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Union files complaint against United States Postal Service

02.15.10

FEBRUARY 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Union files complaint against United States Postal Service

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 4th- The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Union Branch 17, Scranton, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Region Four office in Philadelphia alleging the United States Postal Service (USPS) violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The ULP was discovered during the monthly review by the newspaper of complaints and petitions filed at the NLRB office. The newspaper is the only local media that reviews both complaints and petitions filed by labor organizations and workers.

Branch 17 represents postal employees throughout the Scranton area that delivers mail to USPS costumers.

The complaint states: “since on or about a date six months preceding the filling of this charge, the above-named Employer has delayed the bidding process which has resulted in a senior carrier floating.”

The ULP was filed on behalf of the Union by Thomas Gavin, indentified on the complaint as President of Branch 15. Linda Shall is indentified as the contact person for the employer.

The ULP was filed on February 3rd, 2010 and states Branch 17 represents approximately 110 workers employed by the USPS, Stafford Avenue in Scranton.

According to the NLRB, the allegation of the Union in the complaint is being investigated and should it be found there is merit in the ULP the agency will schedule a hearing.

Chamber of Commerce lobbying hard against NLRB nominee

02.15.10

FEBRUARY 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Chamber of Commerce lobbying hard against NLRB nominee

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 30th- More than seven months after the Obama Administration sent to the United States Senate the nomination of Craig Becker to be a member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) he has yet to be confirmed because of lobbying of the United States Chamber of Commerce in Washington of the business organization supporters in the Senate.

In April, 2009 President Obama announced his intention to nominate labor law attorneys Mr. Becker and Mark Gaston Pearce for the two vacant Democratic seats on the NLRB. Brian Hayes was nominated by Mr. Obama to be the Republican member of the NLRB. If confirmed by the Senate the NLRB would have a full complement of five members for the first time since December 16th, 2007. There must be at least three members seated on the NLRB to have a quorum. The NLRB oversees the enforcement of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The Senate in December returned the nomination of Mr. Becker back to the White House, however the Obama Administration resubmitted his name on Janaury 19th.

Mr. Becker’s seat on the NLRB has been blocked by Arizona Republican Senator John McCain by calling for hearings before proceeding to full committee consideration of his nomination.

The United States Chamber of Commerce stated Mr. McCain has a legislative hold on the Becker nomination because it will take 60 votes to invoke cloture on the nomination before it can proceed to an up-or-down vote and all of the Democrats in the Senate have not agreed to support closure. Because of the Massachusetts election the Democratic party will have 59 seats in the Senate but were unable to seat Mr. Becker when the party held sixty seats.

Mr. Becker is Associate General Counsel of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Washington DC.

The sitting members of the NLRB are Chairman Wilma Liebman and member Peter Schaumber.

Mr. Hayes was in private legal practice for more than twenty-five years devoted exclusively to representing management clients in all aspects of labor and employment law. He was represented employers in scores of cases before the NLRB, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and various state fair employment practice agencies.

The Chamber of Commerce stated Mr. Becker was blocked by Senator McCain because of his view that employers should be stripped of any legally cognizable interest in their employees’ election of representatives. Also, Mr. Becker’s ties to the SEIU, an avid proponent of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCAct) legislation could lead him to advance “Card Check” organizing through administrative action of the NLRB.

“Craig Becker’s nomination represents plan B for organized labor to override the will of Congress and implement elements of card check legislation. Any Senator who supports the private ballot should oppose this nomination,” said Chamber of Commerce Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel Steven Law on January 22nd.

Chairman Liebman’s term expires on August 27th, 2011 and Mr. Schaumber’s term ends on August 27th, 2010. By tradition, three of the five NLRB seats are filled by individuals of the same political party as the President in office.

