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Is the Republican Victory Plan Another Great Depression?


Is the Republican Victory Plan Another Great Depression?

It seems like the Republicans in Congress have decided that sabotaging economic recovery and employment growth is their best tactic for electoral gains in the November elections. Indications of this plan have been around since the Democratic victories in 2008. It seems that all doubt about facilitating the economic downturn as a path to political power for Republicans have been removed by recent legislative votes.

Economic recessions and depressions almost always result from insufficient “effective” consumer demand for goods and services produced domestically. In economic terms, wanting something is not “effective demand” . For a want to become a demand for goods or services, it must accompany the desire to buy with the ability to actually purchase. Money is required.

Jobs are not created by just having large pools of investment money available. There must be the opportunity to invest in a business that will have customers who can buy the goods and services before the investment money flows into job creation activities. The Republican Right economic theory that economic prosperity and employment ” trickle-down from the wealthy” has proven to be unsound by historical experience.

Tax cuts for the wealthy create huge investment money pools but not jobs. Our nation has plenty of money setting idle in corporate and personal coffers. Corporations have almost a trillion dollars setting essentially idle in corporate accounts at this time.

Republicans are seeking to extend the tax cuts for the wealthy by falsely stating that increases in taxes for the upper 2% of income earners would hurt demand and prolong the economic downturn. Experience and history prove otherwise.

Tax cuts at the highest marginal incomes brackets do concentrate wealth and political power in the hands of the economic elite. The resulting political power by the economic elite pushes government policy in directions that dramatically cut the percentage of the nation’s wealth and income held by the vast majority of Americans. This reduces the ability of most Americans to buy goods and services. As a result, the economy unwinds because customers do not have enough disposable income to keep the flow of goods and services at a healthy economic level. The former middle class disposable income now controlled by the economic elite funds speculation and unsound “bubbles” in the economy instead of a healthy economy because sound businesses now lack paying customers.

Deregulation helps corporations charge excessive prices. Not enforcing anti-monopoly laws permits price gouging. Not capping interest rates concentrates wealth and reduces consumer spending. Outsourcing jobs to foreign nations reduces incomes available to buy goods and services. Union-busting keeps wages and benefits down which undermines the purchasing power of workers.

Privatizing government services costs consumers more in out of pocket expenses once provided by government. This reduces disposable income for these consumers. When employers reduce benefits and increase co-pays, it increases the cost-of-living for workers. As a result, these workers have less disposable income to spend on goods and services.

Middle class tax cuts do help the economy because they increase the disposable income of those members of society who spend the vast majority of their incomes and have little left over to save. The money changes hands over and over again instead of setting idle. This is the multiplier effect in economics.

Extending unemployment benefits has a huge multiplier effect. This is because unemployment benefits are so low that essentially all of it gets spent on goods and services immediately.

Excessive concentration of wealth and income unwinds our economy. All the Republican policies for the past 100 years have been designed to concentrate wealth and income in the hands of the very few. Every time they reach the economic concentration levels that currently exist, we have a serious depression. This is a direct result of increasingly “Republicanized” governmental policies over the previous 30 years.

Economic concentration of wealth and income are currently at levels very similar to those just before the Great Depression in 1929. The only reason our current situation has not quite deteriorated to that of the last Great Depression is that the Republicans have not been completely successful in undoing the reforms put in place as a result of the New Deal. Despite repeated attacks by Republicans our social safety net remains only damaged but not destroyed. It is not from lack of trying by Republican politicians.

Republican attempts to gut Social Security continue. Privatization keeps coming back to threaten the stability and viability of Social Security. Cutting Social Security benefits instead of increasing revenue seems to be the most effective avenue for the current attack. This approach is being pushed by most Republicans and some corporatist Democrats. A wiser economic approach would be to remove the income ceiling over which Social Security tax is not paid.

Why should almost all workers be taxed at over 13% while those making a million a year are paying closer to 1% and those making 10 million dollars a year are taxed at around 1/10th of 1% on their income? Social Security taxes are the most regressive tax system I know of in our current system. The poor and middle classes pay much, much more in percentage terms than the wealthy.

For decades, working people have been paying in far more than the current needs for each respective year of Social Security payments. These surpluses were “borrowed” by the federal government so they could fund annual deficits created by cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans, cutting taxes on corporations by huge margins and nearly eliminating taxes on imports. It is only fair that corporations, wealthy Americans and foreign exporters selling in the American market pay higher taxes to fund these previous decades of “borrowing” since they reaped the benefits of that “borrowing”.

Republicans only want to look at cutting benefits instead of making Social Security taxes fairer by equalizing the Social Security tax rate for all income levels! These Republicans do not want to pay back the Social Security tax money borrowed by the federal government to fund tax cuts for the wealthy, fight two wars on credit and allow the near elimination of taxes on imports.

