Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Complaint filed with IRS by labor movement against anti-union corporate front groups

02.27.09

Complaint filed with IRS by labor movement against anti-union corporate front groups

by Ron Moore

http://www.examiner.com/x-2071-DC-Special-Interests-Examiner~y2009m2d26-Complaint-filed-with-IRS-by-labor-movement-against-antiunion-corporate-front-groups?cid=examiner-email

The AFL-CIO and Change to Win filed a joint complaint with the Internal Revenue Service today against Rick Berman’s Center for Union Facts and Bernie Marcus’ the Marcus Foundation for violating their “charitable” tax status by engaging in partisan political activity on behalf of Republican Senate candidates during the 2008 election.

The complaint alleges that the two 501(c)(3) organizations should have their tax status revoked because Marcus, Berman and another Marcus Foundation official explicitly endorsed and tried to raise money to elect six Republican candidates on a conference call just two weeks before Election Day. On the teleconference, they repeatedly asked for contributions, to the candidates and the Center for Union Facts itself, in order to elect Senators who opposed the Employee Free Choice Act.

The call, hosted by Bank of America, was titled “The Impact of Card Check Legislation on the Retail Industry” and was attended by representatives of numerous businesses. But the teleconference was primarily devoted to a discussion about how to support the Republican Party and the specific Republican candidates who opposed this legislation.

“Bernie Marcus and Rick Berman have a history of playing fast and loose with the facts, and now they’re playing fast and loose with the law,” said Change to Win Chair Anna Burger. “America’s working families voted for change in November because of greedy corporate CEOS who will do and say almost anything to deny workers a fair share of the profits created by their hard work. We filed this complaint with the IRS to stop Marcus and Berman from violating the law in their campaign against workers and their families.”

“Bernie Marcus and Rick Berman are no-holds-barred leaders of a network of people and organizations that despise worker rights and unions,” said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. “Now, they are violating their organizations’ tax-exempt status through partisan political appeals. We call on the IRS to call them to account.”

The complaint states: “During the call, Marcus warned the participants that, if elected, a Democratic Congress and a President Barack Obama would enact ‘EFCA,’ and he states that this would ‘be the demise of civilization’ and ‘would destroy America,’ and that any CEO of a public company ‘should be shot’ if not actively fighting ‘EFCA.’” The specific Senate races referenced during the call were in Oregon, Minnesota, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, and North Carolina.

The nonprofit tax status of the Center for Union Facts has also been the subject of IRS complaints by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Center for Union Facts has served as a corporate front group for anti-worker, anti-union campaigns including fighting an increase in the minimum wage and the Employee Free Choice Act.

Beware of the Big Lie Bill

02.27.09

Beware of the Big Lie Bill

by Tula Connell, Feb 27, 2009

http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/02/27/beware-of-the-big-lie-bill/

Opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act in Congress made their Big Lie into a bill Wednesday, when Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.) and Mike Enzi (Wyo.) introduced the so-called Secret Ballot Protection Act.

Before we go further, let’s clear up the bill’s false implication right now:

The Employee Free Choice Act would not—repeat after me—would not, take away the secret ballot National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election process if workers seeking to form a union wanted to use it. The Employee Free Choice would ensure workers made the decision of whether to select a union via majority sign-up (card-check) or via ballot process. Choice is good. That’s one reason why we called it Employee Free Choice—because it would enable employees, not management, to make the decision of how to form a union.

The official goal of S. 1312 is to:

amend the National Labor Relations Act to ensure the right of employees to a secret-ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board.

But the real objective of the DeMint-Enzi—and, of course, the autoworker-hating senator from Tennessee, Bob Corker—crowd is to force senators to be on record in support of it before the Employee Free Choice Act is up for a vote and to get free PR for their lies.

In announcing the bill, DeMint put out this gem:

“Card check” is completely unacceptable and un-American, and we must pass the Secret Ballot Protection Act to safeguard workers’ rights for good.

Since Enzi brought up “un-American,” let’s take a look at that term. Seems actions like providing health care for low-income children, ensuring America’s workers are paid overtime and have a safe workplace where they are not paid less because of their gender or race are all-American standards. But not so for DeMint. A quick look at his Senate voting record shows:

DeMint voted at least seven times against expanding health care for children (the State Children’s Health Insurance Program).
DeMint voted three times against protecting overtime pay for millions of workers.
DeMint opposed workplace safety standards.
DeMint voted against Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which helps ensure workers are not paid less because of gender or race.
The same day the Big Lie bill was introduced, 39 economists, including two Nobel Prize winners, issued a statement supporting the Employee Free Choice Act as key to getting our nation’s economy back on its feet. Their statement says in part:

Indeed, from 2000 to 2007, the income of the median working-age household fell by $2,000—an unprecedented decline. In that time, virtually all of the nation’s economic growth went to a small number of wealthy Americans. An important reason for the shift from broadly shared prosperity to growing inequality is the erosion of workers’ ability to form unions and bargain collectively.

Yet as Mary Beth Maxwell, executive director of American Rights at Work, says:

At a time when more Americans are hurting financially than perhaps at any other time in our history, a small group of consistently anti-worker members of Congress are introducing legislation to make it harder for workers to negotiate for better pay and health care for themselves and their families. It is unconscionable that these Congressmen with six-figure salaries and guaranteed pensions choose to kick America’s workers when they are down. This ploy is no surprise, as they have voted against raising the minimum wage, expanding children’s health insurance and ensuring worker safety.

Here’s another lie the bill’s sponsors are pushing out, this via Think Progress:

DeMint took to Fox News to describe why he thinks his firewall is necessary. Amidst the usual false rhetoric about Employee Free Choice eliminating the secret ballot, DeMint also incorrectly claimed that the act would harm small businesses:

And this is not just for big auto companies, this is for small electrical contractors, companies with 10 or 15 people. It would change the business model of the United States to the same model the U.S. auto industry has in Detroit.

As Think Progress points out, DeMint has this all wrong. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) excludes non-retail employers whose interstate commerce is less than $50,000 and retail employers whose gross annual volume is less than $500,000; there are various other size exemptions for all sorts of industries, from newspapers to taxicab companies. These exemptions would not change under the Employee Free Choice Act.

The list of the Big Lie’s bill co-sponsors (all Republicans) reads like a who’s who of senators who will meet the wrath of working families in coming elections: Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), John Barrasso (Wyo.), Sam Brownback (Kan.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Jim Bunning (Ky.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Cornyn (Texas), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Jim Inhofe (Okla.), John McCain (Ariz.), Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Pat Roberts (Kan.), John Thune (S.D.), Roger Wicker (Miss.) and David Vitter (La.).

