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Karl Rove attacks labor-backed candidates in Virginia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania- Great Reason to Vote

10.31.09

OPINION

OCTOBER 28, 2009, 10:37 P.M. ET

Tuesday’s Elections and the Democratic Agenda

Losses in New Jersey or Virginia could spook Congress.

By KARL ROVE

Democratic enthusiasm for President Barack Obama’s liberal domestic agenda—particularly for a government-run health insurance program—could wane after the results of the gubernatorial elections next Tuesday in Virginia and New Jersey. GOP victories in either state will tell Democrats in red states and districts that support for Obama’s policies is risky to their political health.

The more significant is the open race for governor in Virginia, a purple state. The Washington Post poll released Monday showed 55% support for Republican Attorney General Bob McDonnell and 44% for Democratic State Senator Creigh Deeds. The president is trying to reverse these numbers by stumping the state for Mr. Deeds.

Mr. McDonnell has relentlessly focused on the economy, transportation and education. Mr. Deeds tried to make the race about abortion and his opponent’s supposed animus toward working women. But Mr. McDonnell understood that anti-Obama, anti-Washington sentiment was not enough to win and bent the contest back to jobs, roads and schools. He also has a good ground game to turn out the vote, which the GOP hasn’t done for too many years in Virginia.

Former Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate, Bob McDonnell, left, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Virginia State Sen. Creigh Deeds, right.

If Republicans also win the races for lieutenant governor and attorney general by five points or more, it will strengthen the case of those predicting a GOP “wave” in 2010.

Also watch the races for the 100-member Virginia House of Delegates. Republicans are hoping to add four seats to the 53 they now have. The bigger the GOP gains, the larger the warning for Democrats nationally.

Reaction against Mr. Obama and his policies plays a smaller role in the New Jersey governor’s race. There, voters are principally concerned with whether they should keep incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine.

In 59 public surveys since January, Mr. Corzine has been at or above 42% just six times, normally a terminal condition for an incumbent. But Mr. Corzine opted out of New Jersey’s campaign finance system, spending at least $24 million so far to Republican Chris Christie’s $9 million.

About Karl Rove

Karl Rove served as Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000–2007 and Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004–2007. At the White House he oversaw the Offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, coordinating the White House policy making process.

Before Karl became known as “The Architect” of President Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns, he was president of Karl Rove + Company, an Austin-based public affairs firm that worked for Republican candidates, nonpartisan causes, and nonprofit groups. His clients included over 75 Republican U.S. Senate, Congressional and gubernatorial candidates in 24 states, as well as the Moderate Party of Sweden.

Karl writes a weekly op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, is a Newsweek columnist and is now writing a book to be published by Simon Schuster. Email the author at Karl@Rove.com or visit him on the web at Rove.com.

Or, you can send him a Tweet@karlrove.

Neither major party candidate in New Jersey has offered a compelling or comprehensive agenda. At times the independent candidate, Chris Daggett, has appeared the only contender with an agenda to rein in property taxes. But the GOP is arguing there is too much corruption, too many taxes, and too few jobs under Mr. Corzine. It may be working: In one of America’s bluest states the race is too close to call. If Mr. Christie pulls out a win, it would badly shake Democratic confidence.

The Republican Governor’s Association has played what could be a decisive role in both states, spending $13 million on early and extensive TV blitzes. In Virginia, the association tattooed Mr. Deeds as a tax raiser and slippery liberal. In New Jersey, they cut Mr. Daggett’s support in half by arguing a vote for him is a vote for Mr. Corzine.

Two other elections on Tuesday’s ballot have national implications: the New York Congressional District 23 special election and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court race. The special election in New York’s nominally Republican district 23 was brought about when the White House lured an otherwise unbeatable GOP Congressman, John McHugh, into giving up his seat to become Secretary of the Army.

The contest shows the danger of smoke-filled backrooms in the age of tea parties and town-hall angst. New York law says each party’s 11 county chairmen in the district pick their candidate. The local GOP chieftains settled on Dede Scozzafava, a five-term liberal Republican state assemblywoman. This led one of the disappointed nomination seekers, accountant Doug Hoffman, to mount a red meat campaign for the seat on the Conservative Party line.

With the GOP vote split, the lackluster Democrat standard-bearer, Bill Owens, is likely to win. If that happens, the combined vote of Ms. Scozzafava and Mr. Hoffman will signal what a GOP candidate chosen in a primary could get in the 2010 general election. House Republican leaders could help unite the party by saying now, before the election, that Mr. Hoffman is welcome to caucus with the GOP if he wins.

Finally, the Republican-endorsed candidate for Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, Judge Joan Orie Melvin, is mounting a strong effort against Democrat Jack Panella, despite a $1 million ad blitz targeting her that’s bankrolled by Philadelphia trial lawyers. A GOP victory would indicate trouble for Democrats in a state Mr. Obama carried by 10 points.

