Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

CWA Union files complaint against LifePath Inc.

04.28.10

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

CWA Union files complaint against LifePath Inc.

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, April 9th- The Communication Workers of America (CWA) Union District 13 filed another complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia against an Lehigh Valley employer alleging the company violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The union filed the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge on March 31st, 2010 against LifePath Inc., High Point Boulevard in Bethlehem, which provides specialized support services for mentally and physically disabled persons throughout the Lehigh Valley.

The CWA also filed a complaint with the NLRB on January 13th, 2010 alleging the Employer failed and otherwised refused to supply information requested that is necessary for the administration and enforcement of the colllective bargaining agreement and to participate in a timely manner in the grievance process. Specifically, the LifePath Inc. has refused to comply with relevent and necessary information requests submitted by James Byrne, CWA Representative pertaining to the discharge of Nicosia Henry, a member of the union.

In January 2008, the CWA alleged LifePath violated the NLRAct when the Employer terminated Ms. Henry while conducting protected activity on behalf of the Union.

According to news stories previously published in the newspaper, CWA Local 13500 organized the employees of LifePath Inc. approximately 29 facilities that are located throughout the Lehigh Valley in 2007. Around 467 employees were eligible to participate in the union election.

The recent complaint states the Employer has again refused to provide the Union with information that is relevent to the grievance it filed regarding the discharge of Ms. Henry. The Union alleges LifePath Inc. has refused to supply the names of witnesses who provided information in connection with her discharge.

Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA unemployment rate increases to 9.8 percent

04.28.10

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

MSA unemployment rate increases to 9.8 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, April 6th- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Center for Workforce Information and Analysis in Harrisburg, the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by two-tenths of a percentage point to 9.8 percent. The MSA includes Lehigh,
Northampton, and Carbon Counties of Pennsylvania and Warren County, New Jersey. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was 7.7 percent.

There are fourteen Metropolitan Statistical Area’s in Pennsylvania and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area is tied with the Williamsport MSA for the third highest unemployment rate in the state.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 8.9 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report, which was released approximately four weeks ago. There are 577,000 Pennsylvania residents without jobs. That number does not include workers who have exhausted their benefits and have stopped looking for work. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted workforce of 6,451,000 and 5,875,000 of them have employment. The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 9.7 percent, unchanged from the previous report. There are 14,871,000 residents nationally unemployed which also does not include workers who benefits have been exhausted. There are more than 16,000,000 workers in the nation without employment.

The data shows the Johnstown MSA and the Erie MSA are tied for the highest unemployment rate in the state at 10.1 percent. The Reading MSA has the third highest unemployment rate in the state at 9.9 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.4 percent, with the Lebanon MSA second at 7.6 percent. The Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 8.2 percent with the Altoona MSA fourth at 8.1 percent.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest civilian labor force in Pennsylvania at 427,600, rising by 4,100 during the past twelve months. There are 41,800 residents in the MSA without jobs, rising by 9,400 during the past twelve months.

The Philadelphia MSA has the largest civilian labor force in Pennsylvania at 3,001,400 with 278,300 residents not working. The Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest civilian labor force at 1,244,900, with 109,200 residents unemployed. The Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest civilian labor force in the state at 287,800, with 23,200 residents unemployed. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fifth largest civilian labor force at 287,700 with 27,700 residents not working.

Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 11.6 percent, increasing by four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and increasing by 2 and four-tenths of a percentage points from twelve months before. Carbon County has a civilian labor force of 32,100 with 3,700 residents without jobs.

Lehigh County unemployment rate is 9.8 percent with a civilian labor force of 179,700. There are 17,300 residents within Lehigh County without jobs, increasing by 3,100 from twelve months before.

Northampton County also has a unemployment rate of 9.8 percent, increasing by five-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Northampton County has a civilian labor force of 154,700 with 14,900 without jobs, increasing by 4,100 from twelve months ago.

The retail trade sector was the biggest loser of jobs from the previous report dropping by 900 with construction jobs second, down by 200. Government educational jobs increased by 1,100 during the month as students returned to the classrooms following the winter break.

SAIDEL PICKS UP ANOTHER MAJOR UNION ENDORSEMENT: Workers United Back Former Controller for Lt. Governor

04.27.10

April 26, 2010

For Immediate Release

Contact: Marty Marks 412.352.0317

SAIDEL PICKS UP ANOTHER MAJOR UNION ENDORSEMENT

Workers United Back Former Controller for Lt. Governor

Philadelphia, PA - The Philadelphia Joint Board of Workers United today announced its endorsement of Jonathan A. Saidel for Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor. Workers United represents over 7000 hotel, gaming, food service, commercial laundry, light manufacturing, and retail workers in the Philadelphia region, approximately 85% of who live in the City of Philadelphia.

“Jonathan Saidel has made our fight for workers rights and workplace justice his fight for more than twenty years”, Fox said. “We are proud to endorse Jonathan and will do all we can to see he is elected,” Fox declared.