Because this group doesn’t have enough votes to get the bill anywhere, it’s all about making noise. And spreading the Big Lie.

This is a cross-post from the Firedoglake blog.

SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania Union files labor complaint

02.26.09

March 2009 Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania Union files labor complaint

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

EASTON, February 16th- The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Healthcare Pennsylvania Union, formerly known as SEIU 1199P, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Region Four in Philadelphia alleging Praxis Nursing Home, Washington Street in Easton, violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

On February 5th, 2009, the union filed a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge with the NLRB alleging the nursing home operator violated Section 8 (a), subsections (1) and subsection (5) of the NLRAct.

According to the complaint, obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, the principal product or service is indentified as providing healthcare to the elderly at the Washington Street facility.

The Unfair Labor Practice states there are 58 workers employed by Praxis at the nursing home.

The newspaper reviews representation petitions and complaints filed at the NLRB office in Philadelphia, which has jurisdiction throughout southeastern and northeastern Pennsylvania including Lehigh and Northampton Counties. The newspaper will request copies of any petition or complaint for the intent of publishing the information if it involves any labor organization or employer in the Lehigh Valley.

According to the complaint filed on February 5th by the SEIU, Healthcare Pennsylvania Union, the employer representative to be contacted is Janine Causorano, indentified as the Nursing Home Administrator. Mr. Carlos Rivera, indentified as an SEIU Organizer, filed the complaint on behalf of the union.

The Unfair Labor Practice states the “Employer is refusing to bargain collectively with the representatives of the employees.”

SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania is Pennsylvania’s largest healthcare workers union, representing more than 20,000 employees in hospitals, nursing homes, home care, and state facilities.

The complaint is now under investigation by the agency.

Labor supported Teen Works votes to provide funds for three more community projects

02.26.09

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

Labor supported Teen Works votes to provide funds for three more community projects

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

LEHIGH VALLEY, February 18th- The Teen Works Board of Directors voted to help fund three community projects being conducted by area teens from throughout the Lehigh Valley. The organization held a meeting on February 10th at the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley building in Bethlehem Township. Meetings of the Board of Directors are usually held on the second Tuesday of the month, depending on if the organization received any applications for grants by any teens or youth groups.

Unions from throughout the Lehigh Valley contribute funds that is donated to area teens 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 is used to support the Teen Works program.

School students ask the Teen Works Board of Directors for financial help to conduct a community project in the Lehigh Valley. Under the program teen(s) must first complete an application for the financial help and attend a meeting.

Ron Achey, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation, Greater Lehigh Valley United Way Labor Liaison, the go-between the labor community in the Lehigh Valley and the community based organization, and co-ordinator of the Teen Works program, stated funds donated to be used for providing grants has decreased over the past several years and the group may need to adjust the maximum grant that can be obtained down-ward in 2009. Currently, the most funds that can be provided for any community project is $1,000.00.

Boy Scout Troop 431 member Derek Weber of Macungie Township received a grant of $1,000.00 from the organization to construct a Memorial Garden for fallen soldiers that served in the Iraq War. The teen wants to construct the garden on the Lower Macungie Township Building property in a location to be determined later. The plan is to begin the project around late April.

Boy Scout Troop 335 member Angelo Fattore of Bethlehm had requested the organization provide funds for his project to repair and fix the food pantry that has no shelving and minimal light at the Northeast Ministry in Bethlehem. The goal is to move the food from boxes and wooden pallets and on shelving that could be organized and ready to be used.

However, the teen was successful in obtaining the needed funding elsewhere, and stated he no longer was requesting the organization donate funding for his project. Teen Works decided to give a $200.00 grant to purchase food for the pantry.

Boy Scout Troop 431 member Brandon Tunkel of Allentown, received a grant of $700.00 for his project. The teen received the grant to help purchase materials to construct a handicap accessible ramp and stairway for a portable classroom at the Concordia Lutheran Church in Macungie Township. The youth stated he offered to build the ramp so the classroom would pass the handicap code.

The Jindal Lesson: Keeping Those Republicans Out of Power

02.25.09

The Jindal Lesson: Keeping Those Republicans Out of Power

After listening today to the Louisiana Governor respond to Obama’s speech to Congress and the American nation on the economic crisis and healthcare, I suddenly realized that the Jindal-type of Republican should never, ever be placed in a position of governmental responsibility. Unfortunately, the Jindal-type dominates the national Republican power structure.

Governor Jindal simply does not believe in government. His references to the awful Bush Republican response to Katrina show that he just does not get it. Jindal seems to think that since Bush blew the federal government response to that disaster, therefore, government is inherently incompetent.

It is true that under Bush the personnel responsible for disaster relief were incompetent. Those individuals were selected for entirely political and ideological reasons. They did not believe in government. Essentially, they were Jindal-type Republicans! They were Bush Republicans!

If you believe government will always fail, you are very likely going to fail in the management of government. If politics, ideology and achieving power take precedence over implementing sound policy in your value system, you are a poor candidate for being good at managing government agencies or programs.

Jindal is certainly not alone in his contempt for using government to better the condition of our economically suffering citizens. Along with Jindal, the Republican Governors of Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Alaska have indicated that they would not accept federal money to extend and expand unemployment benefits for the citizens of their states. The reasons they gave are illogical and seem to be motivated by politics instead of real policy concerns.

The citizens of these states losing their jobs are going to suffer simply because these Governors do not really believe in helping citizens facing economic adversity not of their own making. Texas Governor Perry has never been concerned with helping the unemployed, in my opinion; because they do not write big campaign checks and Perry does not really believe in government. Governor Palin of Alaska along with Governor Jindal of Louisiana both seem to be more concerned with running for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination than in serving the citizens of their states.

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford should be more concerned that in December his state was losing 830 jobs a day than scoring points with the Republican Right and Michael Steele’s Republican National Committee. Michael Steele is another Jindal-type Republican. In Jindal’s Louisiana, they were losing 430 jobs a day during the same time period. Instead of dealing with the crisis in a constructive manner, both Governors (along with Steele) went into full political spin mode.

Nothing stimulates the economy more than expanding and extending unemployment benefits. Basically, all that money gets spent as soon as it arrives unlike tax cuts for the wealthy.