Sound economics says government should run surpluses in good economic times and deficits during economic downturns. Following this advice helps reduce the severity of economic cycles. Under the Republican Presidencies of Reagan and both George Bushes, we did exactly the opposite and created both the current downturn and the debt crisis. The vast majority of our total national debt developed under these three conservative Republican Presidents.

Currently, the Republicans in Congress have fought every measure to increase employment and help small businesses. They have fought all kinds of economic reforms that would curb corporate abuses of consumers, shareholders or workers. They have fought all attempts to curb excessive corporate political or economic power. They have been against any measures that would increase demand for goods and services or levels of employment.

By their actions, it is hard not to conclude that the Republicans want to worsen the economic downturn until it reaches Great Depression levels. The economic downturn was created by “Republicanizing” our economy and the Republicans want to blame the Democrats instead! With tons of corporate money behind them and a corporate dominated media helping them, it might just work.

Written by Stephen Crockett (host of Democratic Talk Radio and Editor of Mid-Atlantic Mail: 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702. Email: Phone: 443-907-2367.

Feel free to publish without prior approval.

USW Union Local 2599 talking with Victaulic about contract


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

USW Union Local 2599 talking with Victaulic about contract


REGION, July 15th- There are negotiations between officials of the Victaulic Company and the United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union Local 2599 attempting to gain a successor contract agreement between the parties.

Victaulic operates a pipe couplings manufacturing facility in Forks Township and the two sides have been without a contract agreement since January 31st, 2010 when the previous pact expired. On February 8th, 2010 the union membership rejected Victaulic’s “final” contract proposal 269 to 0. The two sides agreed to work under the terms and conditions of the previous contract following the vote.

The USW represents approximately 275 workers of Victaulic with around 37 currently laid-off stated Jerry Green, Local 2599 President.

The union has two labor contracts with the Victaulic Company. Local 2599 also represents around 130 employees of the employers Alburtis facility. The Alburtis contract will not expire until September 2013.

The membership rejected the contract because the company’s 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.

Mr. Green told the newspaper negotiations have restarted recently and major issues remain between the parties. “One major thing that is off the table is language for two-tier laid-off recall,” stated Mr. Green. He said the company wanted to recall laid-off workers under a lower pay scale that what they had before being laid-off.

The company still wants several pay scales for employees including one scale for new hires, in which those workers would never achieve the wages that older hires are receiving.

Meanwhile, Mr. Green told the newspaper discussions are underway in an attempt to settle the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) complaint filed by the USW against Northampton County regarding the contract at Gracedale Nursing Home, which is owned and operated by the County.

The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) ruled Northampton County officials have violated the Public Employee Relations Act when the negotiated agreement between the parties was not implemented by the county.

Mr. Green stated the issue may be resolve providing contract negotiations are renewed and his members receive the pay increase provided under the previously reached agreement for 2009 and 2010. The union represents around 50 nurses and social workers at Gracedale. The previous contract expired in December 2008.

“We will need to negotiate all over again,” said Green. “We want to help the county but they need to be fair with us.”

Building Trades Unions again involved with youth apprentice program


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

Building Trades Unions again involved with youth apprentice program


REGION, July 18th- The pre-apprenticeship program in the Lehigh Valley began on July 5th for the second consecutive year.

Last May affiliated local union members of the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Lehigh Valley announced the new program at the Lehigh Valley Career Link in Allentown.

The labor federation along with the United Community Services sponsors the program and is funded by the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board. Funds are provided through the Pennsylvania allocation from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The program is intended to provide youths from the Lehigh Valley, which must first meet the financial requirements, the ability to study and learn about becoming a construction tradesperson.

The program will provide for the eligible youths both academic preparation and work experiences to enter the building trades apprenticeship programs.

There are 19 local unions affiliated with the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Lehigh Valley which represents workers employed within the construction trade industry. Many of those unions are involved with the program and are asked by Vicki Henshaw, who directs the program, to participate in classroom discussion and informing the youths of what is involve to become a construction tradesperson.

Ms. Henshaw, which has worked in the Lehigh Valley within the social services for many years, told the newspaper last year there were fourteen youths enrolled in the program and this year there is twenty.

“The program was a success in 2009 and much of this years program is the same as last years,” said Ms. Henshaw. None of the youths enrolled in this year were involved in the 2009 program.

Following the summer long program the youths will receive their certification for completing the course during a event in which their parents will be asked to participate.

Apprentice classrooms of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 375 in Allentown are used for the classroom studies and is headquarted in their building on Liberty Street.

William Dorward, Area Marketing Representative for the Sheet Metal Workers International Union Local 19, which represents employees that install duct work for heating and air conditioning and metal roofs throughout the Lehigh Valley, in a earlier newspaper story the pre-apprenticeship program has been conducted in the Reading area for several years and is very successful.

The youths will get acquainted with the building trades apprenticeship programs, visit job sites, and learn about building trades unions. They will be required to study math, construction safety and building trade work readiness. The requirements for the program will mirror a real union apprenticeship program.