A year ago, Democrats crowed that Mr. Obama had reshaped the political landscape to their advantage. Voters have lived under Democratic rule for nine months, and many of them, especially independents, don’t like what they’re seeing.

Tuesday’s election will provide the most tangible evidence so far of how strong a backlash is building—and just how frightened centrist Democrats should be of 2010. For Republicans, it looks as if hope and change are on the way.

Mr. Rove is the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Article published in the Wall Street Journal. Although not exactly labor-friendly, the Wall Street Journal is certainly worth buying and reading. We now know how important it is to get ourselves, our friends and our families to the polls. Please share this information as widely as possible.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court candidate Barbara Ernsberger requests labor support

10.31.09

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

Pennsylvania Supreme Court candidate Barbara Ernsberger requests labor support

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 13th- Pennsylvania Supreme Court Democratic candidate Barbara Ernsberger stated because of her involvement in neighborhood issues, volunteer activites and family background, the labor community should support her on Election Day , November 3rd. “I worked very hard to get out the message that I respect the rights of individuals and their hard work,” said Ms. Ernsberger.

She stated in 1985 she came within 783 votes of victory in the primary election to become a candidate for the Court of Common Pleas. “At that time I did not know a soul in the Democratic Party. I just ran the best race I could,” said Ms. Ernsberger.

This past spring she tried againrunning against five other candidates and came in first. “I am truly honored to receive this nomination,” said Ms. Ernsberger.

Barbara Ernsberger has met with labor officials across Pennsylvania and attended labor community sponsored events requesting that they support her candidacy. “I understand the needs and desires of the working people and stood-up for their rights.”

Barbara Ernsberger’s grandfather was a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union working as a delivery person for a dairy.

A lifelong resident of Pittsburgh she practiced with the lawfirm of Behrend and Ernsberger, a trial lawfirm that handles personnal injury, medical negligence, products liability, and workers’ compensation.

Lackawanna County nursing home employee files complaint

10.31.09

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

Lackawanna County nursing home employee files complaint

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 8th- A former employee of the Lackawanna County Healthcare Center has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia alleging the employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

According to the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge filed by Jacqueline Kipp of Jackson Street in Dickson City on October 6th, 2009, the employer refused to hire her because she filed griviences in the past while employed at the center. Ms. Kipp worked for more than three years at the Lackawanna County owned and operated nursing home in Olyphant and was a member of the bargaining unit. The Services Employees International Union (SEIU), Healthcare Pennsylvania Union in Harrisburg represents approximately 325 workers employed at the 272 bed nursing home.

Lackawanna County officials recently accepted bids on the purchase of the nursing home. Haverford Healthcare Advisors was hired by the Lackawanna County Commissioners Office to broker the sale of the facility and indicated the facility will be sold before December 31st, 2009 to help close a budget shortfall.

Ms. Kipp stated when contacted by the newspaper she asked for nonpaid time-off to care for her young child under the “Leave of Absence” clause of the bargaining agreement and management declined.

After being denied of a leave of absence she left the center but later returned requesting to be re-instated but was refused to be re-hired.

NLRB finds merit in charge filed against Moses Taylor

10.31.09

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

NLRB finds merit in charge filed against Moses Taylor

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 14th- The newspaper in the August edition exclusively reported that the labor organization which represents nurses at several hospitals in the region filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia against the Moses Taylor Hospital, 700 Quincy Avenue in Scranton, alleging the employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The newspaper has learned the NLRB investigated the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge filed by the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professional (PASNAP) Union, Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, against the medical center and found merit in the complaint. The NLRB scheduled a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge on January 7th, 2010 in Philadelphia.

PASNAP is affiliated with the California Nurses Association (CNA) and represents nurses at the Community Medical Center (CMC) on Mulberry Street in Scranton and the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital on North River Street in Wilkes-Barre, which are currently working under the terms and conditions of the previous contract while negotiations continue for a successor pact. The previous agreement expired on August 30th and the union represents approximately 450 nurses at the medical center.

The Unfair Labor Practice charge was filed with the NLRB on July 6th. The complaint was filed by April Smith, Director of Organizing of PASNAP. The complaint was filed by the union on behalf of employees of Moses Taylor Hospital despite PASNAP not representing any workers of the medical center.

Of the three medical centers in Scranton, Moses Taylor is the only one that does not have any unionized employees. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Healthcare Pennsylvania, formerly called SEIU 1199P, represents workers including nurses at the Mercy Hospital on Jefferson Avenue.

According to information provided on the ULP, the union alleges on July 2nd, 2009, agents of the employer instructed an employee not to discuss the issue of mandatory overtime with her co-workers. The union suggest the employer action is a clear violation of Section 8(a) of the NLRAct.

According to NLRB records, the union has not filed with the agency a petition to conduct an election to determine if any of employees at Moses Taylor want to be union represented.