Corey O’Brien pledges to support labor community if elected

02.15.10

FEBRUARY 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Corey O’Brien pledges to support labor community if elected

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 4th- Lackawanna County Majority Democratic Commissioner Corey O’Brien is attempting to gain the support of the labor community which in the past supported incumbent United States House of Representative Paul Kanjorski (11th Legislative District). Mr. O’Brien is challenging Mr. Kanjorski for their party nomination in May. Mr. Kanjorski is serving a 13th term in Washington, DC.

“We are not writing-off organized labor to Mr. O’Brien. Congressman Kanjorski has one of the best labor voting records in Washington. He has supported labor’s agenda, and will continue to do so,” said Ed Mitchell, Mr. Kanjorski’s media consultant.

Justin Carroll, O’Brien for Congress Campaign Manager, told the newspaper several unions have contributed to his campaign that in the past supported Mr. Kanjorski. Mr. Carroll also stated the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Union Local 329 in Scranton endorsed Mr. O’Brien over Mr. Kanjorski.

Mr. Carroll stated both the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters International Union Local 524 in Scranton and the Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen International Union (BAC) Local 5 in Harrisburg have given funds to Mr. O’Brien’s campaign. “We are cutting into Mr. Kanjorski’s base. If elected Corey will be a strong voice for labor in Washington. Also, he will be accessible to the labor community, something Mr. Kanjorski is not,” said Mr. Carroll.

Mr. Carroll said the labor community will have Mr. O’Brien’s cell phone number and will even be able to call him on the floor of the House of Representatives if they have any questions or any problems.

The newspaper contacted several labor leaders throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania including unions that represent construction workers, government employees and industrial workers but most did not want to be interviewed on the record about the Primary Election on May 11th.

John Gatto, Assistant Business Manager of the Painters and Allied Trades International Union (IUPAT) District Council 21, Drums, stated what several of the labor leaders told the newspaper, Mr. Kanjorski’s labor voting record should not be ignored when union members vote in the May Primary Election. “Corey has been a supporter of us, but you can’t just forget Paul’s labor voting record,” said Mr. Gatto.

Mr. Kanjorski voted to increase the federal minimum wage in January 2007 and voted for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCAct) legislation in 2008. The Employee Free Choice Act legislation passed in the House of Representatives 241-185 but failed in the United States Senate. The labor community made passage of the legislation a priority in the 2009 legislative session but it stalled in the Senate.

Mr. Mitchell said Corey O’Brien’s pledge to support organized labor in Washington if elected means nothing because Congressman Kanjorski is already one of the most labor progressive votes in the nation’s capitol.

“He has voted to support the working people for more than two decades. He has fought against the conservative anti-union agenda. The labor community has been able to count on his vote,” added Mr. Mitchell.

Union represented nurses in Wilkes-Barre still without pact

02.15.10

FEBRUARY 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Union represented nurses in Wilkes-Barre still without pact

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 28th- 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 but the two sides are still far away from reaching a contract.

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 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. His said thirty nurses have left since CHS purchased the medical center.

PASNAP is conducting a campaign requesting the public sign petitions to show support for the nurses. The union stated more than 10,000 signatures have been obtained including those of Democratic United States Senator Robert Casey, State Representative (Democrat-116th Legislative District) Todd Eachus, State Representative Eddie Day Pashinski (Democrat-121st Legislative District) and State Representative Phyllis Mundy (Democrat-120th Legislative District).

On January 10th, PASNAP delivered to Hospital Administrators the petitions that requested that CHS put “Patients Before Profits” and settle the contract.

Stanley Wieglpolski, an Emergency Room Nurse at Wilkes-Barre General and a delegate to the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council labor federation, stated the petition should show CHC officials that the public doesn’t like them coming into our community with the sole purpose of making a profit.

“You need to resepct our standards of care, you need to respect the caregivers who provide that care and tou need to respect the patients who depend on our community hospital for their care,” said Mr. Wieglpolski.

Negotiations between the two parties began more than 10 months ago in a attempt to obtain an successor contract agreement.