Saidel, the endorsed State Democratic Party candidate for Lieutenant Governor is also endorsed by the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO. To date every state and regional union making an endorsement in the Lt. Governor’s race has backed Saidel.

“I am both humbled and honored to have won the support of the men and women of Workers United. We have stood together time and time again in the struggle for a better life for Pennsylvania’s working families. I hope the voters will judge me by the company I keep,” Saidel said.

Saidel’s endorsements are listed on his website at www.Saidel2010.com .

USW Union Local 2599 member dies from job incident

04.24.10

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

USW Union Local 2599 member dies from job incident

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, April 19th- Bridget Geist, 37 of Walnutport, died on April 15th from injuries received after a blast and fire at her employer.

Ms. Geist was one of two employees of the Victaulic Company of America in Alburtis hurt at the industrial incident when apparently she was struck by molten metal.

She was a member of the United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union Local 2599 in Bethlhem for more than 20 years according to Jerry Green, President of Local 2599. “She was a good union member,” said Mr. Green.

Mr. Green told the newspaper the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) office in Allentown is investigating the incident and the union will receive their findings of what cause the blast. Mr. Green said the other Victaulic employee hurt is doing well and has been released from the hospital.

The union has two labor contracts with the Victaulic Company. Local 2599 represents around 130 employees of the Alburtis facility and approximately 260 workers, not counting those that are currently laid-off, at their Forks Township facility. The company manufactures pipe couplings.

The Forks Township contract agreement expired on January 31st, 2010. On February 8th, 2010 the union membership rejected Victaulic’s “final” contract proposal 269 to 0. The two sides have agreed to work under the terms and conditions of the previous contract.

The company’s contract proposal requested many union concessions including the removal of much of the working condition language. The agreement offered no wage increase, an increase for health care, and lower wages for laid-off employees when recalled. Mr. Green told the newspaper laid-off workers had no reason what-so-ever to vote in favor of the pact. “If they supported it they were giving themselves a pay cut,” Mr. Green told the newspaper.

The Victaulic Company facility in Alburtis contract does not expire with the union until September 2013. The membership voted on September 15th 2008 to ratify the five-year agreement.

Local 2599 represents approximately 1,500 workers throughout the Lehigh Valley which includes 19 separate units of employees.

Ms. Geist, who had five children, died at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest. “I know things have been published about safety violations at Victaulic, but they were aways responsive to safety problems during walk-throughs at the plant,” said Mr. Green.

The union will establish a special fund to help the family of Ms. Geist, Mr. Green said.

Group suggest changes to Workforce Development System

04.24.10

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

Group suggest changes to Workforce Development System

BY NANCY KRAKE
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, April 13th- According to four researchers there is a need for the “re-imagining” of the Workforce Development Act (WIA) to promote the creation of talent development systems that foster regional cooperation and prepare workers not only for the jobs of today, but for the jobs of tomorrow.

The four researchers; the Public Policy Associates Inc., Berkeley Policy Associates; the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research; and the Unversity of California-San Diego, are calling for changes to WIA.

The report comes at a critical moment as the United States Congress debates reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act which was enacted in 1998.

The researchers recently presented the findings of their research at a briefing that was held at the Department of Labor in Washington DC.

The report, “Strategic Workforce Development as a Catalyst for Economic Growth; Lessons and Insights from the Field and Implications for the Future of WIA,” indicates the need to develop integrated workforce development systems that thrive on collaboration across functional and jurisdictional boundaries.

The researchers who have vast experience in evaluating workforce development initiatives recommend that the WIA be re-characterized and christened as the “Strategic Workforce Development Act.” The change would reflect the need to develop integrated workforce development systems that thrive on collaboration across functional and jurisdictional boundaries.

The researchers concluded too often, various workforce development entities work in their own silos. In some cases, that can result in training workers for jobs that do not match the current or future needs of employees and fail to retool America’s workforce in alignment with long-term economic goals.

By thinking and acting more strategically, workforce development leaders can work to ensure that the various stakeholders, employers, economic development and workforce development boards, community colleges, and others collaborate to create effective approaches to transforming their regional economies and providing high-wage jobs for workers.

One of the recommended changes to WIA is a new system of measurement and accountability.

Civic leaders, government reform groups call for Attorney General Tom Corbett’s resignation

04.21.10

Keystone Progress
www.keystoneprogress.org
info@keystoneprogress.org

NEWS ADVISORY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT:
April 20, 2010 Michael Morrill 610-568-0937-cell

Civic leaders, government reform groups call for Attorney General Tom Corbett’s resignation

Pennsylvanians are increasingly concerned about the politicization of the Office of Attorney General, raising concerns about Corbett’s effectiveness and impartiality.

(HARRISBURG)—An ad hoc coalition of civic groups, unions and good government organizations held a news conference on Tuesday to call for the resignation of Attorney General Tom Corbett.

