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The International Association of Machinists Union files three ULP charges against Tobyhanna Depot contractor

09.16.08

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

The International Association of Machinists Union files three ULP charges against Tobyhanna Depot contractor

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

REGION, September 3rd- The International Association of Machinists (IAM) Union District Lodge 1, filed three Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia alleging a contractor at the Tobyhanna Army Depot violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

According to the three charges, obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, all where filed on August 19th, 2008 by Brian Bryant, identified as IAM Grand Lodge Representative of Cincinnati, Ohio.

The charges state “since on or about July 17th, 2008 and times thereafter, the employer, Defense Support Systems of Greenville, South Carolina, a defense systems contractor at Tobyhanna Army Depot, by its officers, agents and representatives, has refused to bargain in good faith with the IAM, a labor organization chosen by a majority of its employees in an appropriate unit for the purpose of collective bargaining in respect to rates of pay, wages, hours of employment, and other terms and conditions of employment.”

According to the ULP’s, the IAM represents approximately 900 workers employed by Defense Support Systems.

The union alleges on one of the charges the employer has not executed an agreement that was entered into by them and the union in regard to the grievance procedure.

In the second charge, the union alleges Defense Support Systems has refused to bargain over a mandatory subject of bargaining in that employees are being mandated to use their personal vehicles for the performance of their jobs.

According to the third charge, the IAM alleges Defense Support Sytems has refused to supply requested information in regard to the discharge of a bargaining unit member so the IAM may process the member’s grievance under the contract.

Change-to-Win labor federation criticizes McCain’s campaign

09.16.08

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

Change-to-Win labor federation criticizes McCain’s campaign

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

REGION, September 4th- The Change-to-Win (CtW) labor federation executive director Chris Chafe stated Republican candidate for President Senator John McCain showed how out of touch he is with working people issues because of statements made at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Top Senator McCain campaign advisors Rick Davis and Phil Gramm both made remarks about their views of the November 4th election at the Republican National Convention on September 2nd.

Mr. Davis told the Washington Post editors that “This election is not about issues. This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates,” said Mr. Davis.

Phil Gramm said while speaking to the delegates at the Republican National Convention, “If you’re sitting here today, you’re not economically illiterate and you’re not a whiner, so I’m worrier about who you’re going to vote for.”

Chris Chafe said the labor federation believes the remarks made by top McCain advisors Rick Davis and Phil Gramm shows just how out of touch the McCain campaign is with working America.

“As workers watch their wages erode and health and retirement benefits disappear, the best the McCain campaign can do is coin them whiners and tell them their issues don’t matter. But personality and name-calling won’t help the 37 million Americans currently living in poverty,” said Mr. Chafe.

There are seven national unions affiliated with the Change-to-Win labor federation which represents around six million workers throughout North America. The seven unions are: The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union, The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), the United Farm Workers Union, The Services Employees International Union (SEIU), the United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union, UNITE HERE Union and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Union.

CtW and the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federations have pledged to work together to elect Democratic candidate for President, Senator Barack Obama. The AFL-CIO political program is intended to get out the union vote on November 4th and help Mr. Obama defeat Senator John McCain.

On September 4th, the AFL-CIOheld a national evening of labor walks including in Northeastern Pennsylvania. According to Rod Muchnok, AFL-CIO Field Representative who is the coordinator for the political program in Northeastern Pennsylvania, members of unions affiliated with both the AFL-CIO and CtW participated with the event including the United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776, UNITE HERE, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 81 and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

The labor walks were held from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME ) Union District Council 87 building in Dunmore and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Union Local 542 building in Wilkes-Barre.

Mr. Muchnok stated the political program includes contacting union members at their homes and by phone and through worksite leafleting. Mr. Muchnok can be reached at 304.549.6964.

Area union members attend the Community Services Institute

09.08.08

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

Area union members attend the Community Services Institute

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, August 17th- The 49th annual Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) Community Services Institute was held in Wilkes-Barre from August 10th to the 15th.

Labor representatives from across the commonwealth, including the Lehigh Valley, were in attendence along with concerned individuals, groups, workshop instructors and special resource people to participate in the learning experience. It was the first time Wilkes-Barre served as the host city for the event.