The Jindal-type thinking is not limited to Republican Governors and the Republican National Committee. Senator Ensign of Nevada gave an amazing interview today on cable with Chris Matthews where he frankly stated that he did not believe in the key principles of Keynesian economics where governments run surpluses during good economic times.

According to Keynes, they should pay off government debts and build rainy day funds to use during bad times. The economic policies of the Clinton-Gore era were Keynesian. They were working until Bush changed our government tax and spending policies and began giving huge tax cuts to the wealthiest of the wealthy during good times while running huge deficits.

Under Keynesian economics, governments should run deficits during bad times to even out the boom-bust cycles in the economy. Ensign falsely stated that government spending did not help end the Great Depression. This historical misinformation has become a regular talking point among the Jindal-type Republicans, Right Wing talk radio and the Fox News crowd. The real lesson of the New Deal was that government spending was not large enough (largely because of Republican opposition) until just before World War II to end the economic crisis.

Ensign and Jindal both want more of the same policies that got us into the current economic crisis. They want to play the same obstructionist role under Obama that the Republicans played under FDR during the 1930’s. The Jindal-type Republicans are really Bush Republicans following in the tradition of Herbert Hoover.

If tax cuts for the wealthy actually created jobs, the last 8 years under Bush would have created the biggest, baddest economic boom in the history of mankind! Everyone would be working at huge salaries. It did not happen and will never happen on the basis of just more tax cuts.

We need spending. We need higher incomes for the majority instead of just the wealthiest of the wealthy! We need controls on predatory lending. We need a re-industrialization program for the American economy, higher taxes for the wealthiest of the wealthy, the end of poorly regulated international trade, limits on corporate executive compensation, stronger consumer protections against price-gouging, new anti-usury laws and enforcement of anti-monopoly laws.

We have an income crisis in America. In 1929, the top one percent of Americans in terms of income had 29% of the total national income for that year. In 1979, just before Reagan was elected, that number had declined to just over 10%. Currently, that number has risen to around the 1929 level.

The Republican assault on progressive taxation along with wealth destroying “free trade” deals were combined with halting anti-monopoly law enforcement and repealing anti-usury laws to concentrate wealth. These policies have weakened our economy. Excessive corporate compensation and excessive industry deregulation (especially in energy and finance) played important roles in destroying the buying power of the American middle class.

The Republican and corporate assault on labor unions severely weakened the economic position of all members of the middle class including those not in unions. The unionization process was rigged by law and government regulation against workers attempting to bargain collectively with employers. Enacting the Employee Free Choice Act is a key to real economic recovery along with healthcare reform for the vast majority of Americans. The Jindal-type Republicans stand strongly in opposition to both.

When income gets concentrated at the top, it destroys the market for goods and services. It additionally fuels unsound speculation and investment bubbles. There is excess investment money chasing opportunities that do not really exist because there is not sufficient customer liquidity available for the output of those investments. We get asset inflation followed by severe deflationary pressures.

Facing problems like these, we cannot afford public officeholders like Jindal, Palin, Perry, Sanford and Ensign. Their approach to government could turn this recession into a depression even worse than the Great Depression.

Written by Stephen Crockett (Host of Democratic Talk Radio http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com and Editor of Mid-Atlantic Labor.com http://www.midatlanticlabor.com). Mail: 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702. Email: demlabor@aol.com. Phone: 443-907-2367.

Misinformation rampant on workers’ free choice act

02.24.09

Misinformation rampant on workers’ free choice act
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Will Congressman Charlie Dent, attorney George Hlavac, the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce and corporate America ## just to name a few ## tell the truth about the Employee Free Choice Act!

Dent says the act will take away the secret ballot vote. Hlavac says the union decides how the employees vote. Corporate America says it cares about workers.

Here is the truth about the Employee Free Choice Act. The act does not take away the secret ballot vote. If 30 percent of the employees decide they want a secret ballot, they receive it. The employees decide, not their employer or the union! Dent and Hlavac are wrong!

Corporate America cares about the workers? Since when? Sending their jobs to Mexico, China or some Third World country? Eliminating health care, pensions and other benefits? Yeah, they care about their workers. Please!

If you want a voice in the workplace, support the Employee Free Choice Act and ask Dent, Hlavac and others to read the bill and stop spinning the issue for corporate America!

James S. Schlener

Bethlehem

Letter from Jim Schlener, IAFF Local 735, UFCW 1776 and V.P. Lehigh Valley Labor Council. Jim is Chair of the Bethlehem City Democratic Committee. Reprinted from The Express-Times.

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/opinion/index.ssf?/base/news-1/1235451902327370.xml&coll=3

Congressman Charles Dent (R-PA 15th) Speaking against Employee Free Choice Act generates 250 protesters on cold February afternoon

02.24.09

Over 250 people participated in an informational picket a Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce luncheon “roundtable discussion” against the Employee Free Choice Act on Thursday, February 19, 2009. Labor union representatives asked to be included in the program to present the other side. They were refused. The event was held in the Ole Bethlehem Hotel on Main Street in Betlehem, Pennsylvania. The crowd on the sidewalk was around ten times larger than the Chamber group inside.

The Congressman slipped into the event by a side door. At several points, protestors chanted, “outsource Dent!.”

Protesters included 43 union organizations, The Controller of Northampton County Stephen Barron, Pennsylvania State Representative Joe Brennan, Allentown City Democratic Chair and former Congressional candidate “Sam” Bennett, Lehigh County Democratic Chair Rick Daugherty, Northampton County Democratic Chair Joe Long, Moravian College Democrats, Moravian Students for A Democratic Society, Bethlehem City Democratic Committee, Lehigh Valley Democratic Coalition and many other groups. The protest lasted nearly 3 hours. Hundreds of flyers giving details about the real truth concerning the Employee Free Choice Act were distributed.

Gregg Potter, President of the Lehigh Valley Labor Council was a key organizer. The Lehigh Valley Building Trades turned out in force.

Richard Bloomingdale, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer, joined Stephen Barron on Democratic Talk Radio earlier that morning during a program about the Employee Free Choice Act and the demonstration planned later that day. Democratic Talk Radio is a pro-labor radio show that broadcasts on Thursday mornings from WGPA SUNNY 1100AM in Bethlehem. Democratic Talk Radio endorsed the protest and participated in the picketing.