Wal-Mart Backlash in Baltimore


Baltimore’ alternative weekly City Paper published a story last week titled “Big Box Backlash” ## a summary of the opposition that has arisen in the five months since Wal-Mart announced it wanted to build its first store inside the city limits

Written by Andrea Appleton and Hannah Bruchman, the story provides a good overview of the situation, including the role of a new group that combines the efforts of the UFCW and the NAACP

Some excerpts below:

“In February, city residents learned that a proposed 11-acre housing and retail development at 25th and Howard streets would include a nearly 94,000-square-foot Walmart. The news has since spurred a lot of dialogue, to put it nicely. Everyone from John Waters to Denise Whiting, the owner of Café Hon, has weighed in on the matter (the former con, the latter pro).

In fact, the proposed development has incited a hydra-headed opposition. While many of the affected community associations quietly negotiate concessions with the city and the developer, other groups have taken a more vocal stance. To date, the development has triggered the formation of at least three organizations. These groups run the gamut from those who oppose Walmart on principle to those seeking large concessions from the developer to those who take issue with the way the city is addressing the inevitable spike in traffic the development will bring.

The announcement that Walmart would be included in the development proved to be particularly galvanizing. A Facebook group entitled “Keep Wal-Mart Out of Remington”## now more than 1,500 strong## appeared, with members vehemently criticizing Walmart’s employment practices and effect on local businesses. Bmore Local, which formed shortly thereafter, took a more nuanced approach. The organization has proposed that 13 amendments be added to zoning legislation for the project. (For the development to go forward, the City Council must approve a planned unit development, or PUD, which would allow the mixed-use development to sit on a patchwork of land zoned for divergent uses.) The amendments include requiring the developer to preserve and reuse the stone church at 24th and Sisson streets; to maintain a certain percentage of occupancy or incur heavy fines; and to ensure all tenants pay the state definition of a “living wage,” $12.25 an hour. Bmore Local is applying for nonprofit status and plans to move on to other projects once this one is settled. “We would love to see community standards city-wide,” Vice President Genny Dill says.”

“Baltimore CAN, another new organization inspired by the specter of a Remington Walmart, has similar aims. Currently composed of 25 groups## including Bmore Local, as well as local branches of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the NAACP## the coalition’s aim is to promote city standards for new developments, with guidelines governing everything from wages to transportation to health impacts. “We’re pro development,” says Matthew Weinstein, Baltimore region director for Progressive Maryland, one of the convening organizations. “But we want to deal with development in a coordinated way so that communities don’t get run over.” The coalition aims to have 100 member organizations by Aug. 5, when the Planning Commission will hold a hearing on the 25th Street Station project.

That meeting is likely to be a tad crowded. It is also the deadline for any appeals regarding the city’s Traffic Impact Study (TIS) for the new development. (Studies that assess a development’s likely traffic impact on surrounding communities and transportation corridors are required for large developments such as this one.) Because the final draft was released late last week, it’s too early to say whether anyone will appeal it. But judging by initial reactions, the chances are good.

Remington Neighborhood Alliance (RNA) President Joan Floyd has been engaged in a contentious back and forth with the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) since the first draft was released nearly two months ago. In a letter to the DOT, she pointed out that the study## conducted by a company called VHB## included no information as to how data was collected (such as dates), which in Floyd’s opinion made it null and void. She wrote that the draft made such basic errors as miscounting the number of lanes in certain roads. And she took issue with some of the assumptions in the study. For instance, it took as a given that 25 percent of shoppers will walk, bike, or take the bus to the shopping center## which will feature Walmart and Lowe’s as its most prominent stores## resulting in what Floyd calls “the unrealistic removal of 1,000-2,000 and more cars per day from future projections.”

DOT Acting Division Chief Valorie LaCour responded to some of Floyd’s complaints in a letter dated June 16. She wrote that the department arrived at the 25 percent figure by using Institute of Transportation Engineers standards and reviewing data from the Home Depot on Eastern Avenue and Kane Street, which she says “has similar demographic and land use characteristics.” LaCour did not address the question of miscounted lanes, and in the new draft they do not appear to have been corrected, according to Floyd. “It’s something that doesn’t instill confidence,” she says. “This is not difficult stuff to get right.” As to the dates of data collection## which are included in the new draft## Floyd points out that many of the counts were conducted late last year before the TIS study began, which “raises questions,” though such data is allowable by DOT standards. A number of the traffic counts were also done during Johns Hopkins University’s spring break, when traffic is diminished.”

“Members of the Historic Fawcett Community Association, yet another new organization, are also worried that traffic will clog their small neighborhood. The area## bound by West 24th Street, the CSX tracks, Howard Street, and North Avenue## encompasses perhaps 100 families. In the development plans, it sits near the parking garage and a loading dock for Lowe’s, “right at the butt end” of the proposed project, steering committee member Megan Hamilton says. “In our view, we are the neighborhood most at risk.”