According to Carl Dillinger, Staff Representative of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, the Wilkes-Barre region has a strong labor heritage, including a tributary statue on the grounds of the Lackawanna County Courthouse dedicated to the legendary United Mine Workers Union (UMWU) labor leader John Mitchell.

Ron Achey, AFL-CIO Community Services Labor Liaison for the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley in Bethlehem, who attended the event, told the newspaper several youths from the Lehigh Valley that are involved with the labor supported Teen Works program participated in the event.

Under the Teen Works program, 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. Mr. Achey is the Teen Works program coordinator.

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.

Mr. Achey said there were six teens involved with the Teen Works program that traveled to Wilkes-Barre for the Community Services Institute. They were, Michelle Agolla, Allie Dunmire, Steve Dunmire, Nick Mazurek, Naomy Rosario and Christina Smith.

At the Community Services Institute each day there was a general session attended by everyone, followed by a specific workshop addressing a variety of key and contemporary working family issues, which tie into economic and social justice concerns.

On August 17th, 1942, an agreement on cooperation was signed between organized labor and the Community Chest, now the United Way of America, to encourage labor representation on their boards. The agreement sought cooperation between employee solicitation organized by employers and union representatives who jointly stressed voluntary contributions without coercion.

The Teen Works Board of Directors held their annual picnic a the United Auto Workers of America (UAW) Local 677 picnic grove located near their union office on Mack Boulevard in Allentown on August 12th.

Mr. Achey said each summer youth(s) or youth groups that received financial help for community projects from Teen Works Board of Directors are asked to attend and give up-dates on their project(s).

AFL-CIO and CtW labor federations to conduct labor walks on September 4th

09.08.08

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

AFL-CIO and CtW labor federations to conduct labor walks on September 4th

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, August 25th- The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington, DC political program is intended to get out the union member vote on November 4th and elect Illinois Senator Barack Obama. Mr. Obama is the Democratic party presidential nominee-in-waiting. The AFL-CIO endorsed Senator Obama for President over Republican party presidential nominee-in-waiting Arizona Senator John McCain. The labor organization did not endorse any presidential candidate during the primary election season.

The Change-to-Win (CtW) labor federation endosed Mr. Obama for the primary election and their affitiated unions will participate with the AFL-CIO political program called, “Labor 2008.”

The Pennsylvania presidential election contest was decided by a few percentage points in 2000 and 2004 with the Democratic party nominee winning in both elections. Many political observers predict this years election will also be decided by a few percentage points.

According to Rod Muchnok, AFL-CIO Field Representative who is the co-ordinator for the political program in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Labor 2008 is mobilizing union members across the state through worksite leafleting, door-to-door labor walks, (contacting union members at their homes), and contacting union members by phone at their residents.

Mr. Muchnok told the newspaper Barack Obama supports the working class and if elected President, will fight for raising the minimum wage, improving the prevailing wage, and will sign into law card check for union elections legislation.

Mr. Muchnok, a former coal miner and member of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), said the program is intended to better educate union members about issues pertaining to their working lives and then understand why voting for Mr. Obama is in their best interest.

The AFL-CIO political program will be conducted at the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) office, 3360 Airport Road, Second Floor in Allentown. The United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union Local 2599 will also be conducting their political program at their offices on East Lehigh Street in Bethlehem.

Mr. Muchnok said Senator McCain will oppose the union supported Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) if elected in November.

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

Meanwhile, Mr. Muchnok stated on September 4th, the day of the Republican National Convention when their nominee gives his acceptance speech, the labor federation will conduct a “National Evening of Walks.”

Thousands of union members from across the country will go door to door to union households to inform members of where the candidates stand on labor issues, Mr. Muchnok said.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: I have been hearing that these labor walks have been very successful!

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 375 won’t represent workers

09.08.08

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

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 375 won’t represent workers

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, August 7th- The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 375 in Allentown was unsuccessful in organizing employees of Bollinger Electric Inc. because the workers voted not to be union represented.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia conducted a Representation Election at Bollinger Electric on August 7th. The 14 eligible to vote employees rejected being represented by Local 375 by a large majority.

