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America Needs a Jobs Bill, and the Federal Deficit Shouldn’t Stand in the Way

12.12.09

America Needs a Jobs Bill, and the Federal Deficit Shouldn’t Stand in the Way

by Robert Creamer

Last month’s drop in the unemployment rate and continued reduction of job losses is certainly good news. It indicates that the U.S. economy may have finally stopped shedding jobs. But without additional government action there is little likelihood that the economy will return to anything resembling full employment in the near future.

There are two reasons why it is critical that Congress pass a major new jobs initiative – one economic, and one political.

Job Creation and Deficits

The recent CBO report concluded that 600,000 to 1.6 million jobs have been created or saved to date by the effects of the first Obama stimulus package – and that’s before a large percentage of total stimulus spending has even taken place.

That means that when the report was released, up to 1.6 million people would have been unemployed had Congress failed to pass the stimulus bill.

It is quite clear, as economist Paul Krugman wrote, that the stimulus bill was too little of a good thing.

In fact, at times of economic downturn, no entity other than the government can lead a recovery. And in the case of a recession as deep as the one President Obama inherited from George Bush, that is particularly true of job creation.

So if the first stimulus bill worked to create or save jobs, why not do it again? What stands in the way is the perception on Capitol Hill that the deficit is out of control.

Of course we’ve seen this movie before. During the Great Depression, the efforts of the Roosevelt Administration to use government fiscal stimulus – and direct Federal Jobs programs like the WPA – were interrupted by a similar concern for “controlling the deficit.” Even before they were interrupted, these efforts were relatively modest, given the size of the economic problem. But when Roosevelt’s stimulus programs were cut back out of fear of the growing federal deficit, the country saw a new increase in joblessness.

Recessions – or in the worst case, depressions – represent an imbalance in the capacity of the economy to produce goods and services on the one hand, and the demand for those goods and services on the other. There is too much supply and too little demand. There is a demand deficit. This deficit is ever so much more important than the federal budget deficit, because it means that we have more ability to produce wealth –the goods and services made by the economy – than consumers have the ability to buy. Since farms and companies can’t sell as much product as they can produce, they cut back that production and lay off many of people who are employed to produce it.

When workers and plants lie idle, they represent wealth – and well-being – that is simply never created – that we lose forever. That means that we have to get by with less food, less clothing, less entertainment, less education – less of everything that determines the well-being of our society – and each and every individual within it.

The worst disaster for our economy is the waste of idle plants and idle workers, because for every day a worker is idle, we all lose wealth – and standard of living ## that we will never recoup.

This deficit between what we have the ability to produce on the one hand, and economic demand on the other, is the deficit we should really worry about.

During the 1930’s Roosevelt was never able to convince Congress to pass a stimulus program large enough to enable America to recover fully from the depression and achieve full employment. It took Japanese Emperor Hirohito to do that. The attack on Pearl Harbor created a national emergency that justified deficits unlike anything anyone had ever seen. Those deficits financed a full employment economy and a massive explosion of the American Military that together finally ended the Great Depression once and for all. That economic mobilization provided the economic foundation for the longest period of widespread economic growth in our history – which, with a few minor interruptions – continued until the early 1970’s.

Economically, this full employment mobilization did not require a war. World War II simply generated the will to make it politically possible.

Luckily, President Obama’s first stimulus, and his actions that prevented a complete meltdown of the financial system, avoided another Depression. But three lessons stand out from the Depression experience:

1). If we want long-term growth, the most important element is the full utilization of our work force.

2). A relatively large deficit created in pursuit of full employment does not endanger long-term economic growth.

3).Allowing concern for the deficit to constrain our pursuit of full employment can endanger economic recovery.

From an economic point of view, Congress needs to pass a large scale jobs program that focuses on spending, that directly puts people to work. Given the massive neglect of the public infrastructure over the last eight years, there is an enormous amount of productive work to be done – either by directly paying contractors or by funding a federal public works program like the WPA.

In addition, the Federal Government should use its ability to “deficit spend” to fill in the massive holes in state and local budgets. One recent study showed that if it does not, up to 900,000 additional jobs may be lost – both from the direct unemployment within state and local governments, and the loss of jobs among government contractors.

To be effective, such a program should not mainly focus on incentives for job creation. Tax incentives and other inducements to create jobs simply are not as effective on a dollar-for-dollar basis and their impact is much more difficult to track. It should focus on programs that directly create jobs.

Congress must act as soon as possible, to build on the momentum of the first stimulus, and avoid a “double dip” recession. It must also take action soon, for important political reasons.

The Politics of Jobs

If the job picture has not begun to significantly improve by next November’s elections, voters will be in a “throw the bums out” sort of mood. This will be especially true if Congress fails to pass portions of the Obama program – health care reform, financial reform, clean energy legislation and immigration reform. But even if we have passed the key elements of this critical domestic agenda, if we have not made progress creating jobs, we are likely to see many more Republicans in Congress starting in 2011.

