Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Labor Federation holds Community Services Institute in Wilkes-Barre

09.23.08

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

Labor Federation holds Community Services Institute in Wilkes-Barre

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

REGION, August 18th- 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 at the Woodlands Inn & Resort.

Labor representatives from across the commonwealth, including throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania, 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.

Mr. Dillinger told the newspaper ninety-four union leaders and members attended the institute over the five days.

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.

According to Walter Klepaski, the AFL-CIO Community Services Liaison for the United Way of the Wyoming Valley, one of the institute highlights was a special project conducted at the Veterans Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre. Union delegates of the institute had an opportunity to visit with the patients of the medical facility.

According to William Cockerill, the AFL-CIO Community Services Liaison for the United Way of Lackawanna County, the group also visited the Gino Merli Veterans’ Center in Scranton. The union members during their visit to the medical center in Wilkes-Barre and the nursing home in Scranton gave a variety of union hats, shirts, travel bags, diabetic socks and a juke box to the military veterans. The items were donated by local unions from throughout the region. The estimated value of the donated items at both facilities was approximately $16,000.

Some of the labor representatives that attended the institute included the presidents of the AFL-CIO Central Labor Council labor federations from Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Sam Bianco, President of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council; Nancy Krake, President of the Scranton Central Labor Union; and Gregg Potter, President of the Lehigh Valley Labor Council were in attendance at the institute.

Event to be held for miners stamp in Wilkes-Barre

09.23.08

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

Event to be held for miners stamp in Wilkes-Barre

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

REGION, September 6th- For more than fifteen years individuals andgroups including the United Mine Workers of America Union (UMWA) have tied to presuade the United States Postal Service (USPS) to issue a stamp, or series of commemorative stamps, recognizing and honoring the coal miners of the nation. So far, these efforts have not resulting with success.

Those wishing for the USPS to issue a stamp have made their case to the postal authorities of the historical and industrial national significance of the contribution of coal miners to the industrial might of this nation. Coal mining along with railroads, steel, oil, have been pillars of the industrial revolution of the nation, supporters have stated.

Citizens, many who are descended from coal mining families, and would wish to see the hard and dangerous work of their ancestors memorialized in the form of a stamp, have help rallies and conducted petition signing events to attempt to convince the USPS to issue a stamp recognizing coal miners.

According to Wayne Namey, a member of the United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776, and a member of the Community Services Committee of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council labor federation, a rally to show support for a coal miners stamp will be held on Public Square in Downtown Wilkes-Barre on October 25th.

Mr. Namey, who works as a clerk at a Pennsylvania Wine and Spirits Store in Luzerne County, told the newspaper the event will be held between 9:00 am to 1:00 pm with speakers beginning at 10:00 am. “We are hoping to have live music. Food venders will be available. Coffee and donuts also with balloons for kids,” said Mr. Namey.

Mr. Namey stated six groups have announced they will be involved with the October 25th event including: the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council, UFCW Local 1776, the Red Hat Society, the Wilkes-Barre Kiwana’s Club, the Anthracite Living History Group and the Huber Breaker Society. “We need more groups to become involved with their presence at this event and petition drives to bombard the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee with hundreds or a thousand letters.”

The Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee is tasked with evaluating the merits of all stamp proposals. The committee’s primary goal is to select subjects for recommendation to the postmaster general. For more than fifteen years the UMWA have petitioned the USPS to issue a stamp.

Mr. Namey can be contacted at: 570.466.3385.

Local Representative introduces “Buy American” resolution

09.23.08

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

Local Representative introduces “Buy American” resolution

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

REGION, August 27th- The Pennsylvania House of Representatives have adopted a resolution urging Pennsylvanians to purchase United States saving bonds and to buy products made in the United States and in the Commonwealth.

Democratic State Representative Eddie Day Pashinski, 121st Legislative District, a union member, introduced the resolution to draw attention to how Pennsylvanians can improve the value of the dollar and the economy by investing in the state and the country. Mr. Pashinski feels an injection of capital by residents into the national and state economies could help restore our previous level of financial health.

