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Free Choice Act levels playing field for workers


Free Choice Act levels playing field for workers
Thursday, March 12, 2009

Workers who do not have a collective bargaining agreement to protect them in the workplace are known as “at will employees.” This means they have no rights as employees. They are workers who perform “at the will” of their employers. They can be let go for many reasons, none of which are enforceable under the National Labor Relations Act.

The reason I mention this is because the National Labor Relations Board will, when you have an inquiry about your employment status, if there are problems, ask if you are covered under a collective bargaining agreement (contract). If you say you are not covered by any agreement, they will inform you there is nothing they can do for you under the NLRA, because you are an “at will employee” and have no rights without a contract.

We must level the playing field for every worker in today’s environment and urge our legislators to support the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. Employers want to continue to have a stranglehold over their employees and keep them as “at will employees.” They do not want employees to have a voice in their working environment.

For example, if an employee would complain to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration about a safety problem at work, the employee would probably be fired without a collective bargaining agreement.

We must have freedom for all, as our forefathers used as the basis for democracy in these United States.

Joe Long

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

EFCA’s Opponents Received Millions Upon Millions From Business PACs


Opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act are actively pushing a new non-partisan study showing that the lead sponsor of the legislation, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), received more donations from the labor sector ($1.64 million) since 1989 than any of his colleagues.

The findings, compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, drive home the classic, cynical, premise that politics is determined by quid-pro-quos. But if that is the standard being set for this debate, then EFCA’s foes have a far more daunting fight on their hands.

That’s because some of the legislation’s chief opponents in Congress have received millions upon millions of dollars from business interests over the course of their careers, and only a pittance from labor. This includes the top ranks of the Republican Party.

After the Employee Free Choice Act was introduced on Tuesday, Danny Diaz, a Republican operative working against the legislation’s passage, sent to reporters a compilation of quotes attacking the union-backed measure. Below are the names of the officials quoted with a list of the amount of money they’ve received from business and labor political action committees.

Sen. Lamar Alexander ## since 2002 $2.79 million from business Political Action Committees (82 percent of PAC donations) $15,000 from labor PACS (statistically, zero percent)
House Minority Leader John Boehner - since 1989
$7.48 million from business PACS (94 percent)
$200,000 from labor (three percent)

Minority Whip Eric Cantor - since 2000
$5.34 million from business PACS (93 percent)
$42,500 from labor PACS (one percent)

Sen. John Ensign - since 1994
$5.4 million from business PACS (86 percent)
$59,200 from labor PACS (one percent)

Sen. Mike Enzi - since 1996
$3 million from business PACS (89 percent)
$37,500 from labor PACS (one percent)

Story continues below

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell - since 1989
$7.79 million from business PACS (87 percent)
$43,750 from labor PACS (zero percent)

Rep. Buck McKeon - since 1992
$2.2 million from business PACS (90 percent)
$112,00 from labor PACS (five percent)

Rep. Joe Pitts - since 1996
$1.39 million from business PACS (91 percent)
$32,000 from labor PACS (two percent)

Sen. John Thune - since 1996
$2.5 million from business PACS (71 percent)
$12,000 from labor PACS (zero percent)

* The figures are estimations taken from the Center for Responsive Politics

To be sure, not all business groups are actively engaged in the EFCA fight. Some, though relatively few, are comfortable with the legislation’s passage. Moreover, there is a far deeper pool of business PACs willing to donate to politicians than labor ones. But this line of attack only adds to the notion that the business community is bringing more financial clout to the fight. Indeed, the Chamber of Commerce ## the leading force behind killing EFCA in Congress ## spent more on lobbying in 2008 than all labor unions combined. The source of that information: the Center for Responsive Politics.

In fact, the most telling statistic about how skewed this fight actually is might just come from the same study that EFCA’s opponents now quote. Since 1989, Harkin ## the lead sponsor of the current bill ## has received $4.3 million in contributions from business PACS, more than 2.5 times what he took in from labor.

Dave Lindorff: Business Rules ## No Democracy, No Decency, No Unions


A few days ago, I sent off an article I had just written on assignment to the editor of a magazine that was preparing to run it. A few moments later, I got an e-mail back: he had just been fired and the magazine was being shut down by the publisher. My story, for which I had expected to be paid $1500, was toast.

When I tried to write back a reply to the editor, I got a message saying that my e-mail message was “undeliverable.”

I called the editor (who worked from home) on his cell phone and, still sounding shell-shocked, he informed me that immediately after notifying him, with no warning, that he was being axed, the publisher had eliminated his company e-mail account and had blocked him from accessing the company’s server, thus effectively cutting him off from all the contacts he had developed over his years at the company.

I mentioned this shabby treatment to a couple of guys at lunch the next day, and was told by one that his wife had been laid off from her job only days before. She too had received no notice from her employer and had been given only a couple of hours to clear her desk out and leave the premises, despite her having worked there for over six years.

Welcome to the American business world.

It’s an ugly place where loyalty is rewarded with abuse and relationships are intensely hierarchical, one-sided, and ultimately totally artificial. It is a place where managers do not have to follow the basic rules of human decency by which they, for the most part, live in their private lives.

Across the country, every day, some 20,000 or more American workers are getting sacked these days by managers who are focused on bottom lines and satisfying greedy investors. A shockingly high percentage of these victims of recession and corporate greed get little or no notice. One reason for this shabby and abusive treatment is that companies don’t want word leaking out about their difficulties and their cutbacks. Bad news about layoffs can hurt stock prices, alarm customers, and worry creditors.

Many employers even attempt to block fired employees from collecting unemployment compensation (an employer’s unemployment insurance rate is determined by experience ## the greater the number of workers you fire who go on unemployment, the higher your premium). They do this by claiming the worker was fired “for cause.” This forces the sacked worker to appeal and go through a hearing process, all of which can take weeks, with an uncertain outcome.

Often workers who are treated badly by employers who dump them will not complain publicly about their treatment because they need to maintain good relations with their old company so they can get favorable recommendations when they search for new work. Some workers even fear to file for unemployment benefits due them, for fear that it will lead to a bad job recommendation down the road.

These kinds of implied threats are just an extension of another problem: the lack of free speech on the job.