The Morning Call newspaper ran front page stories on the protest the morning of the event and the day after. Local television (Channel 69) covered the event. The picketing generated many other favorable news stories and helped educate voters in Pennsylvania concerning the details and importance of the Employee Free Choice Act.

## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ##
EDITOR’S NOTE: Below is a note from Gregg Potter, President of the Lehigh Valley Labor Council on the event.

Good afternoon,

Attached is a piece from the Allentown Morning Call that appeared on today’s front page. There is also an accompanying video that gives perspectives from Congressman Dent and Labor. I want to personally thank the 43 locals and over 250 members who came out to protest the actions of Congressman Dent.

I am listing the locals who attended, and if I omit you, I apologize. It was a rather hectic day.

I want to publicly thank Bill Newhard and the Lehigh, Northampton, Pike & Monroe County Building Trades Council for their incredible participation. You all made this happen! Keep up the great work!!

AFSCME 1435, Northeast Pa. Area Labor Federation, UAW 677 Retired, Catholic School Teachers Union, CWA 13500, 13000, District 13, PSEA, UFCW 1776, USW 2599, 547, SOAR, 10-86, 807, Roofers 30, SEIU 32BJ, 1199, SEIU/PSSU 668, Airline Pilots Assoc.

Road Sprinklers 669, Insulators 23, IBEW 1600, 375, 607, 143, 1319, 229

Carpenters 600, Bricklayers 5, 30, Sheetmetal Workers 19, UNITE HERE, OPIU 277, National Writers Union, Plumbers 690, IUPAT 703 and 1269, IUPAT District Council 21

Glaziers 252, Bethlehem Firefighters, APWU National and 268, Lehigh Valley Labor Council, also, special thanks go to Rep. Joseph Brennan, Northampton County Controller, Stephen Barron, the Moravian College Democrats, Lehigh County Democratic Chair, Rick Daugherty, Northampton County Democratic Chair, Joe Long, Nancy Tate, of the LEPOCO Peace Center, LVDC and also Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan for stopping by during the Chamber event.

Labor was fortunate enough to gain front page space two days in a row in the Morning Call, and there is a follow up article scheduled for this Sunday.

Thanks again for all those who participated!! You all made me very proud to be union!!

In unity & solidarity,

Gregg Potter

President, Lehigh Valley Labor Council

610 360-9491

http://www.mcall.com/news/local/all-a1_5chamber-q.6790432feb20,0,7960884.story

Senate Confirms Hilda Solis as Labor Secretary

02.24.09

Senate Confirms Hilda Solis as Labor Secretary

by Mike Hall, Feb 24, 2009

http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/02/24/senate-confirms-solis-as-labor-secretary/

Hilda Solis is the new secretary of labor. After Republicans backed away from an expected filibuster and agreed to stop their weeks of delaying tactics, the Senate this afternoon approved Solis’s nomination by an 80-17 vote.

Says AFL-CIO President John Sweeney:

The confirmation of Rep. Hilda Solis is a huge victory: Finally, Americans will have a secretary of labor who represents working people, not wealthy CEO’s. It is also a historic moment as Rep. Solis becomes the first Hispanic secretary of labor.

The delay of Rep. Solis’s nomination for partisan and ideological reasons was overcome by the grassroots support of millions of Americans who are struggling and desperately need a secretary of labor who will be their voice.

In today’s vote, 56 Democrats and 24 Republicans voted for confirmation. All 17 votes against were cast by Republicans. Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) did not vote.

Solis, a Democratic member of the U.S. House from California, was announced in December as President Obama’s choice to lead the Department of Labor, and her confirmation hearing took place Jan. 9. However, Big Business groups and some far-right Republican senators loudly complained about Solis’s long record of support for working families and unions and delayed the confirmation vote until today.

After a scheduled Feb. 12 vote was postponed because of Republican objections, the union movement created a Facebook page, Americans for Hilda Solis as Secretary of Labor to build some e-roots support for Solis. Nearly 2,000 people signed on.

During the floor debate today, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) said Solis’s working family background—both her mom and dad were blue-collar union members—gives her a real connection to the problems and trials those families face—something those on Capitol Hill might not be as close to. Dodd said:

We may be aware, but do we really understand? None of us are facing losing our jobs, our homes, our retirement security….We need a secretary of labor who understands what working families are going though.

During the past eight years, the Department of Labor has moved away from protecting employees to protecting employers and weakened the right to organize….I don’t believe that’s its role, and neither does Congresswomen Solis. It is essential that the Department of Labor recommit itself to protecting the rights of workers.

Sweeney said:

She understands that the Employee Free Choice Act is critical to rebuilding our economy because working men and women deserve the freedom to choose whether to form a union without employer harassment and intimidation.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said that in the past eight years, the voices of working families “haven’t been heard enough” and the voices of corporations and the powerful have been far too loud at the Labor Department.

President Obama, with the selection of Hilda Solis as secretary of labor, has given working families a voice back. Throughout her career, she has been a forceful advocate for working men and women.

In the U.S. House, Solis earned a 97 percent AFL-CIO working family voting record.

Before her election to Congress in 2000, Solis served in the California legislature, first in the Assembly and then in 1994 becoming the first Latina elected to the state Senate.

Solis’s confirmation is a boon for all of America’s workers and is supported by a range of groups nationwide. Says Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club:

Hilda Solis was a champion for workers’ rights, a champion for the environment and a tireless advocate for environmental justice during both her service in California and in the Congress.

In his statement, Sweeney added:

Rep. Solis is uniquely qualified to help struggling families through these difficult economic times because she knows firsthand what they are going through. She grew up in a working class family and understands what programs our nation’s workers need the most.

She will fight to improve skills development and job-creation programs, including development of “green collar” jobs. She will work to assure that workers get the pay they have earned and that they work in safe, healthy and fair workplaces. She’s ready to address the retirement security crisis and will work hard to protect every worker from job discrimination, regardless of race, sex, veteran status or disability.

From the Field: the Grassroots Fight for Employee Free Choice

02.24.09

From the Field: the Grassroots Fight for Employee Free Choice

by Seth Michaels, Feb 19, 2009

http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/02/19/from-the-field-the-grassroots-fight-for-employee-free-choice/

This week at the Virginia AFL-CIO’s annual legislative conference, attendees wrote letters to their members of Congress in support of the Employee Free Choice Act. In Colorado, 55 religious leaders representing a wide array of faiths, cities and backgrounds sent a letter in support of the Employee Free Choice Act to Colorado’s U.S. House and Senate delegation. They asked for elected leaders to support workers’ freedom to bargain for a better life. In Raleigh, N.C., workers spoke out at a rally about the need for the Employee Free Choice Act.