“Whenever social crises have threatened this country and state, it has been the groundswell of public support that allowed us too overcome them. People rallying to each other’s aid does more for the morale of their communities than government actions can. That’s why I’m urging to take a more active part in the financial distress our nation is in today by buying American and buying Pennsylvanian,” said Mr. Pashinski, who was elected to represent the 121st Legislative District in Harrisburg in 2006.

Mr. Pashinski added global expansion over the last decade has resulted in the loss of jobs for millions of Pennsylvanias and Americans. And consumers buying American made products can help the country and fellow Americans.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA unemployment rate increases to 6.1 percent

09.23.08

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

MSA unemployment rate increases to 6.1 percent

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

REGION, August 28th- According to labor data provided by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Industry, the region’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 6.1 percent, increasing by two-tenths 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 4.9 percent.

The MSA’s unemployment rate continues to remain higher than Pennsylvania and the nation. The unemployment rate in the state is 5.4 percent, increasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,365,000 with 341,000 not working and 6,024,000 with employment. The national unemployment rate is 5.7 percent, increasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month. There are 8,784,000 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 200 from the previous month to 281,800 and increased by 4,200 during the previous twelve months. There are 17,100 civilians not working within the MSA, increasing by 400 from the previous month, and increasing by 2,500 from twelve months before.

The MSA has the fifth largest labor force in Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor force at 2,978,400 with 154,900 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA is second at 1,209,100 with 61,400 without jobs; the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force at 415,600 with 22,800 not working; and the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest civilian labor force at 286,200 with 13,000 without employment.

Of the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the second highest unemployment rate with only the much smaller Johnstown MSA the only region with a higher unemployment rate at 6.4 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the month before. The Johnstown MSA only has a civilian labor force of 69,300, with only the Altoona MSA and the Williamsport MSA with a smaller civilian labor force. The Williamsport MSA has the third highest unemployment rate in the state at 5.8 percent, increasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the month before.

The Lebanon MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.0 percent. The Lancaster MSA is second at 4.1 percent with the State College MSA third at 4.2 percent.

Within the MSA, Lackawanna County has the lowest unemployment rate at 5.9 percent, increasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month and one and one-tenth of a percentage point from twleve months before. Lackawanna County has a labor force of 107,300 with 6,300 residents without employment, increasing by 200 from the previous month.

Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 6.3 percent, increasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month and increasing by one and three-tenths of a percentage point from one year before. Luzerne County has a labor force of 160,000, the largest in the MSA, with 10,100 residents not working, the most in the MSA.

Wyoming County has a unemployment rate of 6.0 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month and increasing by nine-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before. Wyoming County has a labor force of 14,500, the smallest in the MSA, with 900 without jobs, unchanged from the month before and increasing by 200 from twelve months ago.

OSHA proposes changing rulemaking for job risk assessement

09.23.08

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

OSHA proposes changing rulemaking for job risk assessement

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

REGION, September 2nd- The United States Department of Labor (DOL) proposes to establish procedures to allow the public to see exactly what goes into risk assessments for health standards for regulating occupational exposure to toxins.

The DOL proposal will ensure that the best and latest available evidence and scientific data are used when conducting risk assessments in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act.

According to information provided by OSHA, the department currently does not have comprehensive regulations or formal internal guidance outlining consistent risk assessment procedures. The proposed regulation implements recommendations of a 1997 presidential/congressional commission that criticized the department for relying on “a case-by-case approach for performing risk assessment and risk characterization,” and recommended that the department explain its scientific and policy defaults with regard to risk assessment.

The agency believes the proposal will compile the DOL existing practices into a single, easy to reference public regulation and includes:

• Issuance of an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) in order to cast a wide net for available information from the public.

• Collection of the best available scientific data for the agency to consider, including industry-by-industry exposure data where available.

• Electronic posting of all documents related to a health standard rulemaking to promote greater public input, awareness and transparency of the information underlying the department’s health rulemakings.