We all grow up learning that here in America, we have freedom of speech. What our teachers don’t tell us when we’re in school is that actually the First Amendment only applies to the relatively short period of time between when we wake up in the morning and the time we go through the entryway of our place of work, and to the time between when we exit the building and when we go home and go to sleep. That eight or nine-hour period of the day when we are on the job, we do not have that First Amendment right to say what we are thinking. Try exercising it, and you can be fired ## for cause and with no access to an unemployment check. Think about it a moment: we sleep, if we’re lucky, for eight hours, and work for another eight, so we really only get freedom of speech for a third of each day, and much of that time most of us are alone in a car, or have food in our mouths and can’t talk anyhow. Some freedom!

When you examine this situation, it really closely resembles the medieval institution of serfdom. True, in modern capitalism, the boss doesn’t own you as Lords of old owned their serfs, but the two relationships still have a lot in common.

A serf of old could flee her or his Lord’s estate, and many did. In an era of limited communications, it was at least possible to escape and to find one’s way to a new situation ## usually another Lord’s estate. Today, of course, one is free to change jobs. But because employers generally demand references of the people they hire, modern workers need to be careful to maintain good relations with their bosses even if they are abused by those bosses, lest they end up unemployable.

There is one exception to this grim picture, and that is labor unions. On jobs where there are unions, workers have a modicum of freedom from abuse ## and a modicum of freedom of speech on the job. A union contract generally establishes the principle of seniority, so employers are not free to simply let go anyone they choose during an economic slowdown. They have to let people go on the basis of seniority ## the most recent hires first. This is only fair. With a contract, bosses also cannot fire anyone without cause and without due process and notice. Workers have the right to file a grievance if they are ill treated by management. Within certain bounds, expressing one’s opinion cannot be cause for being fired (though most contracts still allow termination for “insubordination”).

It is this assertion of the personhood of workers, and of their basic freedom to be fully human, as much as the simply fact that unionized workers generally earn more than their non-unionized counterparts, that makes American managers and capitalist owners so virulently anti-union.

If American workers needed a reason to back the Employee Free Choice Act (soon to be considered and voted on by Congress), which would make it easier for them to demand a union and to win a first contract with their employers, and which would finally put teeth in the penalties assessed against employers who violate worker rights, this recession should give it to them. To fully enjoy the freedoms we supposedly are granted by our Constitution, most notably the First Amendment freedom of speech, religion, and assembly, to fully be human beings instead of just serfs, it is essential that every American worker be protected by a collective bargaining agreement.

It is the only way to force employers to behave decently, and to make workers truly free.

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

Lehigh Valley (PA) Labor Council announces “The Big Three” important upcoming events (March 22, April 18 & September 7)


Council’s annual dinner set for April 18

Mark your calendars for Saturday, April 18 and plan on attending the Lehigh Valley Labor Council’s classic event as we celebrate local heroes in the labor movement. This year’s event will be held at the Palace Center, 623 Hanover Avenue, Allentown Pa.

Cocktails begin at 5:30 with dinner at 7:00. Enjoy the music from the L.V. Charter School for the Performing Arts.
The awards program begins at 8:00 and is followed by our keynote speaker.

Tickets are $40.00 per person and advertising pricing in our booklet is as follows:
Cover page $200.00
Quarter page $50.00
Full page $150.00
Eighth page $30.00
Half page $75.00

Checks may be made payable to: Lehigh Valley Labor Council, Attn. Gregg Potter, 526 South Berks St. Allentown Pa. 18104

For questions or to volunteer to help, contact Gregg Potter at 610-360-9491 or e-mail at

“When I feed the poor, they call me a saint, but when I ask why the poor are hungry, they call me a communist.”
Archbishop Dom Helder Camara

“It is to the real advantage of every producer, every manufacturer and every merchant to cooperate in the improvement of working conditions, because the best customer of American industry is the well-paid worker.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Mark your calendar
Council will join St. Patrick’s Day event

The Allentown St. Patrick’s Parade will march down the streets of Allentown on Sunday March 22, 2009. Once again, your Lehigh Valley Labor Council will join the 52nd march down the city’s west side.

Volunteers are needed with preparations for the event. This year the official Pennsylvania AFL-CIO bus will be leading organized labor through the West End of Allentown. We will be meeting around 11:30 A.M. to start decorating the bus.

Your Council has purchased 48 shirts commemorating St. Patrick’s Day and they will be given to each of our marchers until supplies are gone.

We will also be providing refreshments for our afternoon of merriment. Carl Dillinger will be providing us with some Employee Free Choice Act stickers which can be handed out to individuals along the parade route. The Labor Council has also purchased five cases of beads that can be given to parade watchers.

Please invite your members to come out and march with labor on this special day. Kindly R.S.V.P. with number attending in order for us to provide adequate refreshments.

Contact Council President Potter at 610-360-9491.

Labor Day picnic, September 7th

The Lehigh Valley Labor Council will hold its annual Labor Day picnic on Monday, September 7 at Bethlehem Township Municipal Park.

The Council first held its Labor Day picnic at the park in 2004 and we returned to the park last year. It is a beautiful facility with all the amenities needed for a day of solidarity.

The park is located on Farmersville Road between Freemansburg Avenue and William Penn Highway. More information will follow.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Article reprinted along with the two below from the Lehigh Valley Labor Council, AFL-CIO newsletter.

“The Lehigh Valley Labor Council News & Views is published monthly by the Lehigh Valley Labor Council, AFL-CIO. We are proud members of the Pennsylvania Labor Communications Association, AFL-CIO.

The opinions expressed herein are those of the writers only and do not necessarily express the policy of the Council or any of its affiliates. All articles submitted for publication must be signed and received by the last Thursday of the month.

Our mailing address is:Lehigh Valley Labor Council
P.O. Box 20226
Lehigh Valley, PA 18002

Our office location is:Lehigh Valley APWU
3360 Airport Road
Second Floor
Allentown, PA 18109

Editorial Staff
Ron Ennis APWU #268
John Weiss SEIU #668 “

Remember the Ladies


Remember the Ladies

by Suzanjoy Checksfield,
International Alliance for Theatrical Stage Employees, Local #200

March being Women’s History month, I think it is only fitting that we look back at what women have contributed to organized labor. Women have been involved from the very beginning, pioneers on the front lines of the labor movement.

Women like Sarah Bagley, a piece weaver from a mill in Lowell, Mass. She founded the Lowell Female Labor Reform Assoc. in 1844. Bagley testified before the Mass. Legislature in 1845 supporting the ten-hour workday.

Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, wife of an ironworker who lost her family in a yellow fever epidemic in 1867, devoted her life to labor organizing. She traveled anywhere workers agitated for better conditions or fought to organize unions. She was still active when she died in 1930, six months after her 100th birthday.

Lucy Parsons an African and Native American woman born under slavery, after traveling North in the 1870s, joined the International Working People’s Assoc. and the Knights of Labor. She was instrumental in the fight for an eight-hour workday in the city of Chicago. She organized the defense of her husband and the others involved in the Haymarket riot. Although her husband and the others were later executed, she continued until her death in 1942 as an advocate for worker’s rights and decent treatment of the poor and unemployed.

These are but a few of the many who have contributed to our history.

Women have felt the triumphs and the losses. March 25th marks the anniversary of one of the worst work related disasters in women’s and labor history. The 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, at 23-29 Washington Place in New York City, when 146 young women died, many by jumping from the 9th floor, because the owners had locked all but one of the doors and neglected to care for the fire-escape, which collapsed.

This disaster helped spur the growth of the International Ladies Garment Union and caused significant changes in work place safety. The building survives today, a part of the New York University system and a National Historic Site as a monument to the worker’s sacrifice. The labor community honors those who died every year in a ceremony at the site.

Women have and continue to be an active part of the labor community. Since 1974, the Coalition of Labor Union Women has been leading the effort to empower and advance women in their unions.

CLUW has been promoting policies that support women and working families, leading the way in issues including women’s health and wellness, child and elder care benefits, safe work environments, fair and equitable pay, fair trade, job security and many others.

The face of trade unionism in America is changing. As we move from manufacturing to service based industries, more and more women are joining unions. We need to build coalitions to organize those who are not and to promote fairness and equality of opportunity. We are activists, advocates and allies.

This March will be the official kickoff of an effort to charter the Greater Lehigh Valley chapter of CLUW. We need twenty-five members representing at least five different unions to qualify. We are on our way with seven members, but we need our sisters and brothers to join us. Please check the Lehigh Valley Labor Council website for more information and forthcoming information about chapter organizing meetings.

Labor seminar April 24-25


Labor seminar April 24-25

The Lehigh Valley Labor Council Education Committee announces the third annual Labor Education Seminar to be held Friday, April 24 and Saturday, April 25, 2009 at the Tri-Boro Sportsman’s Club in Northampton, Pa.

We are continuing our theme, Unions in the 21st Century, this year’s seminar is entitled, “Why We Fight – Where we’ve been, where we’re going and how we get there.”

The seminar starts with registration on April 24 at 5 PM to 6:30 PM. Dinner will be served 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM prior to the Friday evening session. The session will start promptly at 7:00 PM and run until 10:00 PM.

The Friday session will be devoted to “Labor History and Our Gains in the Workplace,” with emphasis on the development of labor law. A short labor-related film will be shown after the session and refreshments will be served.

Our Saturday class will begin promptly at 9:00 AM. The morning session (9AM – 12 Noon) will look at “Changing Unions in a Changing World,” with emphasis on current labor law issues, changes in the law and threats to organizing. Lunch will be provided from Noon to 1 PM.

The afternoon session (1PM – 4PM) will be “New Voices, New Tactics,” which will be devoted to a discussion regarding improving the union image, building stronger unions from within and the challenges of working with the new administration. Emphasis will be given to the Employee Free Choice Act and its passage.

Appropriate breaks with snacks are scheduled. Attendees will receive a copy of The Union Member’s Complete Guide: Everything You Want – and Need – To Know About Working Union, by Michael Mauer and Communities @ Work: A Guide to Restoring Our Right to Organize, AFL-CIO Publication #175 to take with them.

The seminar is free to member affiliates of the Lehigh Valley Labor Council; however there is a $25 registration fee. There are approximately 60 openings which will be filled in order of receipt of registration form and fee. Registration forms are available online at the Council’s website

This year’s program is planned to foster a greater understanding of our history, the benefits organized labor has provided our community and the challenges we face in the future. We are looking to engage younger members and minorities, to anticipate the needs of Labor’s future and grow a stronger base.

This year’s seminar is partially funded by a grant from the Penna. Labor Education Center of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, PA State System of Higher Education. To learn more, log onto

Workers rally for Free Choice: February 19th event draws huge labor crowd


Workers rally for Free Choice
February 19th event draws huge labor crowd

Ron Ennis, Lehigh Valley Postal Workers
Editor, Lehigh Valley Labor Council

An enthusiastic gathering of 250 union activists, worker advocates and community leaders staged a press conference in Bethlehem to urge Washington lawmakers to pass the Employee Free Choice Act in the 111th Congress.

The event was held outside the Hotel Bethlehem where area business leaders listened in a closed door session to Rep. Charles Dent map out in a strategy to defeat the bill. The measure, designed to assist workers wishing to join a union, is staunchly opposed by Dent and the business community.

Special thanks to our Labor Council’s Executive Vice-President John Werkheiser for the pictures. To see more photos visit our website at and click onto Labor Council photo album at the bottom of the page. Photos like these:

(1) John Weiss (left) Service Employees International Union, stands with officers of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Ellen Redline, Arlene Bogansky and Justus James.

(2) Council president Gregg Potter (left) confers with Mike Milz, Northeast Penna. Area Labor Federation coordinator.

(3) Joshua Schiller, Roofers Local #30, reminds onlookers that after his tenure as a state legislator in Harrisburg, Dent leaned further right against most worker-friendly legislation immediately after his arrival in Washington in 2004.

(4) FromDorothy Baran (left) UNITEHERE Penna. Joint Board is joined outside the Hotel Bethlehem by Pam Tronsor, Organizing Coordinator for the Communication Workers, District 13, and Stephen Crockett, host of Democratic Talk Radio heard every Thursday at 8:05 am on WGPA-1100AM.

Thursday, February 26, 2009 proved to be an historic day for this Labor Council when 250 union activists and community leaders congregated in downtown Bethlehem to publicly demonstrate support for the Employee Free Choice Act. Your Labor Council, along with the Lehigh Valley Building Trades, led a rally of 43 local unions in front of the Hotel Bethlehem as business leaders and their lawyers listened to Rep. Charlie Dent in a closed door meeting discuss how to defeat labor’s signature issue.

Early in February, I received an e-mail announcing that the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce would hold an event hosted by Dent denouncing the Free Choice Act. He had voted against the measure when it was first introduced in 2007, and Chamber members wanted to hear the steps he would take in Washington to try to derail the bill again.

