Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Postal employees rally in Wilkes-Barre to keep mail processing center on South Main Street

03.18.09

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

Postal employees rally in Wilkes-Barre to keep mail processing center on South Main Street

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

WILKES-BARRE, February 28th- Workers of the United States Postal Service (USPS) which work at the Wilkes-Barre mail processing center on South Main Street held an information rally during the day of February 26th in front of the facility.

The workers, represented by the American Postal Workers Union (UPWU) Local 175 and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU) Branch Local 308 held signs and gave out leaflets protesting the possible closing of the processing center and moving the work to a facility in Scranton.

According to John Kishel, President of Local 175, 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. If the mail processing center is closed the workers would be able to be transferred to other USPS facilities which may include outside Pennsylvania.

The USPS 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.

The union is circulating petitions, collecting signitures which requests for the mail processing operations to remain 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 also be lost.

Bill Smith, NPMHU Local 308 Branch President told the newspaper his union represents 45 workers employed at the South Main Street facility. Mr. Smith stated 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, which will delay home delivery.

Employees of Guardian vote to remove union shop authority

03.18.09

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

Employees of Guardian vote to remove union shop authority

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

NANTICOKE, February 15th- The employees at Guardian Eldercare, Old Newport Road in Nanticoke, voted by around three-to-one in a secret ballot election to remove the union shop authority which will allow workers not to pay dues to support the union.

In the previous edition of the newspaper, it was exclusively reported, a License Practical Nurse (LPN) employed at Guardian Eldercare, filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia requesting the withdrawal of union shop authority and the removal of obligation to pay dues to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Pennsylvania Healthcare Union in Harrisburg, formerly called SEIU 1199P.

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

The National Labor Relations Board conducted an election at the employer and the workers voted to remove the union shop authority, often called a “union security” clause, which will allow employees not to support the union with the paying of union dues.

Under NLRB rules, employees can not petitioned the agency to conduct an Decertification Election, in which the employees vote in a secret ballot election to remove a labor organization for the purpose of collective bargaining, until the labor agreement is scheduled to expire. Therefore, Ms. Distasin could not file a Decertication Petition until December 2009 or later. The contract agreement between the parties expires on December 31st, 2009.

Under National Labor Relations Board rules, a petition requesting the withdrawal of union shop authority must be filed within the month of the anniversary date of the expiration of the contract agreement.

The petition states the union represents LPN’s, nurses aids, housekeepers, dietary, laundry workers, activities and maintenance employees.

Owner of Kildare’s Restaurant hires nonunion workers

03.18.09

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

Owner of Kildare’s Restaurant hires nonunion workers

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

SCRANTON, February 17th- The United Brotherhood of Carpeneters and Joiners of America Union Local 645, Pear Street in Scranton, protested the hiring of a nonunion contractor for not paying their workers the area standard which includes a fair living wage, and either providing or making payments for health care and pension benefits.

Members of Local 645, held a information picket in front of the construction site of Kildare’s Pub on Lackawanna Avenue in downtown Scranton on February 17th protesting the hiring of Jack Locker Construction Company of Madison Township. Kildare’s owner David Magrogran, a Philadelphia area Chiropractor, is moving the restaurant from the Shoppes at Montage in Moosic to property owned by businessman Jerry Joyce on Lackawanna Avenue.

According to Drew Simpson, Northeast Coordinator of the Greater Pennsylvania Regional Council of Carpenters, which Local 645 is affiliated, the union attempted to have a meeting with Mr. Magrogan to discuss his members being hired for the project but he would not respond to several letters sent to him.

Mr. Simpson stated the first letter to Mr. Magrogan was sent to him on December 30th, 2008 at his Chiropractic office in Brookhaven, Pennsylvania.

The correspondence stated Local 645 members are the best educated work force in the area, constantly conducting upgrade training so the members are up to date with the lastest technology in the industry.

“I would be very interested in meeting with you to discuss our signatory contractors that with the use of our members will complete your project on time and on budget,” Mr. Simpson wrote in the December 30th, letter. “We have a state registered Apprenticeship Program that encompasses four years of training while the apprentices are in the field working and learning,” the letter continues.
Local 645 represents Carpenters Union members throughout eighteen counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania including Luzerne and Lackawanna. The union has 1,100 active members.

Carpenters and Joiners Union jurisdiction includes concrete foundations, metal studs, drywall acoustical ceilings, doors, hardware, flooring and finish trim work and millwork, among other work states Mr. Simpson.

In the January 29th, 2009 letter to Mr. Magrogan, Mr. Simpson stated his union was aware John Locker Construction was contracted to build the restaurant and Local 645 has a labor dispute with the company because the employer does not pay prevailing wages to all of their employees.

Mr. Simpson told the newspaper he was concerned projects planned by Mr. Joyce in Scranton could also be constructed by nonunion workers rather by members of his union.

AFSCME wants fired detention center employees rehired

03.18.09

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

AFSCME wants fired detention center employees rehired

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 2nd- The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87 Director David Antle send a letter to Luzerne County President Judge Chester Muroski and to the Luzerne County Commissioners demanding the employees that were represented by the union before the Luzerne County Detention facility was closed and laid-off on December 31st, 2002 be rehired and made whole as a result of the actions of Judges Ciavarella and Conahan. District Council 87 represents AFSCME members throughout nine counties of Northeastern Pennsylvaniaand has their office located in the Borough of Dunmore in Lackawanna County.

