the Lehigh Valley contribute funds that is donated to area teens through grants that are involved with a project to help the region. The program is a agency of the Greater Lehigh Valley United Way. All funds donated by the labor organizations are used to support the Teen Works program.

School students ask the Teen Works Board of Directors for financial help to conduct a community project in the Lehigh Valley. Under the program teen(s) must first complete an application for the financial help. The maximum grant the teens can receive from the organization is $1,000.

Boy Scout member Evan Knutson of Danielsville received a grant of $700.00 from the organization for his project. The youth will build a sign for the Lehigh Township Historical Society in Danielsville. It will be constructed in the parking lot of the main building to advertise special events for the museum.

Boy Scout Troop 29 member Wade Satanik of Easton received $1,000.00 for his project at Palmer Elementary School in Easton.

The teen plans on building a reading garden at the existing courtyard adjacent to the school. The project includes seating, shrubbery and mulched be added.

Boy Scout Troop 317 member Matthew Berry Jr. of Easton received the maximum grant of $1,000.00 for his project. The youth wants to buy and place as many Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFL’s) in to residents homes as possible.

CFL’s use less energy than incandescent bulbs do and require less power be generated by large CO2 emitting power plants.

The intent for the project is to stand at a community center where people can receive the CFL’s, free of charge.

As a means of promising to replace an incandescent bulb with a CFL, citizens would have to trade an incandescent bulb for the CFL. Since people have to first remove the incandescent bulb the free bulb promotes the replacement of the bulbs.

Boy Scout Troop 431 member John Thomas of Allentown received $1,000.00 from the organization for his community project.

The youth will construct a brick walkway adjacent to the Emmaus Rememberance Garden in Emmaus. The project will include planting bushes and perennials. Stone and sand will be used and other landscaping will also be done.

The final youth to receive a grant was Boy Scout member Derek Hartman from Easton. Mr. Hartman also received the maximum grant of $1,000.00 for his project which will benefit the Legacy Ministeries Church in Easton and the surrounding community.

The youth along with around 15 other Boy Scout members will build a gathering area in front of the church. In front of the church, located in the west ward of Easton, there is a concrete pad which Mr. Hartman will convert into a gathering area, with two benches, two tables with benches, three planters, and dusk to dawn lighting. The cement pad will also be cleaned, repaired and painted.

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union Local 375 still awaiting NLRB decision on Bollinger election

07.25.08

August 2008, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union Local 375 still awaiting NLRB decision on Bollinger election

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

ALLENTOWN, July 12th- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia Director has not yet issued a decision on which employees of Bollinger Electric Inc. will be eligible to vote on whether they want to be union represented.

It was exclusively reported in this newspaper the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 375 in Allentown filed a petition with the NLRB requesting the agency conduct a representation election to determine if around 19 Bollinger Electric Inc. employees want to be represented by the union for the purpose of collective bargaining.

According to the petition, obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, the union wants all full-time and regular part-time electricians and working electrical foreman employed at the company’s North Madison Street in Allentown facility to vote in the election.

The union petition requested all plumbers, plumbers helpers, truck drivers, office clericals, confidential employees and supervisors excluded from participating in the election.

According to David Reichard, President of Local 375, the NLRB conducted a hearing on the matter of which employees will be eligible to vote in the election. Mr. Reichard told the newspaper the union is awaiting the NLRB’s decision on the issue. The agency will then schedule an election.

Mr. Reichard on July 14th stated the union is continuing to make contact with the employees and feels confident Local 375 will be succesful in receiving the majority of the employees votes.

The labor organization must receive at least fifty percent plus one of the votes cast by eligible employees to become the bargaining representative of the workers. The secret ballot election is conducted by the NLRB usually on the job site.

Mr. Reichard said Bollinger Electric Inc. is one of the largest nonunion electrical contractors in the Lehigh Valley and was targeted by the union to attempt to organize their workers.

The Local 375 union office, apprentice training classrooms, and meeting hall are located on Liberty Street in Allentown.