Dent voted against the worker-friendly bill knowing full well that it would pass the House rather easily. After the vote, I sent him a letter explaining how extremely disappointed the labor community was with his poor, misguided decision. He demonstrated, even back then, a poor understanding of the legislation and the ramifications of his decision. I explained that he should not expect very much cooperation from labor unions due to his vote.

The facts are very clear with the Employee Free Choice Act. This is THE issue that impacts ALL of organized labor.

Many times, union construction workers have different priorities than teachers, and airline workers’ issues may differ from issues affecting public sector workers. That is the diversity of who we are.

## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ##
EDITOR’S NOTE: Article reprinted along with one below from the Lehigh Valley Labor Council, AFL-CIO newsletter.

“The Lehigh Valley Labor Council News & Views is published monthly by the Lehigh Valley Labor Council, AFL-CIO. We are proud members of the Pennsylvania Labor Communications Association, AFL-CIO.
The opinions expressed herein are those of the writers only and do not necessarily express the policy of the Council or any of its affiliates. All articles submitted for publication must be signed and received by the last Thursday of the month.

Our mailing address is:Lehigh Valley Labor Council
P.O. Box 20226
Lehigh Valley, PA 18002

Our office location is:Lehigh Valley APWU
3360 Airport Road
Second Floor
Allentown, PA 18109

Editorial Staff
Ron Ennis APWU #268
John Weiss SEIU #668 “

Workers demand Free Choice- by Gregg Potter


Workers demand Free Choice
Business, Rep. Dent step up attacks on organizing bill

by Gregg Potter,
Communication Workers, Local 13500

Lehigh Valley Labor Council

However, the Employee Free Choice Act brings us all together. All of organized labor’s future rests on giving workers a voice on the job, expanding the middle-class and building our membership.

By leading the charge against the Free Choice Act, Charlie Dent has once again chosen the wrong way to vote and he should pay for this intentional slap in the face to the thousands of working families in his district.

Dent continually parrots the Chamber of Commerce and their message that the proposed bill would “eliminate the secret ballot.” This statement has been improperly used and misused over and over and over again. The sad thing is that the average non-union – and unfortunately union – worker will begin to believe this nonsense unless we bring the true facts to light. Repetition breeds belief.

There are three points I wish to make to expose the fraudulent statements expressed by those opposed to this measure. First, this legislation does not eliminate the secret ballot. The current path to union representation and collective bargaining no longer works for workers. One of the most respected human rights organizations in the world, Human Rights Watch, studied the process in the United States and concluded that it is hopelessly broken: In a system replete with all the appearance of legality and due process, workers’ exercise of rights to organize, to bargain, and to strike in the United States has been frustrated by many employers who realize they have little to fear from labor law enforcement through a ponderous, delay-ridden legal system with meager remedial powers.

A study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that one in five active union supporters is fired because they want a union to bargain for a better life. Inevitably, when a worker who has supported the union is fired, fear is instantly injected into the workplace. Other workers are afraid the same thing will happen to them if they support the union. This fear devastates the organizing campaign. And the fear persists because fired workers are rarely returned to their jobs as lengthy legal delays are common.

Second, the majority sign-up process is superior to the current National Labor Relations Board representation procedure. The NLRB process determines representation based on a majority of workers who vote in an election; majority sign-up requires that a majority of all employees in the workplace designate the union as their representative before union representation is achieved.

Workers must select a union twice under the NLRB process; once when they sign cards supporting union representation and again when the labor board conducts an election. Majority sign-up eliminates the second step by honoring the workers’ choice when they first authorize the union to represent them.

Furthermore, the majority sign-up process avoids the confrontational, divisive behavior that the current NLRB practice encourages. Currently, it is legal for anti-union consultants to train supervisors to treat pro-union workers as traitorous troublemakers whose union support is anti-company and disloyal. In contrast, majority sign-up campaigns are associated with significantly less coercion by either companies or unions than under the NLRB representation process.

Finally, the Employee Free Choice Act will not lead to union coercion as the Chamber of Commerce suggests. In fact, the evidence is to the contrary.

A review of 113 cases cited by the Human Resources Policy Association as involving union fraud and coercion revealed only 42 decisions in the 78 years since the Act’s inception that actually found misconduct in the signing of authorization cards. That’s less than one case every two years.

Compare that with the 29,559 instances of managerial abuse, including illegal firings and other discriminatory acts against workers, just in 2007. That’s a ratio of almost 50,000 to one.

Contrary to the suppositions of the Chamber, there is no evidence that the Free Choice Act will generate union coercion. And there certainly is no evidence that it will engender the kind of endemic, proven coercion that companies routinely inflict on workers in the NLRB representation process.

Long time union activists have seen this misinformation campaign before. Throughout 1993 and 1994, the Clinton Administration tried to initiate health care reform. Unfortunately, insurance companies and their lobbyists were successful in spinning the message to favor them. They created the infamous “Harry and Maude” commercials that beat down the laudable efforts to create a national health care plan.

Corporate interests opposed to workers having a voice on the job have adopted the same playbook used to defeat reforming healthcare a decade ago. They will be holding meetings in different venues with different faces behind the events. Many times the local Chamber of Commerce is the driving force, other times it is the National Restaurant Association or other not so civic-minded groups.

In response, we need to be on point EVERY time the discussion comes up. We need to address this bill not as EFCA, but as the Employee Free Choice Act. We need to talk about majority sign up and not card check. Branding is everything and we need to know and pass on the facts of this legislation.

Besides the information that I have provided in this and past editions of our newsletter, I suggest you visit the Human Resources Policy Association’s website at Click on their “White Paper on the National Labor Relations Act.” And of course, check out our website

In conclusion, the Employee Free Choice Act would reform labor law so workers can choose union representation and collective bargaining without fear and intimidation. When a majority of workers demonstrates their choice to form a union, their representative could be certified by the labor board without the need for the delay-ridden, coercive and divisive NLRB election process. Federal labor law finally would guarantee workers their right to bargain for a better life.

Before I close on our February 26th event, I want to send a special thank you to Bill Newhard, president of our area’s Building Trades, and the Lehigh, Northampton, Monroe and Pike Counties Building Trades Association for their unprecedented mobilizing for the Hotel Bethlehem event. The number of construction trade workers in attendance was recognized by everyone.

