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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.