The DOL stated the proposal gives the department’s scientists and technical experts the necessary latitude to exercise their professional discretion and to modify their assessments as science evolves, while ensuring that the department’s process is fully accountable and transparent to the public.

The ANPRM process is not new to the agency. OSHA has included an ANPRM in the last three health standards it promulgated, including two that were started more than 20 years ago. DOL said this important process ensures that those responsible for drafting the standards have the best available scientific information to produce a thorough and accurate risk assessment that effectively protests workers.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees.

According to OSHA, the agency’s role is to promote the safety and health of workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training; outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in work place safety and health.

OSHA’s area office is located in Wilkes-Barre and David Martin, Assistant Area Director can be contacted at: 570.826.6538, extension 18.

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Religious school employees legislation hearing held

09.23.08

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

Religious school employees legislation hearing held

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

REGION, September 2nd- Democratic Pennsylvania Representative 121st Legislative District, Eddie Day Pashinski of Luzerne County, announced the State House of Representatives Labor Relations Committee conducted a public hearing on August 18th that would give teachers and other employees in the Catholic school system more rights under state labor laws in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Pashinski introduced House Bill 2626, which has support of more than 50 legislators from across the state. The bill would allow lay teachers, support staff and other religious education workers the opportunity to seek employment representation and membership through labor organizations.

The right to unionized became a major issue in 2008 after the Diocese of Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino refused to recognize the Scranton Diocese Association of Catholic Teachers (SDACT) as the bargaining representative of Diocesan teachers.

The union represented the teachers of ten of the fourty-two grade schools and nine of the ten high schools of the Scranton Diocese until Bishop Martino restructured the system in 2007. The new system eliminated the small school boards and created four regional boards. SDACT previously had contracts with each Board of Pastors that represented each school. Bishop Martino implemented a “Employee Relations Program” and eliminated the union.

Michael Milz, SDACT President and a 33 year employee of the Scranton Diocese who worked as a science teacher and later a social studies teacher at Bishop Hoban High School in Wilkes-Barre, now called Holly Redemmer, and a vocal critic against the elimination of the union, was laid-off by the Scranton Diocese during the summer.

Mr. Milz stated SDACT has not represented the workers since August 2007, when their previous contract expired. SDACT now has 22 active members employed by the Diocese at St. Michael’s School in Tunkhannock. The current five year contract agreement with the Scranton Diocese will expire in August 2009.

Mr. Pashinski, a member of the American Federation of Musicians and former President of the Nanticoke Area Education Association, said the proposed change in Pennsylvania labor law would force dioceses to recognize and bargain collectively with its teachers union. “My bill does not have anything to do with the religious doctrine but instead, gives workers in the religious education system the right to accept and join unions,” said Mr. Pashinski.

On August 18th, the State House of Representatives held a public hearing on H.B. 2626 that would also allow unions in religious schools to bring grievances to the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) in Harrisburg.

Mr. Milz told the newspaper he will provide testimony on the unionization issue at future public hearings on the legislation. Mr. Milz is currently employed by the Northeastern Area Labor Federation in Dunmore.

Labor union leaders believe some Democrats unsupportive

09.23.08

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

Labor union leaders believe some Democrats unsupportive

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

REGION, September 4th- Rosmary Boland, President of the Scranton Federation of Teachers (SFT) Union Local 1147, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) International Union, stated on August 17th, she is tired of supporting Democratic Party members running for local political office to only have them not support her members and organized labor.

On September 2nd it was announced Local 1147 had reached a agreement for a new contract with the Scranton School District. The agreement was reached just before mid-night on September 2nd, avoiding a possible strike on September 3rd, the first day fall classes began in Scranton.

Local 1147 represents 880 teachers and para-professionals of the Scranton School District. There are approximately 10,000 students enrolled in the Scranton School District.

Mrs. Boland is also the Recording/Secretary of the Scranton Central Labor Union (SCLU) labor federation in Dunmore. The labor organizrion is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Washington DC. The labor organization meets every third Wednesday of the month.

The SFT contract with the Scranton School District expired on August 31st. The union members voted to give the unions bargaining committee the authorization to call for a strike if negotiations failed.