Local 375 represents workers employed within the electrical construction industry in the Lehigh Valley except in the Easton and Phillipsburg area. IBEW members employed within the electrical construction industry in that area are represented by Local 102, Parsippany, New Jersey.

Pennsylvania Seniors Tell McCain: Don’t Mess with Social Security

07.25.08

http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/07/24/pennsylvania-seniors-tell-mccain-dont-mess-with-social-security

Pennsylvania Seniors Tell McCain: Don’t Mess with Social Security

by Mike Hall, Jul 24, 2008

If John McCain had a chance to take a break from his presidential campaign stop in Wilkes-Barre yesterday and put his feet up to watch a little TV, he would have gotten an earful and an eyeful over his recent remarks calling Social Security a “disgrace” and his support of privatization.

The Alliance for Retired Americans bought a three-day ad blitz for airing on area stations during shows popular with older viewers. The ads show the reaction of several Dupont, Pa., seniors to McCain’s remarks at a July 7 town hall meeting in Denver where he called Social Security an “absolute disgrace…it’s got to be fixed.”

Says one senior, “What do you mean–fixed?” Another warns, “Don’t mess with it.”

A second commercial tells McCain, “Keep your mitts off our money.” Click here and here to see the commercials.

Jean Friday, president of the Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans, says:

Sen. McCain’s disparaging remarks toward Social Security—as well as his support for throwing a privatized Social Security system on the roulette wheel of Wall Street—show a lack of understanding of the challenges facing retirees in Pennsylvania and across the country.

In contrast to McCain’s stand on Social Security, presidential candidate Barack Obama has stated he will not privatize Social Security and will not cut benefits or raise the retirement age.

As Obama puts it:

I believe there are a number of ways we can make Social Security solvent that do not involve placing these added burdens on our seniors.

Meanwhile, McCain’s remarks, his support of privatization and the recent revelation that he receives a Social Security check worth nearly $2,000 every month have mobilized seniors around the country.

Along with the commercials and a rally today in Wilkes-Barre, Alliance members in Arizona rallied outside McCain’s Southwest regional headquarters in Goodyear. Tomorrow, Alliance members in Nevada, Ohio and Oregon will protest McCain’s record and proposals on Social Security and Medicare.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Go to original article at the link above to use the embedded links in the article.

Phila. and AFSCME District Council 33 Reach Tentative Agreement

07.25.08

Phila. and DC33 Reach Tentative Agreement

From KYW1060.com

According to KYW, AFSCME District Council 33, the city’s largest municipal workers union, has struck a tentative one-year agreement with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. The deal gives blue collar city workers no raise but a $1,100.00 bonus.

Please read the full details at:

http://www.kyw1060.com/Phila## and-Largest-City-Workers-Union-Reach-Tentat/2661843

Michael G. Lutz Lodge 5 Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Survivors’ Fund Fallen Hero Day on July 27th

07.25.08

Fallen Hero Day to Benefit Michael G. Lutz Lodge 5 Phila. Survivors’ Fund on 7/27

From Bob Ballentine, Financial Secretary, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5

http://phillyunions.com/fop5

The Michael G. Lutz Lodge 5 Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Survivors’ Fund has been depleted substantially due to recent police deaths and injuries. Please come out this Sunday, July 27, to a benefit at Keenan’s Irish Pub (newly expanded), 113 Old New Jersey Avenue @ Chestnut Street (Entertainment District), North Wildwood, New Jersey, from 3:00 PM - 7:00 PM.

Tickets are $30, available at the FOP and can be purchased at the door.

Live Entertainment by “Deezzguyz,” “Touche,” Police and Fire Pipes and Drums and DJ Music.

For further information contact Steve Weiler at 267-249-1486 or the FOP site at www.fop5.org or visit http://www.keenansirishpub.com.

Another GOP Oil-Drilling Myth Is Born!