That result would not only represent a setback for the overall Progressive agenda – it would also make it even less likely that we can get the votes to pass the measures we will need to sustain long-term economic growth. It will increase the ranks of the Party of “No” and the Party that has now raised fear of federal deficits to an article of religious faith.

Let us remember that the Republicans never hesitated to create deficits when they were in charge. They generated deficits to finance their wars and their tax breaks for the rich without blinking an eye. Unfortunately, they created deficits at exactly the time in the economic cycle when you should be building up surpluses and paying down debt.

Deficits are certainly not always a good thing. They are a good thing when you need to stimulate the economy, not when the economy is growing briskly.

Nor are federal deficits inevitable. Remember that President Clinton handed Bush and the Republicans a growing Federal surplus. With their wars and tax breaks for the rich, Bush turned those surpluses into long term structural deficits. And that’s not all.

The Republicans inherited an economic expansion and turned it into the current economic disaster by siphoning all of the fruits of growth to the top 2% of the population. The effect was a stagnant and declining standard of living for ordinary people even as the economy expanded. In the absence of growing disposable consumer income – a massive explosion of consumer debt developed and kept the economic engine going until the house of cards came tumbling down when the huge speculative bubble at the very top of the economy finally burst.

One year into the Obama Administration, we are still living with the recession caused by Wall Street’s reckless risk-taking. We are also living with deficits that were created by the Right ## quite intentionally ## to constrain the growth of the public sector. The Republicans created a “Catch 22” that both caused the recession and then limited our ability to end it. We can’t allow ourselves to be caught in this Republican trap.

The polling – and actual voter behavior – makes it clear that voters don’t vote against incumbent Members of Congress because of “deficits.” Deficits have far too diffuse an effect on individual voters to have any real impact on voter decisions. To the extent “out of control deficits” becomes a real issue in a campaign, it is a proxy for a more general level of discontent about the economy – a sense that the economy itself – and the voter’s individual economic circumstances – are out of control.

What drives voters are their perceptions about their own individual economic prospects and those of their children. The prices of health insurance premiums, wages, housing prices, mortgage rates, personal income growth – and the ability to get a job – drive these perceptions, not concern about “deficits.”

The bottom line is this: the top priority for Democrats who want to make sure that our candidates do well in 2010 is to do everything we can to create jobs. The Federal deficit should not be allowed to stand in the way.

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the recent book: “Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win,” available on www.amazon.com.

PHILAPOSH Awards reception

12.12.09

John Oliver Mason
November 28, 2009
PHILAPOSH Awards reception

The Philadelphia Area Project for Occupational Safety and Health (PHILPAOSH) held its 25th annual awards celebration in the Grand Ballroom of AFSCME District Council 33, 3001 Walnut Street in Philadelphia, on Friday, November 20, 2009.

Director Barbara Rahke spoke of the night’s honorees: “Tonight we pay tribute to members of our (Labor) community, who understand what it takes to fight for good jobs. Good jobs that not only provide a living wage, good jobs that provide family benefits, good jobs that provide pensions, but also good jobs that are safe and healthful, where people go to work without getting killed and without getting injured. They are leaders and organizers with the vision who understand that it takes an active and educated membership to move our agenda, and that you can’t lead without that.”

Rahke commended the awardees and similar activists as “worker-activists who have agitated for strong and effective health and safety committees, the backbone of the union health and safety movement.” Rahke spoke of PHILPOSH’s recent activities this year, such as participating in a national conference of COSH groups in Philadelphia; working with the families of workers killed on the job; working with unions, community organizations, and immigrant groups; holding classes in occupational safety and working with safety committees; and producing a video on worker safety for Spanish-speaking workers.

A new award, the Safety in the Trades Award, was awarded to Thomas P. Gallo, Business Manager of Steamfitters Local 420. Rahke announced that Gallo was not present but would present it to him. She added that Gallo received the award was, “One, they have been developing wonderful training programs, and developed their own internal program for process safety management for their members who work in refineries…(They) expressed a bigger vision when they were one of the first locals in the area to support the Protecting America’s Workers platform for federal action in 2009, which truly had a broad vision of what needs to be done for worker health and safety. Local 420 was very quick to sign on to that, and to see the need for that vision under Tom Gallo’s leadership.”

Kati Sipp, Vice-President of SEIU Healthcare PA, introduced presented the Karen Silkwood Award to Neil Bisno, President of SEIU Healthcare PA. “One of the things that immediately came to mind” in honoring Bisno, said Sipp, “is a principle I learned in my earliest days as an organizer ## the organizer is never the story, it’s always the workers’ voices that should be lifted up it’s always a story about bringing workers together to make sure that we’re winning power and winning struggles that are going to affect working people…Neil embodies that principle more than any organizer than I met.” For as long as she has known Bisno, said Sipp, “He really, in almost everything that he does, lives this principle, that the people who should be out front speaking about their contract fights, about their political fights, about whatever it is they’re trying to change in their community and their work site are the workers that we represent…It’s those people whose story we’re really here to support and that it gets out.”