Under the previous contract, not negotiated by the current Local 1147 leadership, teachers paid as much as $8,100 out-of-pocket annually for family health care coverage. On September 7th, the membership ratified the three year agreement that will provide wage increases each year of the pact and will reduce the teachers health insurance costs considerably.

On August 17th, Mrs. Boland stated of the 501 school districts in Pennsylvania, Scranton teachers paid the highest health care premiums, around $312.00 per pay period, which is every two-weeks.

Mrs. Boland stated all nine members of the Scranton School Board are members of the Democratic party, but she believes many of them only talk of supporting labor around election time. “I’m personally sick and tired of working and asking my members to work for Democrats that won’t support us when we need them,” said Mrs. Boland.

She pointed out the Scranton School District Solicitor and Chief Negotiator is Attorney Harry McGrath, who is also the Chairman of the Lackawanna County Democratic Committee. “We have to sit across from a man that is also the party chairman,” stated Mrs. Boland. “I’ve often wonder, who’s side is Mr. McGrath on. The working people or management.”

Nancy Krake, President of the SCLU and President of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) Union Local Lodge 2462, agrees with Mrs. Boland’s opinion that Democrats often receive labor support during elections and then they won’t help union people when they are in need.

“All to often Democrats play us for idiots. We work for them to get elected and then they forget about us,” said Mrs. Krake.

Keystone Research Center releases economic study

09.23.08

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

Keystone Research Center releases economic study

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

REGION, August 29th- The Keystone Research Center in Harrisburg, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group, released their annual report of the Pennsylvania economy and is urging voters to rate Presidential candidates Senator Obama and Senator McCain by their economic plans.

The Pennsylvania economic report, released on August 27th, shows stagnant wages, tumbling home prices, and skyrocketing income increases for the wealthiest Commonwealth residents. The Keystone Research Center hopes voters will use their information to better make informed choices about the economic plans of Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain. “With polls finding the economy the number one issue across the land, voters are starved for a convincing story about how each candidate would restore broadly shared prosperity. Voters don’t want a laundry list. They do want some specifics about how each candidate would make a real difference, plus they want an overall vision that restores confidence in the possibility of a better future,” said Keystone Research Center economist Stephen Herzenberg.

The group also released a document which is a scorecard with ten criteria for rating the candidates’ own economic plans. The criteria are drawn from the organizations economic analysis and vision, and can be used to assess Mr. Obama’s and Mr. McCain’s understanding of the economic realities facing working families and to improve those realities. Individual criteria address wages, benefits, worker training, green jobs, unionization rights, trade policies, and the need for economic stimulus that would kick-start a transition to a more moral economy. The scorecard is available online at http://www.keystonerearch.org. “We think our scorecard criteria provide a solid basis on which the average voter can evaluate both candidates,” added Mr. Herzenberg.

Mr. Herzenberg said providing the voter scorecard is a logical extension of what the Keystone Research Center does. “Since our founding in 1996, our mission has always been highly practical and pragmatic promoting solutions that will actually work to improve the lives of Pennsylvania workers and families. In our recent report, we’ve pinpointed the current problems. Now we’re presenting the solutions in a form that we hope will reach some new audiences.”

The group believes with the change in the presidency at hand, now is the perfect time to offer a vision to both campaigns. “Our proposal is simple and workable, and we would be thrilled to have it ‘plagiarized’ by Senator Obama or Senator McCain,” said Mr. Herzenberg.

The report found that the year-old national economic crisis, with rising mortage foreclosurers, falling home prices, and severely stressed financial institutions, has already damaged the Pennsylvania economy. The wages of most Pennsylvania workers are stagnant, and the concentration of income among the richest 1 percent of earners is approaching the level of the 1920’s. The report was writen by Mr. Herzenberg and fellow Keystone Research Center economist Mark Price, PhD.

The report revealed that even before the economy began to falter, Pennsylvania workers were not doing well. Between 2001 and 2005, the richest 1 percent of Pennsylvania families captured nearly 80 percent of all the growth in personal income in the state.