According to the letter obtained by the newspaper from Mr. Antle, the correspondence was sent to Mr. Muroski, Commissioners Maryanne Petrilla, Stephen Urban and Gregory Skepenak, on February 18th, 2009.

“As I am sure you are aware, AFSCME District Council 87 represented the employees who worked at the Luzerne County Juvenile Detention Center before it was closed by the County on December 31st, 2002. Needless the say, we have read with great interest all of the articles that have appeared within the last month regarding the activity of Judges Ciavarella and Conahan and their involvement in the closing of the Luzerne County Juvenile Detention facility.

Prior to the closing, AFSCME representatives met with Judges Ciavarella and Conahan along with Luzerne County Juvenile Detention facility. At that time, the Union was advised by Judges Ciavarella and Conahan that they controlled where children were to be sent for detention as well as the protocol used for the delivery of children to detention. Based on that power, they had made a determination that they would close the Luzerne County Juvenile Detention facility and send children to another facility. Needless to say, we are all aware of the fact that those children were sent to PA Child Care, a private facility in which Judges Ciavarella and Conahan, had a pecuniary interest.

As a result of the actions of Judges Ciavarella and Conahan to close the Luzerne County Juvenile Detention facility, all of the employees that AFSCME represented at that facility, lost their jobs and all of the benefits that went along with being an employee of Luzerne County. This resulted in financial loss of wages to these employees, and a loss of healthcare benefits, seniority rights and pension rights all of which they enjoyed as employees of Luzerne County.

In light of the fact that purported rationale for closing the facility was completely false, AFSCME demands that all bargaining unit employees employed at the Luzerne County Juvenile Detention facility who lost their jobs as a result of the actions of Judges Ciavarella and Conahan, be immediately offered reinstatement with Luzerne County and amde whole for any damages they may have suffered.

Luzerne County has spent millions of dollars to incarcerate juvenile offenders in private facilities. Clearly, this is a function that not only could be done by county employees, but should have been done by county employees. The privatization of this work has cost the citizens of Luzerne County millions of dollars and has resulted in unimaginable harm. Clearly, this is work that should be done by Luzerne County employees in a facility that is maintained and controlled by Luzerne County.

I am prepared to meet with you to discuss how to remedy the situation and return the work to Luzerne County and to make the employees whole for the damages they have incurred as a result of the actions of Judges Ciavarella and Conahan,” Mr. Antle states in the letter.

Healthcare union files complaint against nursing home

03.18.09

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

Healthcare union files complaint against nursing home

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

HAZLETON, February 5th- The SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania Union, which is affiliated with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Washington, DC, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia alleging the Mountain City Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center has violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

According to the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge filed on February 5th, 2009 and obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, the Union alleges the employer, which operates the facility on West 27th Street in Hazelton, violated Section 8, subsections (1) and (5) of the NLRAct.

“Employer is refusing to bargain collectively with the representatives of the employees,” states the ULP.

Also, the union alleges the employer is interfering with, restraining, or coercing employees in the exercise of their rights guaranteed in Section 7 of the NLRAct.

The complaint states there are approximately 293 workers employed at the nursing home.
The employer representative to be contacted is Lisa Tessitore, indentified on the complaint as the Mountain City Nursing and Rehabilition Center Administrator.

Union Organizer Carlos Rivera filed the Unfair Labor Practice charge on behalf of the union, which office is located on North 2nd Street in Harrisburg.

Region to receive federal grants from recovery package

03.18.09

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

Region to receive federal grants from recovery package

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 28th- House of Representative Paul Kanjorski, 11th Legislative District, announced under the recently passed recovery package counties and cities in Northeastern Pennsylvania will receive over $3 million in federal Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). The funding was allocated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development as a result of the recovery legislation passed severel weeks ago.

“It is rewarding to see that funding from the recovery package is already being allocated to help communities in Northeastern Pennsylvania. CDBG’s have been an integral part of providing assistance to the area, and once again, this funding will help with job expansion and development and aid in providing services to residents. I supported the recovery package because I strongly believe that we had to take quick action to help Americans who are struggling and help spur job creation. These grants will pave the way towards achieving this goal in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Mr. Kanjorski.

Mr. Kanjorski stated Community Development Block Grant’s are important tools for helping local governments tackle serious challenges facing their communities.

The funding will be distributed to the respective counties and cities to enable local governments to undertake a wide range of activities including creating jobs through the expansion and retention of businesses, and providing affordable housing and needed services.
Municipalities receiving the CDBG grants must use the funds within 120 days.

Overall, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania received Community Development Block Grants totaling $12,434,921. The majority of the grant will be distributed to designated counties and cities throughout the state.

Mr. Kanjorski announced the following municipalities within the 11th Congressional District will receive CDBG funds:

• Luzerne County - $1,344,366
• City of Scranton - $916,485
• City of Wilkes-Barre - $519,156
• City of Hazleton - $255,058