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President Obama signs several pro-labor Executive Orders

03.28.09

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

President Obama signs several pro-labor Executive Orders

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, March 15th- President Obama signed several Executive Orders benefiting organized labor that will have an immediate impact on private businesses that provide goods and services to the federal government. In some cases, Executive Orders of President Bush are being rescinded and replaced in whole or in part by these new Executive Orders.

Two of the Executive Orders include the encouraging of federal agencies to mandate “Project Labor Agreements” (PLA) on large scale construction projects involving federal monies.

A PLA is a collective bargaining agreement between a union and contractor covering work done on a specific project. These agreements are limited to the specific project. Under these PLA’s, the general contractor and all subcontractors must sign the agreement. However, by referencing the local area craft construction collective bargaining agreement, usally to designate wages and fringe benefits to be paid, PLAs may raise issues relating to whether the contractor has entered into a collective bargaining relationship broader than the project that is subject to the PLA. In view of the anticipated surge in federal construction projects as part of the stimulus legislation, this Order likely will result in a massive expansion of the number of employees covered by Project Labor Agreements.

A second Executive Order signed by President Obama requires each government contractor to post a notice to their employees advising them that federal labor guarantees their “full freedom of association, self organization, and designation of representatives of their own choosing, for the purpose of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment or other mutual aid or protection.” This Executive Order rescinds President Bush’s that required contractors to post a notice advising employees of certain rights they had regarding the use of union dues monies.

The United States Chamber of Commerce in Washington DC, stated President Obama’s Executive Order hinders free speech and rights of employees. “We are disappointed with President Obama’s executive order, the purpose of which is to interfere with an employer’s ability to communicate with its employees about whether they should be represented by a union,” said Randel Johnson, vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a statement to the newspaper.

More complaints filed against PPL by IBEW Local 1600

03.28.09

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

More complaints filed against PPL by IBEW Local 1600

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, March 6th- The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 1600, Grange Road in Trexlertown, filed additional complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia alleging PPL Corporation violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

In the previous edition of the newspaper, it was exclusively reported 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.

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.

James T. Caffrey filed the complaint on behalf of Local 1600.

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 newspaper has learned the union filed three more complaints on February 9th, 2009 with the NLRB alleging labor law was violated by PPL management.

“The above named Employer, by and through its agents has failed and refused to provide to the Union despite a request for relevant information. In particular, the Employer has failed and refused to provide a contract with a subcontractor so that the Union can investigate to determine whether or not a violation of its collective bargaining agreement has occurred,” states ULP case number 36584, and obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act. The employer representative to contact on the ULP is David Ling.

ULP case number 36586 alleges Mr. Caffrey was disciplined because of comments made by him during a grievance meeting. The “Employer disciplined a union steward, James Caffrey, for comments made during a collective bargaining agreement mandated grievance complaint meeting at which time Mr. Caffrey was acting in his capacity as a union steward. In addition, various Managers and Supervisors have advised Mr. Caffrey that he is “under a microscope” and that he is otherwise being watched and his activities being scrutinized,” states the Unfair Labor Practice.

Case number 36587 states the “Employer unilaterally assigned supervirors to perform bargaining unit work without mandatory collective bargaining, and in total disregard of Article 8.12(a) of the parties collective bargaining agreement.

Should it be found the NLRAct 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.

Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA’s unemployment rate highest since December 1992

03.28.09

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

MSA’s unemployment rate highest since December 1992

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, March 11th- 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 four-tenths of a percentage point to 7.5 percent, the highest rate for the region since December 1992. 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 4.9 percent.

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

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 7.0 percent, increasing by six-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month. There are 450,000 Pennsylvania residents without jobs, increasing by 16,000 from the previous month. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted workforce of 6,446,000 with 5,995,000 employed. The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 7.6 percent, increasing by four-tenths of a percentage point from the month before. There are 11,616,000 residents nationally unemployed.

The Williamsport MSA has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 8.3 percent. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA and the Johnstown MSA are tied for the second highest unemployment rate in the state at 8.0 percent, with the Reading MSA having the third highest unemployment rate at 7.6 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.3 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 6.1 percent, with the Harrisburg/Carlisie MSA and the Lancaster MSA tied with the third lowest unemployment rate at 6.2 percent.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest civilian labor force, workers between eighteen and sixty-five years old, in Pennsylvania at 424,100, increasing by 3,900 from twelve months ago. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest civilian labor force in Pennsylvania at 3,002,500 with 213,300 residents not working. The Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest civilian labor force in the state at 1,228,800, with 80,200 residents unemployed. The Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest labor force in Pennsylvania at 288,200, with 18,000 residents unemployed.

Within the MSA, Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate at 9.1 percent, increasing by six-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month and increasing by three and three-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago. Carbon County has 2,900 civilians not working, increasing by 200 from the month before and increasing by 1,100 from twelve months ago. Carbon County has a labor force of 31,800, the smallest civilian labor force within the MSA.

Northampton County has the lowest unemployment rate in the MSA at 7.3 percent, increasing by four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month and increasing by two and three-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before. Northampton County has 11,300 civilians not working, increasing by 700 from the month before and increasing by 2,700 from one year ago. Northampton County has a civilian labor force of 154,000.

Lehigh County has a unemployment rate of 7.7 percent, increasing by seven-tenths of a percentage point from the month before and increasing by two and seven-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before. Lehigh County has 13,700 civilians without jobs, the most within the MSA, increasing by 1,300 from the month before and increasing by 4,800 from a year ago. Lehigh County has a labor force of 178,900, the largest in the MSA.

Manufacturing jobs decreased by 600, 1.6 percent, from the month before to 37,300 and decreased by 2,900 from twleve months ago. There are 334,000 nonfarm jobs in the MSA, decreasing by 9,100 from the previous month and decreasing by 4,500 from twelve months ago.

International Association of Machinists Union becomes bargaining representive of IronTiger Logistics employees

03.28.09

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

International Association of Machinists Union becomes bargaining representive of IronTiger Logistics employees

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

MACUNGIE, March 18th- The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Union District 1 in Philadelphia was recognized as the representative for the purpose of collective bargaining for workers of IronTiger Logistics Inc. in Macungie Township.

On March 9th, 2009 the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four Regional Director Dorothy Moore-Duncan in Philadelphia received a correspondence from Thomas Jones Jr., a Attorney at Law from Excelsior Springs, Missouri, which represents the employer, stating the IAM has been recognized effective March 4th, 2009 as the collective bargaining representative of the employees. The employer has a facility located at 3203 Orchard Road in Macungie Township.

The bargaining unit includes all yard workers, shop workers, utility workers and drivers. Excluded from the bargaining unit are all confidential employees, office clerical employees, supervisors and guards as defined in the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

A copy of the letter was sent to John Hummel, Vice President of Terminal Operations of IronTiger Logistics Inc.