Under NLRB rules, a 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.

According to the petition, filed by the union on May 5th, 2008 and obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, the union wanted to represent all full-time and regular part-time electricians and working electrical foreman employed at the company’s North Madison Street in Allentown facility.

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

However, the company requested the NLRB conduct a hearing and argued against allowing some of the workers the union wanted to represent being able to participate in the election. The agency ruled that five working foreman would not be eligible to participate in the election.

According to David Reichard, President of Local 375, 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.

Mr. Reichard told the newspaper, under current NLRB rules employers can delay union elections for months and hire anti-union consulting firms that specialize in convincing employees unionizing would not be in their best interest.

“The company held captive paid meetings with the employees. We don’t know what was said in those meetings that changed the workers minds about the union.”

Mr. Reichard believes if the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) legislation was law, Local 375 would represent Bollinger Electric workers today.

“We had more than seventy percent of cards signed requesting the election. Yet, it took more than fourty-five days before the NLRB conducted the election,” added Mr. Reichard.

EFCA legislation would replace how union representation elections are conducted in workplaces with a “card check” system.

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka’s Remarks to USW Convention, July 1, 2008

09.06.08

http://www.usw.org/media_center/speeches_interviews?id=0003

Click on this link to see and hear this short speech. It is only slightly more than 7 minutes long but really is a worthwhile experience. I want to thank my buddy and union brother USW Local 2599 Vice President George Bonser for sending it to me to be posted here.

Northern Virginia Area Labor Federation largest Labor Day picnic in nearly 20 years

09.06.08

NOVA PICNIC DRAWS RECORD CROWD:

The Northern Virginia Area Labor Federation hosted “the largest Labor Day picnic the Northern Virginia Area Labor Federation has hosted in the nearly 20 years of doing so,” reports NoVa’s Dan Duncan. “About 300 people attended, including Labor-endorsed Congressional candidates Gerry Connolly (VA 11th District) and Judy Feder (VA 10th District) as well as state senators, delegates and local officials from Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William counties. Members contributed several hundred dollars to the Fire Fighters’ MDA ‘Fill the Boot’ drive and many Employee Free Choice Act pledge cards were signed.”

Obama-McCain Comparison on Taxes, Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) and more at AFL-CIO Blog

09.06.08

Sept. 4, 2008

Who benefits from John McCain’s tax agenda? The same people who have done so well under the Bush economy## the wealthy and big corporations. But, according to unbiased, just-the-facts analyses from economists and mainstream media, the overwhelming majority of taxpayers## especially those in the lower- and middle-income range## would see a bigger tax cut under Barack Obama’s plan than McCain’s. Your choice. More of McSame or more in your pocket?

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Quick Poll: Are the candidates and media paying enough attention to working family issues?
http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/bda31_F1bqGn/

Got comments? Post them at:
http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/b1a31_F1bqGh/

*****

Obama’s Tax Plan Better for Working Families Than McCain’s
http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/g7a31_F1bqGU/

TV Ads Promote Employee Free Choice Act
http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/g1a31_F1bqGm/

‘Wall Street Journal’ Columnist Takes on Corporate ‘Hypocrisy’ over Employee Free Choice
http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/gda31_F1bqGE/

Sick and Fired: U.S. Workers Struggle Without Paid Sick, Parental Leave
http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/tpa31_F1bqGj/

The Private Sector: One CEO’s case for the power of unions

09.02.08

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08246/908668-432.stm

The Private Sector: One CEO’s case for the power of unions

By Roger Smith

Another Labor Day has come and gone, and while our economy continues its downward spiral, we have a unique opportunity to reflect on the relationship between companies that are trying to stay afloat and their workers, who are also struggling to make ends meet ## as prices continue to skyrocket for everyone.

As the president and CEO of a major insurance company, some might call me an anomaly. I am an ardent supporter of the Employee Free Choice Act ## national legislation that would make it easier for workers to organize unions.

