Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Jobless extention legislation signed by President Obama

11.25.09

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

Jobless extention legislation signed by President Obama

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 6th- President Barack Obama signed legislation that will extend jobless benefits to the economic hardest hit states including Pennsylvania to 99 weeks. The United States Senate voted on November 4th to extend the Federal-State Unemployment Insurance Program for an additional six weeks to recipients in states such as Pennsylvania where the unemployment rate exceeds 8.5 percent. The bill passed the Senate unanimously with both Democratic Pennsylvania Senators, Robert Casey Jr. and Arlen Specter voting for the legislation.

“With states such as Pennsylvania experiencing record unemployment number, it is high time the Senate pass legislation to extend unemployment insurance benefits to millions of struggling Americans. As we work to recover our economy, we must continue to endure that out-of-work families have the assistance and support to afford the basic necessities and stay in their homes. It is unfortunate that this much-needed relief was delayed by Republican led tactics for over a month, during which time 200,000 Americans saw their benefits expire,” said Mr. Specter.

The United States House of Representatives passed the emergency unemployment insurance legislation 403-12, with Lehigh Valley Congressman Charlie Dent (Republican-15th Legislative District), voting in favor. Mr. Dent voted against the economic stimulus legislation and also voted against providing loans to American automakers eariler this year.

The bill will extend emergency unemployment insurance for another 20 weeks for Pennsylvanians to help the many individuals and families that havebeen forced out of their jobs as a result of the troubling economic situation. Pennsylvanians who have been unable to find jobs can now receive a total of 79 weeks of unemployment insurance. The legislation will also extend the tax credit for homebuyers which was originally implemented through the recovery package.

Unemployment insurance is temporary income for workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own. Regular unemployment insurance provides up to 26 weeks of benefits. Emergency unemployment insurance is a federally funded program created in 2008 to provide additional benefits of 13 weeks or up to 34 weeks, and an additional 19 weeks of benefits for those living in states with high unemployment. Pennsylvanians qualify to receive the additional 19 weeks of unemployment insurance.

The extention is fully paid for and aims to help boost the local economy, while helping those who are unemployed. The Congressional Budget Office has cited unemployment benefits as one of the most cost-effective forms of economic stimulus, and every dollar spent on unemployment benefits generates $1.63 in new demand, according to Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry announced on October 1st, 23,000 long-term unemployed Pennsylvanians, who have not been able to find work following a job loss, exhausted their final seven-week extension of unemployment compensation benefits. Under the Federal-State Unemployment Insurance Program those workers will receive the additional weeks of benefits.

The legislation also contained Business and Homebuyer Assistance Provisions which extend through April 30, 2010 the tax credit for first-time homebuyers (up to $8,000 or up to 10 percent of the purchase price of the residence), allowing 60 days to close, provided that the homes are under a binding contract by that date.

Republican Senator objects to pro-union NLRB nominee

11.25.09

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

Republican Senator objects to pro-union NLRB nominee

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 5th- On July 9th the Obama Administration announced that it had sent to the United States Senate the nominiations of three individuals to serve as members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, DC, but one of them has been stalled because Republican Arizona Senator John McCain requested a hearing be conducted.

If they were 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 Chariman Wilma Liebman and member Peter Schaumber.

In April President Barack 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 Brian Hayes to fill the vacant Republican seat was announced shortly before the nominations were sent to the Senate. By tradition, three of the five NLRB seats are filled by individuals of the same political party of the President in office.

Chairman Liebman’s term expires on August 27th, 2011 and Mr. Schaumber’s term ends on August 27th, 2010.

On October 20th, 2009, Senator McCain sent a letter to Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, stating Mr. Becker’s written views was too pro-union and requested that a hearing be conducted before the full committee consider his nomination to the NLRB.

“I have concerns regarding Mr. Becker’s written views, which indicate that he would prevent employers from having a role in union representation elections in their workplaces by doing away with requiring fair, secret ballot union elections when requested by an employer and I would like the opportunity to question Mr. Becker about these positions in person and in public,” stated Mr. McCain in the letter which was obtained by the newspaper.

