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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.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Region’s unemployment rate increases to 9.2 percent

10.17.09

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

Region’s unemployment rate increases to 9.2 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 30th- According to labor data provided by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Industry, the region’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 9.2 percent, rising by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report, which was released approximately four weeks before.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) includes Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wyoming Counties.
The unemployment rate is two and eight-tenths of a percentage points higher than a year ago. The last time the MSA had an unemployment rate this high was in April 1993 when the rate was also 9.2 percent.

The MSA’s unemployment rate continues to remain higher than the state percentage. The unemployment rate in the state is 8.6 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,352,000 with 543,000 not working and 5,809,000 with employment.

The national unemployment rate is 9.7 percent, increasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. There are 14,928,000 civilians in the nation without employment. The number does not include civilians that have exhausted their unemployment benefits.

On September 20th, 23,000 long-term Pennsylvanians who have not been able to find a job have exhausted their unemployment benefits and will no longer be counted in the DOL’s unemployment rate statistics.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA unemployment rate increased despite the civilian labor force decreased by 1,500 from the previous report to 280,600. The civilian labor force has decreased by 3,000 during the past twelve months. There are 25,700 civilians not working in the MSA, increasing by 500 from the previous report, and increasing by a whopping 7,600 from one year ago. The number would be even higher if the residents that have exhausted their unemployment benefits were part of the percentage.

The MSA has the fifth largest labor force in Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor force at 2,967,500 with 259,200 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA is second at 1,211,100 with 94,400 without jobs; the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force at 417,900 with 38,800 not working; and the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest at 281,600 with 21,400 without employment.

Of the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA is tied with the York/Hanover MSA for the third highest unemployment rate. The Erie MSA has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 9.8 percent. The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA, Reading MSA, and the Williamsport MSA are tied for second highest unemployment rate at 9.3 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.9 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 7.0 percent with the Altoona MSA third at 7.5 percent with the Lancaster MSA and the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA tied for the fourth lowest unemployment rate at 7.6 percent.

Lackawanna County has the lowest unemployment rate in the MSA at 8.7 percent, increasing by five-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and jumping by two and six-tenths of a percentage points from one year ago. Lackawanna County has a labor force of 106,600, decreasing by 300 from the last report. There are 9,200 Lackawanna County residents without jobs, increasing by 500 from the previous report and increasing by a whopping 2,600 from twelve months ago.

Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 9.5 percent, unchanged from the previous report. The unemployment rate is two and nine-tenths of a percentage points higher from one year ago. Luzerne County has a labor force of 159,700, decreasing by 1,300 from the previous report and dropping by 1,500 from one year ago.

Wyoming County has a unemployment rate of 9.3 percent, decreasing by six-tenths of a percentage point from the report before and increasing by three and one-tenth of a percentage points from one year ago. Wyoming County has a labor force of 14,400, unchanged from the previous report and dropping by 100 from twelve months ago. There are 1,300 Wyoming County residents without jobs, unchanged from the previous report and jumping by 400 from twelve months ago.

D.C. Families, Trumka Demand Respect for Teachers

10.17.09

D.C. Families, Trumka Demand Respect for Teachers

by Seth Michaels, Oct 9, 2009

http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/10/09/dc-families-trumka-demand-respect-for-teachers/

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka tells supporters of D.C. school employees the school district’s layoffs are ‘a cold hard case of union-busting.’

Thousands of students, parents, teachers and community members from across Washington, D.C., converged on the district’s Freedom Plaza yesterday afternoon to rally in support of hundreds of laid-off teachers.

Nearly 400 school employees have been laid off as a result of controversial decisions by D.C. school chancellor Michelle Rhee. The layoffs include 229 classroom teachers, many of them veterans. The Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) has protested the layoffs, saying that many teachers have been targeted for their age and that the firings are poorly timed and an attempt to undermine the teachers’ contract.

At yesterday’s rally, reports Chris Garlock of the Metropolitan Washington Council, D.C. residents and students of all ages spoke out strongly in support of their teachers. It was one of the largest labor rallies in recent memory in the District. At the rally it was announced that a delegation of teachers sought to present to Mayor Adrian Fenty with a statement in opposition to the layoffs, but Fenty’s assistant wouldn’t even come to the door to accept it.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called the firings “a cold hard case of union busting,” and said that union members across the city stand in solidarity with fired teachers:

The labor movement is right here with you. We’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with you for as long as it takes.

Here and across the country, public education and our school children are the victims of wrong-headed efforts to fill state and local budget gaps. Children are the scapegoats. Class sizes are growing beyond anything that makes a shred of sense. After-school and early education programs are disappearing. Teachers are buying school supplies out of their own pockets, and children are losing teachers they love and trust.

Listen, you don’t make better schools by firing teachers. You don’t engage students in learning by disrespecting their educators. You don’t teach children values by discarding values. You may close a short-term budget hole, but it’s at our children’s expense. And that price is too high to pay.

AFT President Randi Weingarten and other top union leaders, as well as members of the D.C. City Council, took part in the rally. City Council members have announced their intention to hold hearings into the public school system’s hiring and firing policies, and the WTU has filed suit to block the layoffs. Weingarten said that these cuts to vital teachers and school staff are hitting students the hardest.

Susan Dunn, a 23-year veteran teacher and the parent of a 6th grader, said the layoffs are exactly the wrong policy to sustain D.C. schools:

Rhee is just out of touch with what’s really happening in the schools. We don’t have a contract, we haven’t had a raise in five years and now they’re firing people without explanation. Morale is terrible