I can speak firsthand about how managing a unionized workforce makes my life easier and saves me money. More than 40 years ago, the workers at American Income Life formed a union with the Office and Professional Employees International Union. While working together to grow the business over the years, we have developed a productive relationship.

I have never understood why CEOs spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on high-priced legal consultants to keep unions out. Letting anti-union consultants absorb company resources just isn’t responsible financial stewardship. I’d rather put that money into raises for those who do the real work at our company. At the hourly rates those anti-union firms charge, I’ll probably save money.

The collective bargaining agreements at American Income Life and National Income Life provide the economic stability that workers want, particularly during these tough economic times. The contract ensures fair compensation, benefits and working conditions for our workers.

But the peace of mind goes both ways## a work force with experience, professionalism and longevity creates the stability that I want, too. Workers stay at my company because they get a fair deal ## and I save the cost of training employees that other companies incur because of high turn-over rates.

The nature of our contract also encourages us to listen and value each others’ perspectives. Respect for the contributions of our employees has become an integral part of our corporate culture, and it enhances our ability to make a profit for stakeholders. In fact, involving workers in times of significant change or restructuring has been vital to our success and growth.

Working through our collective bargaining agreement has forced us to manage better because we have a process for taking employees’ opinions into account as part of the decision-making process. Unions give credibility and standing to employees in a way that cannot be achieved with a nonunion work force.

Even as the economy slumps, we’re showing significant gains right now in monthly production records, and we’re even seeing projections of double-digit growth in annual sales. I am convinced that we would never have achieved this outcome without the involvement and feedback of our employees.

Unions also are good for the communities in which we live. Experience has taught me that fair wages and good benefits are paramount to keeping our communities healthy. In the insurance business, we deal with bread-and-butter issues. When we go to workers’ homes, we see the reality of the middle-class struggle ## fear of foreclosures, lack of health care, declining wages and buying power.

It’s worth noting that a union worker earns 30 percent more in wages, has better access to health care and is more likely to have a 401(k) or pension plan. The truth is, everyone in the community wins when there are workers with enough buying power to provide for their families.

When we celebrated Labor Day yesterday, we didn’t just mark the unofficial “last day of summer,” but the beginning of a new opportunity to do what is right for workers, for our companies and our communities. I invite you to stand with me on one of the wisest decisions I have made ## honor a worker and their freedom to form a union by supporting the Employee Free Choice Act.

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Roger Smith is chief executive officer of American Income Life Insurance Company.

The Laborers’ Union protest low wages and unsafe working conditions for workers in asbestos industry

09.02.08

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

The Laborers’ Union protest low wages and unsafe working conditions for workers in asbestos industry

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, August 15th- The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) wants asbestos abatement contractors to pay fair wages and is seeking better working conditions for industry workers throughout Eastern Pennsylvania.

According to Tim Bowen, Lead Organizer for the Laborers’ Mid-Atlantic Regional Organizing Committee, the union is asking that asbestos contractors provide family supporting hourly wages, medical benefits, pension plans, and a safer work environment, including proper training and certification programs for their workers.

Mr. Bowen told the newspaper, some nonunion asbestos abatement industry contractors are not paying their workers fair wages and providing a safe work environment, hurting the standard of living for workers in the industry.

“The workers in the inherently dangerous asbestos industry deserve a better standard of living, and the contractors and building owners who hire them should be held accountable for any abuses and negligence,” said Dennis Martire, the Laborers’ International Union of North America Vice President and Mid-Atltantic Regional Manager.

Mr. Bowen said his organization covers three LIUNA Local Unions throughout Eastern Pennsylvania including Local 1174 in Allentown, which represents LIUNA members throughout the Lehigh Valley.

“We do not deserve to be subject to unfair work conditions, low wages, or a lack of medical benefits. We should be able to provide for our families and receive the necessary training in order to accomplish the job successfully and safely,” said Bob Hummer, a asbestos workers and member of the LIUNA.

According to Mr. Bowen, asbestos workers are routinely exposed to dangerous chemicals as they remove hazardous materials. “The difficult work protects the general public and is crucial to maintaing community health standards,” he said.

Mr. Bowen added the dangerous job conditions demand a safer work environment, adequate job training, and better compensation, which have been ignored by some local asbestos contractors.