Maryland State Education Association Endorse Shelton Martin for Delegate


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Maryland State Education Association Endorse Shelton Martin for Delegate

Lanham, MD- Today the Friends of Wanda Shelton Martin are pleased to announce the endorsement of the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) in her campaign for the House of Delegates from the 47th District. “I am honored and humbled by this endorsement. The Maryland State Education Association is the workers who take a significant responsibility in developing our children. That is why this endorsement means so much to me. I am committed to strengthening our Education system while recognizing the hard work of the members of the MSEA.”

When Wanda kicked off her campaign she announced a platform of three E’s, one of them being education. For more than a year Wanda has been sharing with the residents of the 47th district her plan to improve our education system and prepare our young people for stronger futures. A product of public schools herself Wanda put both of her daughters in the public school system as well and knows the challenges we face as a community. Educators and parents will have no greater champion of education in Annapolis than Wanda Shelton Martin.

Wanda Shelton-Martin is a candidate running for the Maryland House of Delegates in the 47th Legislative District. Her campaign is focused on the four E’s of Economy, Education, Environment, and Elderly.

Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Joe Sestak likely to receive labor support


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

Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Joe Sestak likely to receive labor support


REGION, July 17th- Delegates of the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) will meet on August 12th and Democratic Pennsylvania United States Senatorial candidate Joe Sestak will likely be endorsed by the labor federation over former Lehigh Valley Republican Congressman (15th Legislative District) Pat Toomey. While serving three two-year terms in Washington, DC, Mr. Toomey supported pro-labor legislation less than ten percent of the time.

Pro-business organizations, including the United States Chamber of Commerce, are sponsoring television advertisements across Pennsylvania attacking Mr. Sestak.

In May Mr. Sestak defeated the AFL-CIO supported incumbent Democratic Senator Arlen Specter to become their party’s nominee for the November election.

Mr. Sestak did receive support from the labor community in the May election including from the United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776 and the United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union Local 2599 in Bethlehem.

After the AFL-CIO meets on August 12th and announces which political candidates the labor federation will support in the November election, the labor community will conduct educational programs requesting union members’ support the candidates. Mr. Sestak will likely be one of those candidates.

Recently, two Pittsburgh television stations removed anti-Sestak advertisements paid for by the Chamber of Commerce because they inaccurately stated what Mr. Sestak’s voting record is while serving in the House of Representatives.

Teamsters Union files complaints against employers


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

Teamsters Union files complaints against employers


REGION, July 17th- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 773 in Allentown filed labor complaints against several Lehigh Valley employers alleging they violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

On June 11th, 2010 the Union filed a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge against Coca-Cola Bottling of Lehigh Valley alleging the employer violated Section 8 (a), subsections (1)(3) and (4) of the NLRAct.

“On or about June 2010 the above named Employer, by and through its agents, has violated the above referenced provisions of the Act by terminating the employment of a Teamsters Local 773 member because of his union activity and because of his participation in the filling and investigation of an NLRB charge, including providing a sworn affidavit,” states the complaint. Local 773 represents workers employer at the Coca-Cola facility on Industrial Drive in Bethlehem.

The ULP was filed at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia. The newspaper is the only member of the local media that reviews and publishes the information.

On July 12th, 2010 Local 773 filed a ULP against Hayward Laboratories, North Courtland Street in East Stroudsburg alleging the employer violated Section 8 (a) and subsections (1) and (3) of the NLRAct.

The complaint alleges the Employer violated the NLRAct by discriminatorily disciplining shop steward Mary Pitt, including yelling and screaming at her and issuing warnings for behavior other employees engage in without consequences.

All of these actions began once Ms. Pitt was appointed assistant shop steward on the third shift, states the complaint.

The ULP was filed on behalf of Local 773 by Attorney Regina Hertzig of Philadelphia.

A NLRB source indicated the complaint is under investigation.

Support the Jewish Labor Committee


Support the Jewish Labor Committee

by John O. Mason

The Jewish Labor Committee is the Jewish voice within the Labor movement, and the Labor voice within the Jewish community, serving as a liaison between the two causes, sharing each side’s values. It was founded in February 1934 by Yiddish-speaking trade unionists, plus members of the Workmen’s Circle, the United Hebrew Trades, and the Jewish Socialist Bund, in order to combat the rise of Fascism in Europe and America.

In recent years, JLC has been active in the fight for the rights of immigrant workers, and has protested the abusive labor practices found in the Agroprocessors meat processing plant in Iowa, supported the Republic Windows and Doors workers in Chicago, and has worked for dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian trade unionists. One of JLC’s programs is the Labor Seder, linking the freedom struggle of the ancient Israelites to current and past Labor struggles.

Recently, the Philadelphia JLC has lost its funding from the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, which jeopardizes its ability to conduct its programs. Other JLC chapters may be facing this plight. If you want to help JLC, contact the main JLC office:

Jewish Labor Committee
25 East 21st Street
New York, NY 10010

New Content Contributors Wanted for Mid-Atlantic


We are seeking more contributors of news and opinions from the labor movement in the Mid-Atlantic states. We additionally would like to reactivate the events calendar here.