In accepting the award, Bisno said, “It seems very hard to have your name associated with someone (who is) a hero of our movement like Karen Silkwood, who literally gave her life for health and safety and for workers’ rights.” Bisno said of PHILPAPOSH, “I really recognize the incredible work your organization does…It’s an incredible honor on behalf of myself and all of our 4,000 members in our local union to receive this award.”

Bisno spoke of his union’s fight against mandatory overtime for health-care workers, which his union represents: “SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania… is the largest union of nurses and health care workers in the state, and proud of it, representing 20,000 workers in hospitals and long-term care facilities…I want to take a second to thank them for coming and recognize some of our incredible members who are here tonight from Philadelphia-area facilities.”

Jim Moran, Executive Director Emeritus of PHILPAOSH, presented the Special recognition for a Lifetime of Activism Award to Alice Hoffman, veteran Labor educator. “A lot of the educational work she has done,” Moran said, “targeted the young people, with an eye toward developing new leadership. In each kind of educational work she did, she integrated job safety and health into that.” The award read, “Thanks to this extraordinary woman, workers have been motivated to lead in to their future, and have learned about the richness of their past.”

Upon receiving the award, Hoffman said, “The Health and Safety committee has always been about rank and file activism.” The founders of OSHA legislation in 1970, “ who I was fortunate enough to know…emphasized that education and training on safety in the workplace in absolutely key, and we’re seeing the results of it tonight.”

Hoffman reminded the audience of the words of the great labor activist Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, “Sit down, educate yourself for the coming conflicts. If she was here tonight, she would remind us that we cannot revitalize our movement without young, educated trade union activists.”

Rahke presented the award for Outstanding Health and Safety Committee to AFSCME Local 752 and the Joint Labor/Management Health and Safety Committee at the Philadelphia Zoo. Rahke recalled a call she received from the health and safety committee; “I ended up getting invited to attend one of their committee meetings,” she said, “and that was the experience of a lifetime. I sat through a meeting and I thought, this is incredible, climbing up ladders in a bat cage, cleaning and swabbing down the walls of the gorilla exhibit, climbing into treacherous, confined spaces, being responsible for keeping animals inside the cage and visitors outside the cage ## not an easy task.”

Rahke added, “That was the beginning of a revolution.” One woman who made complaints faced disciplinary procedures for speaking with Rahke; “The next thing I knew,” she added, “they were calling (the PHILAPSOH office) and said, ‘Oh, my God, it’s like crazy, they heard about it, we fought back.’ Making real change means you need a group of determined activist people who are going to take hold and not give up. What I found there was a group of workers who workers who were more than willing to work jointly with management to fix health and safety problems. They were not going to stop and they were not going to give up.”

PHILAPOSH staff member Nicole Charles presented the Crystal Eastman Award to Carol Austin, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives for the Philadelphia Youth Network. This was in recognition for her work in advocating health and safety training as part of job development programs for area youth, along with environmentally-friendly “green jobs” such as in weatherization.

Austin spoke of her pleasure “to be in the presence of people who know how to fight for people, who know how to fight for what really matters. We live in a society where it really is about ‘Do whatever it takes to make that dollar,’ and so often who are left out are the people who really matter, who really make a difference… It’s very easy to think about including health and safety education as a no-brainer. How are you going to have people working and they don’t understand the fundamentals of being safe?” Austin commended Rahke and Charles for “their passion ## these ladies know how to fight for people.”

The Tony Mazzocchi Award was presented to Jim Savage, President of USW Local 10-1. Savage led a campaign for a new contract against the Sun Oil refinery in South Philadelphia, including gaining an ally in the surrounding community over safety at the refinery. Rahke said, “Under Jim’s leadership…(the local) took on Sun Oil in a fight for a contract, a fight for safety and health, (which was) a fight that involved the safety and health of their members and of the surrounding community. They had the community mobilized, they had members our door to door getting community members to sign petitions. They were in parking lots in the neighborhood, building, building, building. They put a billboard up across from the refinery (with) a picture of an explosion (at a refinery), so that the community would realize they were fighting for them as well.”

ACORN Scores A Victory

12.12.09

ACORN Scores A Victory

http://www.delawareliberal.net/2009/12/11/acorn-scores-a-victory/#comments

By Unstable Isotope

ACORN has scored a court victory, successfully arguing that Congress’s defunding bill was a bill of attainder:

A judge has put an injunction on Congress’s ban on ACORN funding.

U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon today ruled to put a preliminary injunction on the Congressional resolution that barred ACORN or its affiliates from receiving federal funds, according to a press release from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who blasted the move.
Congress had acted in the wake of the scandal in which ACORN employees were caught on camera giving advice on how to break the law to two people posing as a pimp and a prostitute.