The organizations released a joint statement which state in part, “We have come to the conclusion that it is time for Mr. Corbett to resign as Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The people of the Commonwealth need to trust that the justice system will work impartially, but the clouds of accusation and suspicion that are engulfing Mr. Corbett are raising too many doubts. We therefore urge Mr. Corbett to resign immediately.” [Entire statement follows]

Michael Morrill, executive director of Keystone Progress said, “The Attorney General has the power to file criminal and civil charges that can end a person’s life, lock someone in prison away from family and friends, and impose penalties that can eradicate a life’s savings. It is therefore incumbent upon the Attorney General to not only impartially prosecute the laws of the Commonwealth, it is vital that he avoid even the appearance of bias. Unfortunately for the people of Pennsylvania, Mr. Corbett is losing credibility as charges and doubts about his impartiality continue to be raised.”

The other organizations joining in the statement include AFSCME District Council 47, RocktheCapital.org, Democracy Rising PA, Healthcare for America Now (HCAN), SEIU, Americans for Democratic Action and Philadelphia Neighborhood Networks. Thousands of individuals have also signed the statement calling for Corbett’s resignation at www.corbettmustresign.com

Marc Steir, of HCAN, added “Mr. Corbett has abused the power of his office for political purposes. That is grounds enough to justify our call for his resignation.”

“How many private employers pay their employees to look for another job on the company clock?” asked Eric Epstein from RocktheCapital.org. “Tom Corbett should resign, and allow the Attorney General’s office to fully commit itself to aggressively prosecuting Bonusgate and other political corruption cases.”

Epstein and Tim Potts from Democracy Rising PA also called for the passage of a “resign to run” law that would require all elected to resign from their current office if they want to run for a different office.

The organizers of the news conference said they expected dozens more organizations to join their call for Corbett’s resignation. The list of those joining the call will be posted at www.corbettmustresign.com

# # #

Keystone Progress is Pennsylvania’s largest online progressive network with over 200,000 subscribers. Keystone Progress is also a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.

TOM CORBETT MUST RESIGN

The Office of Attorney General is one of the most important offices in all of government. The Attorney General, as the chief law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth, is responsible for the safety and security of all of the residents of Pennsylvania. The Attorney General has the power to file criminal and civil charges that can end a person’s life, lock someone in prison away from family and friends, and impose penalties that can eradicate a life’s savings.

It is therefore incumbent upon the Attorney General to not only impartially prosecute the laws of the Commonwealth, it is vital that he avoid even the appearance of bias.

In the last few weeks Attorney General Tom Corbett has come under almost daily criticism for appearing to be using the Office of Attorney General for political gain. Among the criticism are the following:

· Corbett has politicized the Office of Attorney General by joining in a highly partisan lawsuit to repeal the recently passed federal healthcare reform legislation. Corbett agreed to join the lawsuit before the bill was even written, meaning he made his decision before reading the legislation. Most constitutional law professors think this suit is frivolous and a politically-motivated waste of taxpayers’ money.

· Questions have been raised about the appearance of selective prosecution of legislators who may have used their legislative staff and offices to run political campaigns. Corbett has pursued the prosecution of mostly Democrats in what has become known as the “Bonusgate Scandal.” Recently, it has been reported that Corbett’s office did not investigate allegations against Republican State Senator Jane Orie. Sen. Orie was indicted by Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala after Corbett’s office did not follow up on a complaint by a former Orie intern of her office using legislative staff for the campaign of her sister, now PA Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin.

· Corbett’s campaign staff has admitted that they had been planning to file their suit against the healthcare reform legislation even before he had read the bill, sending out a fundraising mailing in February saying that he is “leading the fight” against “government-run socialized medicine.”

· Corbett has been accused of using his office and staff for his campaign for governor—the same charges he has brought against mostly Democratic lawmakers. The accusations come in a motion filed by the attorney for former State Representative Steve Stetler. The motion also accuses Corbett of selective prosecution, prosecuting Democrats while ignoring similar actions by Republicans. According to the York Daily Record, the allegations in the motion say that “Corbett improperly took control of the grand jury, illegally revealed details of its deliberations to the media, found targets that, if toppled, would benefit his re-election campaign in 2008 and current run for governor, illegally gave key campaign staffers jobs in the Attorney General’s office between campaigns, had staffers do campaign work on state time and used campaign resources to further the Bonusgate investigation.”

· Keystone Progress filed a Right to Know request on March 26 seeking correspondence between the Office of Attorney General and outside entities, seeking to determine if there were political motives behind the Corbett’s decision to join the lawsuit against healthcare reform. To date the AG’s office has not provided that information.

When there are so many concerns being raised it puts the integrity of the Office of Attorney General in serious question. The Attorney General’s judgment and actions cannot be doubted. His performance must be beyond reproach. That is why so many attorneys general, including Virginia Republican Bob McDonnell and New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte, have resigned when seeking a higher office.

After taking all of these factors into consideration, we have come to the conclusion that it is time for Mr. Corbett to resign as Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The people of the Commonwealth need to trust that the justice system will work impartially, but the clouds of accusation and suspicion that are engulfing Mr. Corbett are raising too many doubts.

We therefore urge Mr. Corbett to resign immediately.

