Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Atlantic City Casino Workers Authorize Strike


Atlantic City Casino Workers Authorize Strike

by James Parks, Jul 21, 2009

Johanna Moon

Gaming workers at Bally’s and Caesars casinos in Atlantic City voted overwhelmingly over the weekend to authorize a strike if they are unable to reach a contract agreement with management.

The workers have been trying to gain a first contract for two years after voting to form a union with the UAW in 2007.

Says Ed Hendricks, a Caesars slot technician for 15 years:

Nobody wants a strike, but we’re going to stand up to enforce our rights. We have negotiated for almost two years, but instead of reaching an agreement the company keeps cutting back. Harrah’s [owner of both casinos] has cut our 401(k) match, increased our benefit costs and laid off our fellow workers.

The New Jersey State AFL-CIO has called on union members to rally in support of the casino workers this Friday. State federation President Charles Wowkanech and Secretary-Treasurer Laurel Brennan said in an e-mail to local unions:

Contract negotiations for the UAW in Atlantic City have gone beyond the point of unacceptable. This contract fight plainly shows the extent certain employers are willing to go in order to suppress a worker’s right to a fair contract.

If the Employee Free Choice Act was law, this dispute would have been settled months ago. The legislation provides the mediation and arbitration assistance to help settle a contract when a company and a newly certified union cannot agree on a contract after three months.

Workers at Trump Plaza also are working without a contract. Johanna Moon, a 25-year employee, says the two-year delay in getting a fair deal shows why Employee Free Choice is so important.

All workers need the Employee Free Choice Act. It’s not fair as it is now. Something’s got to change.

Read Moon’s story here.

Harrah’s rakes in some $10.8 billion in annual revenue, yet workers at both casinos make as little as $4.50 an hour on top of tips, according to the union.

Harrah’s has negotiated at Caesars for only 50 out of 655 available days and has refused to negotiate at Bally’s. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that Bally’s broke federal labor law by refusing to bargain. An enforcement order requested by the NLRB is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Says UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs the union’s Technical, Office and Professional Organizing Department:

UAW members negotiate successfully with all kinds of employers—including casinos—and we know how to get the job done. The reason we haven’t succeeded in Atlantic City is plain and simple: Management either won’t come to the table, or they engage in stalling tactics once they get there.

Workers at Bally’s and Caesars are sending a very strong message with their votes: We’ve had enough. We voted for a union two years ago, we want our votes to mean something and we’re ready to take action to make it happen.

More than 8,000 gaming industry workers are members of the UAW in Atlantic City, Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan and Rhode Island.

Keystone Progress is proud to present video training for progressive organizations and union locals in Pennsylvania


Keystone Progress is proud to present video training for progressive organizations and union locals in Pennsylvania. Our first training will be held in two locations in August. The first class is:

YouTube 101

So you have a video camera but you’re not sure what to do with it. This training gives you the basics on messaging with online video and then shooting, editing and posting a video online. You start the day getting the low down on messaging and visual storytelling and then you are given an assignment and sent out to create and post your video online. By the end of the day, everyone will have created and posted video online.


We will hold the training in Philadelphia on August 11 and in Pittsburgh on August 12. The classes start at 10:00 AM and run until 5:00 PM. The Philadelphia location is still being determined, but will be in Center City near public transportation. The Pittsburgh training will be at the United Steelworkers Building, Five Gateway Center, Pittsburgh 15222.


Award winning television producer Jen Caltrider brings journalistic instinct and know-how to A network producer for CNN, specializing in technology journalism, Ms. Caltrider traveled the United States to cover the latest in high-tech happenings. With accurate investigative research and diligence, Ms. Caltrider entered the hidden world of computer hackers and provided viewers rare glimpses of these secretive people and their incredible skills. Her television background and work on a Masters Degree in Artificial Intelligence give her insight and understanding into a wide variety of technology trends and issues. Ms. Caltrider created and produced a two-time nationally award winning magazine program about Denver titled @ altitude. Media and tech savvy, Ms. Caltrider has also produced interactive DVDs for international businesses.