You can read about grassroots actions like these at the new national Employee Free Choice Act Blog, where you can hear from workers and local union leaders, find out about events in their area and get the facts about what lawmakers representing your state are saying about the Employee Free Choice Act.

State federations in Arkansas, Colorado, Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin have set up blogs to follow the fight for the Employee Free Choice Act, and more states will set up blogs soon. These blogs also will be updated regularly with photos and videos highlighting local efforts in support of the Employee Free Choice Act.

The biggest challenge to passing the Employee Free Choice Act is overcoming the national corporate disinformation campaign—and the best weapon is people power. Union members and activists working at the local level will be vital in creating the impetus needed to restore the freedom to form unions and bargain for a better life, and these state blogs are a great resource to find out more about this campaign.

The Employee Free Choice Act earned the support of bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress in 2007 but was blocked by a filibuster in the Senate. This year, with more pro-worker senators and a supportive White House, the freedom to form unions and bargain is closer than ever to realization—but it will require a broad national campaign to fight corporate lies, promote workers and hold elected leaders accountable. Check out the new Employee Free Choice Act blogs to find out more.

Pennsylvania Steelworkers Deliver 1,000 Letters for Employee Free Choice

02.24.09

Members of United Steelworkers Local 2599 in Allentown, Pa., delivered more than 1,000 letters to Sen. Arlen Specter (R) http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/-7a31_F1YcDD/ ## who in 2007 voted to break a Republican filibuster against the Employee Free Choice Act## urging him to back the bill this year. The special delivery is part of a nationwide grassroots mobilization. Read more grassroots news on the new Employee Free Choice Act blog
http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/J1a31_F1YcDZ/ .
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Pennsylvania Steelworkers Deliver 1,000 Letters for Employee Free Choice

by Seth Michaels, Feb 23, 2009

Last week in Allentown, Pa., members of Steelworkers (USW) Local 2599 paid a visit to Sen. Arlen Specter’s office to deliver more than 1,000 letters from USW members around the state, asking Specter to support the Employee Free Choice Act.

Jerry Green, president of Local 2599, led a group of USW members to Specter’s office in Allentown to present the letters in support of what Green called “a very important bill” to protect workers’ freedom to form unions and bargain. (Watch video.)

Wendy Davis of Allentown-area WFMZ-TV says Specter “could play a crucial role” in passing the Employee Free Choice Act, noting that in June 2007 he voted in favor of breaking a Republican filibuster against the Employee Free Choice Act.

The filibuster succeeded that time in blocking a Senate vote on the bill, but now with a larger pro-worker majority in the Senate, the Employee Free Choice Act has a far better chance of coming to a vote and being enacted into law, and Specter’s continued support will be critical.

That means he’ll keep hearing from constituents, like the hard-working men and women of Local 2599, who support workers’ freedom to form unions and bargain.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: You should go to the first link at top of article to connect to the video clip at the original site. USW Local 2599 President Jerry Green along with his union brothers and sisters at that local have been working really hard on the Employee Free Choice Act for years. They deserve greater public recognition for their hard work.

International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union Local 773 wins union election

02.24.09

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

International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union Local 773 wins union election

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

MACUNGIE, January 23rd- The International Brotherhood of Teamters (IBT) Union Local 773, Hamilton Street in Allentown, won the right to represent 137 workers of First Student Inc. employed as bus drivers, mechanics, and washers in Macungie Township. All other employees, guards and supervisors were excluded from participating in the election.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia conducted the Representation Election on January 23rd at the company’s facility on Route 100 in Macungie.

According to the NLRB, 75 First Student Inc. employees voted to be represented by the union with 49 voting against. Under NLRB rules, a labor organization must receive 50 percent plus one of the eligible voting employees to become their bargaining representative.

In the previous edition of the newspaper it was exclusively reported Local 773 filed a petition with the NLRB on December 23rd, 2008. Local 773 requested the agency conduct a election to determine if the employees wanted the union to represent them for the purpose of collective bargaining.

USW members at Victaulic Company granted Trade Assistance

02.24.09

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

USW members at Victaulic Company granted Trade Assistance

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

LEHIGH VALLEY, February 15th- Jerry Green, President of the United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union Local 2599 was notified by the United States Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employment and Training Administration Division of Trade Adjustment Assistance in Washington DC, approximately 260 laid-off workers of Victaulic Company, Forks Township, are eligible for employment assistance under the DOL’s Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program.

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. The assistance is provided if DOL finds workers jobs were loss to imports by foreign countries.

Under the program, laid-off 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 the union filed a petition with the DOL to receive trade assistance on behalf of the laid-off workers at Victaulic and the agency began their investigation into the matter on October 21st, 2008.

Local 2599 represented approximately 520 workers at the Victaulic Company Forks Township facility in the beginning of 2008 but due to lay-offs the past twelve months more than 260 workers are without jobs, with it unknown when or if the workers will be recalled.

Local 2599 is located on East Lehigh Street in Bethlehem and in October, 2008 had 1,600 active members throughout the Lehigh Valley. However, because of lay-offs due to the economic slowdown at Victaulic, which manufactures pipefitting systems, and other employers the union represents, at least 400 of USW members are currently laid-off.

The union has two contracts with the Victaulic Company. The union represents approximately 120 workers employed at the Victaulic Company facility in Alburtis Township.

Mr. Green stated the union has also filed with the DOL to receive TAA for laid-off members employed at Prior Coated Metals in Allentown. Almost half of the 38 USW members employed at Prior Coated Metals have been laid-off.

The union conducted a mass information and directional meeting for the Victaulic Company Forks Township workers on February 17th at the USW building in Bethlehem. The meeting was attended by officials of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Career Link Center.

The Victaulic workers also qualified to receive DOL’s Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance (ATAA) program. The program encourages qualified effected older workers, 50 years old or older, to quickly obtain full-time employment by providing a wage subsidy in lieu of training and income support under the program.

Be glad you are not unemployed in Alaska, South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana or Texas!

02.23.09

http://www.skeeterbitesreport.com/2009/02/souths-dominance-of-gop-evident-in.html

“……BARBOUR: ACCEPTING FEDERAL $$ FOR JOBLESS BENEFITS WOULD RAISE TAXES

But South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford sharply disagreed, insisting that the GOP must stick to its conservative principles. “There’s a tug of war right now within the party as to where we go next,” Sanford acknowledged in an interview with The New York Times. “I am in the camp that says we go back to basics. There are other folks who say something a little different. The answer will be determined in this tug of war.”

