Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Postal workers union concerned about processing center

02.12.09

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

Postal workers union concerned about processing center

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

WILKES-BARRE, January 27th- The United States Postal Service (USPS) discussion of moving all or part of the mail processing and distribution operations from the South Main Street in Wilkes-Barre facility to the Stafford Avenue in South Scranton facility has mobilized the unions which represent the workers to stop the move from happening.

The USPS recently announced they will conduct a five-month feasibility study that will determine if the agency should move the operation from the Wilkes-Barre site to Scranton. The USPS stated the discussion of moving the mail processing is in response to the decline in first class mail. Over the past decade, first class mail volume has declined with the use of electronic communications. The USPS stated they will ask for community input as part of their study.

According to John Kishel, President of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 175 in Wilkes-Barre, which represents 240 postal service workers that process mail including clerk personnel and maintenance workers at 24 USPS facilities including the South Main Street site, his union is mobilizing to inform the public that moving the operations from Luzerne County to Lackawanna County would delay mail delivery. Local 175 represents USPS workers employed at the Wilkes-Barre facility and surrounding communities. APWU Local 101 in Scranton represents mail processing workers employed in and around Lackawanna County.

Should the mail processing and distribution operations be moved to Scranton, mail that is currently being processed in Wilkes-Barre will need to be re-routed to Scranton and then back to Luzerne County for delivery.

The union has began to circulate a petition asking the public community to sign requesting to keep the mail processing operations in Wilkes-Barre. “We the undersigned residents of Wilkes-Barre and surrounding communities do not want the Postal Service to move any mail operations out of the Wilkes-Barre Processing and Distribution Facility to Scranton or any other processing centers. Such a move would affect service to customers and businesses while negatively impacting the City of Wilkes-Barre and surrounding community,” states the petition.

Mr. Kishel, a 22 year member of the union and serving as Local 175 President for the past two years, told the newspaper if the processing is moved to Scranton, the Wilkes-Barre Postmark would be lost.

Also, Mr. Kishel believes the USPS long-term goal could be closing distribution centers across the state and have all mail processing done in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The USPS has moved local mail processing on weekends and holidays to the Lehigh Valley distribution center in Bethlehem. “People need to understand, moving the operations out of the area will delay mail delivery, it’s common sense,” said Mr. Kishel.

According to Kevin Gallagher, President of Local 101, the United States 11th Legislative District Representative Paul Kanjorski is aware of the study and will watch the situation closely. Both mail processing and distribution centers in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton are located in Mr. Kanjorski’s legislative district.

Mr. Gallagher stated rumors will be rampant about any and every possible outcome and Local 101 will do everything possible to support the Wilkes-Barre workers. “Northeastern Pennsylvania needs to keep mail processing for timely delivery of mail to businesses and the public and we will do our best to make this important fact known to postal management again,” said Mr. Gallagher.

Labor Management Council sponsoring trades career program

02.12.09

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

Labor Management Council sponsoring trades career program

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsswb@aol.com

REGION, February 2nd- The Northeastern Pennsylvania Labor Management Council (NEPALMC) is the project manager of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Pre-Apprenticeship Initiative. The pre-apprenticeship program is for area high school seniors interested in a career in the building and construction trades industry. The program is supported by four Workforce Investment Areas, Lackawanna; Luzerne/Schuykill; Northern Tier and Pocono Counties. The initiative is funded by an Industry Partnership grant through Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell’s strategy for building a skilled workforce.

Eve Centrelli, Executive Director of the NEPALMC, North Wilkes-Barre Boulevard in Wilkes-Barre, said the group is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to promoting economic retention and development by encouraging labor management cooperation. The NEPALMC encourages participation from business, labor, education, government and the community.

The NEPALMC mission statement is to be an effective neutral forum to foster and improve relations between labor and management, resulting in a positive image, economic growth, and an improved quality of life for all unions, companies and the communities they serve in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The organization offers a wide range of services to the affiliated members and the community on issues that affect labor and management in the workplace.

Membership services include a quarterly newsletter, discounted rates for all workshop seminars, access to expert consulting services of the Board of Directors who represent labor, management, the community and government agencies.

According to Ms. Centrelli, the Northeastern Pennsylvania Pre-Apprenticeship program graduated its first class of 19 high school seniors in April 2008. Since then over 50 potential apprentices from Lackawanna, Luzerne and Schuylkill Counties have completed the program. Seven sessions will be implemented in the winter of 2009 including new programs in Bradford and Susquehanna Counties in the Northern Tier; Carbon and Monroe Counties in the Poconos; and repeat programs in Lackawanna, Luzerne and Schuylkill Counties.

Through a partnership with the local unions affiliated with the Scranton Building and Construction Trades Council, and the Northeast Building and Construction Trades Council labor federations and local educational institutions, selected high school seniors take a 12-week after school program that prepares them to successfully enter into a building trades apprenticeship program. They learn the basic math, intro to construction and work readiness skills needed to prepare them to take and pass an apprenticeship exam and successfully complete the interview process.

Presenters from each of the building and construction trades come into the class room and speak to the students about their particular trade and many of them open their training centers on Saturdays, stated Ms. Centrelli.

She added this gives the students a better idea of what its like to be in an apprenticeship program.

“The Northeastern Pennsylvania Pre-Apprenticeship Initiative is a model program that seeks not only to provide the trades with qualified applicants, but also to provide an opportunity for a high school senior to begin a career with family sustaining wages and good benefits,” said Ms. Centrelli.

For more information on the program contact Eve Centrelli at 570-820-9501 or by e-mail at nepalmc@epix.net.

The organizations website address is http://www.nepalmc.org

Democratic Talk Radio announces our 1st Labor Hero of the Year Award for 2008

02.12.09

Democratic Talk Radio announces our 1st Labor Hero of the Year Award for 2008

Democratic Talk Radio has given our Ist Annual Labor Hero of the Year Award to Fran Friel, President of the Pennsylvania Postal Workers for moving his union convention from the hotel in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania to honor a picket line by the Laborers (LIUNA) Local 135 and the Painters (IUPAT) this past summer.

They encountered significant legal costs and maybe other even larger financial costs by their actions in support of the union brothers and sisters in the building trades. We at Democratic Talk Radio love this example of real labor union solidarity and want to honor it.

Fran Friel and his fellow union leaders from the American Postal Workers Union truly believe that an injury to one is an injury to all. For Fran and the rest of members of the Pennsylvania Postal Workers Union, these are not just words. Their actions show their conviction and sincere devotion to labor solidarity.

When asked to comment on their actions, the President of the Painters (IUPAT) District Council 21 Ken Kraft stated, “THEY not only supported our union I feel they supported the entire building trades movement by not having the convention at a place that uses non-union workers from out of state and then EXPECTS Unions to just book there anyway… It was a great example of how we get it together once in a while between the building trades and the other Labor Council type Unions… But it is also a shame, in Europe NO-ONE would find this unusual, they still get it over there…”

Millions of labor heroes exist in the work force of America. They all deserve recognition and our sincere admiration. Democratic Talk Radio honors them every day for their contribution to economic opportunity and justice.

## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## -

For more information, please contact Democratic Talk Radio host Stephen Crockett. Crockett can be reached by phone at 443-907-2367 or email at demlabor@aol.com. The Democratic Talk Radio website is http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com.