News Item… Organized Labor comes through BIG for Big Brothers & Big Sisters of the Greater Lehigh Valley. More than 16 teams of bowlers flooded Jordan Lanes on Sunday, March 1, 2009. We brought to the table over $8,000.00 of donations to a wonderful program that provides mentors to children who have none. The Lehigh Valley Labor Council pledges our support in the coming years to make this event better and better.

News Item…Rep. David Argall beats Democratic competitor Steve Lukach. With 62.4% of the votes from a special election in the 29th Senate District, David Argall will fill out the entire term from recently deceased Senator James Rhoades. Argall, was a 13-term Republican House Member from the 124th District. The 29th Senate District covers all of Schuylkill County and parts of Berks County, the Lehigh Valley and the Southern Poconos. Special thanks to Mike Galio, Business Manager for the Carpenters, Local 600. Mike allowed the AFL-CIO bus and members to meet at his restaurant and tavern in Slatington the Saturday before the election and hosted a rally for Steve Lukach. Mike’s hospitality was appreciated and labor’s efforts were crucial to the success that Mr. Lukach did receive.

Bringing Democratic Talk Radio to your community


It certainly seems like talk radio grows best if it grows organically and is based in local communities instead of being created from on top nationally. We have been getting many, many requests to bring Democratic Talk Radio to new communities since the first of the year.
Maybe we need to create a Democratic Talk Radio Support Committee in each area:

(1) We can first work on getting financial underwriting from organized labor and Democratic groups in each location and statewide in each state.

(2) We could look at Democratic campaign donor lists and possibly solicit them by phone or mail.

(3) We could ask help finding financial backers or advertisers from Democratic officeholders or candidates.

(4) We could look into fundraising like dinners or other events.

(5) Identify likely radio stations that would sell us time or even better run us free of charge (which permits them to sell ads in our time slot).

In solidarity,

Stephen Crockett

Host, Democratic Talk Radio

Phone: 443-907-2367

P.S.- Our concept is that the first 10-12 communities to get us on the air will get unique 1-2 hour weekly shows. For more hours or later markets, we will probably offer a national syndicated show.

The advantage of being one of the earliest markets is that we can have much, much more local content including local candidates, officeholders, Democratic leaders and union leaders as guests. We can do a better job of covering local events and issues although all markets will get some national figures and content.

President Tells Unions Organizing Act Will Pass


President Tells Unions Organizing Act Will Pass

MIAMI ## President Barack Obama told AFL-CIO union leaders Tuesday in a videotaped address that the controversial Employee Free Choice Act will pass, signaling his full backing for legislation that makes union organizing easier.

“We will pass the Employee Free Choice Act,” President Obama told more than 100 top labor officials in a closed-door meeting at the labor federation’s winter gathering in Miami, according to people at the meeting.

The bill would make it easier for unions to recruit workers because it would let them join unions simply by signing cards rather than through secret-ballot elections in which companies can campaign against the union. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations have been campaigning against the legislation.

The president’s remarks were taped on Feb. 20, according to a White House spokesman. Following his remarks, AFL-CIO officials held a meeting with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

Separately, on Wednesday, the AFL-CIO is expected to ask the administration to take a controlling stake in banks that receive government funding and a more active role in restructuring their balance sheets. “We believe the debate over nationalization is delaying the inevitable bank restructuring, which is something our economy cannot afford,” reads a draft of an AFL-CIO statement. It is the first time the labor group has advocated such a policy, said Richard Trumka, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO. Mr. Trumka, a member of the White House Economic Recovery Advisory Board, said government control would be short-lived.

The Employee Free Choice Act is expected to be introduced in the coming weeks in the Senate. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said in an interview that to help get the bill through Congress, it could be amended in the Senate, where support is narrower, before it reaches the House. “We wouldn’t be surprised if there were attempts to amend the bill,” he said.

Organized labor plans to mobilize workers in states where support is weakest among Democratic lawmakers, lobby lawmakers directly and get companies that support the bill to endorse it publicly. Labor leaders didn’t name companies targeted in this effort.

Business groups say they will intensify their lobbying against the bill as it is introduced. Randel Johnson, vice president of labor policy for the Chamber of Commerce, said the group will focus its heaviest lobbying efforts on senators in about seven states, and that an endorsement of the bill by a small number of companies “would not affect the political dynamic,” because employer opposition to the bill is “overwhelming.”

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EDITOR’S NOTE: I want to thank John Meyerson, Director of Legislation & Political Action- United Food & Commercial Workers 1776 for sending Mid-Atlantic this important story.

Making Reid Do It: The Best Way to Prevent Dem Defections and Pass EFCA


Making Reid Do It: The Best Way to Prevent Dem Defections and Pass EFCA
by: David Sirota

Article link

The Huffington Post reports that there is growing concern in organized labor that a faction of Democratic senators will vote against the Employee Free Choice Act, thus killing it. Unions will (and should) work hard on a state-by-state basis to keep Democratic lawmakers on board (and I promise to do my part to get my own wavering Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet on board), but it seems to me there’s a much easier way to enforce unity: Make Harry Reid choose between getting every Democrat on board, or ending his political career.
This is not a far-fetched idea. In fact, the inevitable whining, screaming and moaning from Establishment Democrats aside, it would be relatively simple to pull off, and Reid - a smart politician - would know that labor could pull it off in a state like his.

Nevada is a conservative-leaning state, but is also both relatively cheap for political advertising/campaigns, and has an extremely strong labor movement, with roughly 14 percent of its workforce organized. Reid is running for reelection in 2010 in a state that tends to have extremely close elections. The labor movement, therefore, could make a very simple proposal to the Senate Majority Leader: Reid can either A) Schedule the votes for EFCA, during the crucial cloture vote to stop a filibuster get every Democratic senator to vote for cloture, and then get 51 Democrats to vote for it on final passage or B) Not do A, and therefore end his political career knowing that organized labor will put $2 or $3 million into an independent third-party progressive candidate against him in the general election.

That relatively modest (by national political standards) amount of money (which labor could easily muster and which could go a fairly long way in a state like Nevada) combined with the infrastructure of a powerful Nevada labor movement would do two things: 1) Prompt candidacies from top-tier Republican candidates who would otherwise take a pass on the run but who know the independent candidacy would weaken Reid and 2) very likely peel away anywhere from 5 to 15 percent from Reid in his reelection run, all but guaranteeing his defeat to said Republican and the end of his political career.