Sanford, along with conservative GOP Governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Rick Perry of Texas and Palin served notice that they would not accept millions of federal stimulus dollars for expanded unemployment compensation because they object to federal requirements that their states provide relief for part-time workers who lost their jobs as well as to full-time workers.

Barbour also argues that the unemployment benefit requirements would force his state to raise taxes……..”

Vote in Poll- Does America Still Need Labor Unions

02.22.09

Does America Still Need Labor Unions?

The Employee Free Choice Act, or “Card Check” for short, is one of the most controversial measures Congress faces this year. The bill—first introduced in the Senate in 2007 by Ted Kennedy and co-sponsored by then-Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden—would make it easier for workers to join unions and would tighten penalties for employers who try to stop them. Supporters such as Human Rights Watch and the NAACP say the bill provides important protections for the middle class. Opponents like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Restaurant Association say it increases labor costs and hurts the bottom line. Both sides have spent millions on lobbyists and advertising to make their case.

With only 12% of American workers in unions, why should the rest of us care? Professor Clete Daniel, a labor expert at Cornell University, says a revived labor movement could benefit workers both in and out of unions. “ There is definitely a need for forces that promote a fairer sharing of wealth,” he says, noting that the gap between America’s rich and poor is the largest it’s been since 1928. Over the last 75 years, unions helped secure benefits like unemployment insurance, Social Security, and the 40-hour workweek.

Others contend that unions have outlived their usefulness. “The workplace is much better today,” says Michael Eastman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Employers know they need to offer certain benefits and good wages to keep good workers.”

Professor Daniel says Card Check likely would not increase union membership until the economy improves, since workers are currently more concerned about job security than wages and benefits. “ Today, most workers are too fearful to take a risk for unions,” he adds.

— Lyric Wallwork Winik

VOTE in Poll http://www.parade.com/export/sites/default/news/intelligence-report/archive/does-america-still-need-labor-unions.html

Dave Lindorff: Organize! Many Employers are Just Using the Recession to Stick it to Workers

02.20.09

Dave Lindorff: Organize! Many Employers are Just Using the Recession to Stick it to Workers

http://www.buzzflash.com/articles/lindorff/203

Whatever the truth is about where this economy is heading, one thing is clear: employers are taking every opportunity to slash employment and, if they are unionized, to hammer unions for pay cuts, even when there is no justification for these actions.

Take Safeway Inc., a large national supermarket chain. The company, which had $44 billion in sales in 2007, and which, based upon third quarter figures for 2008 was well on the way to show record sales for 2008, appears to be using the economic downturn as a justification for laying off employees and making remaining employees work harder.

I can only give anecdotal information on this. The Genuardi’s Family Market store (a Safeway subsidiary) where I live in Upper Dublin, PA, an upper middle-class suburb north of Philadelphia, according to its employees, has been laying off cashiers and slashing its night work force ## the people who restock the shelves and unload the delivery trucks when the store is closed. The management is doing this not because sales have slumped. They haven’t. People may not be buying new cars, but they are still buying food, and in fact, if they are cutting back on eating out, as restaurant chains are reporting, they are probably actually buying more groceries, not less. Management is making these cuts simply because they can get away with it.

The layoffs, in the face of continued heavy business, means cashiers are working harder. It means the night staff, cut by half, is working twice as hard. But with jobs getting scarce, what is their option? If they don’t like the speedup, where are they going to go in the current environment? Meanwhile, if service gets worse, customers will accept the decline because they’ll blame it on the economy, not noticing that there is really no justification for employee cutbacks at the supermarket.

Temple University, a major public higher education institution in Philadelphia, is reportedly telling all departments to make substantial cuts in their budgets. This will inevitably lead to layoffs of faculty and support staff critical to the education mission. And yet, what is the justification for such draconian measures? The governor initially announced plans to cut the state’s contribution to the university’s annual budget for next year by a few million dollars, but the new Economic Recovery Act stimulus package includes huge grants to the states, including Pennsylvania, more than compensating for those cuts. Furthermore, state-funded universities across the country, including Temple, are reporting increased applications and enrollments, as students whose parents cannot afford to send them to private colleges, send them instead to public institutions, and as workers who lose their jobs decide that the economic downturn is a good time to go to college and get an education. That means more tuition revenues coming in. Moreover, student aid, including Pell Grants for lower-income students, have been substantially increased in the stimulus package, meaning more money for public colleges. Money might be marginally tighter at places such as Temple (while, as with most public institutions, the university’s endowment is not a significant contributor to the operating budget, small as it is, and certainly significantly reduced because of the market collapse), but it’s certainly not down by enough to put universities in crisis. It may not even be down at all.

It might be understandable that state and local governments would be considering layoffs, or reduced pay and hours for public employees, given the slump in tax revenues from property taxes, sales taxes, and income taxes. It is certainly necessary for the auto industry, which has seen sales plummet, to lay off workers. Luxury stores such as Circuit City are going bust. But not all employers are hurting alike. Health care industries are still booming. Public colleges are doing fine. Supermarkets are doing well. Energy companies are okay.

Criticism of the nationwide wave of layoffs by companies and employers that really don’t need to beggar their workers or push them out onto the street came from an unusual quarter recently, when Steve Korman, chief executive of a privately held Philadelphia-area company called Korman Communities, blasted corporate executives for laying off workers when they don’t really need to. Korman got upset when he saw Pfizer Inc.’s CEO Jeff Kinder say, on a television business program, that he planned to lay off 8,000 workers in anticipation of a merger with Wyeth, another drug company. The layoffs were not being made because Pfizer was losing money or in trouble financially, but rather to improve profits. Korman, who owns stock in Pfizer, got angry and spent $16,000 to run ads in the Philadelphia Inquirer and The New York Times, saying:

“I have listened to the executives of many companies say that they are eliminating thousands of jobs to ‘improve the bottom line,’ I own stock in many of these companies and would prefer that the company make a smaller profit and [that] the stock fall, in the short term, rather than affect the lives of our neighbors and their families as jobs are lost.

“Please join me in reminding all CEOs that we are not just dealing with numbers and profit, but with real people and real families who need to keep their jobs.”