Signed:

Michael Morrill, Executive Director, Keystone Progress
Tim Potts, Executive Director, Democracy Rising PA
Marc Stier, Executive Director, Healthcare for America Now- PA
Eric Epstein, Cooordinator, Rock the Capitol
Americans for Democratic Action
Cathy Scott, President, AFSCME DC 47
Gloria Gilman, President, Philadelphia Neighborhood Networks
Eileen Connelly, Executive Director, SEIU PA State Council
Siobhan “Sam” Bennett President/CEO WCF

[LIST IN PROGRESS]

33 States Reported Job Growth in March

04.17.10

33 States Reported Job Growth in March

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania recorded sizable gains in employment in March and were among 33 states posting increases.

In its monthly look at state job trends, the Labor Department said Friday that Maryland led the country with a gain of 35,800 payroll jobs last month. Virginia and Pennsylvania also posted increases that topped 20,000 in the month.

By contrast, Michigan continued to have the nation’s highest unemployment rate and also led the country in job losses in March with a decline of 9,500. Nevada and Florida also posted sizable job losses and were among 17 states recording job losses in the month.

Nationally, the unemployment remained unchanged at 9.7 percent in March while payrolls grew by 162,000, the biggest gain in three years.

The department’s report Friday showed how the job gains and losses were distributed among the states.

The increases in nonfarm payroll employment occurred in 33 states and the District of Colombia. In February, only 23 states had seen job gains while 27 states and the District of Columbia had recorded job losses…..

Read the rest of this article at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/17/business/economy/17jobless.html?th&emc=th

UAW optimistic about growth as economy revives

04.15.10

UAW optimistic about growth as economy revives

BY BRENT SNAVELY
FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

http://www.freep.com/article/20100415/BUSINESS01/4150401/1207/Business0104/UAW-optimistic-about-growth-as-economy-revives

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said Wednesday that he is hopeful the UAW can reverse its declining membership as the economy recovers and the nation’s labor laws are changed.

Gettelfinger said industry sales are off to a good start in April and he believes that Ford, General Motors and Chrysler and the industry at large are on a path to recovery.

“We’re right on the verge of having 12 million in vehicle sales” for 2010, Gettelfinger said during a speech at Wayne State University. That would be a big improvement from 10.4 million in 2009, the U.S. industry’s lowest sales in nearly 30 years.

Gettelfinger, whose second and final term ends in June, has guided the union through a retrenchment during which membership fell to 355,191, a post-World War II low.

He is both praised and blamed for convincing UAW members to accept concessions on contracts the union fought for decades to win in an effort to prevent General Motors and Chrysler from failing.

Many Americans still want to join unions, Gettelfinger said, but U.S. laws make it difficult to organize. Employers can delay certification votes and even threaten workers with recriminations or even firing.

In 2007, he said 58,000 U.S. workers voted to join a union. Two years later, 37% of those workers were still without a labor contract with their employer.

The proposed Employee Free Choice Act would allow a union to be certified to bargain with an employer if it collects signatures from a majority of the workers.

However, James Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, said Wednesday that passing the legislation, commonly known as card check, will be difficult because Republicans can block the bill unless the Democrats have 60 votes in the U.S. Senate. After Massachusetts voters elected Republican Scott Brown to succeed the late Democrat Ted Kennedy, Democrats can count on only 59 votes in the Senate.

Contact BRENT SNAVELY: 313-222-6512 or bsnavely@freepress.com

Postal Service Union files complaint against employer

04.09.10

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

Postal Service Union files complaint against employer

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 24th- The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 175 in Wilkes-Barre has filed a second complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia alleging the United States Postal Service (USPS) violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

Local 175 filed a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge against the USPS in September 2009 alleging the employer violated the NLRAct.

The complaint alleges the Employer refused to provide information requested by the Union after management unilaterally instituted a new polcy of charging the Union for necessary requests for information.

The requests were made as part of an ongoing set of current grievancse in process that are both safety and constractural in nature. The merit of the grievances is specified in the United States Postal Service handbooks.

Local 175 filed a ULP on March 18th, 2010 alleging the USPS violated Section 8(a)(3) and 8(a)(5) of the NLRAct. The newspaper discovered the Unfair Labor Practice charge while reviewing complaints and petitions filed at the NLRB office. The newspaper is the only member of the media in Northeastern Pennsylvania that routinely reviews ULP’s and representation petitions.

The complaint states on or about February 12th, 2010 the Employer, which provides mail service, has restricted Local 175 President John Kishel from engaging necessary Union activities during work hours, “including but not limited to communications with bargaining unit employees as to their rights under the Collective Bargaining Agreement and as to whether grievances should be filed, investigation of factural matters to determine whether grievances should be filed, the preparation, filing and processing of grievances and other matters necessary for the administration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the preformance of the Union’s duties as exclusive bargaining representative,” states the complaint.

The Union also alleges the USPS has further violated the NLRAct by reneging on an agreement to extend limits of the grievance procedure for the processing of grievances and by refusing to provide information to Local 175 after repeated requests were made for its production.