ACORN has sought to overturn the ban, arguing that it’s a Bill of Attainder — a bill designed to penalize a specific person or entity — and therefore unconstitutional.

ACORN has had a pretty good week this week. First there were the revelations from the independent review that the infamous pimp-prostitute video had been heavily edited and now a court victory. Of course, our media is completely ignoring the story. I guess it’s just not as interesting as having young Republicans dressed in costume.

Pa. insurer to reprocess rejected claims

12.12.09

Pa. insurer to reprocess rejected claims
By Stacey Burling

Inquirer Staff Writer

Article link

A Harrisburg-based health insurance company - HealthAmerica and HealthAssurance Pennsylvania Inc. - has reached an agreement with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office over complaints that it improperly rejected emergency-room treatment claims from more than 600 subscribers across the state, the Attorney General’s Office said yesterday.
HealthAmerica agreed to reprocess and pay $445,981 in claims. Most of that money will go to hospitals and doctors whose bills were rejected, said Nils Frederiksen, deputy press secretary for Attorney General Tom Corbett.

The company will pay $10,000 in civil penalties to the state and $50,025 to cover investigation expenses. The company’s insurance plans - and state law - required it to pay claims involving symptoms that would lead a “prudent layperson” to choose to go to the emergency room.

Corbett’s office said HealthAmerica was using a higher standard.

In a written statement, HealthAmerica said it did not admit any wrongdoing but agreed to cooperate with the attorney general as a “good corporate citizen.”

The company said it had adjusted its emergency claims payment guidelines “as appropriate.” The company added that “misuse of the emergency room continues to drive up health-care costs for everyone.”

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Contact staff writer Stacey Burling at 215-854-4944 or sburling@phillynews.com.

Deck Stacked Against Airline, Railroad Workers

12.11.09

Deck Stacked Against Airline, Railroad Workers

by James Parks, Dec 8, 2009

http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/12/08/deck-stacked-against-airline-railroad-workers/

Proposed rule changes for airline and rail union elections are overdue and will make the current process more democratic, transportation union leaders say. Yesterday was the last day for comments on the new rule, and workers are urging the agency to act quickly to correct the unfair election process.

Currently, elections in these industries require that all eligible workers who do not vote are arbitrarily assigned a “No” vote. This veto by silence is completely at odds with the principles of U.S. democracy. The National Mediation Board (NMB), which oversees airline and rail union elections, has proposed rule changes that would permit a majority of workers who actually vote to decide the election and stop assigning “No” votes to workers who do not participate.

“The deck is currently stacked against airline and railroad workers,” says AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department President Edward Wytkind.

With this change, never again will workers in these industries seeking to form a union be thwarted by such undemocratic rules.

Testifying at a NMB public hearing yesterday, Wytkind said:

This compulsory voting standard has, in turn, fostered a unique culture of voter suppression as companies understand that impeding union organizing merely requires preventing employees from voting. During union elections, companies seek to decrease voter turnout and thereby defeat an organizing drive not by winning an actual vote on the merits, but rather through carefully managing a low turnout.

The NMB has the authority and ability to make the proposed changes on its own. The U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that the NMB has broad discretion to determine how union elections will be conducted and that its current voting procedures are not required by law. Wytkind said it is time to make the changes:

It is time to permit airline and rail workers to vote on the question of unionization under the same democratic standards used in all other elections—from union elections conducted under other labor laws to congressional elections.

Click here to read

Complaint filed by Healthcare Center employee dismissed

12.09.09

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

Complaint filed by Healthcare Center employee dismissed

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, November 15th- The newspaper has learned the complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia by a former employee of the Lackawanna County Healthcare Center has been dismissed because of “lack of standing.”

The former employee, Jacqueline Kipp of Jackson Street in Dickson City, filed the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge on October 6th, 2009, alleging the employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

According to the ULP, 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.

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.

SEIU/Healthcare Pennsylvania Lackawanna County Healthcare Center Unit Chapter President Geralyn Biancarelli disputes comments made by Ms. Kipp that she wasn’t offered a position.

The NLRB told Ms. Kipp the agency has no standing because the facility is government owned and operated. She was advised to file a complaint with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB).

Nurses union files complaint against CMC Hospital

12.09.09

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

Nurses union files complaint against CMC Hospital

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, November 14th- The union that represents nurses at the Community Medical Center (CMC) in Scranton filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia alleging the hospital violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The newspaper has learned the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP) Union, Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, filed a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge against the CMC on October 28th, 2009 alleging the employer violated Section 8 (a), subsections (1) and (3) of the NLRAct. The complaint was filed by April Smith, Director of Organizing of PASNAP.

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.