Korman sent individual letters saying much the same thing to 16 companies in which he is an investor, including Federal Express, Google, Cisco Systems, Caterpillar, General Electric, ExxonMobil, Kraft, Nokia, Intel, Johnson&Johnson, Apple, EMC, Chevron, DuPont, Coca-Cola, Oracle, and Dow.

If this phenomenon is bad enough that it has upset a prominent capitalist such as Korman, it is clearly a major problem.

The irony is that as all these companies slash their workforces, and force remaining workers to work harder, and as public institutions such as Temple University and other colleges cut their faculties and increase class sizes for remaining teaching staff, they are undermining any stimulus that taxpayers are subsidizing in the massive stimulus bill, and thus making the recession worse, not to mention wasting the huge deficit-spending measure itself.

Nobody would argue with a company’s laying off of workers when sales collapse and there is no money coming in, but in many cases, this is not what has been happening.

One reason there is a tidal wave of layoffs even at viable businesses and institutions across the country is simply the lack of or weakness of labor unions. With workers at most employers unorganized (unions represent only some 8 percent of private employees), it is easy for managers to engender an attitude of fear and passivity among employees, which makes it easier to pick them off, and to make those on the job work ever harder. Furthermore, without labor contracts, there is little workers can do to resist speedups that can seriously threaten their health, safety, and well-being.

Only a new militancy and sense of solidarity among American workers, and a revitalization of the nearly moribund labor movement, can rescue this situation, which will only get worse as the economy continues to sink.

DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback edition). His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net.

Investigation: The oil money behind the anti-stimulus fight

02.20.09

http://www.southernstudies.org/2009/02/the-oil-money-behind-the-anti-stimulus-fight.html

Investigation: The oil money behind the anti-stimulus fight

The compromise version of the $787 billion economic stimulus plan passed the House and Senate Friday and is expected to be signed by President Obama tomorrow in Denver. Despite Democratic leaders’ efforts to reach out for Republican support by dropping various controversial provisions and beefing up tax cuts, the measure passed with no Republican votes in the House and only three Republican votes in the Senate.

Public opposition to the plan was led by a group called Americans for Prosperity, which delivered 400,000 signatures on a petition to the Senate opposing the measure. As the group says in a statement at its NoStimulus.com website:

We lost. But we put up a heckuva fight!

We turned what was supposed to sail through with 80 votes and no controversy into a bloody knock-down, drag-out fight.

We showed that Americans won’t passively sit by while our future is plundered. Just the fact that the bill shrank in conference committee ## they almost always grow ## showed that we had an impact.

Who is Americans for Prosperity? According to SourceWatch.org, the group was founded in 2003 with money from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, which is run by the billionaires behind Kansas-based Koch Industries ## the national’s largest privately held oil and gas company. Media Transparency reports that the group gets substantial financial support from the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, another one of the Koch family foundations.

Why would an organization funded by oil and gas interests be hostile to the economic stimulus plan?

Could it be the $50 billion the bill offers for more sustainable energy alternatives?

Among other things, the stimulus bill allocates $5 billion to weatherize more than a million modest-income homes and another $6.3 billion to install energy-saving insulation, windows and furnaces in federally funded housing projects, USA Today reports. It also offers a tax credit of up to $7,500 for families that buy plug-in hybrid cars, and includes $500 million for green jobs training.

Americans for Prosperity has long worked against any government efforts to tackle climate disruption by promoting more sustainable energy. Last year we reported on the group’s “Hot Air Tour,” which featured a hot-air balloon that traveled around the country with a message challenging what AFP dismisses as “global warming alarmism.”

The organization is currently running TV ads in Virginia criticizing state efforts to address climate change. Last week, Gov. Tim Kaine signed a pact with the U.K., agreeing to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, research renewable energy and raise public awareness about climate change. Kaine has also championed legislation creating renewable energy tax credits and promoting the use of alternative fuels.

Here’s the text for one of the Virginia ads titled “Tell Congress Not to Waste Our Money,” which makes clear Americans for Prosperity’s hostility to government support for more sustainable forms of energy:

MAN: OK, we’re in a recession.

Times are tough and jobs are scarce.

Congress talks about economic recovery, but what are they doing?

Spending billions of taxpayer dollars in the name of global warming and green energy.

Who is going to bail us out and pay our bills? Instead, they will:

… Make energy more expensive

… cost us more to heat our homes

… and regulate our local businesses and our jobs out of existence

No thanks. Congress should stop wasting their time and focus on real problems.

ANNONC (VO): Isn’t it time Congress listened to the rest of us and got its science and priorities straight.

Paid for by Americans for Prosperity

One of the directors of Americans for Prosperity is North Carolina millionaire businessman and former state legislator Art Pope. He funds a network of pro-business think tanks that was behind an effort to scuttle efforts to address global warming in North Carolina, as we reported in our 2007 Facing South investigation titled “Hostile Climate.”

Americans for Prosperity has also been active on labor issues in North Carolina, where it’s fighting the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers unionize. Today the N.C. NAACP is holding a press conference to highlight the fact that the group is a front for big business.

Interestingly, Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the president chose Colorado as the place to sign the stimulus legislation into law “to highlight some of the investments to put people back to work ## particularly clean-energy jobs.”

Employee of Guardian Eldercare request union removal

02.20.09

February 2009 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Employee of Guardian Eldercare request union removal

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

NANTICOKE, January 15th- A License Practical Nurse (LPN) employed at Guardian Eldercare, Old Newport Road in Nanticoke, filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia requesting the withdrawal of union shop authority and the removal of obligation to pay dues to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Pennsylvania Healthcare Union in Harrisburg, formerly called SEIU 1199P.

According to the petition, obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, Rebecca Distasin of Nanticoke and a LPN employed at the nursing home and long term elderly facility, filed with the NLRB on December 19th, 2008 stating at least 30 percent of the union membership in the bargaining unit covered by the labor contract agreement between Guardian Eldercare and the SEIU wants the union removed from representing the employees. The petition states there are 82 employees in the unit.

Under NLRB rules, employees could petitioned the agency to conduct an Decertification Election in which the employees vote in a secret ballot election to determine if workers within the bargaining unit wants to continue to be represented by a labor organization for the purpose of collective bargaining. A Decertication Petition must be filed when the contract agreement is scheduled to expire. Therefore, Ms. Distasin could not file a Decertication Petition until December 2009 or later.

The petition states Ms. Distasin wants all LPN’s, nurses aids, housekeepers, dietary, laundry workers, activities and maintenance employees to no longer be represented by the union.