Jen will be assisted by Michael Morrill, the executive director of Keystone Progress. Mike has created and posted videos on YouTube that have gotten over 3 million views. His videos have also been picked up by national and international media including CBS, MSNBC, BBC and Agence France Presse.

The cost for the training is normally $150. Keystone Progress has received a matching contribution, allowing us to offer this training to our partners for only $75, including lunch.

Class Size:

Each class is limited to the first 16 students who register. No exceptions.


You can register online at

Or you can mail your registration to:

Keystone Progress
421 Ann St.
West Reading, PA 19611

For mail-in registrations, make check payable to Keystone Progress. Include the name of the student and the organizational affiliation and mailing address, email address and phone number.

More Information:

Call Mike Morrill at 610-568-0937-cell or email at

Michael Morrill

Executive Director

Keystone Progress
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EDITOR’S NOTE: I signed-up for the Philadelphia training.

July 21, 1926- “The Voice of Labor” goes on the air


July 21, 1926- “The Voice of Labor” goes on the air

On July 21, 1926, WCFL, “The Voice of Labor,” went on the air for the first time in 1926. WCFL was the first, and longest-lasting labor union radio station in the United States. It was owned by the Chicago Federation of Labor and lasted as a union-run station until 1978. Its founding purpose was to “influence or educate the public mind upon the meaning and objects of trade unions and of the Federation of Labor, correct wrong impressions by broadcasting the truth, and advance progressive economic ideas.” It was supported by contributions from union members and by local union sponsorship. In the beginning the station broadcast political and ideological information and speeches mixed with music and more entertaining shows. In the end, the station could not compete with the other major broadcasters in Chicago and the CFL sold it to the Amway corporation.

Today that tradition is carried on by three Pennsylvania radio programs. In the Lehigh Valley, Democratic Talk Radio ( from WGPA SUNNY 1100 AM radio (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania) on Thursdays from 8:05am to 9am.

In south central PA, the Rick Smith Show ( is on Saturdays and Sundays from noon until 2:00 pm on WHYL 960 AM.

And in southwest PA, the Union Edge ( is on Monday-Friday from noon to 1:00 PM on WKFB 770 AM.

National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) records show no union organizing underway throughout region


National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) records show no union organizing underway throughout region


REGION, July 2nd- A review by the newspaper of petitions filed by labor unions requesting for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia to conduct a representation election indicates no union in Luzerne or Lackawanna Counties is currently attempting to gain new members through organizing. The newspaper reviewed NLRB records filed during the past five weeks.

NLRB Region Four in Philadelphia office jurisdiction includes all counties of northeastern Pennsylvania including: Luzerne, Lackawanna, Wyoming and Susquehanna.

Under NLRB rules, before a labor organization can request the agency to conduct an election to determine if employees want to be represented by the union, at least 30 percent must sign authorization cards. The petition is investigated by the National Labor Relations Board and before an election is scheduled they determine which employees will be eligible to participate.

Before a labor organization can be recognized as the bargaining representative of a unit of employees, at least 50 percent plus one of the workers must vote in favor of the union.

As of July 3rd, the newspaper is not aware of any organizaing campaigns involving workers employed in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Card Check legislation still not scheduled to be introduced for vote in U.S. Congress


Card Check legislation still not scheduled to be introduced for vote in U.S. Congress


REGION, July 6th- The lobbying in Washington DC and across the United States between business groups and the labor community is continuing over the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)/Card Check legislation.

EFCA would allow employees to sign authorization cards seeking union representation and recognizing the union when a majority of cards are signed. However, under the legislation if thirty percent or more of the employees sign authorization cards requesting for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to conduct an secret ballot election the agency will do so.

The law if passed would also establish a system of mediation and arbitration that would apply to an employer and union that are unable to agree on their first contract. The legislation passed the House of Representatives in 2008 but failed in the Senate.