Trumka: Obama Strong on Guns, Conservation Issues

09.23.08

Trumka: Obama Strong on Guns, Conservation Issues

by Seth Michaels, Sep 19, 2008

http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/09/19/trumka-obama-strong-on-guns-conservation-issues/

At a union roundtable discussion in Johnstown, Pa., yesterday, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka met with a panel of 15 union sportsmen from 12 different western Pennsylvania unions to discuss Sen. Barack Obama’s positions on issues ranging from trade to guns.

Trumka says Obama is offering the right solutions for what’s wrong with our economy. He told the assembled union members that talking with their friends and neighbors about Obama and the important issues is the best way to make sure we have a pro-worker president next year.

This election is going to decide the direction of the economy, where we go. Whether the economy is going to help you, or hurt you. Whether it’s going to be changed or it isn’t going to be changed. It’s up to you, it’s very, very important for you and for your future, the future of our communities and our children, to know the facts, where the candidates stand on the issues and then vote what’s best for the country.

Trumka, an avid hunter and fisher, says corporate interests will again seek to exploit the issue of gun ownership this year, hoping to distract gun-owning voters from real issues like jobs, health care and retirement security. This election is too important to let distortions and falsehood affect it, Trumka says.

Obama gets it. Not only is he crystal clear in his support of the Second Amendment, he is light years ahead of John McCain on habitat conservation and hunting and fishing access issues important to sportsmen. Attacks on Sen. Obama’s position on guns are nothing more than right-wing rhetoric meant to distract working people from the critical pocketbook issues that affect our daily lives.

Participants at the roundtable said that while protecting the traditions of sportsmen is important, the focus of this election is squarely on the economy.

Kenneth Peterson, president of IBEW Local 459 in Johnstown, said trade tops the issues leading him to vote for Obama this fall.

There is a lot of nonsense out there about Barack Obama taking our guns. Workers from our area are more worried about John McCain exporting our jobs.

Lisa Stark, a National Rifle Association member and organizer for the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees (NUHHCE), says the real threat to responsible gun ownership comes from the stagnation of workers’ paychecks.

The truth of the matter is that George W. Bush and his failed economic policies have taken away more guns from average Americans than any gun control law ever passed in the history of the United States. The economic policies of George Bush—which McCain supported 90 percent of the time—have turned pawn shops into gun shops because struggling workers have to hock their guns to pay their mortgages.

Michael Fedore, a member of the Pennsylvania Federation of Teachers who grew up in New Castle, Pa., says he’s voting for Obama because all workers’ rights deserve respect.

We come from an area where schools close on the opening day of deer season. Hunting is a way of life for us and Barack Obama respects that. Sen. Obama also respects our rights to decent jobs that pay fair wages, health care and pension protection.

Pennsylvania will be a decisive state in this fall’s election, and union volunteers will be working hard to make sure every union member knows what issues are really at stake this year.

DC area labor daily news from Union City

09.23.08

Monday, September 22, 2008

LABOR UPDATES: Dairy Workers Beat Unionbusting at Quickway: Dairy workers at Quickway Transportation won a major legal fight last Monday when an NLRB judge ruled against Quickway’s unionbusting tactics during contract negotiations in 2007. This is “a stunning and complete victory for our members,” says Teamsters Local 639 Recording Secretary Phil Giles. Workers – who deliver Marva Maid dairy products to Giant stores in the Metro DC area - stuck Quickway in January 2007 after the company locked out workers and refused to bargain in good faith (Dairy Workers Still on Strike 1/18/07 UC). The NLRB ruling orders Quickway to reinstate locked out drivers with full back pay, benefits and interest. Giles said he hoped the ruling would send a warning other employers that would think about using the same tactics and added that Local 639 “will do whatever it takes to make Quickway comply with their legal obligations.”