IAFF Unions have issues with Congressman Kanjorski

04.09.10

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

IAFF Unions have issues with Congressman Kanjorski

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 1st- Several International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Unions in Lackawanna County are very dissatisfied with incumbent United States House of Representative Paul Kanjorski (Democrat-11th Legislative District) and they are requesting for their members to not vote for him in the May 18th primary election.

IAFF Local 860 President Dominick Rinaldi contacted the newspaper about a story published in the March edition stating in his opinion Mr. Kanjorski does not deserve the support of IAFF members. Local 860 represents 18 members of the Borough of Dunmore Fire Department in Lackawanna County. “We didn’t support Kanjorski two years ago because he doesn’t support firefighters and we won’t support him in 2010,” said Mr. Rinaldi.

Mr. Rinaldi told the newspaper around eleven months ago Mr. Kanjorski attended a meeting in Dunmore and stated perhaps Dunmore residents can’t afford to have paid fire fighters and maybe they should be eliminated and have a volunteer department.

The Borough of Dunmore has been plagued with servere financial problems for several years and has recently cut the Fire Department’s part-time budget to save funds. Borough officials have discussed the possibility of filing to become a “distress municipality” under Pennsylvania Act 47. Scranton has been under the legislation for more than seventeen years.

Mr. Rinaldi told the newspaper because of the cut-back often there is a staffing shortage. The Borough of Dunmore has only one fire station located on Blakely Street. The staffing shortage occurs when full-time fire fighters are on vacation, or on holiday or on “kelly days” which are days received instead of over-time. The average workweek for a fire department member is 56 hours.

“Firefighters are forbidden to strike for better working conditions and right now the department is working understaff and the Council just wants to cut the department,” said Mr. Rinaldi.

He told the newspaper the previous Borough of Dunmore Council didn’t believe in the importance of the department. Dunmore is the largest Borough in Lackawanna County and the third most populated municipality, behind Scranton and Carbondale with 14,000 residents.

David Schreiber, President of the IAFF Local 60 in Scranton, which represents 139 members of the Scranton Fire Department, agrees with Mr. Rinaldi’s opinion regarding Mr. Kanjorski’s lack of support for unionized fire fighters.

Mr. Schreiber told the newspaper his union asked Mr. Kanjorski to discuss reaching a contract compromise with Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty and he declined to reach-out to him. “Being a leading Democrat we felt he could have some influence with the Mayor and requested he ask him to make every attempt to settle our contract,” said Mr. Schreiber.

Mr. Doherty has failed to been able to reach a new labor contract with Local 60 during the more than eight years he has been Mayor of Scranton. Local 60 has not had a contract with Scranton since December 2002.

Mr. Schreiber said the relationship between Mr. Kanjorski and Local 60 is no better than Local 860. “We recently had a meeting with him in Washington hoping we could work things out but he came into the meeting and said, ‘You’re the guys who don’t like me.’ Things did not go too good after that and we later walked out.”

Despite the strained relationship between Local 860 and 60, the IAFF International Union in Washington, DC has donated funds to Mr. Kanjorski’s 2010 re-election campaign.

SAIDEL TAKES STAND ON CORBETT’S FAILURE TO PROSECUTE REPUBLICAN SENATOR JANE ORIE AND JANINE ORIE

04.08.10

SAIDEL TAKES STAND ON CORBETT’S FAILURE TO PROSECUTE REPUBLICAN SENATOR JANE ORIE AND JANINE ORIE

Lt. Governor Candidate Issues Statement Calling on Corbett to Resign from Attorney General Position

Statement from Jonathan A. Saidel, Democratic Candidate for Lt. Governor

If Attorney General Tom Corbett was on trial for politicizing the office that the people of Pennsylvania entrusted him to hold, he would be looking a guilty verdict square in the eye. The latest partisan outrage perpetrated by Mr. Corbett manifested in the indictment of Republican State Senator Jane Orie and her sister, Janine Orie, an indictment that would never have happened if Mr. Corbett had his way. While I believe that Senator Orie and Janine Orie are innocent until proven guilty, it was Tom Corbett’s job to pursue the truth in the matter regardless of the political affiliation of the accused.

I speak for all Democrats when I say that political corruption must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law regardless of party affiliation. Attorney General Corbett had the opportunity to boldly show his non-partisan credentials by taking up the case against Senator Orie, a high profile Republican leader from his home county. Instead, he did nothing to give us faith in his impartiality. The statue of Lady Justice in Tom Corbett’s office is only blind in one eye.

When the Attorney General was contacted with clearly credible accusations alleging Senator Orie was engaging in the same kind of political corruption for which he has been vigorously prosecuting Democratic State Legislators, he took a pass leaving it to the Allegheny County District Attorney and an Allegheny County Grand Jury to seek justice. Jane Orie and her sister now face serious charges, charges that Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett wanted nothing to do with.