David Sirota :: Making Reid Do It: The Best Way to Prevent Dem Defections and Pass EFCA
Let’s be clear: Harry Reid himself is not the problem on EFCA. He supports it. But this isn’t about Harry Reid or any individual senator - it’s about the best means to enacting a desperately needed policy (or at least it shouldn’t be for organized labor on an integrally important bill like this).
Let’s also be clear - it wouldn’t be fair to ask Reid to be responsible for finding the 2 or 3 Republican senators needed to overcome a filibuster. Pressuring the GOP is where labor’s state-by-state money should be going, not to efforts to simply get the Democrats (which labor has been supporting for years) to vote the right way. Lord knows, getting a few Republican votes is a big enough task for unions without having to worry about Democratic defectors.

That said, it’s completely fair to ask Reid - as leader of a Democratic Party that achieved its majority because of union support - to be responsible for getting every Democratic vote for EFCA. He signed up to be leader and Spiderman reminds us that with great power comes great responsibility. If he’s any kind of leader, he should be able to meet the challenge, especially with the fire of potential forced retirement lit under him. And if he can’t, then he doesn’t belong in office.

Now, I’m sure there will be people who will say, “What, you think a Republican would be better in Nevada’s senate seat?” No, I don’t. But this has to be a general election strategy - not a primary strategy - because a primary is far less frightening to Reid than a well-financed third-party candidate taking votes out of his base in a general election. More importantly, for organized labor, which knows EFCA is a life-or-death matter to them and who should know that this issue is even more important to them than their clubby relationship with D.C. Democrats, this is the most efficient way to deal with the problem of defecting Democrats. And for progressives who are serious about passing transformative policies, one senate seat in an election year where the Senate majority isn’t really in doubt is a worthy wager for a bill as important to the economy and to workers as EFCA.

Indeed, when it comes to a bill like EFCA, which will draw a huge amount of corporate opposition, the only way to get it passed will be to deploy the stick, and not just the carrot that labor has been giving to Democrats with almost no real demands for anything in return. And to those who say this is too sharp a stick, I say get over your queasiness - as they said in Jerry Maguire, this isn’t show friends, its show business, or to paraphrase A League of Their Own, this is politics, and there’s no crying in politics. If you want to get something as monumental done as EFCA, it’s going to require the same kind of stick that passed every other transformative policy, from the New Deal to the Great Society to civil rights laws.

Because of both Reid’s reelection calendar and Nevada’s dynamics as a conservative-leaning large-union state, the question is no longer whether labor has a powerful enough stick. It does right at its fingertips. It’s all a matter of whether the labor movement is willing to act like a movement - whether it is willing to use that stick and put policy goals ahead of individual political relationships in Washington, D.C.

Employee Free Choice Act: SEIU VIDEO- The Horror!


We at SEIU are releasing a new web ad today around Employee Free Choice and wanted to show all of you.

As you know, the opposition’s gotten a bit carried away with their rage against the legislation - they’ve been calling it “armageddon,” “nuclear war” and the “demise of a civilization.”

One day, we were spreading the quotes around, and thought to ourselves, “what is this, a 1970’s horror movie?”

And this was born:

Take a look and pass around. As they say in the old horror films, “it’s aliiiiiiiiivvveeee!”

There are a bunch of great posts up on this already:

Matt BH

Steelworkers Standing Strong for “Buy American”


Steelworkers Standing Strong for “Buy American”

Sisters and Brothers,

One month ago this week our union launched the “Make Our Future Work” campaign. To date, over 300 Buy American resolutions have been introduced! Click HERE to find out if one has been passed in your city/county/State.

The goal of this campaign is to have our State and Local Legislators, Policy Makers, and Elected Officials commit, in writing, to the following in regards to their oversight of the monies allocated through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

Resolution Commitments, in Brief:

Work to maximize the creation of American jobs and restoring economic growth and opportunity by spending economic recovery plan funds on products and services that both create jobs and help keep Americans employed; to
Commit to purchasing only products and services that are made or performed in the United States of America whenever and wherever possible with any economic recovery monies provided by the American people; and,
Commit to publish any requests to waive these procurement priorities so as to give American workers and producers the opportunity to identify and provide the American products and services that will maximize the success of our nation’s economic recovery program.
While the Reinvestment Act does include a “Buy American” clause, it does not require a public registry of how these monies are spent. This means that your tax dollars could be spent on Chinese steel to build the new bridge in your community, and you wouldn’t even know it.

Join the USW’s “Make Our Future Work” campaign, and make sure that your tax dollars are not spent overseas!

CLICK HERE to download a legal-sized version of the MOFW Resolution, OR,
CLICK HERE for a standard 8.5×11-sized, two-page version

CLICK HERE for the Resolution Action Steps, and HERE for the Tracking Form.

If you have any questions about the MOFW campaign or the Resolution, call 1-866-836-5103 or email

Vice President Biden Commends the Reopening of a Chicago Window Factory Thanks to Recovery Act Funding; Company Will Rehire Laid-off Workers for Green Jobs



Office of the Vice President



March 1, 2009

Vice President Biden Commends the Reopening of a Chicago Window Factory Thanks to Recovery Act Funding; Company Will Rehire Laid-off Workers for Green Jobs

The Vice President and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) Note that $16 Billion for Weatherization Projects Will Save or Create Good-Paying Jobs in Illinois and Across the Country

(Washington, DC) The Vice President today commended the new owners of Republic Windows and Doors, a Chicago window manufacturing plant that was shuttered late last year, resulting in the lay-off of its 250 union workers. Republic was purchased in bankruptcy court last week by Serious Materials, a California-based company that makes energy efficient windows. Serious Materials has announced plans to reopen the Republic factory and to eventually rehire all 250 of its laid-off workers at their former pay levels. Serious Materials said it purchased Republic because the Recovery Act will increase demand for its products.

“The reopening of this factory and the rehiring of these workers provide an excellent example of how the money in the Recovery Act is targeted to spur job creation quickly,” said Vice President Biden. “These workers will not only earn a paycheck again; they will go back to work creating products that will benefit America’s long-term economic future.”

At the request of President Obama, Vice President Biden is overseeing the implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, working with federal, state and local officials to ensure that money moves quickly and is spent appropriately so that the President’s goal of saving or creating 3.5 million jobs is achieved.

“When Republic shut its doors in December, the jobs Illinois lost were not only good paying jobs, they were good for the environment too,” said Senator Durbin. “Those are the very jobs we need to preserve in order to put our economy back on track. The economic recovery package has recreated a market for energy efficient materials that virtually disappeared as our economic crisis deepened. With $16 billion available for weatherization programs, companies like Republic will be able to reopen their doors and put people back to work.”