NEW TRADES LEADER A FIGHTER: Vance Ayres has been standing up to bullies since he was a kid. “I always stood up for the kids being picked on,” Ayres told Union City, “and I always picked them for my team because they fought harder and we won!” These days Ayres is taking the fight for justice to a bigger sandbox as the new Secretary-Treasurer of the Washington Building and Construction Trades Council, the umbrella organization for over a dozen area construction trades locals. The 42-year-old’s energy and enthusiasm is infectious and he seems hard-put to sit still for an interview. Though most folks these days know him as an Elevator Constructor – his home local for the last 11 years (he’s still Recording Secretary) – he began his union career in 1990 as an organizer for UFCW after a brief stint playing semi-pro football. “Organizing really woke me up to poverty and why people needed a union,” Ayres says, “I’d go into rowhouses there were huge holes in the walls and the people had no food, in stark contrast with my neighborhood, where families had plenty of food, pensions and health care.” Click here for the rest of the interview.
- report by Chris Garlock

HEALTH CARE SQUAD TO QUARANTINE INSURANCE CONFAB: Warning that “The health insurance industry is hazardous to your health,” uniformed nurses and doctors will stage a protest at an insurance industry conference today. Area activists are urged to join the healthcare professionals as they attempt to quarantine the Capitol Hilton hotel at 12:45P when Newt Gingrich is scheduled to address the America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) Conference on Medicare and Medicaid. “Despite spending twice as much as other industrialized nations, our mostly private health insurance system performs poorly,” says the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, which is coordinating the protest. “One third of every health care dollar is taken up by paperwork and other administrative costs of private insurance that have little to do with addressing disease or injury. Poor health and poor health care hold down the U.S. economy and reduce productivity. A guaranteed health care program patterned after Medicare can provide coverage for all, while at the same time saving close to $300 billion per year.”

WILLIAMS CHAIRS UNITED WAY LABOR DIV: Metro Washington Council President Jos Williams has been tapped to chair this year’s United Way Labor Division. “The United Way has long been a great partner for our own Community Services Agency,” Williams said, “and this year’s campaign slogan – “Live United” – is completely consistent with the union movement’s commitment to working together to change the world.” With the Community Services Agency launching its workplace giving campaign this week, Williams urged area union members to “Give generously this year; times are tough but the labor movement is tougher!” The CSA’s United Way designation number is 8253.

LABOR PHOTO: Protest Against Colombian Prez Draws Huge Lunchtime Crowd: Over 100 activists rallied outside the National Press Club Friday to protest the visit of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. Uribe and 80 other Colombian government officials were in town to lobby for passage of the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, which critics argue should not be passed until the Colombian government addresses the increasing violence against workers and activists and the agreement includes significant labor, human and environment rights. “In the past eight months, 41 Colombian trade union members have been murdered, more than in all of last year,” reports James Parks on AFL-CIO Now Weblog. “Nearly 2,700 trade unionists have been murdered in Colombia since 1986, including some 471 during the Uribe administration. And the killers are getting away with it. The impunity rate for murdering a trade unionist in Colombia remains at more than 96 percent.” Click here to read Parks’ full report.

UNION CITY VOICE: Readers Write: The Real Battle in Seattle: “I saw that [last Wednesday’s] Union City reviewed the new movie Battle in Seattle,” writes Georgetown Solidarity Committee activist Sarah Heydemann. “Here at Georgetown, we’ve been debating whether this movie is a positive or negative force! I’m not against the Hollywood version per se, I just worry that those who know nothing about the issue or the event before they see the movie will think that’s the only version out there.” For activists’ accounts of the historic 1999 protests, check out the Real Battle in Seattle website and the documentary This is what Democracy Looks Like, which uses actual footage shot by hundreds of activists on the ground during the protests. Click here for a debate on the film, which aired on Democracy Now! last Thursday, with Director Stuart Townsend and David Solnit, a key organizer of the shutdown of the WTO in Seattle and creator of The Real Battle in Seattle website. Battle in Seattle continues this week at the E Street Cinema; click here for details on showtimes and tickets.