Mr. Becker has served as the Associate General Counsel of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents workers employed in state, county and municipal governments, and the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation. If confirmed his term would end on December 16th, 2014.

NLRB investigating Morning Call employee complaint

11.25.09

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

NLRB investigating Morning Call employee complaint

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 4th- The investigation in whether a complaint filed by a member of the Graphic Communications Conference Union (GCU), which is an employee of the Morning Call newspaper in Allentown, has merit will be completed by the end of November.

The member, Jean Hastins, West Union Street in Allentown, filed a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge against GCU Local 4-C alleging the labor organization violated Section 8 (b) and subsections (1) (A) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct) at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia in September.

The complaint, reviewed by the newspaper, stated the Union violated the duty of fair representation by failing to pursue a grievance about the Employer’s violation of provisions in the collective bargaining agreement related to overtime.

GCU, formerly the Graphic Communications International Union (GCIU) merged with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union in 2005, represents pressroom personnel at the Morning Call, North Sixth Street in downtown Allentown.

According to information obtained by the newspaper, NLRB Field Examiner Ellen McDowell has investigated the complaint filed by Ms. Hastins and will determine by the end of November if the NLRAct was violated and then will decide what action the NLRB will take to rectify the situation.

The complaint alleges and states, “The Union threatened employees that they could lose their jobs if they filed grievances related to overtime.”

The ULP states the union representative indentified to be contacted is Wayne Cox in Clifton Heights, Pennsylvania while the employer representative named on the complaint to be contacted is Sarah Long, indentified as the Morning Call Human Resources Representative.

Local Superior Court Judge Jack Panella unsuccessful in bid for high court

11.25.09

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

Local Superior Court Judge Jack Panella unsuccessful in bid for high court

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 4th- Jack Panella, Superior Court Judge in Bethlehem, and labor supported Pennsylvania Supreme Court Democratic Party candidate, was defeated by Republican candidate Joan Orie Melvin in the general election on November 3rd. Because of Mr. Panella’s defeat the partisan balance of the seven-member Supreme Court will shift toward the Republicans. Currently, there are four Democrats and three Republicans on the high court.

Mr. Panella was endorsed by many labor unions and federations throughout the Commonwealth including the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and the Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council.

Ms. Melvin is a sitting Superior Court Judge in Pittsburgh and critized Mr. Panella for accepting campaign contributions from organized labor. Her campaign stated in radio and television advertisements Mr. Panella was supported by a “special interest group,” meaning labor unions.

Mr. Panella told the newspaper during the campaign he was proud to receive the support of the working people and their unions. “As a candidate who has always stood up for the rights of working families, I accept these endorsements with great pride. My family has a long history of involvement with organized labor,” Mr. Panella told the newspaper.

Bethlehem Firefighters Union leader states Mayor Callahan fair to his members

11.25.09

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

Bethlehem Firefighters Union leader states Mayor Callahan fair to his members

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 7th- Democratic Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan will challenge incumbent United States House of Representative (Republican-15th Legislative District) Charlie Dent in 2010 and he will need the support of organized labor.

Mr. Callahan, who just won re-election as Bethlehem Mayor, has for months reached-out to members of the labor community throughout the Lehigh Valley requesting their financial support and conducting strategy sessions.

According to one labor leader that represents workers employed by Bethlehem, Mr. Callahan is fair to his members. “He comes out and participates with our events just to show support for our guys,” said David Saltzer, President of the the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Union Local 735, which represents 111 members of the Bethlehem fire department.

Mr. Saltzer told the newspaper Mr. Callahan has been a good employer since becoming Mayor of Bethlehem. Currently, Local 735 has a four-year contract agreement with the city which will expire on December 31st, 2010. “We have negotiated one contract with him but things went well. He was fair to the members,” said Mr. Saltzer.

Mr. Saltzer has been on the Bethlehem Fire Department for eight years and has served as President for one. “I was the Secretary of the union before becoming the President,” Mr. Saltzer said.