If you are interested, please email me at and include your connections to the labor movement.

We need much more content from DC, Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania (especially outside the Lehigh Valley and Scranton areas) and West Virginia.

In solidarity,

Stephen Crockett

Editor, Mid-Atlantic

Labor is lining up behind Elizabeth Warren for Consumer Protection Agency’


Labor is lining up behind Elizabeth Warren for the position. Sam Stein: “On Tuesday, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry will ‘raise the point that Elizabeth Warren would be an excellent head of the newly created Consumer Protection Agency’ in private talks with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, according to a senior source with the union. The tete-a-tete adds an element of intrigue into the debate over who should head the new, but important agency, and could set up a now-familiar scenario in which the labor community finds itself butting heads with the White House’s economic team.”

The Tea Party “Catch 22”


The Tea Party “Catch 22”

The Tea Party movement has started to come unglued over a series of internal contradictions that amount to an identity crisis. The Tea Party is caught in a “Catch 22” position that has largely been ignored by the corporate mainstream media.

Just this morning I watched a local PBS show where a Republican operative claimed that the Tea Party movement was not “Republican, Right Wing or racist.” The comment appears to be the Republican Right Wing official spin on all things “Tea Party” in nature. Unfortunately, the claim really lacks credibility because it conflicts with the facts on the ground all over the nation.

Anyone who really watched the development of the Tea Party movement, as part of the anti-healthcare reform effort, understands that it was a creation of Fox News and corporate funded Right Wing Republican operatives. Despite many claims to the contrary, it brought very few new faces into the political process.

What the Tea Party public relations campaign did was simply “re-brand” the various largely discredited, Right Wing fringe elements in the Republican Party under a new name. It did con the mainstream corporate media very effectively into calling blatant corporatist, economic elitist policies “populist.” It was a bad joke that the media completely missed or just ignored.

Like the fake ACORN pimp and voter registration scandals, the storyline falls apart completely when the details are examined in any detail. The spin relies on manufactured “facts” that are really outrageous lies being told over and over again. In time, the storyline falls apart but often the damage has been done. It appears the mainstream corporate media has learned absolutely nothing from their Iraq War-Weapons of Mass Deception experience.

The reality is that there is probably not much of a Tea Party movement outside of Republican Right Wing corporate control. When it comes to economic populism, the Tea Party has either been completely missing in action or in outright opposition to every proposal that is populist in nature.

Our middle class has been under constant attack by corporate forces for decades. The Reagan-Bush Republicans have been pushing changes in government policy that benefit only the most elite of economic elitists for 30 years. American workers are being driven out of the middle class by government policy and market power. The Republican Right has successfully placed many of the levers of power in government in the hands of the corporatist economic elite. Some Democrats assisted parts of this corporate take-over of government but it was overwhelmingly Republican effort.

The government is not the enemy if it is controlled by the majority of middle class Americans. It is a check on excessive corporate power under those circumstances.

The genius behind the Tea Party campaign is that it is a corporate created public relations/political campaign designed to promote pro-corporate economic policies via government while calling the movement “anti-corporate and anti-government.” The racism angle is a just a way to hook “poor and middle class whites” into an effort designed to economically benefit the wealthiest of the wealthy at the expense of “the poor and middle class of all colors.”

Racism has long been used to divide working Americans up along color lines so they do not demand a better deal from the economic and political elite. Racism serves an economic purpose and always has served an economic purpose. Racism is a sucker bet for working Americans. It has been a key element in building the Tea Party movement and the Republican Party since Richard Nixon. Republican Right wing economic policies are a disaster for 90% of Americans and social wedge issues including race have been the key to Republican victories for more than a generation.

If the Tea Party was really a new creature, it would be fielding third party candidates everywhere under the Tea Party name. Republican and Right Wing operatives claim it is independent of the Republican Party but at the same time strongly oppose real independence. The Republican Party is the Tea Party. The Tea Party is just the most extreme elements of the Republican Party devoted to driving any remaining moderates out of the Republican Party.

You cannot support Pat Toomey-Club for Growth economic policies and still claim to be a populist movement. You have to support economic policies that increase the wages of American workers, support government measures to help the unemployed, curtail the ability of corporations to move jobs outside the United States and sell untaxed imports in our country, shift the tax burden back in the direction of corporations and the Super Wealthy instead of putting it on the middle classes and seek to regulate corporate market power to be an economic populist.

Economic populists do not make excuses for BP like Rand Paul or Sharon Angle. Economic populists do not oppose government deficits during a severe economic downturn nor support government deficits in good economic times, like the Republicans are doing. Opposing better access to affordable healthcare is not a populist position. Giving massive tax cuts to wealthy people while our government is running massive deficits and local governments are firing teachers, firefighters and police is simply stupid economics and has nothing to do with economic populism.