Of the three medical centers in Scranton, Moses Taylor Hospital 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 or about August 26th, 2009, the employer, by its officers, agents, and representatives terminated Elizabeth Webber because of her activities on behalf of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, and because she engaged in concerned activities with other employees of the CMC for the purposes of mutual aid and protection, and in order to discourage membership in the union.

The complaint also alleges on or about late July and early August of 2009, the employer violated the NLRAct by interrogating employee Bob Bonczek about his union activity.

Teamsters Union Local 229 announces Scholarship winners

12.09.09

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

Teamsters Union Local 229 announces Scholarship winners

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

SCRANTON, November 19th- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 229, North Main Avenue in Scranton, announced their annual scholarship winners for the 2009/2010 calender year.

All scholarships are supported by Local 229’s Annual Scholarship Golf Tournament held in late summer and are awarded to students whose parents are members of the Union.

“This was a very special year for the Teamsters Local Union 229 Scholarship Fund. It marked a milestone by allowing us to award our 110th College Scholarship,” stated Robert Weber, Secretary/Treasurer and Principal Officer of Local 229.

The winners of the First Year Scholarships are:

• Kyle A. Boyd, which is attending Marywood University
• Courtney R. Rudat, which is attending Kutztown University, and
• Michael P. Yuhas, which is attending Wilkes University

The winner of the Continuing Education Schoarship is:
• Nichole H. Pollock, which is also attending Wilkes University

John Petrochko, Local 229 Office Manager stated the Union would like to congratulate and offer best wishes to all four winners and their union member parents.

Local 229 represents IBT members in and around Lackawanna County and Local 401, South Main Street in Wilkes-Barre, represents IBT members in and around Luzerne County.

Postal worker files lawsuit alleging USPS violated his rights

12.09.09

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

Postal worker files lawsuit alleging USPS violated his rights

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, November 13th- On October 13th, 2009 a lawsuit was filed with the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania alleging a former employee of the United States Postal Service (USPS) was discriminated against by representatives of the agency.

The complaint was filed by Attorney Peter Loftus of Waverly of the lawfirm of Loftus P.C. of Clarks-Summit on behalf of Michael Ruddy and Cherilynn Ruddy, his wife.

The complaint alleges USPS officials violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEAct); the Americans’ with Disabilities Act (ADAct); created a hostile Work environment; violated the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRAct); violated Mr. Ruddy’s invasion of privacy; committed libel and slander; and committed the intentional infliction of emotional distress and loss of consortium.

The plaintiff is seeking a remedy for violations of his civil rights exceeding eighty thousand dollars with interests, cost and attorney’s fees. Mr. Ruddy on September 4th, 2009 has provided the Office of Federal Operations Federal Sector Programs in Washington, DC with a notice of intent to sue. The lawsuit states the unlawful employment practices occurred in the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Ruddy, 54 years old of Clarks Green in Lackawanna County, has a total of 34 years of service in the USPS including his military time making him 2nd on the seniority list. Mr. Ruddy was a postal mail carrier working from the USPS facility on Stafford Avenue in South Scranton. He is a member of the National Association of Letters Carriers (NALC) Union Branch 17 in Scranton.

The complaint states Mr. Ruddy did not intend to retire until the age of sixty-five, has received numerous good driving awards, and received a certificate for 25 years of service from the USPS.

The complaint alleges the USPS, through their agents, servants and/or employees created a hostile work environment through their threats and intimidation causing an exacerbation of Mr. Ruddy’s current disability. The complaint alleges Mr. Ruddy and his wife as a result of the actions of the defendants named has endured substantial humiliation, embarrassment, pain and suffering from their actions which he suffered and will continue to suffer indefinitely for a period of time into the future.

The complaint states because of the actions of defendants named Mr. Ruddy has experienced depression, severe anxiety, sweating, chest pain, and elevated blood pressure requiring him to seek medical help in an effort to bring about a cure thus causing him substantial money, the loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, humiliation, embarrassment, ridicule, pain and suffering with the intent to forcing him into early retirement.

Named as defendants are: Linda Shall, Postmaster of the USPS Office in Scranton; Brian Tucker, a Supervisor of the USPS Office in Scranton; Christopher Pugliese, a temporary Supervisor of the USPS Office in Scranton; Lisa Bansa, a temporary Supervisor of the USPS Office in Scranton; Diane Passerelli, a Supervisor of the USPS Office in Scranton; Rick Dickson, a Supervisor of the USPS Office in Scranton; and Holly Shope, Manager of the USPS Office in Harrisburg.

When contacted by the newspaper Thomas Gavin, President of Branch 17, stated he was aware of the lawsuit and Mr. Ruddy was an good union member.

The employer is accused of supporting unsubstantiated allegations unsupported by any evidence stating that Mr. Ruddy was in a rehab facility for allegedly alcohol abuse. The lawsuit alleges the actions taken by the defendants were intentional, malicious and outrageous designed to influence the opinion into not allowing Mr. Ruddy to receive Workers’ Compensation. Mr. Ruddy has obtained more than fifty names of individuals who have worked with him or had their mail delivered by him stating they never smelled alcohol on his breath.