It is time for Tom Corbett to resign from the office of Attorney General. It is clear that he cannot keep partisan political considerations from influencing the serious work the Attorney General has to do for the people of our Commonwealth.

Just two weeks ago we saw further evidence of Tom Corbett’s shameless partisanship when he became the only Attorney General north of the Mason Dixon line to join a frivolous law suit seeking to overturn healthcare reform passed by congress on constitutional and states’ rights grounds. Every serious constitutional scholar in America said the suit was merely a shallow partisan stunt without merit or any opportunity of success.

These highly partisan political decisions on the part of the Attorney General bring in to question the political motives of every action the Tom Corbett takes. It is time for him to resign the Attorney General’s office so the people of Pennsylvania can once again have confidence in the office charged with enforcing our laws in a fair and non-partisan manner.

W.Va. Coal Mine Blast Kills 6, 21 Miners Missing

04.05.10

W.Va. Coal Mine Blast Kills 6, 21 Miners Missing

by Mike Hall, Apr 5, 2010

http://blog.aflcio.org/2010/04/05/wva-coal-mine-blast-kills-6-21-miners-missing/#more-27732

An explosion at a Raleigh County, W.Va., coal mine late this afternoon killed six miners and 21 other coal miners remain unaccounted for, according to news reports. The Associated Press reports that the blast occurred at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine

Mine rescue crews, including those from the Mine Workers (UMWA), were dispatched to the mine. There are no further reports about the missing miners.

The non-union mine is operated by Massey subsidiary Performance Coal Co. In a statement, UMWA Workers President Cecil Roberts says “hearts and prayers of all UMWA members are with the families of those lost today. “

He says the mine rescue teams are “putting their lives on the line, entering a highly dangerous mine to bring any survivors to safety.”

As a mine operated by a subsidiary of Massey Energy, the Upper Big Branch mine is a nonunion mine. Nevertheless, I have dispatched highly trained and skilled UMWA personnel to the immediate vicinity of the mine, and they stand ready to offer any assistance they can to the families and the rescuers at this terrible and anxious time. We are all brothers and sisters in the coalfields at times like this.

The AP reports that three miners have been killed at the mine since 1998, the most recent in 2003 when an electrician died after being electrocuted while repairing a shuttle car there

We will follow the rescue efforts and bring you updates.

Local AAA Baseball Umpires vote to join larger union

04.05.10

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

Local AAA Baseball Umpires vote to join larger union

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, March 1st- Minor league umpires of International League Baseball, which the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs are affiliated, voted to join the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU). The union is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations.

Members of the Association of Minor League Umpires (AMLU), a non AFL-CIO affiliated union, voted by more than 90 percent in favor of affiliation with OPEIU. The AMLU will now be known as AMLU/OPEIU Guild 322.

“Our affiliation with OPEIU is the next step in a progression toward improving the lives and working conditions of some of the hardest working and most underappreciated people in the game. We evaluated the pros and cons of affiliation with a variety of different unions and OPEIU was head and shoulders about the rest. OPEIU’s size, diversity of membership in a wide range of industries, as well as the quality of staff made them a perfect fit for our group,” said AMLU President Shaun Francis.

OPEIU represents more than 125,000 members in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada. The union represents employees and independent contractors in banking and credit unions, insurance, higher education, shopping, hospitals, medical clinics, utilities, transportation, hotels and administrative offices.

The newspaper contacted Nicole Korkolis, OPEIU Director of Communication, Education and Research, and she comfirmed the local umpires that will umpire at Coca-Cola Park in Lehigh County will be represented by the union.

According to Ms. Korkolis, prior to AMLU’s formation in 2000, minor league umpires had been working with no union representation. The goals of the AMLU’s organizers was to secure health insurance, as well as a ranking and promotion system to standardize movement up through the various leagues.

Minor league umpires also work regularly in Major League Baseball, filling in for sick, injured or vacationing full-time umpires. More than 1,300 regular season MLB games had at least one AMLU member on the field in the 2009 season.

Salary for a minor league umpire starts at $1,800 per month, and is only paid during the season.

Teamsters Union Local 773 files complaint against vending service company

04.05.10

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

Teamsters Union Local 773 files complaint against vending service company

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, March 9th- 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).

The newspaper discovered the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge while reviewing complaints and petitions filed at the NLRB office. The newspaper is the only member of the Lehigh Valley media that routinely reviews ULP’s and representation petitions.

The ULP was filed on February 22nd, 2010, and Local 773 alleges Canteen Covenco, Penn Drive in Allentown, violated Section 8 (a), subsections (1) and (a)(5) of the NLRAct.

“Since on or around February 8th, 2010 and continuing, the Employer (Canteen Covenco) cancelled collective bargaining negotiations and refuses to negotiate with the Union,” states the complaint.

The company provides vending machine services throughout the Lehigh Valley. The complaint states the IBT represents approximately 25 employees of the company.

The complaint was filed on behalf of the Union by Attorney Robert Henninger, Market Street in Philadelphia.