Study shows economic downturn taking toll on mental health

10.31.09

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

Study shows economic downturn taking toll on mental health

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 11th- According to a study released by the Medical Health America and the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Washington, DC on October 6th, the economic downturn is taking a toll on the mental health of Americans. Individuals who are unemployed are four times as likely as those with jobs to report symptoms consistent with severe mental illness.

The survey results come from telephone interviews of 1,002 adults nationwide from September 17th to 20th comprising 500 men and 502 women all 18 years old or older living in private households in the continental United States. Fieldwork for the survey was conducted using Opinion Reserach Corporation’s Survey. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points for results based on the total sample, Mental Health America stated.

The survey shows Americans who experienced involuntary changes in their employment status, such as pay cuts or reduced hours, also are twice as likely to have these symptoms, even though they are employed full time. Unemployment in the United States currently stands at almost 10 percent.

The release of the findings coincided with Mental Illness Awareness Week held from October 4th to 10th and the National Depression Screening Day, which took place on October 8th.

“This survey clearly shows that economic difficulties are placing the public’s mental health at serious risk, and we need affimative action to address these medical problems. Individuals confronting these problems should seek help for their problems, talk to their doctor, an trusted friend or advisor or mental health professional,” said David Shern, Ph.D. and President and CEO of Mental Health America.

The survey also found:

• Thirteen percent of unemployed individuals report that they have thought of harming themselves which is four times more than reported by persons with full-time work.

• People who are unemployed are approximately six times as likely to have difficulty meeting household expenses with 22 percent reporting great difficulty paying their utilities and almost half have significant difficulty in obtaining healthcare further compounding their situation.

• People who are unemployed are also twice as likely to report concern with their mental health or use of alcohol or drugs within the last six months than individuals working full-time.

• Of those who have not spoken to a health professional about these concerns, 42 percent cited cost or lack of insurance coverage as the main reason.

• Nearly 20 percent of the sample reported that they had experienced a forced change in their employment during the last year such as pay cuts, reduced hours.

• Although most of these individuals are employed, individuals with a forced changed in employment are twice as likely to report symptoms consistent with severe mental illness than would be expected. They are also five times more likely to report feeling hopeless most or all of the time than individuals who hadn’t experienced a forced changed.

Major depression is a serious medical illness affecting 15 million American adults or approximately 5 to 8 percent of the adult population in a given year.

Massive windmill farm project built with nonunion workers

10.31.09

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

Massive windmill farm project built with nonunion workers

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 14th- One the largest windmill farm project proposed for Pennsylvania that will when completed consist of putting up as many as 175 turbines in Bradford and Tioga Counties is being constructed with nonunion out-of-the-area workers.

Turner Brothers, a nonunion company based in Houston, Texas, but their Arlington, Virginia office is undertaking the project, is erecting the windmill farm called the “Armenia Wind Farm,” and according to a local labor leader who has been monitoring the construction, most of the workers hired are from southern states. “There are very few license plates from Pennsylvania on the employees cars. The majority are from Texas, and southern states,” said Kevin McHugh, Business Manager of the International Association of Bridge, Structural Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union Local 489 in Yatesville.

Mr. McHugh told the newspaper if his members were hired to install the turbines, the project would go far toward employing many that are currently not working. He stated work for Local 489 members is slow and there are many of them that are in need of work. “Thank goodness for the medical college,” said Mr. McHugh referring to the Commonwealth Medical College under construction in Scranton.

Mr. McHugh stated while in a time when clear energy and green jobs have become buzz words, legislators have shown little interest in helping in getting the turbines build with local unionized workers.

Turbines affect insect-eating bats and migrating songbirds that often get caught-in the windmill but they provide a clean secondary source of energy and according to the United States Department of Energy, mindmills is the fastest growing source of energy in the nation.

According to information provided by Mr. McHugh, United States House of Representative (Democrat-10th Legislative District) Chris Carney and Democratic United States Senator from Pennsylvania Robert Casey Jr. have not responded to correspondence from the union requesting their support and asking them to contact officials of Armenia Wind Farm on their behalf.

Mr. McHugh stated the company has advertised for qualified workers online and local newspapers and his members applied, but not one was hired. He said the advertisements are just a hoax to say they tied to get local people to work.

The newspaper contacted Mr. Carney’s legislative office in Clarks Summit indicating a desire to interview Mr. Carney on the windmill project. Our call was not immediately returned. The newspaper also contacted Mr. Casey’s office in Washington, DC, and left a message regarding this story and our call was not returned. Both Bradford and Tioga Counties are in Mr. Carney’s legislative district.

When contacted by the newspaper Gary Martin, Vice President of the Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council in Harrisburg, stated he too contacted Congressman Carney by correspondence. Mr. Martin, is also Business Manager of Ironworkers Union Local 420 in Reading, and said Mr. Carney did not respond to his letter. “It is very upsetting to know that if Pennsylvania is creating “green jobs” that the construction part of the work is going to be done by migrant workers and not our skilled local craftsmen,” stated Mr. Martin.