The complaint alleges under the instruction of Ms. Shall, Ms. Passerilli, and Mr. Dickson management would stand behind Mr. Ruddy trying to force him to case faster and get out of the office earlier which was not done to other individuals not in the protected age group or with less seniority. Because of this action, the lawsuit accuses the USPS was attempting to force Mr. Ruddy into early retirement, committing a concerted violation of the ADEAct.

NATIONAL AND PHILA. HEALTH CARE UNION LEADER ENDORSES WAGNER FOR GOVERNOR

12.07.09

NATIONAL AND PHILA. HEALTH CARE UNION LEADER ENDORSES WAGNER FOR GOVERNOR

“I back Jack,” says Nicholas

PHILADELPHIA (Dec. 4, 2009) – The President of District 1199c of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, today announced his endorsement of Auditor General Jack Wagner for Governor.

“I back Jack because he’s been a great friend to organized labor who shares our commitment to a better life for working families,” said Henry Nicholas. “He’s also been a great friend to southeastern Pennsylvania for years, and he’ll be a Governor we can all count on.”

District 1199c represents over 13,000 workers in all fields in the major health care institutions in Philadelphia. In addition to serving as President of District 1199c, Nicholas serves as President of the NUHHCE.

Wagner said that he was honored by the early endorsement and excited about the momentum that his campaign was gaining. “I look forward to working with Henry and other labor and health care leaders on the important issues facing Pennsylvania in the months and years ahead.”

In making the endorsement, Nicholas emphasized Wagner’s own union roots. After graduating from high school, Wagner was employed for five years at Duquesne Light, where he was a member of what is now Local 29 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Pittsburgh. He worked as a meter reader, a draftsman, and, finally, a payroll clerk. Earlier this year, Local 29 re-instated Wagner as an honorary member in recognition of his work as Auditor General to protect the rights of the men and women of organized labor. As Auditor General, Wagner has uncovered violations of the prevailing wage, unemployment, and workers’ compensation laws, as well as violations of the fundamental right to form and join a union.

Wagner has worked for years to improve the quality of care in health care facilities, most recently through his support for the Pennsylvania Culture Change Coalition, which seeks to shift the focus of nursing home care from the facility to the patient. He was also a strong supporter of the ban on mandatory overtime for nursing and other health care employees and was pleased to see the ban finally passed into law last year. In addition, Wagner’s audits have identified hundreds of millions of dollars that could be saved in the Medicaid program, without reducing benefits for eligible recipients.

As Governor, Wagner’s top priorities for Pennsylvania will include: providing a HOPE Scholarship Program to help families afford the cost of higher education, maintaining vital government services without raising taxes, maximizing the state’s new Marcellus Shale energy resources in an environmentally responsible way, creating high quality jobs to grow our economy, and providing access to affordable, quality health care for Pennsylvania families.

Wagner, twice elected with bipartisan support as the state’s independent fiscal watchdog, received record-breaking vote totals in his re-election in 2008. Adding more supporters and endorsements every week to his campaign for Governor, the list now includes:

· Dennis Balbac, District Leader for the Lebanon County Democratic Committee’s District 4; member of PennAg Democrats; and, like Wagner, a Vietnam veteran

· Lu Inzana, Chair of the Jefferson County Democratic Committee

· Chris Katella, President of the Clarion University Young Democrats and Chair of Students for Wagner

· Monica Kline, a leader of Lebanon County Democratic Committee’s District 4 and daughter of the late Lt. Gov. Ernie Kline.

· Bill Miller, Chair of the Clarion County Democratic Committee

· Tim Nieman, leader of the Lebanon County Democratic Committee’s District 4

· Chris Tarsa, Chair of the Lebanon County Democratic Committee

Jack Wagner is a decorated Vietnam War combat veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, former member and president of the Pittsburgh City Council, and former state senator representing Allegheny County. Between the time of his military service and his service as an elected public official, Wagner worked his way through college on the GI Bill and as a paramedic, followed by ten years working as a Certified Safety Professional helping to ensure that businesses provide safe work environments for their employees. He was chosen by Pennsylvania families and taxpayers to serve as Pennsylvania’s 50th elected Auditor General in 2004, and was re-elected in 2008 with 3.3 million votes and 59% of the vote.

More information about Jack Wagner, his record of reform, and his campaign for Governor can be found at www.jackwagner.org.

###

CONTACT:

CLINT EISENHOWER

Director of Policy & Communications

Jack Wagner for Governor

Ph: 717-695-9940

Fax: 717-695-9941

clint@jackwagner.org

www.jackwagner.org

Demographics of union workers shift with almost half being women

12.07.09

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

Demographics of union workers shift with almost half being women

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, November 24th- According to a study released by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) an independent economic policy think tank in Washington, DC. over the past 25 years, the face of the labor movement has undergone change.