07.23.08

Another GOP Oil-Drilling Myth Is Born!
By Eric Kleefeld - July 21, 2008

Talking Points Memo link

As you know, we’ve been posting here regularly about the GOP’s frequent pushing of the myth that China is drilling for oil off American shores.

Well here’s another outlandish oil-drilling line: If not for the Dems in Congress, gas would cost two bucks a gallon!

Here’s what Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota had to say in an op-ed for National Review, promoting drilling in ANWR:

The fact of the matter is that Congress is standing in the way of $2-a-gallon gas. It is Speaker Pelosi and the House Democrats who are refusing to let commonsense energy legislation come to the floor.
That’s right: Bachmann says that we can cut the price of gas from over four dollars down to two, a change of more than 50%, by just opening up some new drilling. What wonderful news!

The problem, however, is that this just isn’t true when you’re working on the scale of a vast global marketplace.

In the case of ANWR, a Department of Energy study this past May found that drilling there could potentially lower the price of a barrel of oil by a mere 75 cents ## only enough to lower the price of a gallon of gas by about two cents, and it would take until the year 2025. Proposed offshore drilling plans for other areas have yielded similar numbers, too.

Oh well. Lowering the price by two dollars, or two cents ## what’s the difference?

We’ll be hearing a lot more of this line over the next few months.

Letter Carries Endorse Obama

07.23.08

Letter Carries Endorse Obama

by Seth Michaels, Jul 22, 2008

http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/07/22/letter-carries-endorse-obama

The Letter Carriers (NALC) union has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president.

More than 8,000 delegates at the NALC Biennial Convention voted unanimously to endorse Obama and mobilize the union’s more than 300,000 members to help elect him and other working family-friendly candidates.

Obama’s name was presented to the convention for the endorsement vote by Sen. Hillary Clinton, whom the NALC endorsed in September of last year.

NALC president William Young said Obama would support the NALC and all working families on preventing the outsourcing of jobs and protecting the freedom to form unions. He described Sen. John McCain as “consistently hostile to working men and women.”

Sen. Obama has clearly shown he can mobilize this country for change, and he has demonstrated a remarkable level-headedness about the war in Iraq from the start. The NALC will do everything in its power to make him the next president of the United States.

The key to rebuilding the labor movement is political change at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.—the Congress and the White House.

Last month, the AFL-CIO endorsed Obama and launched a new website, Meet Barack Obama, to educate and mobilize union members. This fall, the AFL-CIO is carrying out an unprecedented grassroots mobilization to elect a working family-friendly Congress and president.

Transportation Communications Union (TCU/IAM) has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for President

07.23.08

TCU Endorses Obama for President

by Seth Michaels, Jul 22, 2008

http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/07/22/tcu-endorses-obama-for-president

The Transportation Communications Union (TCU/IAM) has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president.

In the announcement, Robert Scardelletti, president of the TCU/IAM, pledged to mobilize the 55,000-member union behind Obama and a pro-working family Congress.

Scardelletti said that on wages, health care, taxes, Social Security, worker safety and particularly the issues important to transportation industry workers, there’s no comparison between the candidates.

Obama supports workers and will fight for them, while Sen. John McCain will take the country in the wrong direction, Scardelletti said.

Our nation is in desperate need of a president who will reverse the disastrous course of these last eight years and lead us in a positive direction. The person for the job is Barack Obama. He is the leader who can bring this country together again.

Sen. Obama has a solid record as a champion of working families. He stands for the change America needs—for building a strong national passenger rail system by adequately funding Amtrak long-term, for commuter transit, for good jobs, affordable health care, retirement security and worker safety. Obama understands the importance of unions in maintaining and building a strong American middle class and the need for public policy that protects working families.

While McCain has stood against us at every turn, Obama stands with us.

Last month, the AFL-CIO endorsed Obama and launched a new website, Meet Barack Obama, to educate and mobilize union members. This fall, the AFL-CIO is carrying out an unprecedented grassroots mobilization to elect a working family-friendly Congress and president.