Mr. Martin said the number of unionized ironworkers that applied for work at Armeria Wind Farm was more than 25 and not one was called for an interview.

Mr. Martin said in the Reading area United States House of Representative (Democrat-8th Legislative District) Tim Holden, in his opinion is much more responsive to the working people concerns than Mr. Carney. “Everytime we ask him (Mr. Holden) for support he is there for us,” said Mr. Martin. “Mr. Carney doesn’t seem interested.”

Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Region’s unemployment rate increases to 9.5 percent

10.31.09

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

Region’s unemployment rate increases to 9.5 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, October 26th- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Center for Workforce Information and Analysis in Harrisburg, the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by two-tenths of a percentage point to 9.5 percent. 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 5.9 percent.

There are fourteen Metropolitan Statistical Area’s in Pennsylvania and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area is tied with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA, and the Johnstown MSA with the fourth highest unemployment rate in the Commonwealth. Since December 2007, the unemployment rate for the MSA has increased in eighteen of the past twenty-two months.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 8.8 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report, which was released approximately four weeks ago. There are 559,000 Pennsylvania residents without jobs. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted workforce of 6,368,000 and 5,809,000 of them have employment. The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 9.8 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. There are 15,142,000 residents nationally unemployed which does not include workers who benefits have expired.

The data shows the Williamsport MSA has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 10.0 percent. The Erie MSA has the second highest unemployment rate in the state at 9.9 percent, with the Reading MSA third at 9.6 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.1 percent, with the Lebanon MSA second at 7.4 percent. The Lancaster MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 7.8 percent.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest civilian labor force in Pennsylvania at 419,500, rising by 1,300 from the previous report and dropping by 700 during the past twelve months. There are 40,000 residents in the MSA without jobs, rising by 1,000 from the previous report and increasing by 15,300 during the past twelve months. The civilian labor force in the MSA has decreased by 14,300 since November 2007.

The Philadelphia MSA has the largest civilian labor force in Pennsylvania at 2,963,000 with 264,900 residents not working. The Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest civilian labor force at 1,110,900, with 97,700 residents unemployed. The Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest civilian labor force in the state at 284,200, with 21,500 residents unemployed. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fifth largest civilian labor force at 281,200 with 22,100 residents not working.

The Williamsport MSA has the smallest civilian labor force in Pennsylvania at 59,300. The Altoona MSA is the second smallest at 63,700 with the Johnstown MSA the third smallest at 68,100.

Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 10.6 percent, increasing by two and nine-tenths percentage points from twelve months ago. Carbon County has 3,300 civilians not working, increasing by 100 from the previous report and increasing by 1,200 from twelve months ago.

Northampton County has the lowest unemployment rate in the MSA at 9.2 percent, rising by three and three-tenths percentage points during the past twelve months. Northampton County has 14,100 residents not working, rising by 600 from the previous report and increasing by 5,100 during the past twelve months.

Lehigh County has a unemployment rate of 9.8 percent, rising by three and nine-tenths of a percentage points from twelve months ago. Lehigh County has 17,300 residents not working rising by 700 from the previous report and increasing by a whopping 6,900 from twelve months ago.

Unions decreasing support for Teen Works program

10.31.09

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

Unions decreasing support for Teen Works program

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, October 14th- The Board of Directors of Teen Works held a meeting on October 13th at the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley in Bethlehem Township and voted to provide grants for five community projects being conducted by youths from the Lehigh Valley totaling $2,176. Meetings of the Board of Directors are usually held on the second Tuesday of the month, depending on if the organization received any applications for grants by any teens or youth groups.

Unions from throughout the Lehigh Valley contribute funds that are donated to area teens involved with a project to help the region. The program is a agency of the Greater Lehigh Valley United Way. All funds donated by the labor organizations is used to support the Teen Works program.

School students ask the Teen Works Board of Directors for financial help to conduct a community project in the Lehigh Valley. Under the program teen(s) must first complete an application for the financial help and attend a meeting.

Gregg Potter, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation, Greater Lehigh Valley United Way Labor Liaison, the go-between the labor community in the Lehigh Valley and the community based organization, and co-ordinator of the Teen Works program, stated the Teen Works program, which was developed in 2000, has seen a drop in funding by members of the labor community since the United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union Local 2599 was removed as the bargaining representative of the United Way employees in 2007. More than 23 labor organizations have decreased or eliminated their funding to Teen Works because of the decertification of Local 2599.

Mr. Potter replaced Ron Achey, who retired in July, is also the President of the Lehigh Valley Labor Council.

Legislation introduced to assist with funding for new Medical College

10.29.09

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

Legislation introduced to assist with funding for new Medical College

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 15th- The construction of the new medical college in downtown Scranton is being done without the benefit of a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with the Scranton Building and Construction Trades Council of Lackawanna County but most of the work is still being done with unionzied workers.