Senator Specter introduces legislation that would fight against bad trade practices

04.05.10

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

Senator Specter introduces legislation that would fight against bad trade practices

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, March 15th- Pennsylvania Democratic United States Senator Arlen Specter has introduced legislation that seeks to help domestic manufacturers by enforcing trade remedy laws. The legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.

“The Unfair Foreign Competition Act of 2010″ provides a private right to action for domestic manufacturers injured by illegal subsidization or dumping of foreign products into the United States. Bob Casey, (Democrat-Pennsylvania) and Sherrod Brown (Democrat-Ohio) are cosponsors.

“Joe creation and job retention in this country depend, in large part, on our ability to enforce existing trade laws. This legislation would give an injured industry the opportunity to seek reliable enforcement in federal court so that we can stop anticompetitive, predatory trade practices which steal jobs from our workers, profits from our companies, and growth from our economy,” said Mr. Specter.

The legislation would allow petitioning parties to bring a civil action in a United States district court for an injury finding in lieu of a determination by the International Trade Commission (ITC).

The legislation comes as China continues to engage in trade and market-distorting practices in violation of WTO rules and United States laws. Counties like China have ignored international trade rules, and the nation has lost countless manufacturing jobs and has a skyrocketing trade deficit.

Road Sprinkler Fitters Union files complaint against employer

04.05.10

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

Road Sprinkler Fitters Union files complaint against employer

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, March 9th- The Road Sprinkler Fitters Union Local 669 filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia against an Lehigh Valley employer alleging the company violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

Local 669 in affiliated with the United Association of Journeymen & Apprentices of the Plumbing & Pipefitting Industry and with the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Lehigh Valley.

According to the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge, filed by Local 669 on February 25th, 2010, Deja Vu Mechanicals Inc., Seifert Road in Nazareth, is alleged of violating Section 8 (a), subsections (1) and (3) of the NLRAct.

The newspaper discovered the ULP while reviewing petitions and complaints filed at the NLRB office in Philadelphia. The newspaper is the only member of the local media that routinely reviews the materials.

Deja Vu Mechanicals Inc. is an sprinkler systems installer.

“The above named employer has violated the Act by: 1) threatening an employee with discharge if the employee concertedly asserted rights under the prevailing wage law; 2) telling an employee that the employee’s layoff was because the employee concertedly filed a prevailing wage lawsuit; and 3) accelerating the layoff of Glenn Minnick for seeking employee support to assert their rights under the prevailing wage law and filing a prevailing wage lawsuit,” states the complaint.

The ULP was filed on behalf of the Union by Attorney Jason Valtos, Connecticut Avenue in Washington, DC.

The employer representative identified on the complaint to be contacted is Edward Schenck. According to the ULP, Deja Vu Mechanicals employs approximately 6 workers.

The NLRB stated the complaint is being investigated and if the agency finds merit in the charge an hearing can be scheduled.

What’s driving up oil prices again? Wall Street, of course

04.03.10

What’s driving up oil prices again? Wall Street, of course

by Kevin G. Hall | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Oil consumption has fallen, demand from U.S. motorists for gasoline is flat at best and refiners that turn crude into fuel are operating well below capacity. Yet oil prices keep marching toward $90 a barrel, pushing gasoline toward $3 a gallon in many markets, and prompting American drivers to ask, “What gives?”

Blame it on the same folks who brought you $140 oil and $4 gasoline in 2008: Wall Street speculators.

Experts attribute much of the recent rise in prices to flows of speculative money into oil markets. These bets are fueled by investor expectations that the U.S. and global economies are poised to return to growth and thus spark increased use of oil. Strong growth in China supports the narrative of rising oil consumption and tightening supplies.

“The thinking goes that rising stock (market) prices implies expanding business activity, implies growing energy demand, implies rising oil prices. I think you can make that case, but it’s awfully weak,” said Michael Fitzpatrick, vice president-energy for MF Global, a financial firm that brokers the sale of contracts for future delivery of oil.

While there are signs of U.S. economic recovery, such as a slight uptick in consumption and strong manufacturing data, there are plenty of ho-hum signs too, including dismal construction spending and continued high unemployment.

“I just don’t think if you look across the entire spectrum of the macro-economy that it creates a picture of a growing body of incontrovertible evidence that there is a strong, sustainable recovery. I just don’t see it,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think it should be closer to the range we were seeing in late summer and early fall, $67 to $72″ a barrel.

On the last day of July, oil traded at $67.50 a barrel and gasoline sold at a nationwide average of $2.52 a gallon for regular unleaded. On Thursday, oil prices settled at $84.87 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, and regular unleaded gasoline averaged $2.80 a gallon and more than $3 on the West Coast, according to the AAA.

“It’s the story we’ve been talking about . . . . It’s really about oil being an attractive investment for investors right now,” said Troy Green, a AAA spokesman. “You’ve seen quite a bit of money flooding into the oil markets because of that.”

What’s different about today’s price run-up from two or three years ago is that oil is now in ample supply.