If the Tea Party is” populist” in nature, as they claim, then the policies they support should demonstrate that populism. If the Tea Party is independent of the Republican Party, then they should field independent candidates in the November general elections to prove their independence. If the Tea Party is not racist, then they should condemn the expression of racism from within their movement every time they occur. If the Tea Party is not an expression of extreme Right Wing sentiments, then they should stop supporting the political agenda of the Far Right.

American voters will learn in coming months just how fake and flakey the Tea Party con job is by watching the Tea Party Republicans seeking office in November. You will learn nothing about this from Fox News but the mainstream media should not drop the ball on this story in 2010. The voters deserve a real discussion about the unreality of the Tea Party reality.

Written by Stephen Crockett (Host of Democratic Talk Radio ). Mail: 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702. Phone: 443-907-2367. Email:

Feel free to publish without prior approval.

New Report Charges Exploitation of Immigrant Labor on Maryland’s Eastern Shore


AFL-CIO Blog is reporting on a new academic study that documents exploitation of immigrant labor in the seafood industry on Maryland’s famed Eastern shore. James Parks writes:

“In a stinging indictment of our broken immigration system, a new report shows that crab-picking houses on Maryland’s Eastern Shore rely mainly on hundreds of immigrant women workers who are forced to pay excessive and illegal fees to foreign recruiters only to end up in low-paying jobs in isolated rural areas with poor housing.”

“The report, “Picked Apart: The Hidden Struggles of Migrant Worker Women in the Maryland Crab Industry,” was released today by the International Human Rights Law Clinic at American University’s Washington College of Law and Centro de los Derechos del Migrante (CDM). The transnational non-profit organization is dedicated to improving the working conditions of migrant workers in the United States.”

“The immigrant women, who are in the country on H-2B guest worker visas, must work only on the job for which they were recruited and cannot work elsewhere. Many employers exploit the women by paying them low wages and threatening to send them back home if they complain about living or working conditions.”

“More than half of the women reported serious housing problems and payroll deductions for knives, gloves and safety equipment. Several also said that male immigrant workers who wash the crabs were paid more and given more hours, and some said older women were not treated as well as younger women. One said she was asked to perform sexual favors, according to the report.”

“Jayesh Rathod, an assistant professor of law at American University, said under the nation’s current guest worker system, unscrupulous employers who don’t want to address unjust working conditions can “just decide to send workers home, and that happens.”

“Migrant pickers are paid by the pound, earning typically between $2 and $2.25 a pound, with those who can’t pick fast enough often sent home, the authors said.”

“The report calls for changes to the H-2B visa program, including regulating recruitment practices and sanctioning employers who use recruiters who charge excessive or improper fees to workers. The authors also recommend that the visas no longer tie workers to one employer, which would allow the workers to leave abusive working conditions.”

“Further, the report calls for extending the Maryland minimum wage and overtime protections to seafood workers and educating migrant workers before each season about their rights.”



July 12, 2010

I’ve been marveling in recent months at the ways in which Republican lawmakers and candidates seem to actively dislike ## on a personal level ## those who’ve lost their jobs in the recession. It’s kind of odd, given that the unemployed don’t seem to have done anything to offend the GOP and earn the party’s disdain.

In the latest example, we see Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett (R), the frontrunner in this year’s gubernatorial race, arguing publicly that jobless workers in his state are choosing not to work, preferring to live on meager unemployment aid.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett on Friday accused some jobless Pennsylvanians of choosing to collect unemployment checks rather than going back to work, prompting swift criticism from his Democratic opponent and one of the state’s top labor leaders.

“The jobs are there. But if we keep extending unemployment, people are just going to sit there,” Corbett told Harrisburg radio station WITF at a campaign stop in Elizabethtown. “I’ve literally had construction companies tell me, ‘I can’t get people to come back to work until . . . they say, “I’ll come back to work when unemployment runs out.” ‘ ”

I obviously can’t speak with confidence about what some guy told some other guy who in turn told Corbett. But the general argument is getting quite tiresome.

“The jobs are there”? No, they’re really not. Nationwide, there are five applicants for every one opening, which is a terribly painful ratio. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate is currently at a 26-year high.

Corbett not only seems confused about economic conditions, but his animosity about the jobless’ attitudes is awful. Yes, I can appreciate the fact that an unemployed worker who’s exhausted his/her benefits will be more desperate to take any job than an unemployed worker who’s still receiving public aid. But this dynamic matters a whole lot more when there are plenty of job opportunities for those who want them. That’s just not the current reality.

To hear Corbett tell it, the unemployed prefer to be unemployed ## turning down job opportunities that pay more, choosing to rely on aid that offers far less. Worse, Corbett doesn’t seem to realize that his approach makes the larger problem worse ## cutting people off from unemployment benefits undercuts consumer spending, which in turn leads to less demand and fewer job opportunities……

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Robert Casey’s legislation would help keep workers’ pensions solvent


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

Robert Casey’s legislation would help keep workers’ pensions solvent


REGION, June 17th- The Americans for Limited Government (ALG), a conservative political organization in Fairfax, Virginia, is critizing United States Senator Robert Casey’s (Democrat-Pennsylvania) Pension bailout legislation and is urging the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to reject it.

