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Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council announces several programs to get members involved with their unions

03.15.09

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

Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council announces several programs to get members involved with their unions

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

WYOMING VALLEY- The Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council labor federation announced the organization will conduct several programs intended to get union members involved within the labor community.

According to Sam Bianco, President of the labor federation, which has a office on East Main Street in Wilkes-Barre, the organization will conduct Union and Community Activist Network (UCAN) training on Saturday May 2nd at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 401 office on South Washington Street in Wilkes-Barre.

The course is intended to help local unions prepare their membership to become “activist” and educate them on labor issues.

On April 18th, the labor organization will conduct their annual “Unions in the Community Girl Scout Patch” workshop at the United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776 building on Route 315 in Pittston Township.

At the workshop Girl Scouts will have an opportunity to learn about the positive accomplishments and contributions that female and male workers have made through their unions in obtaining such things as child labor laws, safe working conditions, fair wages, and equal pay for equal work by women. They will also learn about the role music played in the labor movement, current careers for women, and engage in a fun filled scavenger hunt (with prizes) to recognize union made products.

Also, the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council have sent to their affiliated local unions an application for the George Meany Boy Scout Award.

The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Washington DC allows each labor council to present one Meany Award annually.

Local affiliated unions are encouraged to make an effort to try to idenify any members actively involved in scouting and submit an application. The winning recipient will be honored by the labor council and the Northeast Pennsylvania Boy Scouts Council at their annual awards program in November.

Human Resource manager group forecast major hiring drop

03.15.09

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

Human Resource manager group forecast major hiring drop

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 2nd- According to the Society for Human Resourse Management’s (SHRM), Alexandria, Virginia, employment report, hiring will drop substantially in both manufacturing and private service sectors compared to this time in 2008.

The Leading Indicators of National Employment report forecast a 36 percent drop in service sector hiring compared to this time last year. This is the worst drop in the survey’s four year history.

In the manufacturing sector, 3.1 percent of Human Resource (HR) professionals said they would decrease new-hire compensation while 2.3 percent said they plan to increase salary and wage packages. This is the second month in the Leading Indicators of National Employment history that has recorded manufacturers’ net total venturing into negative territory.

The Leading Indicators of National Employment report is released on the third Friday following the conclusion of the week containing the 12th of the month. The index describes the same time period referenced approximately one month later in the Employment Situation Report issued by the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in Washington DC.

The index is based on a monthly survey of human resource professionals at more than 500 manufacturing and 500 private service sector companies. Together, these two sectors comprise more than 90 percent of America’s private sector employment.

The organizations index of manufacturing employment expectations plunged 65.5 points compared with one year ago. Specifically, 44.3 percent of human resource managers surveyed plan to trim payrolls while 14.2 percent plan to hire. The minus 30.1 percent difference between the two marks a major drop from one year ago when the net was a positive of 35.4 percent.

Payroll vacancies include exempt salaried, and nonexempt, hourly, workers and are steep as reflected in survey responses. Human Resources managers report a 36.0 point drop in exempt job vacancies and a 36.1 point decrease in nonexempt job vacancies.

Those who do secure employment will face new hire compensation rates that are growing more showly than at this time one year ago, say the Human Resources managers survey.

The index shows service sector employment expectations fell 33.8 points. A breakdown of responses from Human Resource managers show that 22.3 percent plan to reduce staff while 26.3 percent plan to hire.

Payrolls show a 5.4 point decrease for exempt job vacancies and a 1.0 point fall in nonexempt hiring vacancies.

New hire compensation for job seekers who find service sector employment is expected to improve slightly with 11.3 percent of Human Resource managers reporting an increase in compensation packages for new hires while 1.2 percent report a decrease.

For those Human Resources professionals actively hiring, filling jobs with top talent is much easier than past years given a large number of qualified people unemployed and actively seeking work.

HSHRM is the world’s largest association devoted to Human Resources management. Representing more than 250,000 members in over 40 countries, the organization was formed in 1948 and has more than 575 affiliated chapters and serves the needs of Human Resource professionals and the HR profession.

Luzerne County Judicial candidates seeking labor support

03.15.09

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

Luzerne County Judicial candidates seeking labor support

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

LUZERNE COUNTY, March 5th- As of presstime fifteen individuals have announced they are candidates for the race for the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas and the newspaper was contacted by some indicating they would like the support of the labor community.

Because of the number of the candidates that have contacted the newspaper, it is necessary their discussions with us be published over the next several editions.

The candidates are wanting to win one of the three open seats on the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas. The primary election will be held May 19th with all of the candidates expected to cross-file on both party tickets. The general election is November 3rd, 2009.

Two of the candidates being discussed today are union members, both represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 401 in Wilkes-Barre.

According to Attorney Joe Sklarosky, Jr., a trial lawyer for the past fifteen years, he began practicing law in 1994 and works as a Luzerne County assistant public defender. IBT Local 401 has represented the public defenders office of Luzerne County since 2003.

Mr. Sklarosky’s father is a member of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) Union Local 130. His grandfather was a lontime member of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen (BAC) International Union Local 30 with both of the grandfathers members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) Union.

His wife, Megan Kennedy Sklarosky, great-grandfather, Thomas Kennedy, was president of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), succeeding John L. Lewis in 1960, serving as president until 1963.

The Sklarosky’s live in Mountaintop with their three children.

Meanwhile, Richard Hughes graduated Law School in 1986 and joined his father in a law practice that his father established in 1946, immediately following service in War World II. They practice law together until his father died in 1991.

Mr. Hughes is also a assistant public defender of Luzerne County, appointed by the Honorable Correale Stevens in 1988. He left the office five years later and after practicing law for 21 years, returned to the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office in January 2008.
Mr. Hughes lives in Mountaintop with his wife Ruth and his three children.