“If you look at the fundamentals right now, there is certainly an abundance that is available (of oil) to the market for the next 12 months or so. It’s not a near-term supply shortfall,” said David Dismukes, the associate director of the Center for Energy Studies at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

U.S. motorists and businesses consumed 18.69 million barrels per day (bpd) of petroleum product last year. That’s projected to rise slightly this year to 18.89 million bpd. However, it remains far below peak consumption of 20.80 million bpd in 2005.

The latest data from the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Energy Department, shows that as of mid-March, U.S. refiners were operating at 81.1 percent capacity. They’re making eight gallons of gasoline for every 10 they’re capable of producing, a clear sign that demand is down.

Perhaps the only argument that would justify rising prices is that global consumption is expected to grow by 1.6 million bpd to 86.6 million bpd this year, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency.

Even so, there’s 6 million bpd of oil that’s shut-in, a technical way of saying that recoverable oil is being left in the ground by the world’s oil producers.

“When you look at inventories and shut-in capacity, (oil) prices today are above what those would indicate,” said Daniel Yergin, the author of “The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power,” the recently updated Pulitzer Prize-winning book that chronicles the history of oil.

When oil traded above $140 a barrel nearly two years ago and pundits warned that the world was running out of oil, Yergin suggested that a glut of oil would come onto the market in 2010 and beyond. The 6 million bpd of oil now on the sidelines suggests that he was right.

Today’s spare production capacity is three times what it was in 2004 and 2005, when supply actually was tight.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries signaled this week its concerns about rising prices by not calling for hard enforcement of production quotas by its members. That suggested the cartel will tolerate an open-spigot policy by its 12 members as needed to stabilize prices.

“While OPEC was silent on any threat to the recovery, speculation continues that the cartel is deliberately allowing members to exceed production quotas in order to limit upward price pressure,” wrote analyst Matt Robinson, in a research report Thursday by forecaster Moody’s Economy.com.

Rising oil and gasoline prices are deja vu all over again for Michael Masters. The hedge fund manager has crusaded for legislation that would prevent so much speculative money in the oil markets.

Wall Street is “gaming” the price of oil, he warns……..

Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/04/01/91487/whats-driving-up-oil-prices-again.html#ixzz0k2VsgYlF

Teachers Union signs solidarity agreement with AFL-CIO

04.02.10

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

Teachers Union signs solidarity agreement with AFL-CIO

BY NANCY KRAKE
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, March 14th- The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) and the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg, announced they have signed a new solidarity agreement.

AFL-CIO President William George and PSEA President Jim Testerman, the state’s largest school employee union, signed the labor solidarity partnership agreement on March 9th at a Harrisburg news coverence.

“We believe it is in the mutual best interest for the PSEA and our local affiliates to participate in the broader labor movement through joint efforts with the AFL-CIO and its affiliates at the national, state and local levels. The strength of unions working to improve the lives of working Americans is in our solidarity. We support each other. Today we re-affirm to the members of the AFL-CIO and they re-affirm to us your fight, your struggle is ours also,” said Mr. Testerman.

Phone messages to Mr. George from the newspaper were not immediately returned regarding this story.

“Unions continue to play a critical role in our society, and one that extewnds well beyond those people who pay dues. Unions give workers a voice through the collective bargaining process to shape decisions regarding compensation and benefits, working conditions and job security. Almost always, the result is higher pay and better benefits, safer working conditions and greater job security for their members, just as it has been throughout the history of the labor movement,” added Mr. Testerman.

The two labor organizations have been working toward a agreement for several years. In 2006, the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly enacted a new business item authorizing NEA local affiliates to become members of the AFL-CIO local labor councils and state federations. The agreement will allow for greater cooperation and participation by PSEA local affiliates in the AFL-CIO central labor councils including serving as officers.

“The advantages of joining together are obvious. We will be able to conduct more effective campaigns in politics and legislation, in our community services programs and in educating workers about the benefits of belonging to unions,” said Richard Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and a member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union. Mr. Bloomdale will likely replace Mr. George as the leader of the labor federation in April, 2010.

Lehigh Valley computer technology company workers become union members

04.02.10

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

Lehigh Valley computer technology company workers become union members

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, March 16th- Recently the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 375, Liberty Street in Allentown, signed a labor agreement with TDS Technologies of West Allen Street in Allentown that will provide a unionized computer repair service to local union members and union halls.

According to David Reichard, President of Local 375, the union and the company signed a five-year contract on March 4th. The contract will cover four employees of the company that provides computer service to homes and businesses throughout the Lehigh Valley. Mr. Reichard said hopefully union members will hire his members when they have a computer problem. “It is our hope the full labor community will support this new unionized “geek squad” with any computer solutions they might need within their labor halls as well as individuals members with computer needs at home.”

Local 375 has around 900 members throughout the Lehigh Valley representing construction industry electricians, cable television workers, municipal employees and tech workers.

Mr. Reichard added the agreement includes a letter of assent which makes TDS a signatory contractor with the IBEW with the ability to hire working electricians if the company expands into that industry.