TODAY’S LABOR HISTORY: Emancipation Proclamation passes (1862); Great Steel Strike begins; 350,000 workers demand union recognition. The AFL Iron and Steel Organizing Committee calls off the strike, their goal unmet, 108 days later (1919); Martial law rescinded in Mingo County, WV after police, US troops and hired goons finally quell coal miners’ strike (1922); US Steel announces it will cut the wages of 220,000 workers by 10 percent (1931); United Textile Workers strike committee order strikers back to work after 22 days out, ending what was at that point the greatest single industrial conflict in the history of American organized labor. The strike involved some 400,000 workers in New England, the mid-Atlantic states and the South (1934); Some 400,000 coal miners strike for higher wages in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Illinois and Ohio (1935); The AFL expels the International Longshoremen’s Association for racketeering; the union was readmitted to the then-AFL-CIO six years later (1953); OSHA reaches its largest ever settlement agreement, $21 million, with BP Products North America following an explosion at BP’s Texas City, Texas plant earlier in the year that killed 15 and injured 170 (2005); Eleven Domino’s employees in Pensacola, FL form the nation’s first union of pizza delivery drivers (2006); San Francisco hotel workers end a two-year contract fight, ratify a new five-year pact with their employers (2006); More info & ammo for unionists is available online from Union Communication Services.

Material published in UNION CITY may be freely reproduced by any recipient; please credit the Council as the source.

Published by the Metropolitan Washington Council, an AFL-CIO “Union City” Central Labor Council whose 200 affiliated union locals represent 150,000 area union members. JOSLYN N. WILLIAMS, PRESIDENT.

Story suggestions, event announcements, campaign reports, Letters to the Editor and other material are welcome, subject to editing for clarity and space, and should be directed to:

Editor: Chris Garlock
Assistant Editor: Andy Richards
streetheat@dclabor.org
Voice: 202-974-8153
Fax: 202-974-8152

Labor Events in the Lehigh Valley area in Pennsylvania

09.23.08

Good evening!

I wanted to bring some important events to your attention and ask for your support.

(1) Tuesday, September 23, 2008, there will be a Town Hall Meeting to discuss Green Jobs at 6:30 P.M. at the Allentown Public Library, 1210 Hamilton St. in the large conference room. Lehigh County Executive, Don Cunningham, Allentown Mayor, Ed Pawlowski, Allentown City Council President, Mike D’Amore are the featured speakers on New Solutions to Create Good paying, family sustaining jobs and a clean energy future. This event is hosted by the BlueGreen Alliance and the Lehigh Valley Labor Council. Admission is free and your attendance is requested.

(2) Mrs. Obama & Mrs. Biden will be visiting Cedar Crest College in Allentown on Wednesday September 24, 2008. There are a limited number of tickets available for this event. The speakers are scheduled to be on stage at 1:00 p.m. There is no charge for this event, but you must contact me directly at 610 360-9491 for tickets.

(3) The next event is Thursday evening September 25, 2008. The Allentown School District teachers will be assembling at the PPL Plaza at 9th & Hamilton Streets and marching to the School Board meeting to protest abuses by the School District. One example of this behavior; one first grade schoolteacher has 38 children in her class!! The teachers are tied up filling out intricate lesson plans when they could be teaching children. Obviously, we cannot all fit in the School Board meeting, however we plan on making a dramatic entrance. Please plan to attend.

(4) Thursday, October 2, 2008, Pa. AFl-CIO President Bill George and the Billy Bus will be traveling to the Lehigh Valley. We have tentatively scheduled a worksite leafleting at UPS, which are represented by Teamsters Local 773 at approximately 8:00. We will then proceed to the IBEW Local 1600, 540 Grange Rd. Wescosville for a breakfast/press conference. Also scheduled, is a worksite leafleting at the PPL call center on Hausman Rd at approximately 2:00. Your attendance is requested and appreciated.

As you can see, there is a lot going on. We will also be walking every Saturday until Election Day and some evenings in the very near future.

I understand that EVERYONE has a very busy schedule. Try and keep in mind how important this election cycle is to the future of Organized Labor and working families.
This is our time!

Gregg Potter
President, Lehigh Valley Labor Council