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UAW files another complaint against bus company

12.26.08

January 2009, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

UAW files another complaint against bus company

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

NORTHAMPTON, December 15th- The United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers (UAW) Union filed a second complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia alleging First Student Transportation Inc. violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

In the previous edition of the newspaper it was exclusively reported the UAW Amalgamated Union Local 677 in Allentown filed a complaint on October 28th, 2008 with the NLRB alleging the company violated the NLRAct for not bargaining in good faith.

Local 677 won the right to bargain for 111 employees of First Student Transportation Inc., Beersville Road in Northampton, after the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board conducted a election in June 2008 and the employees voted 76 for to 27 against being represented by the union for the purpose of collective bargaining.

First Student Transporation Inc. provides bus service for the Northampton Area School District. The units of employees that voted to be represented by the UAW are bus drivers and mechanics.
Local 677 represents four units of workers employed at Mack Trucks Inc. in Allentown and Macungie Township and employees of AmeriCold Logistics and workers of Lower Saucon Township.

According to the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge filed by the UAW Region 9 office in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania on October 28th, 2008, First Student Transportation Inc. is alleged to have violated Section 8 (a)(5) of the NLRAct when the company refused to provide information to the Union relevant and necessary for bargaining despite two requests.

The charge states the company failed to provide information to the union requested on July 17th, 2008 and September 9th, 2008, which was necessary for bargaining to obtained a first time contract agreement between the parties. The complaint was obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act.

According to the second complaint, also obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, it is alleged by the union the employer engaged in committing additional violations of the National Labor Relations Act.

The United Auto Workers alleges the company refuses to bargain with the Union by directly dealing and negotiating with the employees that are represented by the UAW.

Also, it is alleged the company violated the National Labor Relations Act by unilaterally implementing a new employee handbook.

The second charge was filed on December 3rd, 2008 by Joseph Robinson, indentified on the complaint as a International Representative at the UAW Region 9 office in Fort Washington.

The employer representative named on the complaints to be contacted is Wayne Prutzman, indentified as the company Manager.

Under NLRB rules, complaint(s) will be investigated by the agency and if merit is found a hearing will be scheduled.

Service Employees Union awaiting NLRB decision regarding when election will be conducted at nursing home

12.26.08

January 2009, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Service Employees Union awaiting NLRB decision regarding when election will be conducted at nursing home

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

BETHLEHEM, December 17th- The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Pennsylvania Union, is awaiting the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia decision on when a election will be conducted to determine if employees of the Good Shepherd in Bethlehem want the union to represent them.

In the previous edition of the newspaper it was exclusively reported the SEIU petitioned the NLRB on October 15th, 2008, requesting the agency conduct an Representation Election, to determine if 55 employees of Good Shepherd want the SEIU/Healthcare Pennsylvania, North 2nd Street in Harrisburg, formerly called SEIU/1199P, to be their representative for the purpose of collectively bargaining.

According to the petition, obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, the union requested all full-time and regularly part-time certified nursing assistants, unit secretaries, housekeepers, laundry aids, and van drivers employed by the employer at their Schoenersville Road facility to be eligible to vote.

On October 28th, the NLRB conducted a hearing in Easton on which employees will be eligible to participate in the election.

However, the newspaper has learned the NLRB Region Four in Philadelphia decision is under review by the NLRB in Washington, DC.

The SEIU appealed the Region Four Director decision of December 9th, to allow workers at another facility operated by the same employer to participate in the election. The union did not petition the agency to include the employees at the second facility.

The union requested on their petition all other employees, including Registered Nurses (RN’s), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN’s), business office clerical employees, guards, supervisors, and managerial staff not participate in the election.

Under NLRB rules, because of the appeal, the election could be delayed by weeks or even months while the five member NLRB reviews the Philadelphia’s decision.

The American Postal Workers Union Local 268 files complaint with NLRB alleging USPS violated labor law

12.26.08

January 2009, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

The American Postal Workers Union Local 268 files complaint with NLRB alleging USPS violated labor law

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

LEHIGH VALLEY, December 17th- The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 268 has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia alleging the United States Postal Service (USPS) Lehigh Valley office, violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).
The union filed the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge on November 26th, 2008 however, it was amended by Local 268 on December 1st, 2008.

According to the complaint, obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, the union represents arpproximately 500 workers employed at the USPS mail processing facility located in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.

“The Employer refuses to honor Step 2 grievance settlements that were reached by the parties regarding a clerk craft bargaining unit timekeeper position. The Employer refuses to allow the timekeeper to perform the duties of his position,” states the complaint.

The union official that filed the complaint is indentified as Fran Friel, which is recognized as the Clerk Craft Director.

According to the ULP, Neil Heller is the employer representative to be contacted.

Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA unemployment rate increases to 6.0 percent

12.26.08

January 2009, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

MSA unemployment rate increases to 6.0 percent

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, December 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 one-tenth of a percentage point to 6.0 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 4.5 percent.