According to Drew Simpson, President of the 15 affiliated member labor federation, the President of the Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton would not agree to sign a PLA with the labor organization. A PLA would guarantee local unionized workers would be hired for the building and construction of the school. Under a PLA, a nonunion contractor could still be hired for the project, but if they are selected, local unionized workers must be hired.

“We met with Mr. D’Alessandri and requested he sign a PLA, but he would not,” said Mr. Simpson. Robert D’Alessandri, MD, is the President of the Commonwealth Medical College currently under construction in Scranton.

“Thank goodness for the medical college,” said Kevin McHugh, Business Manager of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental & Reinforcing Iron Workers Union Local 489 in Yatesville. Mr. McHugh told the newspaper work for his members is slow and there are some not working and the construction of the medical college has put many of his members to work.

Jack Greenwood, Business Manager of the United Association of Pipefitters & Plumbers Union Local 524, Corey Avenue in Scranton, told the newspaper all aspects of plumbing and pipefitters, including the instulation of heating, has gone to a unionized contractor. “Everything is gone good for us,” said Mr. Greenwood.

Gino Arcurie, Treasurer of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 81, Wyoming Avenue in Scranton, stated his members are working on the medical college construction because a contractor signed with Local 81 was hired for the project. “We have guys working over there. The project is good for us,” said Mr. Arcurie.

Mr. Simpson is also the Council Coordinator of the International Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Union Local 645, Pear Street in Scranton, and told the newspaper his members have also been hired in the construction of the medical college. “The Medical School construction is coming at a good time. We have many members out of work.”

John Gatto, Assistant Business Manager of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) Union District Council 21 in Drums, when contacted by the newspaper stated several signatory contractors with District Council 21 were hired for the construction project including for the glazing work which involves the installation of glass.

According to Mr. Simpson, the site preparation and excavation work was done by a nonunion contractor. The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Union Local 542 in Wilkes-Barre represents workers which operate heavy construction equipment and would have be employed at the site if a unionized contractor was hired. However, Local 542 members were hired to operate cranes used to erect steel for the construction.

Meanwhile, United States House of Representative (Democrat, 11th Legislative District) Paul Kanjorski announced on October 8th he has introduced legislation for more federal funding for Medical Schools including the Commonwealth Medical College.

“Out health care system is facing extreme difficulties and it is currently overwhelmed by the number of patients as compared to the number of doctors. This legislation would encourage the creation of new medical schools throughout the country and also assist those developed in the past year, including the Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton,” said Mr. Kanjorski.

Union files complaint against PPL Corporation

10.29.09

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

Union files complaint against PPL Corporation

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 14th- The union that represents approximately 3,700 employees of PPL Corporation, North Ninth Street in Allentown, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia alleging the public utility violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct). The company is a electricity producer and distributor.

According to the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge filed by the International Brotherhood of Electricial Workers (IBEW) Union Local 1600, Grange Road in Trexlertown on Ocorber 8th, the employer violated Section 8(a) and subsections (1) and (5) of the NLRAct.

The ULP was filed on behalf of IBEW Local 1600 by Attorney Ronald Tomasko, of the lawfirm of James, Smith, Dietterick & Connelly of Hummelstown, Pennsylvania. The management official identified on the ULP to be contacted is Harold Fisher.

The complaint alleges PPL management has recently confirmed that it has supervisors performing bargaining unit work. The ULP states Local 1600 is the duly certified bargaining representative for unionized employees of PPL. The parties have a collective bargaining agreement in place that explicitly acknowledges Local 1600’s certified bargaining status.

“However, PPL management, despite numerous requests by Local 1600, has refused to reveal the management personnel performing such work and specific circumstances surround the performance of bargaining unit work by members of Management, all of which is in violation of the Act,” states the ULP, which was reviewed by the newspaper.

The newspaper is the only media in Northeastern Pennsylvania that reviews complaints and petitions filed with the NLRB.

OSHA begins program to determine accuracy of employer data

10.29.09

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

OSHA begins program to determine accuracy of employer data

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 9th- The United States Department of Labor’s(DOL’s), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in Washington, DC is initiating a National Emphasis Program (NEP) on recordkeeping to assess the accuracy of injury and illness data recorded by employers.

The recordkeeping NEP involves inspecting occupational injury and illness records prepared by businesses and appropriately enforcing regulatory requirements when employers are found to be under-recording injuries and illnesses.

The inspections include a records review, employee interviews, and a limited safety and health inspection of the workplace. The National Emphasis Program will focus on selected industries with high injury and illness rates.