Last Friday the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Energy announced an historic partnership to streamline and better coordinate federal weatherization efforts to make it much easier for families to weatherize their homes and spur a new home energy efficiency industry that could create tens of thousands of jobs.

HUD and DOE have created a high level interagency task force to coordinate home weatherization efforts under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and to leverage those funds to build a home energy efficiency industry in the U.S. that will: create or retain tens of thousands of jobs, lower energy costs of vulnerable low-income households, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. HUD and DOE will allocate $16 billion in economic recovery funds to retrofit existing homes.

International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union files complaint against Allentown employer


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

International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union files complaint against Allentown employer


ALLENTOWN- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 773, Hamilton Street in Allentown, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia alleging Supreme Delivery Service violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

According to the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge filed on January 22nd, 2009, and obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, the union alleges Supreme Delivery Service, Marcon Boulevard in Allentown which delivers letters and packages, has violated the NLRAct by not providing information requested by Local 773 “necessary to investigate and prepare for a grievance filed by a member employed by the employer,” states the ULP.

“Several follow-up requests by US mail and e-mail have gone unanswered. The employer has provided some information but the information provided was not requested by the Union nor does the provided information suffice to fullfill the request,” the complaint continued.

The charge was filed on behalf of the Union by Darrin Fry, indentified on the complaint as a Local 773 Business Agent. The IBT represents approximately six Supreme Delivery Service workers employed at the Allentown facility.

Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA’s unemployment rate highest since January 1993


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

MSA’s unemployment rate highest since January 1993


LEHIGH VALLEY, February 9th- 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 six-tenths of a percentage point to 7.1 percent, the highest rate for the region since January 1993. 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 4.7 percent.

Of the fourteen Metropolitan Statistical Area’s in Pennsylvania, the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area has the fourth highest unemployment rate.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 6.7 percent, increasing by five-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month. There are 434,000 Pennsylvania residents without jobs. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted workforce of 6,442,000 with 6,009,000 employed. The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 7.2 percent, increasing by four-tenths of a percentage point from the month before. There are 11,108,000 residents nationally unemployed.

The Johnstown MSA has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 7.9 percent. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the second highest unemployment rate in the state at 7.7 percent, with the Williamsport MSA having the third highest unemployment rate 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 has the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 5.5 percent, with the Harrisburg/Carlisie MSA having the third lowest unemployment rate at 5.8 percent.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest civilian labor force, workers between eighteen and sixty-five years old, in Pennsylvania at 420,300, increasing by 6,500 from twelve months ago. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest civilian labor force in Pennsylvania at 2,997,200 with 201,200 residents not working. The Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest civilian labor force in the state at 1,219,400, with 76,200 residents unemployed. The Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest labor force in Pennsylvania at 285,600, with 16,500 residents unemployed.

Within the MSA, Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate at 8.6 percent, increasing by eight-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month and increasing by three and one-tenth of a percentage point from twelve months ago. Carbon County has 2,700 civilians not working, increasing by 300 from the month before and increasing by 1,000 from twelve months ago. Carbon County has a labor force of 31,300 the smallest civilian labor force in the MSA.

Lehigh County and Northampton County are tied for the lowest unemployment rate in the MSA at 6.9 percent.

Lehigh County has 12,200 civilians without jobs, the most within the MSA, increasing by 1,000 from the month before and increasing by 4,000 from a year ago. Lehigh County has a labor force of 176,400, the largest in the MSA. Lehigh County’s unemployment rate is eight-tenths of a percentage point higher than the previous month and two and two-tenths percentage points higher than twelve months ago.

Northampton County’s unemployment rate is five-tenths of a percentage point higher from the month before and one and nine-tenths of a percentage point higher from twelve months before.

Nonfarm jobs have decreased by 1,100 from the month before and increased by 4,700 during the past twelve months for a total of 341,700 jobs.

Manufacturing jobs and service providing jobs lead the decline during the past twelve months, decreasing by 2,100. There are 288,300 service-providing jobs and 37,200 manufacturing jobs in the MSA, decreasing by 300, down 0.3 percent, from the month before. The amount of manufacturing jobs was a record low for the MSA.

Unionization rate among workers increases to 12.4 percent


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

Unionization rate among workers increases to 12.4 percent


LEHIGH VALLEY- February 10th- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in Washington, DC, union membership increased in 2008. The unionized share of the United States workforce rose to 12.4 percent last year from 12.1 percent in 2007 with membership rising by more than 420,000 members.

According to the BLS, the gains were shared across demographic lines and occupations, growth was strongest in the public sector, among hispanics, and in the western United States, driving the largest membership increase in more than a quarter of a century.

The bulk of the overall membership rise in 2008 orginated in public sector unions, which added members faster than government employment expanded. Public sector unionization last year grew to 36.8 percent from 35.9 percent in 2007. This increase of about 275,000 members came largely through gains in local and state government, where unionization in 2008 reached 42.2 percent and 31.6 percent respectively.

According to the labor statistics, while overall employment in the private sector shrank in 2008, few major industries or occupations saw unionization rates decline. Small drops in unionization in financial and business services and in mining were more than offset by membership gains in education, health and hospitality services. As a result, private sector unionization rose from 7.5 percent in 2007 to 7.6 percent in 2008.

Since the 1970’s, labor unions have consistently represented more than one-third of the public sector workforce, but over the same period private sector union membership has been falling sharply. About one in five private sector workers were union members in the late 1970’s, compared to about one in thirteen in 2008.

Union membership in manufacturing remained almost unchanged at 11.4 percent in 2008, compared to 11.3 percent in 2007. Manufacturing workers are now less likely than workers in the rest of the economy to be a union member. A “union job” in the private sector is most likely to be in transportation and utilities, 22.2 percent, or telecommunications, 19.3 percent, today.

The union membership rate in construction rose to 15.6 percent in 2008 from 13.9 percent in 2007, but the rise primarily reflects the industry’s massive contraction over 2008. As the housing crisis increased sharp declines in the largely non-union residential construction sector occured with the level of union membership within the overall construction industry remained the same at about 1.2 million workers.

