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12.20.09

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Military construction funding includes local projects in Lehigh and Monroe Counties

12.20.09

JANUARY 2010, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Military construction funding includes local projects in Lehigh and Monroe Counties

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, December 2nd- Pennsylvania United States Democratic Senators Arlen Specter and Robert Casey have announced that the Senate has approved federal funding for several construction projects throughout the Commonwealth including in the Lehigh Valley.

Both Mr. Specter and Mr. Casey voted for the funding which is contained in the Fiscal Year 2010 Military Construction Appropriations Bill. The legislation still must be approved by the House of Representatives and signed by President Obama before funding is final.

“These projects are vital to Pennsylvania’s economic development and the overall security of the United States. I am pleased my colleagues have approved this important funding to improve Pennsylvania’s military projects and strengthen our nation’s defense,” stated Mr. Casey.

The funding secures $12.4 million for the Air Reserve Base in Pittsburgh which will cover the demolition of two Visiting Airmen Quarters and the construction of a new 3-story, 60 room facility to support the 911th Airlift Wing.

In addition the bill includes $3.2 million worth of funding for an Electronics Maintenance Shop at Tobyhanna Army Depot in Monroe County and $15 million to build an Armed Forces Reserve Center in Allentown

SEIU Local 668 members ratify new three year contract

12.20.09

JANUARY 2010, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

SEIU Local 668 members ratify new three year contract

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, December 12th- Workers represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Pennsylvania Social Service Union (PSSU) Local 668, East Lehigh Street in Bethlehem, have ratified a new three year contract agreement with the Carbon, Monroe and Pike Mental Health/Mental Retardation Program (CMP/MHMR).

According to Neil Brown, Business Agent of Local 668, which negotiated the MHMR contract for the union, the membership voted on November 20th to approve the new agreement. Local 668 represents approximately 75 employees of the organization including caseworkers and clerical workers.

The Carbon, Monroe and Pike Counties jointly operate a mental health and mental retardation program with offices in each county. According to the agency the program’s mission is to partner with consumers, family members, service providers and community members to assist individuals and families with emotional, behavioral, or developmental issues in becoming self-sufficient and obtaining an improved quality of life. This is accomplished by creating and maintaining an environment that promotes and supports recovery and resiliency and by linking individuals and families to necessary and desired supports.

Mr. Brown told the newspaper under the terms and conditions of the new agreement his members will receive a bonus of $750.00 the first year of the pact; an increase of two and a half percent in wages the second year; and an wage increase of three percent in the third.

The previous contract expire on August 31st and the two sides agreed to work under the terms and conditions of the previous pact while negotiations continued for a successor agreement.

Mr. Brown stated under the new contract employees will receive longevity pay after being employed for five years.

Economist believes stimulus package was too small

12.20.09

JANUARY 2010, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Economist believes stimulus package was too small

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, December 9th- In the third quarter of 2009, Pennsylvania underemployment rate, which includes the unemployed, workers unable to find full-time work, and other jobless individuals, stood at 14.2 percent, meaning more than 900,000 people in the Commonwealth are either unemployed or underemployed.

In the first quarter of this year Pennsylvania was losing more than 25,000 jobs a month and in the last three months the Commonwealth has been losing about 4,000 jobs a month.

According to the United States Department of Labor (DOL) the national job market showed some signs of improvement in November as total nonfarm employment fell to 11,000 jobs for the month and the unemployment rate dropped to 10 percent.

Estimates released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) suggest the improvement in the economy is due in large part to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRAct). The CBO suggest there were between 25,000 and 65,000 more jobs in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the third quarter than there would have been in the absence of the economic recovery package.

However, according to Mark Price, Ph.D., and Labor Economist for the Keystone Research Center in Harrisburg, the economic stimulus was too small to counter the most severe collapse in the private sector in more than a generation.

“Although we’d be in much worse shape without the recovery package, the staggering number of people unable to find enough work makes it clear that the stimulus was too small,” said Mr. Price.

“With all signs pointing to a prolonged period of joblessness for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians, futher efforts to put people back to work are desperately needed,” said Stephen Herzenberg, Ph.D., and Economist and Executive Director of the Keystone Research Center.

“Failure to spur further job creation threatens to drive increasing numbers of families into poverty, a result which has been shown to hurt the educational achievement of young children. Joblessness also threatens to lead companies to pare back their investments in training and research and development,” added Mr. Herzenberg.

Teamsters Union Local 773 files labor complaint against local bus company

12.20.09

JANUARY 2010, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Teamsters Union Local 773 files labor complaint against local bus company

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, December 4th- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 773, Hamilton Street in Allentown, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia alleging a Lehigh Valley employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

According to the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge, First Student Transportation, Route 100 in Macungie Borough, violated Section 8 (a), subsections (1) and (5) of the NLRAct.

The Union alleges the employer through its agents, has failed and refused to bargain in good faith with the Union, which represents of all bus drivers, bus aides, sub drivers, mechanics and washers.

“The Employer unilaterally and without notice to or bargaining with the Union ceased the payment of wheelchair premiums and longevity bonuses when due and suspended payment of the referral bonus,” states the ULP.

The complaint states there are approximately 150 workers at the employers Macungie facility.