“Accurate and honest recordkeeping is vitally important to workers’ health and safety. This information is not only used by the Occupational Safety and Health Adminstration to determine which workplaces to inspect, but it is an important tool employers and workers can use to identify health and safety problems in their workplaces,” said acting Assistant Secretary of Labor Jordan Barab.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHAct) of 1970, OSHA’s role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for American’s workers by setting and enforcing standards, and providingtraining, outreach and education.

At the request of the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the United States House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a study on the accuracy of employer injury and illness records.

This NEP will help the Occupational Safety and Health Administration work cooperatively with the Government Accountability Office. It also complements the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) efforts to investigate factors accounting for differences between the number of workplace injuries and illnesses estimated by BLS and those estimated by other data sources.

Meeting held between Scranton Diocese and SDACT Union

10.29.09

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

Meeting held between Scranton Diocese and SDACT Union

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 13th- A meeting between officials of the Scranton Diocese and the Scranton Diocese Association of Catholic Teachers (SDACT) Union did not resolve the on-going dispute between them however, the President of the union told the newspaper he is optimistic the parties could settle their differences.

Mike Milz, President of SDACT, told the newspaper the two sides met on October 7th in Scranton to discuss the union situation with the Diocese of Scranton officials. Mr. Milz stated the meeting held between the parties lasted for a little less than a hour in which the union was told no resolve of the union situation can be obtained until a new Bishop of Scranton is named.

The SDACT represented teachers of the Diocese of Scranton until August 2007 when the previous contracts expired and now retired Scranton Diocese Bishop Joseph Martino refused to negotiate for a new contract agreement.

SDACT represented the teachers of seventeen of the fourty-two grade schools and nine of the ten high schools of the Scranton Diocese until Bishop Martino restructured the school system in 2007.

The new system eliminated the small school boards and created four regional boards. SDACT previously had contracts with each Board of Pastors that represented each school. Bishop Martino implemented a “Employee Relations Program,” after he told the union they no longer represented the employees.

Mr. Milz was a 33-year employee of the Scranton Diocese working as a science teacher and later a social studies teacher at Bishop Hoban High School in Wilkes-Barre, which is now called Holy Redemmer. Mr. Milz was laid-off by the Diocese of Scranton in 2008 and is now working for the Pennsylvania State Educational Association (PSEA) Union in the Lehigh Valley.

Mr. Milz stated SDACT wants to represent the teachers again and still has authorization cards signed by the workers indicating they would like to be union represented. The cards were signed by the workers after Bishop Martino agreed to allow the union to represent the workers if a majority of them wanted to be represented by SDACT for the purpose of collective bargaining. However, Mr. Milz said Bishop Martino went back on his word and later refused to discuss the union situation with the union.

More Concerns Emerge for Christie as New Jersey Election Approaches

10.29.09

More Concerns Emerge for Christie as New Jersey Election Approaches

by Seth Michaels, Oct 28, 2009

http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/10/28/more-concerns-emerge-for-christie-as-new-jersey-election-approaches/

In six days, New Jersey residents head to the polls to vote for governor—and former Bush political appointee Chris Christie is at the center of yet another scandal. The Star-Ledger reports that near the end of his tenure as a Bush-appointed U.S. attorney, Christie defied requests of his co-workers and hired a political crony’s son as an assistant U.S. attorney.

It’s the latest in a list of allegations that Christie misused his office as U.S. Attorney, through potential violations of spending limits on travel and hotels, deferred prosecution agreements, the use of his position to get out of driving violations, a questionable loan to an employee who may have given aid to his political campaign and planning his run for governor with Bush political operative Karl Rove while still serving as U.S. attorney.

Christie is challenging the New Jersey State AFL-CIO-endorsed Gov. Jon Corzine. The race is tight and the choice for the next governor of New Jersey will come down to turnout on Nov. 3, so union volunteers across the state are working hard to mobilize other union members to get to the polls and support a champion of working families.

Union members are troubled by Christie’s stands on key working-family issues: Christie could move the state in the wrong direction on health care, education and workers’ rights.

So New Jersey union members continue to mobilize as Election Day approaches. More than 1,400 union volunteers braved cold and rain and knocked on some 50,000 union members’ doors over the weekend to get the word out about Christie, Corzine and the need for a strong turnout next Tuesday. Even more volunteers are expected to come out this weekend for the final push.

President Barack Obama visited New Jersey last week to encourage people of all ages to get out the vote for Corzine, calling him

…committed to fighting for New Jersey’s families and New Jersey’s future.

Time to reduce the number of Senators to end a filibuster and time to punish corporate Democratic Senators

10.29.09

It is looking like we need to reduce the number of Senators it takes to end a filibuster from 60 to 55 to stop this obstructionism from the Right and our own corporate Democrats.

These corporate Democrats are a tiny minority in the Democratic Party and represent essentially almost no Democratic voters. We would be better off as a nation and as a political party if they were marginalized. If they want to sell-out American consumers and workers, they should not be calling themselves Democrats in the process. They are betraying what Democrats are all about…. betraying our deeply held core principles for campaign cash from health insurance corporations.

