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Congressional candidate Sam Bennett receiving labor support

09.26.08

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

Congressional candidate Sam Bennett receiving labor support

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, September 21st- Sam Bennett, Democratic United States House of Representatives 15th District candidate stated if elected on November 4th she would support the labor community better than incumbent Republican Congressman Charlie Dent.

Ms. Bennett, interviewed by the newspaper on September 18th, stated Mr. Dent’s labor voting record is terrible which includes voting in 2007 against the labor supported Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) and raising the minimum wage.

EFCA passed the House of Representatives in March 2007, 241-185. However, Mr. Dent voted against the legislation that would replace how union elections are conducted in workplaces with a card check system. Despite being passed by the House of Representatives it failed to become law when the Senate refused to vote on the legislation. Organized labor has made the passage of the law a priority for the 2009 legislative session.

Ms. Bennett stated she supports the rescinding of the Executive Order signed by President Bush in 2001 banning the signing of Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s) for construction projects being funded by federal monies. Under a PLA, unionized workers are almost assured be be hired for construction projects.

According to Bill Newhard, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Lehigh Valley, many of the 20 affiliated building trades unions of the labor federation have contributed funds to Sam Bennett’s campaign and are asking their members to vote for her.

Ms. Bennett has received endorsements from 29 local and international unions and the building trade unions have contributed the most to her campaign, donating $64,000. Overall, the labor community has donated more than $100,000 to the Sam Bennett for Congress Committee.

“My opponent didn’t even support raising the federal minimum wage,” said Ms. Bennett.

In January 2007 the House of Representatives voted to raise the minimum wage by $2.10 an hour to $7.25 an hour over a two year period.

Mr. Dent wants a third two-year term representing the 15th District which includes Lehigh and Northampton Counties.

Victaulic union employees ratify new five-year contract

09.26.08

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

Victaulic union employees ratify new five-year contract

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, September 17th- Employees of the Victaulic Company facility in Alburtis represented by the United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union Local 2599 in Bethlehem, ratified a new five-year contract agreement with the company on September 15th.

According to Local 2599 President Jerry Green the previous agreement expired on September 8th, 2008. The parties agreed to work under the terms and conditions of the previous contract while contract negotiations continued.

The United Steel Workers Union have two contracts with the Victaulic Company. Local 2599 also represents approximately 550 workers employed at the company’s Forks Township facility, which manufactures pipefitting systems. That unit of employees are working under a three-year agreement and ratified the contract in August 2007. The Forks Township contract will not expire until January 2010.

Mr. Green told the newspaper the Victaulic Company contract in Alburtis includes a 60 cents an hour wage increase each year for all union workers and other contract language inprovements including:

• Accident and sickness pay increases of $10.00 each year of the pact.

• New overtime language was added.

• No additional cost for health insurance for the first three years of the contract with workers paying an average of an $5.00 a week in the fourth and fifth year.

• Pension multiplier was increased by $2.00 in the first, second and third year; increasing by $1.00 in the fourth and fifth year of the pact.

Local 2599 has approximately 123 members employed at the Alburtis facility.

Local 2599 represents approximately 1,600 active USW members throughout the Lehigh Valley.

Mr. Green told the newspaper the Victaulic Company facility in Forks Township is the largest unit of employees the union represents.

The previous contract at the Forks Township plant expired on December 10th, 2006. The two sides agreed to work under the terms and conditions of the previous contract while negotiations continued.

The main issue that got in the way of reaching a new pact was health insurance benefit costs. The company wanted the employees to contribute more toward the cost of their health insurance. However, Mr. Green told the newspaper the union was successful in negotiating that the workers will not pay more than $15 a week that they paid under the previous pact.

Mailhandlers Union amends charge filed against the United States Postal Service in Lehigh Valley

09.26.08

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

Mailhandlers Union amends charge filed against the United States Postal Service in Lehigh Valley

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

LEHIGH VALLEY, September 17th- The National Postal Mailhandlers Union (NPMHU) Lehigh Valley Branch amended their complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia against the United States Postal Service (USPS) Lehigh Valley facility, that alleges the postal service violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The newspaper exclusively reported in the August edition, the union filed a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge with the NLRB on July 1st, 2008 alleging the NLRAct was violated at the employers mail processing plant located on Commerce Way in Bethlehem.

The complaint, obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, stated 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 amended complaint states, “Between the dates of March 20th, 2008 through June 25th, 2008 management has discriminated against Shop Steward Isabel Sandoval by issuing excessive discipline to her. Management has refused to bargain in good faith. The Employer has refused to provide needed information numerous times.”

The July 1st compliant stated, “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.”

The employer representative named on both the July 1st complaint and the amended ULP is Neil Heller, identified as the Plant Manager of the USPS, Lehigh Valley facility. The union representative that filed the complaint is Pamela Baum, identified as the NPMHU Contract Administrator Manager, Kutztown, Pennsylvania.

Under NLRB rules, after receiving a charge the agency will conduct a investigation into whether there is merit in the complaint.

Teamsters Union Local 773 wants to represent Kraft workers

09.26.08

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

Teamsters Union Local 773 wants to represent Kraft workers

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

ALLENTOWN, September 16th- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 773, Hamilton Street in Allentown, filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia requesting the agency conduct a Representation Election to determine if employees of the Kraft Foods facility in Allentown want to be represented by the union.

According to the petition, filed with the NLRB on September 15th and obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, the petition is supported by at least 30 percent of the workers at the Kraft Foods facility located at 7352 Industrial Boulevard in Allentown. Kraft operates a warehouse and distribution center at the location.

Under NLRB rules, a labor organization must have the signitures of at least 30 percent of the workers before they can request the agency conduct a election to determine if they want to be represented by a union for the purpose of collective bargaining.

According to information listed on the petition, there are presently 35 employees in the unit of workers. Local 773 stated a request was made to the company for the voluntary recognition of the union as the employees bargaining representative but they did not reply.

The petition was filed on behalf of Local 773 by Attorney Cassie Ehrenberg who address is listed as 1650 Market Street in Philadelphia.

According to the petition, the union wants all full-time and regular part-time drivers, mechanics and miscellaneous labor personnel to participate in the election.

The union wants all other employees, guards and supervisors as defined in the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct) excluded from participating in the election.

The person named on the petition as the employer representative to contact is Sandy Demasko indentified as the Kraft Foods Human Resources Officer.