“The view that the typical union worker is a white male manufacturing worker may have been correct a quarter of a century ago, but it’s not an accurate description of those in today’s labor movement,” said John Schmitt, an author of the report.

The report called “The Changing Face of Labor, 1983-2008,” analyzes trends in the union workforce over the last quarter century and finds that it is more diverse today than just 25 years ago. The trends in the composition of the unionized workforce, in part reflect similar shifts in the workforce as a whole.

The report reveals other shifts in union composition which includes:

• Women now make up over 45 percent of unionized workers up from 35 percent in 1983. By 2020 women will be the majority of union workers.

• Latinos are the fastest growing ethnic group in the labor movement. In 2008, they represented 12.2 percent of the union workforce, up from 5.8 percent in 1983.

• Asians have seen considerable gains and make up 4.6 percent of the union workforce in 2008, an increase from 2.5 percent in 1989.

• Black workers were about 13 percent of the total unionized workforce, a share that has held fairly steady since 1983, despite a large decline in the representation of whites over the same period.

• Over one-third of union workers had a four-year college degree or more, up from one-in-five in 1983. Almost half of union women had at least a four-year college degree.

• About one-in-ten unionized workers was in manufacturing, down from almost 30 percent in 1983.

• Just under half (48.9 percent) of unionized workers were in the public sector, up from just over one-third (34.4 percent) in 1983. About 61 percent of unionized women are in the public sector.

• The typical union worker was 45 years old, or about 7 years older than in 1983. The typical employee, regardless of union status, was 41 years old, also about 7 years older than in 1983.

• More educated workers were more likely to be unionized than less educated workers, a reversal from 25 years ago.

• Immigrants made up 12.6 percent of union workers in 2008, up from 8.4 percent in 1994.

• In rough terms, five-in-ten union workers were in the public sector; one of every ten was in manufacturing; and the remaining four of ten were in the private sector outside of manufacturing.

Wilkes-Barre General Hospital workers still without pact

12.07.09

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

Wilkes-Barre General Hospital workers still without pact

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, December 1st- Negotiations for a successor labor agreement between the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Professionals (PASNAP) Union and Community Health Systems (CHS) Inc., which is the largest owner of for-profit hospitals in the country, and owns and operates the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital is continuing.

PASNAP, which is affiliated with the California Nurses Association (CNA), represents approximately 450 nurses employed at the medical center located on North River Street in Wilkes-Barre. The union also represents nurses employed at the Community Medical Center (CMC) in Scranton.

The previous contract agreement expired on August 30th and the two sides agreed to work under the terms and conditions of the expired contract while they continued to negotiate for a new pact.

One of the main issues blocking the two sides from reaching a new contract is staffing levels.

According to Stanley Wielgolpolski, a Registered Nurse (RN) at the medical center, staffing levels at the facility has steadily dropped with no similar significant drop in the number of patients.

Mr. Wielgolpolski stated the number of nurses PASNAP currently represents indicates the steady drop in staff levels.

According to the union in October 2008 the number of RN’s represented by PASNAP was 482, in February, 2009 the number was 469 and in June, 2009 the union represented was 455.

“We are seeing a rise in cases coming into the Emergency Room, not a decrease. How could we possibly need less staff? Patients are sicker and nurses are more pressed for time. It is very stressful and sometimes dangerous. This is why we need to address staffing in our contract negotiations. There needs to be some minimum standards so that nurses don’t start to leave and patients don’t get harmed,” said Mr. Wielgolpolski.

Terry Marcavage, PASNAP Staff Representative, stated CHS owns 120 facilities nationwide and has 10 in Pennsylvania including the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. They operate other facilities in the region in Pottsville and Berwick with the Wilkes-Barre facility being the largest in the state.

Ms. Marcavage said the medical center in Wilkes-Barre is the third largest CHS operates nationwide.

The two sides were scheduled to meet on December 1st.

Corey O’Brien requesting for labor support in Congressional challenge

12.07.09

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

Corey O’Brien requesting for labor support in Congressional challenge

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, December 1st- Lackawanna County Majority Democratic Commissioner Corey O’Brien is challenging incumbent United States House of Representative Paul Kanjorski (Democrat-11th District) in 2010 and is requesting for support from the labor community.

Mr. O’Brien stated in the two years he has served with fellow Democrat Mike Washo as the majority party commissioners of Lackawanna County he has supported the labor community. Mr. O’Brien was elected in 2007 to serve with then minority party commissioner Mike Washo defeating incumbent Republican Commissioner Robert Cordaro.

In November Mr. O’Brien’s Congressional campaign distributed information to members of the labor community, including the newspaper, requesting they support him in the primary election next spring and indicating he would be a strong voice of the working people in Northeastern Pennsylvania if elected.