The contract agreement between the parties expires on December 31st, 2009. Under National Labor Relations Board rules, a petition requesting the withdrawal of union shop authority must be filed within the month of the anniversary date of the expiration of the contract agreement.

One-year anniversary of the elimination of Catholic teachers union rally held in Scranton

02.20.09

February 2009 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

One-year anniversary of the elimination of Catholic teachers union rally held in Scranton

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

SCRANTON, January 24th- Members of the Scranton Diocese Association of Catholic Teachers (SDACT) Union were joined by regional labor union members, political leaders, representatives from the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Harrisburg and other supporters, for a rally in front of the rectory of the Diocese of Scranton to mark the one year anniversary the union was busted by Bishop Joseph Martino.

The union represented the teachers of seventeen 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,” after he busted the union.

Around 200 attended the rally, including State Representative 121st Legislative District Eddie Day Pashinski of Luzerne County and State Representative 113th Legislative District Kevin Murphy of Lackawanna County. Mr. Pashinski announced at the rally he would introduce House Bill 26, that would amend the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act (PLRAct) to cover religious school employees under the law.

Bishop Martino would not recognize SDACT as the teachers bargaining representative and refused to negotiate for a new labor contract agreement when the previous pact expired. He cited the PLRAct has no jurisdition and therefore the Diocese of Scranton could simply ignore the desire of the teachers to be represented by the union. Representative Murphy told the newspaper he supports the legislation and will become a co-signer of the bill.

If the legislation is passed, parochial school employees would be able to file Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges against their employers for violating the PLRAct.

According to Michael Milz, President of SDACT, which has a office on the O’Neill Highway in Dunmore, they gathered in front of the rectory on Wyoming Avenue in Scranton where Bishop Martino resides, to show him and the public the union is not going away and will continue to push for the right to represent the teachers.

SDACT has not represented the workers since August 2007. SDACT now has 22 active members employed by the Diocese of Scranton at St. Michael’s School in Tunkhannock, a school for troubled young people. The current five year contract agreement with the Diocese will expire in August 2009.

Mr. Milz told the newspaper, officials of the Diocese of Scranton have indicated they will negotiate with the union for a successor agreement for the members employed at St. Michael’s. No meetings are currently scheduled however.

The rally comes on the heals of the announcement of multible arbitration victories by SDACT for the failure of the Diocese to pay wages owed to former union members under the terms and conditions of the previous contract agreements.

Michael Milz estimates the overall costs to the Scranton Diocese for their failure to pay union teachers what was owed to them could be more than $2 million.

SEIU Local 668 Union files complaint against Jewish Home

02.20.09

February 2009 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

SEIU Local 668 Union files complaint against Jewish Home

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

SCRANTON, January 15th- The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Pennsylvania Social Services Union (PSSU), Local 668 filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia alleging the Jewish Home in Scranton violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

On January 6th, 2009 the SEIU filed a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge with the agency alleging the Jewish Home on Vine Street in Scranton violated section 8 (a), subsections (1)(3) and(5) of the NLRAct. The group operates a nursing home.

According to the ULP, obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, the union represents 120 employees at the nursing home. The union has a office on Main Street in Dickson City in Lackawanna County however, the complaint was filed by the Harrisburg office.

“The employer interfered with the Union’s access to the facility, in violation of Section 8 (a)(3) and 8 (a)(5), and coerced employees in violation of Section 8 (a)(1).

By the above and other acts, the above-named employer has interfered with, restrained with, and coerced employees in the exercise of the rights quaranteed in Section 7 of the Act,” states the complaint.

The Employer Representative named to contact is Mary Rose Applegate, indentified as the Assistant Administrator of the nursing home.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA unemployment rate increases to 7.7 percent

02.20.09

February 2009 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

MSA unemployment rate increases to 7.7 percent

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

REGION, February 4th- According to labor data provided by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Industry, the region’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 7.7 percent, increasing by seven-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 5.3 percent. The last time the region had a unemployment rate this high was April 1996, also at 7.7 percent.

The MSA’s unemployment rate continues to remain higher than Pennsylvania and the nation. The unemployment rate in the state is 6.7 percent, increasing by six-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,442,000 with 434,000 not working and 6,009,000 with employment. The national unemployment rate is 7.2 percent, increasing by five-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month. There are 11,108,000 civilians in the nation without employment.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA civilian labor force, workers between eighteen and sixty-five years old, increased by 1,900 from the previous month to 284,300 and increased by 7,200 during the previous twelve months. There are 22,000 civilians not working within the MSA, increasing by 2,400 from the previous month, and increasing by 7,200 from twelve months before.

The MSA has the fifth largest labor force in Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor force at 2,997,200 with 201,200 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA is second at 1,219,400 with 76,200 without jobs; the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force at 420,300 with 29,700 not working; and the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest civilian labor force at 285,600 with 16,500 residents 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 7.9 percent, which rate increased by eight-tenths of a percentage point from the month before. The Johnstown MSA only has a civilian labor force of 68,300, with only the Altoona MSA and the Williamsport MSA with a smaller civilian labor force in Pennsylvania. The Williamsport MSA has the third highest unemployment rate in the state at 7.6 percent. The Lebanon MSA and the State College MSA are tied for the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.1 percent. The Lancaster MSA is second at 5.5 percent with the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA third at 5.8 percent.

Within the MSA, Lackawanna County has the lowest unemployment rate at 7.4 percent, increasing by eight-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month and two and three-tenths of a percentage point from twelve month before. Lackawanna County has a labor force of 108,100, increasing by 700 from the month before and 2,700 during the past twelve months. There are 8,000 residents without jobs, increasing by 900 from the previous month and increasing by 2,700 from twelve months ago.

Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 7.9 percent, increasing by seven-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month and increasing by one and five-tenths of a percentage point from one year ago. Luzerne County has a labor force of 161,500, increasing by 1,000 from the month before and jumping by 4,200 during the previous twelve months. There are 12,800, increasing by 1,300 from the previous month and increasing by 4,300 from one year ago, residents in Luzerne County not working.

Wyoming County has a unemployment rate of 7.6 percent, increasing by one full percentage point from the month before and increasing by one and nine-tenths of a percentage point from one year ago. Wyoming County has a labor force of 14,600, unchanged from the month before and increasing by 300 during the past year. There are 1,100 Wyoming County residents not working, increasing by 100 from the previous month and increasing by 300 from one year ago.