The United States Congress is considering legislation that would help the multi-employer pension system remain solvent.

Mr. Casey’s bill titled, “Create Jobs and Save Benefits Act of 2010,” could result in taxpayer money being used to help workers pensions remain solvent.

Most of these pensions are held in what are known as multi-employer pension funds. Created in 1974 as part of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, these funds are an agreement between a union and two or more employers to fund the pension of workers and retirees. It has been estimated the pension fund could be approximately $165 million in debt.

The rub is that many of the participating company’s have gone out of business but their employees remain in the system, and become the remaining company’s responsibility. As these multi-employer pension plans become more and more insolvent, the unions are faced with members pensions shortfalls.

The ALG, their media allies, and other conservative groups are suggesting the legislation is nothing but a bailout of union members pensions.

If the pension problem is not rectified the shortfall could result in cutting benefits, raising the retirement age, asking retired members to contribute to the fund or force unions to use dues money

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA unemployment rate remains the highest in Pennsylvania


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

MSA unemployment rate remains the highest in Pennsylvania


REGION, June 30th- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, the region’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 10.3 percent, increasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report, which was released approximately four weeks before. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) includes Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wyoming Counties. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was 8.5 percent. The unemployment rate is the highest for the region since September 1992 when it reached 10.5 percent.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 9.1 percent, rising by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,463,000 with 591,000 not working and 5,872,000 with employment. The national unemployment rate is 9.7 percent.

There are 14,973,000 civilians in the nation reported to be unemployed.

That number does not include civilians that have exhausted their unemployment benefits and have stopped looking for work. There are at least 22,000,000 civilians in the nation without jobs. Approximately 200,000 civilians in the nation are exhausting their unemployment benefits every week and will not be counted in the national unemployment rate.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the fourth largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 286,200 civilians. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor force at 2,995,300 with 279,900 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,229,800 with 105,700 without jobs; the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force at 425,400 with 41,900 not working; and the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fifth largest civilian labor force at 286,200 with 24,300 without employment.

Of the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA is tied with the Johnstown MSA for the highest unemployment rate. The Erie MSA has the second highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 10.0 percent, with the Allentown/Bethlhem/Easton MSA and the Reading MSA tied with the third highest at 9.9 percent.

There are 29,400 residents reported to be not working in the MSA, increasing by 800 from the previous report and rising by 5,100 from twelve months before. That number also does not include civilians who unemployment benefits have expired and stopped looking for work.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.7 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 7.9 percent, the Altoona MSA and the Lancaster MSA are tied for the third lowest rate at 8.0.

Wyoming County has the lowest unemployment rate in the MSA at 9.5 percent, decreasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and increasing by nine-tenths of a percentage points from one year ago. Wyoming County has a labor force of 14,500, decreasing by 300 civilians from the previous report and dropping by 100 from one year ago. There are 1,400 Wyoming County residents without jobs, unchanged from the previous report and increasing by 100 from twelve months ago.

Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 10.6 percent, increasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and increasing by one and seven-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago. Luzerne County has a labor force of 162,900, decreasing by 200 from the previous report and increasing by 900 during the past twelve months. Of the labor force 17,300 do not have a job, increasing by 400 during the past four weeks and rising by 3,000 during the past twelve months.

Lackawanna County has a unemployment rate of 9.9 percent, increasing four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and jumping by one and nine-tenths of a percentage point from one year ago. Lackawanna County has a labor force of 108,900, unchanged from the previous report and rising by 700 during the past twelve months. There are 10,800 Lackawanna County residents without jobs, rising by 500 from the previous report and increasing by 2,100 during the past twelve months.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs increased 600 to 254,000 since the last report. Since May 2009 the area has lost 600 jobs.

Labor complaints against Postal Service accumulating


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

Labor complaints against Postal Service accumulating


REGION, July 1st- The newspaper discovered labor complaints filed by labor organizations that represent workers employed by the United States Postal Service (USPS) are beginning to accumulate against the mail delivery service.

A review by the newspaper of Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges filed at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia shows multible complaints have been filed by several labor organizations from throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania alleging the USPS has violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The newspaper reported in the February edition the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 17 in Scranton, filed a complaint with the NLRB on February 3rd, 2010 alleging the USPS violated the NLRAct by delaying the bidding process which has resulted in a senior carrier floating. Branch 17 represents approximately 110 workers employed by the United States Postal Service at their facility in Stafford Avenue in Scranton. NALC represents workers that deliver mail to both residential and business customers. Branch 17 represents postal employees throughout the Scranton area.