Any Democratic Senator who fails to support closure on healthcare reform should be stripped of any committee or sub-committee chairmanships they might hold as a result.

In solidarity,

Stephen Crockett

Editor, Mid-Atlantic Labor.com & Host, Democratic Talk Radio

ACME reneges -Tries to cut health care for hundreds

10.27.09

Dear Friends;

Four months ago community organizations and health care advocates across the commonwealth stood side by side with the employees of ACME/Supervalu and their union, helping the parties to reach a fair agreement for both sides The agreement overwhelmingly supported by the 4,000 union members at ACME/ Supervalu gave the employer some economic relief and preserved health care benefits and pension rights for our union members.

Now ACME/Supervalu has reneged on their agreement and started to cut the hours of many part-time employees below the level required to earn benefits without regard to our long standing negotiated seniority provisions in our contract. Hundreds of workers would immediately lose their health care benefits if ACME has their way.

Local 1776 is fighting Acme on many fronts. However, we need your help and appreciate your efforts to tell Acme that you are not going to stand by while they deprive working Pennsylvanians’ of health insurance

At a time when we are so close to winning major health care reform for all Americans we cannot allow ACME/Supervalu to dump these hardworking women and men from our negotiated employer based health care plans.

You have helped these workers, your neighbors before, we are asking for your help again.

Please contact Judy Spires by email Judy.Spires@supervalu.com

by phone 610 889 4202, or write her; Judy Spires, President / Acme Markets Inc./ 75 valley Stream Parkway / Malvern PA 19355

We would also appreciate copies of your correspondence with Judy Spires or the staff at ACME Supervalu and if you could share this e-mail with your lists.

Thank you in advance for your help on behalf of the 4,000 members of UFCW 1776 working at ACME Markets and their President Wendell W. Young IV. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

John Meyerson

Director of Legislation & Political Action

United Food and Commercial Workers 1776

3031A Walton Rd

Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462

610 940 1811

jmeyerson@ufcw1776.org

P.S.- It is important though to understand that we are not asking the consumer not to shop, but we want them to express any outrage that they might be feeling.

Department of Labor expands Trade Assistance to workers

10.27.09

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

Department of Labor expands Trade Assistance to workers

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 18th- The United States Department of Labor (DOL) announced that approximately 7,200 workers from companies in 17 states including Pennsylvania are eligible to apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). DOL announces almost monthly that more workers are eligible under TAA.

Workers 50 years of age and older may elect to receive Re-employment Trade Adjusted Assistance RTAA under the program. If a worker obtains new employment at wages less than $55,000 and less than those earned in adversely affected employment, the RTAA program will pay 50 percent of the difference between the old wage and the new wage, up to $12,000 over a two-year period. RTAA participants may also be eligible for retraining and the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC).

“United States workers deserve our full support, especially when they are negatively impacted by trade in the midst of a challenging job market. I am pleased that this program will help prepare displaced workers for new opportunities in emerging sectors,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.

Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin are the other 16 states receiving Trade Adjustment Assistance.

Workers covered by these latest TAA certifications will be contacted by their respective states with instructions on how to apply for individual benefits and services. Those who apply may receive case management and re-employment services, training in new occupational skills and trade readjustment allowances that provide income support for workers enrolled in the training.

Some workers may also receive job search and relocation allowances, and the Health Coverage Tax Credit.

TAA provides training and employment services for workers who have lost their jobs due to competitive foreign trade. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 expanded the pool of eligible Trade Adjustment Assitance recipients.

“American workers within a number of industries are being impacted by direct foreign competition. Trade Adjustment Assistance is one way we can help these individuals re-enter the workforce in promising industries that pay good wages,” said Ms. Solis.

In September, the Department of Labor announced from specific companies were eligible to apply for TAA in 14 states including Pennsylvania.

For more information on Trade Adjustment Assistance and the range of DOL employment and training services visit the agencies web-site at: http://www.doleta.gov.

Economic snapshop shows situation poor for workers

10.27.09

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

Economic snapshop shows situation poor for workers

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 12th- Unemployment has risen to the highest level in the United States in almost three decades as the economy continues to shed jobs each month. Family incomes have now reached low level not seen since 1997, after falling at the steepest rate since 1947 in 2008.

A economic snapshop indicates the United States economy is still shrinking. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined at an annual rate of 0.7 percent in the second quarter of 2009 after falling by an annual average rate of 2.8 percent during the first five-quarters of the recession, from December 2007 to March 2008.

The United States economy shed 263,000 jobs in September 2009. The economy has lost 7.2 million jobs since the recession began. Close to two-thirds, or 4.5 million jobs, were lost before the economic stimulus package was enacted at the end of February 2009, and job losses have sharply declined since then.