Carpenters Union files complaint against Emmaus employer

11.25.09

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

Carpenters Union files complaint against Emmaus employer

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

EMMAUS, November 1st- During a review by the newspaper of Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges filed at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia it was discovered the Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters of Southeastern Pennsylvania Union in Philadelphia filed a complaint against American Millwork and Cabinetry Inc. in Emmaus alleging the employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

According to the complaint, filed on October 28th, 2009 by Stephen Holrold of the lawfirm of Jennings Sigmond on Walnut Street in Philadelphia on behalf of the union, the employer operates an architectural millwork facility on Broad Street in Emmaus and has approximately 20 employees.

The Union alleges on the ULP Section 8 (a), subsections (1) and (3) was violated by the employer.

The International Brotherhood of Carpenters Union Local 600 in Bethlehem represents carpenter union members throughout the Lehigh Valley and is affiliated with the Regional Council of Carpenters of Southeastern Pennsylvania, State of Delaware and Eastern Shore of Maryland.

The ULP alleges the employer has interferred with, restrained and coerced employees in the exercise of the rights guarenteed under Section 7 of the NLRAct.

“On October 12, 2009, it by its officers, agents and representatives discriminated against and is discriminating against Kevin Wetherhold in retaliation for his membership in and activities in support of the Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters by laying him off” states the complaint.

The employer representative named on the complaint to be contacted is George Reitz however his position with American Millwork and Cabinetry Inc is not identified.

According to the National Labor Relations Board, the agency is investigating the complaint and will determine if there is merit in the union’s allegations.

Food Workers Union ask Wal-Mart to provide health care to employees

11.25.09

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

Food Workers Union ask Wal-Mart to provide health care to employees

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 4th- The United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776, which represents workers throughout southeastern, central and northeastern Pennsylvania including the Lehigh Valley, is calling for Wal-Mart Stores to do the right thing and provide health care for their workers.

According to Wendell Young IV, President of the 23,000 member Local 1776, recently the union conducted a action at a Wal-Mart Store in the region and distributed fliers to customers requesting them to urge Wal-Mart to provide meaningful health care coverage to them.

“Wal-Mart claims that 94 percent of its workers have some form of health care. But the company fails to mention that only half of its workers are covered by the company and that many of the 700,000 who are not covered are forced onto taxpayer-supported state health insurance plans because they earn poverty wages and can’t afford the company’s plan,” said Mr. Young from Local 1776’s main office in Plymouth Meeting, which is near Philadelphia.

UFCW Local 1776 represents workers employed in supermarkets; drug stores, including Rite Aid; food processing plants; government services; manufacturing facilities; nursing homes, including the Cedarbrook Nursing Home in Lehigh County; professional offices and the Pennsylvania Wine and Spirits Shoppes.

Michele Kessler, Secretary/Treasurer of Local 1776, stated that under the company’s least expensive family health care coverage the average full-time Wal-Mart worker must spend more than 20 percent of his or her annual income before the plan pays any reimbursement.

“Yet, Wal-Mart claims that every American should have affordable health insurance. When it comes to health care, Wal-Mart clearly wears many masks. If it really cared about health care, it would do the right thing and make its actions match its words. It would use some of the massive profits to make sure that its workers get the quality, affordable health care coverage that it gives its executives and that all Americans should have,” said Ms. Kessler.

UFCW stated that among 18 states that file reports with the federal government on disclosing where the persons who receive state benefits work, taxpayers pay more than $billion a year to provide health care for Wal-Mart employees. Ohio alone in September reported spending $68 million to give Wal-Mart workers Medicaid, food stamps and other benefits.

Labor Department transfers complaint to Washington office

11.25.09

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

Labor Department transfers complaint to Washington office

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 3rd- The Road Sprinkler Fitters Union Local 669, which is affiliated with the United Association of Journeyman and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry International Union in Washington, DC, complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia has been transferred to the agencies office in Washington DC.