Pennsylvania United States Senator Arlen Specter has switched political parties from Republican to Democratic but maintains he will not vote for the labor supported Employee Free Choice Act legislation in 2009, unless changes are made to the bill. Mr. Specter supported the legislation in 2008 but on March 24th, announced he would not support the passage of EFCA in 2009 but would reconsider when the economy returns to normalcy.

The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington, DC has mobilized union members and their families requesting them to contact their legislators in Washington asking them to support the legislation, including Senator Specter who’s vote will be crucial if EFCAct is to be implemented.

The AFL-CIO has also conducted several forums in the region to discuss why the legislation would be beneficial to the working people.

George George, a member of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Union Branch 115 in Wilkes-Barre, was released by his job at the United States Postal Service (USPS) to help mobilize union members and organize EFCAct community events.

The United States Chamber of Commerce and several business groups, including Wal-Mart, Lowe’s and McDonald’s Restaurants, have spent millions of dollars in advertising and lobbying to defeat the legislation.

The legislation was expected to be introduced in the United States Congress in early 2009, but because of a threatened Republican filibuster in the Senate, the bill is being withheld until changes are made and there is enough votes to pass the legislation.

Under Senate rules, at least 60 Senator votes are needed to override a filibuster which would allow the legislation to be voted on by the full-Senate. The legislation is expected to easily pass in the House of Representatives where only a majority vote is needed. President Obama stated he would sign the measure should it reach his desk.

NALC Branch President Tom Gavin award recipient


NALC Branch President Tom Gavin award recipient


SCRANTON, July 2nd- Every year the United Way of Lackawanna County presents the William Cockerill Sr. award to someone in the labor community for his or her involvement with the community at-large within the Lackawanna Valley. The award is named after the late William Cockerill who was a long-time union member, union leader of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) Union and President of the Scranton Central Labor Union (SCLU) labor federation.

Tom Gavin, President of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Union Branch 17 in Scranton, which represents letter carriers of the United States Postal Service (USPS) in Lackawanna County, received the William Cockerill Sr. award for 2009.

Mr. Gavin was first elected as President of Branch 17 in 2001 and immediately became supportive of the United Way annual fund raising campaign and the combined federal campaign, stated William Cockerill Jr., the United Way of Lackawanna County Community Services Labor Liaison, the go-between the labor community and the community based organization.

Mr. Cockerill, the son of the late labor leader, stated Mr. Gavin gave new life to the Letter Carriers annual food drive, which is held every May and benefits many of the less fortunate of the community by filling every food pantry that is willing to participate in the event.

Tom Gavin is a member of the Irish American Men’s Association and coordinates another food drive at the Lakeland School District Elementary school.

As a motorcycle enthusast, Mr. Gavin rides to benefit MDA and every year participates in the “Rolling Thunder” motorcycle ride to benefit the veterans at the Gino Merli Veterans Center.

Teamsters Union Local 401 members employed at Nicholas Trucking ratify pact


Teamsters Union Local 401 members employed at Nicholas Trucking ratify pact


COURTDALE, July 3rd- Members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 401, South Washington Street in Wilkes-Barre, employed at Nicholas Trucking in Courtdale ratified a new four year labor agreement with the trucking company.

Nicholas Trucking is a sub-contractor of the United States Postal Service (USPS) and transports mail for the agency.

According to James Murphy, President and Business Agent for Local 401, the new contract was approved by the membership on June 28th. Mr. Murphy stated the membership rejected the company’s first proposal but improvements were made and the union members voted 41 for the contract to 6 against on the second vote. Local 401 represents approximately 70 workers employed by Nicholas Trucking, a family owned and operated company.

The previous contract expired on March 31, 2009 but the members worked under the terms and conditions of the previous contract while negotiations continued. The new contract will expire in March of 2013.

Mr. Murphy stated the issue that prohibited the two sides from reaching agreement sooner was the employees pension plan. However, the employees 401k pension plan was improved under the new pact.