“It’s a problem for all building trade unions. Unskilled construction workers, often undocumented, are working on job sites being paid lousy wages, and are working is unsafe environments.”

SEIU/Healthcare Pennsylvania files labor complaint

09.02.08

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

SEIU/Healthcare Pennsylvania files labor complaint

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

EASTON, August 11th- The Service Employees International Healthcare Pennsylvania Union, formerly the SEIU/1199P, Race Street in Philadelphia, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia against HCR Manor Care, 2600 Northampton Street in Easton. HCR Manor Care Inc. does business as Manor Care Health Services in Easton.

The union filed a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) Charge with the NLRB alleging since December 2007 the employer, through its manager, agents and representatives, violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

According to the charge, obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Informationa Act, the employer unlawfully granted benefits or made improvements in order to discourage membership in the union, violating Section 8(a) subsection (1) and(3) of the NLRAct. The union is not seeking rescission of the benefits.

The union also alleges the employer unlawfully threatened employees with job loss and/or reprisal for engaging in concerted and protected activities violating Section 8(a) subsection (1) of the Act.

The union also alleges the employer unlawfully directed employees to refrain from making complaints about working conditions outside of the facility, and threatening employees for doing so, violating the National Labor Relations Act.

The complaint was filed for SEIU/Healthcare Pennsylvania by Philadelphia Attorney Bruce Ludwig and the employer representative named on the complaint is Jacqueline Stolte, identified as HCR Manor Care Acting Administrator.

Under National Labor Relations Board rules, after receiving a complaint the agency will conduct an investigation into the alleged NLRAct violation. Should the NLRB find merit in the charge a hearing will be conducted. If the agency finds the charged party violated the NLRAct, the NLRB can fine, or seek other remedies to resolve the violation.

The ULP states the union represents over 100 workers employed at HCR Manor Care in Easton, which is a nursing home providing care of the elderly.

SEIU/Healthcare Pennsylvania represents healthcare workers and nursing home employees throughout the commonwealth.

Republican Congressman Wayne Gilchrest (MD-1st) endorses pro-labor Democrat Frank Kratovil to replace him

09.02.08

Republican Congressman Wayne Gilchrest endorses the Democratic Congressional candidate Frank Kratovil
September 2nd, 2008
Dear Friends,

I am writing to share the news that I have decided to endorse Frank Kratovil for Maryland’s First Congressional District seat.

This is a decision that I do not make lightly, and I have indeed given a great deal of thought to what it is that makes our region special, the important issues we as a nation will face and most importantly, which candidate is better suited for this important job. You probably know that during my 18 years in Congress, I sometimes cast votes which were not in step with my party. And although you might not have always agreed with my choices, I think you know that I always weigh my decisions based on people, intellect and truth, not partisanship and politics.

It is through that same process that I came to the decision to support Frank Kratovil for this Congressional seat.

Frank Kratovil brings to Maryland’s First District that same sense of duty, responsibility and truthfulness. As a tough prosecutor and States’ Attorney he recognizes the importance of distinguishing rhetoric versus facts. He is an independent, thoughtful voice with a drive to lead and serve his country. Just as important, Frank lives in Queen Anne’s County with his wife Kimberly and four young sons. They face the same everyday challenges as us, attend the same schools, fill up at the same gas pumps and shop at the same stores. Frank understands this district and its people, and you can be sure that when he goes to Congress, he will have our interests at heart.

Our country faces many challenges, from a looming energy crisis, illegal immigration, climate change, uncertain foreign policy issues, and rising health care costs. Our Congress finds itself mired in partisan conflict year after year, and we are all tired of the same old empty promises. Now more than ever before in this country, we need more leaders with bold ideas, who have the courage to stand up for their constituents and make decisions based on facts, not rhetoric and not party politics as usual.

Frank Kratovil is that type of leader, and come next year, I’ll be proud to call him my Congressman.

Wayne T. Gilchrest

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Gilchrest is the current Republican Congressman representing the 1st Congressional District. He was defeated by the extremely right wing State Senator Andy Harris in the Republican Primary.