“Corey O’Brien will fight for Pennsylvania’s working families when he is elected to the United States Congress by standing in solidarity with labor to strengthen and defend workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively.

Corey O’Brien will demand economic freedom for Pennsylvania’s working families when he supports an increase in the federal minimum wage to achieve a realistic living wage,” states the correspondence.

Mr. O’Brien told the newspaper he supports signing Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s) with the Scranton Building and Construction Trades Council labor federation for building projects in Lackawanna County. Under a PLA, local unionized workers are almost assured to be hired for building and construction projects.

“Corey O’Brien will fight against the Republican anti-union agenda by standing with labor on the issues of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCAct), Banning Striker Replacment, Davis-Bacon, Safety Standards, Fair Trade, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO),” continues Mr. O’Brien’s correspondence.

Mr. O’Brien stated he doesn’t support legislation that would ban PLA’s in Pennsylvania that was introduced in September in Harrisburg. The bill called the “Open Contracting Act” would prohibit the use of PLA’s by public bodies for construction of schools, prisons, roads, and other public buildings in Pennsylvania. House Bill 2010 was introduced by Republican Representive John Bear (97th Legislative District).

Mr. O’Brien stated although the legislation is not a federal issue, he does not support the legislation and it only shows how anti-union the Republican Party has become.

Mr. O’Brien is attempting to gain the support of a constituency group, (organized labor), that in the past supported Mr. Kanjorski. Phone calls regarding this story to Mr. Kanjorski’s labor union contact by the newspaper were not immediately returned.

Roosevelt Understood the Power of a Public Option

12.02.09

Roosevelt Understood the Power of a Public Option

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/01/opinion/01Tue4.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

By ADAM COHEN
Published: November 30, 2009

As governor of New York, Franklin D. Roosevelt crusaded for “public power,” government-owned electric plants. He was outraged by the high prices that monopolistic utility companies were charging and by their refusal to bring electricity to rural parts of the state, which, they said, could not be done economically. Public plants, Roosevelt said, could bring power to those who needed it and serve as a yardstick for measuring and keeping in check the prices charged by private power companies.

Many decades later, a major point of contention in the debate over health insurance reform is the so-called public option, a government-run program that would compete with private insurers. Critics have tried to paint it as a wild-eyed experiment, but it echoes F.D.R.’s battles for public power — in fact, the entire New Deal he later created. The argument Roosevelt made — that a government program could fix the flaws in a poorly functioning private market — applies with even more force in health care.

In the early 20th century, electricity was a hot political issue. It was expensive and did not reach many parts of the country. To Roosevelt, it was an important social justice issue. “When he talked about the benefits of cheap electricity he did not think in terms of kilowatts,” a top adviser said. “He thought in terms of the hired hand milking by electricity, the farm wife’s pump, stove, lights and sewing machine.”

When he ran for president in 1932, Roosevelt made public power a cornerstone of his campaign. In a speech in Portland, Ore., he explained that it could be a “birch rod in the cupboard,” which the citizenry could use to punish private power companies that were gouging the public or not providing good service. Critics accused Roosevelt of Bolshevism, but he was not deterred. Public power was no more radical, he said, than the public mail.

F.D.R. championed public power as president. During his first 100 days in office, he backed a bill to create the Tennessee Valley Authority, a federal authority that brought affordable electricity to an impoverished 40,000-square-mile stretch of the rural South.

Roosevelt had hoped to create other projects like the T.V.A., to establish yardstick pricing power on a national scale, but it proved to be a heavier logistical and political lift than he expected. In 1935, he brought government into the electricity business in another way. By executive order, he created the Rural Electrification Administration, which used federal money and local farm co-ops to lay electric lines in parts of the country that private companies had no interest in serving. The R.E.A. drove down electricity prices and helped bring lighting, sewing machines and radios to the 90 percent of rural Americans who were without them.

The whole New Deal was in a sense just a series of public options, some more optional than others, that offered government as an alternative to the often-flawed private market. The Farm Credit Administration and the Home Owners’ Loan Act used government funds to save farms and homes of Americans who would have been foreclosed on by private lenders. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation saved the private banking system by insuring savings accounts, which made the public willing to put money back in private banks. Social Security, all public and no option, rescued older Americans from living their final years in poverty.

A public option for health care could work much like the yardstick Roosevelt envisioned public power becoming. A publicly run health care program could compete with private insurance companies, which have a record of overcharging and underperforming.

Private health insurers and their allies in Congress argue that government is too inept to run a health insurance program and that it will be too costly. Actually, government already does that — for the military and in Medicare and Medicaid. As for cost, opponents of the public option may fear it would work too well — that to compete, private insurers would have to keep their prices down and the quality of their services up.

The private insurers and lawmakers who oppose the public option also claim it would be a radical break from how things have been done in this country. In reality, it follows directly from the New Deal tradition that created many of the mainstays of American society.