Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

No real positive signs yet for the long-term unemployed


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

No real positive signs yet for the long-term unemployed


REGION, April 24th- There was positive news coming out of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics regarding jobs in early April however, much of the report indicated employers still are not hiring workers.

According to revised job data for January and February, jobs increased by 62,000. However, what most main-stream media failed to report was almost a third of the jobs gained were temporary hiring by the United States Census Bureau. Those jobs are expected to last for around 90 days.

The reality is that the positive gains are still quite modest. The economy has 8.2 million fewer jobs today than it did when the resession began in December 2007, and at this pace, it would take more than four years to regain the jobs lost and even longer to create enough jobs for our growing population. For comparison, the economy created an average of more than 200,000 jobs each month during the recoveries of the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Those who are out of work continue to have an exceptionally challenging time finding a new job. The share of the long-term unemployed who have been out of work and pounding the pavement in search of a new job for at least six months is at a record-breaking 44.1 percent, or 6.5 million workers. The share of the unemployed who were long-term unemployed had never risen above 26.0 percent prior to this recession. But, now the typical worker is taking 20 weeks to find a new job.

According to the Center for American Progress, an economic research institute in Washington, DC, the problem of long-term unemployment is a particular challenge for those who have lost their job involuntarily. More than half of unemployed adult men and women (54.6 percent and 54.3 percent respectively) have been out of work for at least six months. Long-term unemployment is also more common among workers over age 45 compared to younger workers, and African-American workers compared to white workers.

Many of the long-term unemployed will need to train for different jobs than they had before, perhaps in a different part of the country. But there are high monetary and personal costs to going back to school and moving a family, the organization stated.

IBEW Union Local 163 members volunteer their labor for community project


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

IBEW Union Local 163 members volunteer their labor for community project


REGION, April 17th- The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 163, Sans Souci Parkway in Wilkes-Barre, recently announced their members were involved in a community project in Luzerne County.

Local 163 has around 350 active members throughout Luzerne, Sullivan, Bradford and Wyoming Counties of Pennsylvania.

According to John Nadolny, Local 163 Training Director, which works with training apprentices entering the electrical construction industry, members donated their time and used their skills to replace old lighting fixtures and installed new track lighting for displays at a project being conducted by the Luzerne County Historical Society. The organization is conducted the second phase of the Anthracite Mining exhibit at 49 South Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre.

According to Mike Kwashnik, Business Manager and Principal Officer of Local 163, the union is proud to be involved with their community in the Wyoming Valley.

“We are always willing to help our community,” said Mr. Kwashnik.

Mr. Kwashnik stated the majority of the volunteer work performed on community projects are done by the union apprentices that must donate the labor as part of their training. He said the apprentices must conduct at least ten hours of community services work a year.

“Cavanaugh Electrical Contracting donated equipment, tools and supplies for the project,” stated Mr. Nadolny.

NJ Gov. Christie To Deny Tenure To State’s Court’s Only African-American Justice


NJ Gov. Christie To Deny Tenure To State’s Court’s Only African-American Justice

By Susie Madrak

I predict New Jersey will very shortly be the California of the East. The voters’ insistence on punishing the Democrats in the last gubernatorial election leaves the heavily populated state in the hands of someone who’s very unsympathetic to anyone who isn’t white, suburban and Republican. Already he’s pulling the same accounting tricks utilized by Christine Todd Whitman - the same tactics that left the state in a massive financial hole.

But hey, he promised no tax increases!

TRENTON ## On a court known nationally for its judicial activism, state Supreme Court Justice John Wallace’s legacy may be bound to the one ruling that wasn’t his to make: Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to deny him tenure.

Christie’s action, unprecedented since the state revamped its constitution in 1947, fulfilled a campaign promise to reshape the court and drew cheers from the right.

Wallace is also the court’s only African-American justice in a state that’s 12 percent black.

It also brought cries from Democrats that the governor is politicizing the high court, threats that they will stall the nomination of Morris County attorney Anne Patterson and a virtually unheard of rebuke from the state’s chief justice.

The looming fight extends far beyond this one justice and could have an impact on the New Jersey court for decades to come.

“Batting the ball back and forth on political grounds is not going to be good for the independence of the court,” Rutgers Law School professor Robert Williams. “If judges have to gauge the perception their cases are going to receive in the political world, they may be a little less assertive in interpreting the constitution.”

Justices should look over their shoulders, said Steve Lonegan, a conservative whose Americans for Prosperity group waged a phone and e-mail campaign imploring Christie to keep his promise to change the court — starting with Wallace.

“This is what voters asked for,” Lonegan said. “For decades, I’ve watched governors and legislators run in fear from this court. It’s about time … it’s a great first step.”

Ah, yes, our good friends at Americans for Prosperity! Just another in the long list of wingnut front groups funded by right-wing billionaire David Koch! They’re the group behind the “grassroots” Tea Party, too. In fact, they front for just about any wingnut cause you can name - including climate change denial.

Christie will have the opportunity to reappoint or dismiss two more justices, and another will reach retirement age.

That could change the nature of the court, which has a national profile for rulings that include the Karen Ann Quinlan right to die case, the Baby M decision that condemned surrogate motherhood and the finding that the Boy Scouts’ ban on homosexuality violated state anti-discrimination laws. The court’s decisions also include school funding and affordable housing rulings criticized by some because of their price tag. “The Supreme Court is the driving force behind New Jersey’s high taxes,” Lonegan said.

Alan Tarr, director of the Center for State Constitutional studies at Rutgers, said there’s always been a political element to judicial appointments. More significant, he said, is Christie is “trying to give himself more leeway in school finance.”

By “more leeway,” he means Christie wants to channel extra funds to the heavily-Republican suburban districts. The court’s interpretation of the state constitution calls for equitable distribution ## and we can’t have that, can we?