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Study shows Americans have questions about recovery plan

08.11.09

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

Study shows Americans have questions about recovery plan

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 22nd- While main stream media continues to report the economic showdown is improving, a study recently released shows that nearly half of Americans (45 percent) thinks the economy has not yet hit bottom and will worsen.

By comparison, just one in three (32 percent) indicate the American economy is now trending upward, while 20 percent say it is at the bottom right now.

Only 54 percent of American approve of President Obama’s handling of the economy, and 26 percent strongly disapprove of his performance of the economy versus those who strongly approve at 24 percent.

“The recent drop in consumer confidence coupled with the jobless report is evident in these numbers,” said Bill Cullo of Stewart and Partners of Alexandria, Virgina, an research and consulting firm specializing in communications research and strategy development. The group provides research driven insights to help clients make decisions that lead directly to making improvements in their business.

According to the study, a separate question reveals that only 27 percentof Americans expect their own financial situation to be better off one year from now.

Other survey findings reveal that the public is split on whether the President is on the right track (47 percent) or wrong track (42 percent) in expanding the role of government.

In addition, solidifying the country’s credit rating and strengthening the dollar (32 percent) was cited as the most important issue for the President and the Congress to address.

That was chosen from a list of seven issues that included reforming healthcare (26 percent), addressing the North Korea nuclear threat (9 percent), and curbing foreclosures (9 percent). The survey was conducted by using a random digit dial (RDD) sampling method, telephone interviews were conducted among adults at least 18 years old throughout the United States.

“Americans are starting to ask questions about the effectiveness of the taxpayer dollars that have been spent thus far on the stimulus. As a result, the President’s economic plan is at a crossroad,” added Mr. Cullo.

Federal and state minimum wage increases to $7.25 per hour

08.11.09

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

Federal and state minimum wage increases to $7.25 per hour

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 20th- On Friday July 24th the federal minimum wage increased to $7.25 per hour.

The United States Department of Labor (DOL) announced with this change, employees who are covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) will be entitled to be paid no less than $7.25 per hour.

“This administration is committed to improving the lives of working families across the nation, and the increase in the minimum wage is another step in the right direction. This well-deserved increase will help workers better provide for their families in the face of today’s economic challenges. I am especially pleased that the change will benefit working women, who make up two-thirds of minimum wage earners,” said Secretary of labor Hilda Solis.

The increase is the last of three provided by the enactment of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, which amended the FLSA to increase the federal minimum wage in three steps: to $5.85 per hour effective July 24th, 2007; to $6.55 per hour effective July 24th, 2008; and on July 24th 2009 to $7.25 per hour.

Under the law, states could force employers to pay more than the federal minimum wage but the states can not pay less.

According to the DOL, the latest change will directly benefit workers in 30 states including: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Those states minimum wage is currently at or below the federal minimum wage or there is no state minimum wage. The new wage will also benefit workers in the District of Columbia, where the minimum wage is required to be $1 more than the federal minimum wage.

According to the DOL, a American family with a full-time minimum wage earner would see their monthly income increase by about $120.00. That is more than a week’s worth of groceries for an average family of four or more than one week’s utility bills. The $120.00 buys three tanks of gas for a small car, Ms. Solis stated.

The DOL added the increase will not only benefit full-time workers. About half of minimum wage workers are part-timers, and they too, are going to see an increase to their incomes.

An employer must pay the higher wage when states rate and the federal rate differ.

In Pennsylvania more than 107,000 workers will likely benefit from the boost in the minimum wage. Approximately 68,000 minimum wage workers will benefit directly from the increase, which for a full-time worker will add $208.00 to their paychecks over the next year.

Another 40,000 workers whose wages fall between $7.25 per hour and $7.35 per hour would likely benefit indirectly from the increase in the minimum wage. While the new minimum wage will not mandate raises for these workers, they are likely to receive them as their employers seek to retain higher quality workers than are currently available at the new minimum wage.

Research shows that increases in the minimum wage lead households with a minimum wage worker to increase their spending and will add $5.5 billion over the next year to the United States economy.

NLRB nominations made, Chamber of Commerce objects

08.11.09

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

NLRB nominations made, Chamber of Commerce objects

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 14th- The Obama Administration announced on July 9th that it had sent to the United States Senate the nominiations of Craig Becker, Mark Gaston Pearce, and Brian Hayes to be members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, DC. If confirmed by the Senate, the NLRB would have a full complement of five members for the first time since December 7th, 2007. The sitting members are Chairman Wilma Liebman and Member Peter Schaumber.

On April 24th, President Obama announced his intention to nominate labor law attorney’s Craig Becker and Mark Gaston Pearce for the two vacant Democratic seats on the NLRB. The intent to nominate Mr. Hayes to fill the vacant Republican seat was announced shortly before the nominations were sent to the Senate.

Mr. Hayes currently serves as the Republican Labor Policy Director for the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Mr. Hayes’s term would expire on December 16th, 2012. Mr. Pearce, in private practice with a Buffalo, New York law firm, would have a term ending August 27th, 2013. Mr. Becker, Associate General Counsel of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), would have a term ending December 16th, 2014.
Chairman Liebman’s term expires on August 27th, 2011, and member Schaumber’s term ends August 27th, 2010. By tradition, three of the five NLRB seats are filled by individuals of the same political party of the President in office.

According to the NLRB, Mr. Hayes was in private practice for more than twenty-five years. His practice was devoted exclusively to representing management clients in all aspects of labor and employment law. He has represented employers in scores of cases before the National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and various state fair employment practice agencies. He has served as chief trial counsel in the full range of employment claims in both state and Federal courts.

Mr. Hayes also has extensive experience in negotiating labor contracts on behalf of management clients, as well as representing clients in arbitrations, mediations and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.

Before entering private practice, Mr. Hayes clerked for the Chief Judge of the National Labor Relations Board and thereafter served as Counsel to the Chairman of the NLRB.

Meanwhile, the United States Chamber of Commerce announced on July 27th, the organization is urging the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to hold a hearing on the nomination of Mr. Becker to the NLRB.

In a letter sent by the organizations Executive Vice President for Government Relations, R. Bruce Josten, the Chamber cited concern over what the business group stated was Becker’s “out-the-mainstream” views on the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

Specifically, the Chamber of Commerce cited public writings in which Becker states that employers have no legitimate role to play when their employees are targeted by a labor union organizing campaign.

The Chamber of Commerce cited an article Mr. Becker wrote in the Minnesota Law Review that he believes, “employers should be stripped of any legally cognizable interest in their employees’ election of representatives.”