In 2008, more than 120,000 hispanics became union members with the membership rate rising to 10.6 percent from 9.9 percent in 2007. Membership among black workers increased from 14.3 percent to 14.5 percent. Among white workers, unionization rose from 11.8 percent to 12.2 percent. The female and male membership rates rose by less than half a percentage point each, to 11.4 percent and 13.4 percent respectively.

Unionization rates increased in mid-western states from 13.8 percent in 2007 to 14.3 percent in 2008 but failed to match the pace of expansion in the west, where unionization grew from 14.7 percent in 2007 to 15.7 percent in 2008. Since 2006, unionization has increased in western states with California alone adding about 266,000 union members in 2007, rising its union rate to 18.4 percent in 2008 from 16.7 percent in 2007. Over the past three years, union membership in the southern states has remained at 5.9 percent, less than half of the national average.

Congressman Charlie Dent votes against the economic stimulus bill citing it did not focus on job creation


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

Congressman Charlie Dent votes against the economic stimulus bill citing it did not focus on job creation


LEHIGH VALLEY- Republican Congressman Charlie Dent, 15th Legislative District, voted against the “economic stimulus” bill passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The legislation was signed into law by President Obama on February 17th.

Mr. Dent said he voted against the legislation because it didn’t focus most resources on the immediate need for job creation.

“The concept of an economic stimulus bill is that it should be “timely,” targeted and temporary. This legislation, overall, fails those three tests,” said Mr. Dent.

However, Mr. Dent also voted against the Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act that provided a “bridge loan” to the American automakers even though a study showed the loss of the big three automakers would cost Pennsylvania 120,000 jobs.

According to a study released by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in Washington, DC and the Keystone Research Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania ranks ninth among the 50 states in potential job loss as a result of one or all of the big three automakers shutting down.

Also, up to 120,100 jobs would disappear in Pennsylvania within a year if General Motors (GM), Ford and Chrysler were allowed to fall into bankruptcy. The loss of GM, the company must at risk of entering bankruptcy, would jeopardize up to 33,200 jobs in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Dent blamed the House of Representatives Speaker for his failure to support the legislation.

“Speaker Pelosi lost sight of the President’s goal when drafting the bill. Many of the programs and priorities that are funded and established in this bill are efforts that I strongly support. I support increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). I support strengthening the federal commitment to children with disabilities under IDEA. I support expanding research under the National Science Foundation (NSF). These programs are important but they should be considered through the normal appropriations process,” added Mr. Dent.

CWA withdraws complaint against T-Mobile Communications


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

CWA withdraws complaint against T-Mobile Communications


ALLENTOWN, February 10th- The newspaper has learned the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Union District 13, Parkway Center in Pittsburgh, withdrew a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia alleging company representatives of T-Mobile Communications in Allentown violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct), but the agency is still investigating a second complaint filed by the CWA.

In the February 2009 edition of the newspaper it was exclusively reported the CWA filed a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge with the NLRB on January 8th, 2009 alleging the company violated Section 7 of the NLRAct. Also the newspaper reported in the November 2008 edition the CWA filed a complaint with the NLRB alleging the company violated the NLRAct for terminating the employment of Sandra Bradley because of her activities on behalf of the Union.

According to the NLRB, the CWA withdrew the ULP pertaining to Ms. Bradley’s termination several weeks ago. The ULP was obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, and the union alleged she was fired to discourage union membership by other employees after she provided mutual on-the-job aid to the CWA.

According to the complaint filed on Janaury 8th, 2009, also obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, the company employs 1400 workers at their facility at 794 Roble Road in Allentown. T-Mobile is a communications company which provides wireless phone service.

“Since on or about July 15th, 2008 the above named employer, by its officers, agents and representatives engaged in surveillance and other acts and conduct, interfered with, restrained and coerced its employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in Section 7 of the Act,” the charge states.

The newspaper has learned the NLRB is investigating the January 8th, 2009 complaint. The NLRB after receiving a complaint will investigate the charge(s) and if they find merit in the ULP(s), a hearing will be scheduled. Should it be found the NLRAct was violated the agency could seek monetary fines or other remedies to rectify the situation.

IBEW Local 1600 files multible complaints against PPL


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

IBEW Local 1600 files multible complaints against PPL


LEHIGH VALLEY, January 15th- The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 1600, Grange Road in Trexlertown, filed multible complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia alleging PPL Corporation violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The newspaper learned the union filed three Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges in January with the NLRB alleging the Allentown based electric utility company violated the NLRAct.

According to a complaint filed on January 2nd, 2009, and obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, the Union alleges the company violated Section 8, subsections (1) and (5) of the National Labor Relations Act.

“On or about October 9th, 2008 and thereafter, the above named Employer has refused to bargain collectively with IBEW 1600. The unilateral implementation of a new Tailboard Sheet is a change in wages, hours and working conditions. The subject matter on the Tailboard Sheet was a mandatory subject of bargaining,” states the ULP.

The employer represenative named to be contacted on the Unfair Labor Practice charge is John A. Fogarty, indentified as the Vice President of Distribution Operations. Attorney Ira Weinstock filed the charge on behalf of the union.

On January 5th, 2009, a union member of Local 1600 filed two ULP’s with the NLRB alleging the company violated the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act.

Unfair Labor Practice case number 36518 states the “Employer failed to provide requested information needed by a representative of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1600 to investigate grievance number 08LE043. The original request was made in writing on September 12th, 2008. A second request was made on November 18th, 2008. Several verbal reminders were provided in between written requests,” states the complaint.

The employer representative to contact on the ULP is Kent Senior, however his position is not indentified. James T. Caffrey filed the complaint on behalf of Local 1600 and his position is also not indentified.

According to the two complaints filed on January 5th, 2009, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union Local 1600 represents 3,535 employees of PPL.

ULP case number 36519 was also filed by James T. Caffrey. The complaint alleges PPL management personnel is proforming union bargaining unit work.

The “Employer is assigning management personnel to proform bargaining unit work. Employer has failed to provide information to an IBEW Local 1600 representative for complaints and grievances pertaining to that work. The requested information is needed to investigate the complaints and grievances,” states the Unfair Labor Practice charge.

The National Labor Relations Board after receiving a complaint will investigate the charge(s) and if they find merit in the ULP(s), a hearing will be scheduled.

Should it be found the National Labor Relations Act was violated the agency could seek monetary fines or other remedies to rectify the situation and make any employee whole for his/her loss of wages and or benefits.

A employee does not need to be a union member or be represented by a labor organization to file a complaint against his/her employer with the NLRB.