“For several years I was the part-time staff attorney for the Hazleton office of legal services, a non profit organization that provides legal counsel free for the poor. This position gave me wonderful opportunity to fight for people’s rights in areas of the law in which few get to practice,” said Mr. Hughes.

According to Pat Connors, Secretary-Treasurer and Principal Office of Local 401, the union endorses the candidacy of his members and believes they all possess the necessary experience, education and integrity the job demands. “Teamsters Local 401 is proud to endorse these union members and ask everyone in the labor community to support them in their quest to bring respect and dignity to the office of Judge and to the County,” Mr. Connors told the newspaper.

Mr. Connors stated Local 401 organized the assistant public defender office in 2003 and the employees are currently working under the terms and conditions of the first contract agreement. The contract is a five-year agreement.

Tina Polachek Gartley is requesting the support of the labor community and has been practicing law since 1991. The central focus of her career is family law and protecting the rights of survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.

In 1996, Mrs. Gartley became the first Stop Violence Against Women (S.T.O.P.) grant prosecutor in the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office. As a S.T.O.P. grant prosecutor, she handled all aspects of the criminal prosecution of sexual assault and domestic violence crimes from inital investigation through the trial, sentencing and the Megan’s Law hearings that determined whether the defendant would be listed as a sexually violent predator.

Mrs. Gartley is married to Scott Gartley and is the mother of three sons residing in Plains Township.

Kevin McHugh, Business Manager of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, Local 489 in Yatesville, told the newspaper his union endorsed Attorney Thomas Marsilio for Luzerne County Judge.

Mr. Marsilio told the newspaper he is honored to be endorsed by the union and is hopeful union members would support his candidacy.

Scranton Police Union official requesting labor support

03.15.09

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

Scranton Police Union official requesting labor support

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

SCRANTON, February 26th- Bob Martin, President of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Union Lodge #2, which represents approximately 159 members of the Scranton Police Department, sent a letter to members of the labor community stating he would be more than happy to come to union meetings and explain that the labor contract Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty has proposed would destroy their union.

“I am writing to ask for your help and support in a long and hard fought labor dispute with Mayor Christopher Doherty and his administration. We have been without a cost of living adjustment since 2001 with the only relief being a possible court award of a 7.5 percent salary increase for the period of 2002 through 2007 (less than 1.5 percent a year). However, along with that increase state courts have given Scranton unbearable management rights, effectively allowing them to make unilateral changes that have destroyed our contract and devastated police families,” states the letter obtained by the newspaper from Mr. Martin, who is also a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union (IBT) Local 229 with a withdrawal card. Mr. Martin was a IBT member while employed by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and later worked for Consolidated Freightways in Mount Pocono.

“This is not entirely about us. Mayor Doherty has allied with state officials to break every municipal union contract in the state. Their goal is to break these contracts under the guise of “Act 47,” Pennsylvania’s Financially Distressed Act, by imposing so-called “Management Rights” to eliminate many of our rights, including seniority and bidding rights. As we all know, once they have accomplished this, there is virtually no union left. Make no mistake: This is a statewide movement,” adds Mr. Martin.

Mr. Doherty is seeking a third four-year term as Mayor of Scranton in 2009. Four years ago, he defeated fellow Democrat Gary DiBileo in the Primary Election and again in the November General Election after Mr. DiBileo was successful in winning enough write-in votes of the Republican party members. Mr. DiBileo announced he will again challenge Mr. Doherty for the Democratic nomination in 2009.

Both the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Union Local 60, which represents around 143 members of the Scranton Fire Department and FOP Lodge #2 have been without labor contracts with the City of Scranton since December 2002. The union members have not received a wage increase since Janaury 2002.

According to David Schreiber, President of IAFF Local 60, under Mr. Doherty’s contract proposal, 38 firefighters would be eliminated. Currently under contract language, the fire department should have 150 members, a decrease of 50 from several contracts before.

Mr. Schreiber said Mr. Doherty has not shown how the fire department could be run with only 112 firefighters, but has indicated closing some of the neighborhood firehouses will be neccessary.

He believes cutting the department by 38 firefighters will put Scranton citizens in harms way. Scranton is the third largest municipality in Pennsylvania at 26 square miles, trailing only Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Also, most of the building construction of homes within the city is wood and built prior to World War 2.

“I ask for your help and support, because you know that this kind of anti-union descent can spread like wild fire during these hard economic times. Our opposition believes Pennsylvania should be a right to work state. In these hard economic times and the pressure on every union in the country to make concessions, we all need to stand together to protect our livelihoods and our families. We need to unite and remove these politicians from office.

If you would like, I would be more than happy to come to your union meeting and explain our plight in person and present our plan. My phone number is 570-499-3358. I hope to hear from you soon,” continues Mr. Martin’s letter.

Although the letter was intended to be read only by members of the labor community, when contacted by the newspaper Mr. Martin expressed he had no problem with a story being published about the correspondence.

Utility Workers Union files complaint against water company

03.15.09

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

Utility Workers Union files complaint against water company

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 11th- The Utility Workers Union of America Local 537, Mountain Top, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia against Pennsylvania American Water Company (PAWC) alleging the public utility violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

According to the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, the Union alleges the employed has refuse to bargain over working condition changes.

“Since on or about December 1st, 2008, the employer has refused to bargain collectively with the charging party, which charging party is the certified collective bargaining representative of the employer’s production and maintenance employees, in that on said date the employer unilaterally eliminated vested working condition, namely the right of certain employees to drive company vehicles to and from their homes and their work place at the beginning and the end of their work shifts, without first bargaining with the charging party regarding the same,” states the ULP.

The complaint states the union represents 140 PAWC workers.