The unemployment rate was 9.8 percent in August 2009. The African-American unemployment rate that month stood at 15.4 percent, the Hispanic unemployment rate is 12.7 percent, and the unemployment rate for whites is 9.0 percent. Youth unemployment stood at a towering 25.9 percent. The unemployment rate for people without a high school diploma remained high, standing at 15.0 percent, compared to 10.8 percent for those with a high school degree and 4.9 percent for those with a college degree.

The average length of unemployment in September 2009 was 26.2 weeks, the median length of unemployment was 17.3 weeks, and 35.6 percent of the unemployed were out of a job for 27 weeks or more. All of the indicators are at their highest level since 1948.

The share of private sector workers with a pension dropped from 50.3 percent in 2000 to 45.1 percent in 2007 and to 43.6 percent in 2008 and the share of people with employer-provided health insurance dropped from 64.2 percent in 2000 to 58.5 percent in 2008.

Median inflation-adjusted family income fell by $1,860.00 to $50,303.00 in 2008 from 2007. This was the lowest family income since 1997. White family income stood at $55,530.00, compared to African-American family income, which was $34,218.00 or 61.6 percent of white income. Hispanic family income was $37,913.00 in 2008, or 58.2 percent of white income.

Pennsylvania Steelworkers N.E Legislative Committee announces Meeting and Candidates Nite

10.25.09

Steelworkers N.E Legislative Committee announces

Meeting and Candidates Nite

Thursday Oct. 29, 2009

At

Steelworkers Union Hall

53- E Lehigh St

Bethlehem, Pa 18018

610-867-3772

Candidates presentation will start at 7pm

Candidates respect the Steelworkers and call to confirm your appearance.

Open to all Steelworkers and friends

Steelworker meeting will be prior to the event starting at 6pm

CARDIN, DEMOCRATIC SENATORS URGE SWIFT PASSAGE OF UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS EXTENSION

10.21.09

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 20, 2009

CONTACT:

Sue Walitsky 202-320-0819

CARDIN, DEMOCRATIC SENATORS URGE SWIFT PASSAGE OF UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS EXTENSION

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), along with 13 fellow Democratic Senators today called on Senate Republicans to stop playing politics and immediately help pass legislation that will provide relief to jobless workers by extending unemployment insurance for the nearly 2 million Americans who will exhaust their benefits by the end of the year. The pending bill would extend unemployment insurance by up to 14 additional weeks for jobless workers in all states and up to 20 weeks in hard-hit states with unemployment levels at or above 8.5 percent. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this extension would be fully offset. Every $1 spent on unemployment benefits has been found to generate $1.61 in new economic demand.

“Families are hurting. In every region of every state, there are people who cannot find jobs today. Minorities are being hit even harder. Extending unemployment benefits is the right thing to do for those who can’t find employment and for our economy. We have to pass this now. There should be no obstacles put in the way of passing this bill promptly,” said Senator Cardin.

7.6 million Americans have lost their jobs and the deficit has grown massively since the recession began under President Bush in 2007. Now, hundreds of thousands of Americans have exhausted unemployment insurance benefits and another million are expected to exhaust these benefits by the end of this year.

Despite the urgent economic imperative, Republicans have held up the bill for nearly two weeks by offering amendments that have nothing to do with helping the unemployed.

###

Budget impasse putting a “hurt” on child care services

10.17.09

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

Budget impasse putting a “hurt” on child care services

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 22nd- The Pennsylvania budget impasse and stalemate put the most vulnerable citizens services in harms way.

Child care services is one of the taxpayer subsidized programs hurt by the budget stalemate. There are approximately 16,000 child care providers within the state of Pennsylvania. More than half, over 8,500, of the state’s child care providers accept some form of subsidies for services to low-income families and to contribute to the economy of the state.

According to Democratic State Representative (191st Legislative District) Ronald Waters, child care is a huge expense for most families in general, but the cost of child care often times is extremely burdensome for the working poor. Both availability and affordability of child care can have a significant effect on the labor force participation of parents. Many of those dependent on subsidized child care are concentrated in low-wage, low-skilled jobs with limited flexibility when it comes to rearranging their schedules. Without adequate child care services these parents are left with very few options, Mr. Waters stated.

Because of the stalmate, some facilities that provide child care services cut services, laid-off employees, cut employees’ work hours, discontinue the practice of paying their bills in a timely fashion such as rent, utilities, and vendors, and in some instances shut down the businesses permanently. Many of these businesses are run by taxpayers.

Mr. Waters stated child care is not a Democratic issue nor it is a Republican issue but it is a human issue.

On September 19th it was announced a deal had been made between the two political parties and Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell to end the budget crisis. The stalmate delayed paychecks for state employees and forced the legislature to pass a “stop gap” budget that allowed the workers to receive regular pay-days.

Members of the two unions that represent the majority share of Pennsylvania state employees, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union jointly participated in conducting peaceful protests which was held at worksites all across the Commonwealth every Tuesday.