The newspaper previously reported the union filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge on September 9th alleging a Lehigh Valley employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The complaint alleges De Ja Vu Mechanical, Selfert Road in Nazareth, violated Section 8 (a), subsections (1) and (3) of the NLRAct.
According to the ULP, the union alleges the employer on or about May 11th, 2009, and again on May 14th, 2009, after Local 669 distributed information to their employees showing them the proper prevailing wage rates that they should have been paid, threatened employees that if they turned the Employer in for failing to pay prevailing wage under the Pennsylvania Wage Law, they would be fired. The complaint also alleges the Employer threatened employees with layoff for asking about the difference in their pay rate.

According to the NLRB, the ULP has been submitted for advise to the Washington office because of a issue surrounding whether workers of De Ja Vu Mechancial were paid the proper wage under the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act. Under the states prevailing wage law construction workers employed for the building and construction of government bodies such as schools and municipal buildings must be paid the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage.

According to Kim Green, Organizer of Local 669 and who filed the ULP on behalf of the union, the nonunion employer installs, maintains and repairs sprinkler systems, and was hired by several area school districts to conduct construction work including in the Nazareth School District. Local 669 represents workers within the construction industry that installs sprinkler systems.

Mr. Green stated the employer isolated employee Glenn Minnick from other employees to prevent him from continuing to talk to them about the proper pay rates they should be paid. The employer assigned overtime to employees other than Mr. Minnick in retaliation for his complaining about the Employer’s failure to pay the proper prevailing wage rates. And Mr. Minnick was terminated for complaining about and pursuing the proper wages on behalf of him and other similarly situated employees, and told him “good luck with what you are doing,” only four days after Mr. Minnick filed a state lawsuit to recover prevailing wages on behalf of himself and others similarly situated.

Pennsylvania and Illinois Faculty Unions Endorse HR 676

11.25.09

Pennsylvania and Illinois Faculty Unions Endorse HR 676

Two faculty unions affiliated with the National Education Association
(NEA) have endorsed HR 676, single payer healthcare legislation introduced
by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI).

In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the Legislative Assembly of the Association
of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) voted
overwhelmingly to endorse HR 676. ASPCUF represents 6,000 faculty members
at the fourteen public university campuses across Pennsylvania. Seth
Kahn, Grievance Chair at West Chester University, said: “APSCUF
recognizes the importance of single-payer healthcare for unions
everywhere. We are pleased to offer our strong endorsement.”

In Chicago, Illinois, the Executive Board of the Roosevelt University
Adjunct Faculty Organization (RAFO) also voted to endorse HR 676 reports
LuAnn Swartzlander, RAFO President. RAFO is affiliated with the Illinois
Education Association (IEA) and the NEA. #30#

HR 676 would institute a single payer health care system by expanding a
greatly improved Medicare system to everyone residing in the U. S.

HR 676 would cover every person for all necessary medical care including
prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and
preventive care, emergency services, dental, mental health, home health,
physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision
care, hearing services including hearing aids, chiropractic, durable
medical equipment, palliative care, and long term care.

HR 676 ends deductibles and co-payments. HR 676 would save hundreds of
billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the
private health insurance industry and HMOs.

In the current Congress, HR 676 has 86 co-sponsors in addition to Conyers.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced SB 703, a single payer bill
in the Senate.

HR 676 has been endorsed by 568 union organizations in 49 states including
134 Central Labor Councils and Area Labor Federations and 39 state
AFL-CIO’s (KY, PA, CT, OH, DE, ND, WA, SC, WY, VT, FL, WI, WV, SD, NC, MO,
MN, ME, AR, MD-DC, TX, IA, AZ, TN, OR, GA, OK, KS, CO, IN, AL, CA, AK, MI,
MT, NE, NY, NV & MA).

For further information, a list of union endorsers, or a sample
endorsement resolution, contact:

Kay Tillow
All Unions Committee For Single Payer Health Care## HR 676
c/o Nurses Professional Organization (NPO)
1169 Eastern Parkway, Suite 2218
Louisville, KY 40217
(502) 636 1551
Email: nursenpo@aol.com
http://unionsforsinglepayerHR676.org
11/24/09