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

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 5.8. There are 372,000, increasing by 32,000 during the past two months, Pennsylvania residents without jobs. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted workforce of 6,446,000 with 6,075,000 employed. The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 6.5 percent. There are 10,080,000 residents nationally unemployed.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 6.8 percent. The Johnstown MSA has the second highest at 6.6 percent, and the Williamsport MSA has the third highest unemployment rate in the state at 6.4 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.5 percent, the Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 4.6 percent, with the Lancaster MSA having the third lowest unemployment rate in the state at 4.2 percent.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest civilian labor force, workers between eighteen and sixty-five years old, in Pennsylvania at 420,000, increasing by 8,100 from a year ago. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest civilian labor force in Pennsylvania at 3,004,000 with 176,200 residents not working. The Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest civilian labor force in the state at 1,226,600, with 67,400 residents unemployed. The Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest labor force in Pennsylvania at 287,300, with 14,600 residents unemployed.

Within the MSA, Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate at 7.2 percent, increasing by five-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month and increasing by one and seven-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago. Carbon County has 2,300 civilians not working, increasing by 200 from the month before and increasing by 600 from twelve months ago. Carbon County has a labor force of 31,100 the smallest civilian labor force in the MSA.

Northampton County has the lowest unemployment rate in the MSA at 5.9 percent, unchanged from the previous month, and increasing by one and five-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago. Northampton County has 9,000 civilians without jobs, increasing by 200 from the month before and increasing by 2,400 from a year ago. Northampton County has a labor force of 152,100.

Lehigh County has a unemployment rate of 6.0 percent, increasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month and increasing by one and five-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before. Lehigh County has 10,600 civilians not working, the most within the MSA, increasing by 300 from the previous month and increasing by 2,800 during the past twelve months. Lehigh County has a labor force of 176,300, the largest in the MSA.

Nonfarm jobs have decreased by 800 during the past twelve months for a total of 345,700. There are 290,700 service-providing jobs in the MSA, increasing by 1,000 from a year ago. Education and Health services jobs increased the most in the MSA during the past twelve months, gaining 2,200 jobs. Trade, Transportation and Utilities jobs decreased the most the past year within the MSA, dropping 1,800.

Lehigh Valley Labor Council President involved with health care coalition

12.26.08

January 2009, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Lehigh Valley Labor Council President involved with health care coalition

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

LEHIGH VALLEY, December 18th- The Lehigh Valley Labor Council President Gregg Potter was re-elected to a second three-year term of the labor federation.

Mr. Potter resides in Allentown and recently has taken a leave from his job at Verizon and now serves as a Health Care for America Now (HCAN) of Pennsylvania, Associate Director. Mr. Potter has worked for the communications company since 1993 and is a member of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Union Local 13500.

His job with HCAN is to build coalitions to join in the grass root effort to bring affordable, quality health care for working people to the top of the political discussion.

“I truly believe that if we solve the health care issue that it will go a long way in fixing our economy,” said Mr. Potter.

Part of the agenda of HCAN is to have as many federal legislators sign on to their health care principles. So far 166 House of Representatives and 18 United States Senators have committed to support HCAN principals. Mr. Potter said Republican Congressman 15th Legislative District Charlie Dent has not yet signed on.

“Many city, county and state governments are in dire financial straits and if we take the health care issue off of the table, that will loosen up a ton of money for other efforts,” added Mr. Potter.

United Steelworkers request help under Trade Assistance

12.26.08

January 2009, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

United Steelworkers request help under Trade Assistance

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

LEHIGH VALLEY, December 17th- The economic slowdown has affected workers represented by the United Steel Workers (USW) of America Union Local 2599 in Bethlehem.

Local 2599 is located on East Lehigh Street in Bethlehem and earlier this year had approximately 1,600 active members throughout the Lehigh Valley.

The union has two contracts with the Victaulic Company. On September 8th, 2008 the approximately 123 USW members employed at the Victaulic Company Alburtis Township facility ratified a new five-year contract agreement with the employer. The previous agreement expired on September 8th, 2008.

The union largest unit of members are employed at the Victaulic Company facility in Forks Township, which manufactures pipefitting systems.

Local 2599 represented approximately 520 workers at the Victaulic Forks Township facility going into 2008 but currently have 219 on lay-off, with it unknown when or if the workers will be recalled.
According to Jerry Green, President of Local 2599, four of the employers the union has labor contracts with have employees laid-off including the Victaulic Company.

Mr. Green told the newspaper the union has applied with the United States Department of Labor (DOL) in Washington seeking for the agency to assist the Victaulic Company laid-off workers under the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Act.

Under the Trade Act of 1974, the Department of Labor conducts an investigation into why workers lose their jobs and if found they were eligible for the job assistance, the DOL will provide grants to help them find a new career path.

Under the program, workers may receive job search allowances, relocation allowances, case management, and other helpful re-employment services including receiving funds for training and school education.

Mr. Green stated Househead manufacturing in Palmerton has notified the union 140 USW members of the 152 they employ will be laid-off beginning on December 23rd, 2008. Also, Prior Coated in Allentown have 12 of the 38 USW members currently laid-off. And Berenfield Containers in Easton have 4 of 23 Local 2599 members on lay-off.

Mr. Green also told the newspaper contract negotiations are underway between the union and Northampton County’s Gracedale Nursing Home and Hygrade Metals Manufacturing in Bethlehem.