The complaint was filed on behalf of the Union by Thomas Gavin, indentified on the complaint as President of Branch 17.

The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 175, in Wilkes-Barre filed a complaint against the USPS in Wilkes-Barre alleging the employer violated the NLRAct.

The union filed the complaint against the USPS on May 24th, 2010 alleging the employer violated Section 8 (a), subsections (1)(3) and (5) of the NLRAct.

The ULP’s were discovered during the montly review by the newspaper of complaints and petitions filed at the NLRB office. The newspaper is the only member of the local media that reviews and publishes the information.

Local 175 alleges the USPS has renege on an agreement to extend the time limit for processing grievances.

“On or about February 12th, 2010, the above named Employer, unilaterally and without bargaining with the Union, restricted Local 175 President John Kishel from engaging in Union/Steward activities during work hours, and therefore began prohibiting John Kishel from engaging in the above activities during the work day at any time after 12:30 p.m.,” states the complaint.

Local 175 represents postal clerks and maintenance workers for the USPS at their Albrightsville, Andreas, Berwick, Bloomsburg, Canadensis, Conyingham, Dallas, Drums, Falls, Glen Lyon, Harveys Lake, Hazleton, Hunlock Creek, Hunting Mills, Jim Thorpe, Kingston, Lehighton, Nanticoke, Nescopeck, Plymouth, Shickshinny, Tresckow, Tuckhannock, and Wilkes-Barre facilities.

Mr. Kishel was active in 2009 is attempting to persuade the USPS not to close the mail processing center on South Main Street in Wilkes-Barre and move the work to Scranton and the Lehigh Valley. The USPS earlier this year did move most of the work and jobs to Scranton and to Bethlehem Township. The USPS stated the move was in response to the 30 percent decline in first class mail over the past decade. Mail volume has dropped to 1964 levels.

Approximately 50 percent of Local 175 members have been reassigned to Scranton and the Lehigh Valley and now must travel to those locations to continue working for the USPS.

Cinram Manufacturing plans to layoff senior employees first


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

Cinram Manufacturing plans to layoff senior employees first


REGION, June 28th- The newspaper has learned Cinram Manufacturing in Olyphant, formerly called Speciality Records, intends to layoff senior employees later this summer before cutting workers that were hire more recently.

Cinram Manufacturing recently announced and the mainstream media reported the company will layoff 155 employees but the report company officials filed with the Department of Labor indicates more than 600 will lose their jobs by the end of 2010.

Cinram Manufacturing is Lackawanna County’s largest manufacturer. In February it was announced the company lost the Warner Home Video manufacturing contract. Warner Home Video will terminate its production contract with Cinram on July 31st. The contract with Warner Home Video represented approximately 28 percent of Cinram’s revenue.

The company operates a 1 million square foot plant in the Mid-Valley Industrial Park, which once manufactured vinyl records and employing several thousand workers.

Cinram employees are not represented by a labor organization, therefore the employer will not need to negotiate what is called, “layoff effects bargaining” and can layoff the most senior workers first and save money by eliminating the employees with accrued vacation weeks.

The average wage of the employees to be laidoff is between $15.00 to $20.00 per hour.

The newspaper is aware of two organizing campaigns at the plant that was conducted by several unions during the past several decades.

According to information provided to the Department of Labor (DOL) by Cinram officials, and obtained by the newspaper, the company will layoff several times in 2010. The first layoff will occur on August 2nd and a second layoff will be held between December 7th and 21st.

The layoffs will effect packaging and assembly operators, offset print operators, and electro-mechanical technicians. The average longevity of the laidoff workers will be at least 18 years.

The company stated it planned to layoff around 600 of the 1,000 workers at the plant. No part-time workers will be effected by the layoff.

Cinram filed with the Department of Labor about the layoffs on April 23rd, and the mainstream media failed to report the actual number of employees to be terminated.

Scranton Unions contract dispute heading to Supreme Court


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

Scranton Unions contract dispute heading to Supreme Court


REGION, June 27th- The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments regarding Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty’s implementation of the Pennsylvania Financially Distressed Act, (Act 47) on the public safety unions.

On June 1st, 2010, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued the order that the petition for allowance of appeal is granted with respect to whether Section 252 of Act 47 applies to Act 111 interest arbitration awards.

According to David Schreiber, President of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Union Local 60 in Scranton, which represents 137 members of the Scranton Fire Department, the high court will hear arguments about whether a recovery plan promulgated interest arbitration awards under Act 111, which governs fire and police collective bargaining rights, supercedes Act 47. Under Act 111, public safety unions are forbidden to strike during contract disputes, rather raises can be granted through arbitration.

Local 60 and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Union Lodge #2, which represents the Scranton Police Department, have been unable to negotiate for new contracts since Mr. Doherty became the mayor in 2002. The previous contracts expired in December 2002.

Arbitration awards granted raises to the public safety unions members but the city won the right to vacate the awards arguing they violated Mr. Doherty’s recovery plan under Act 47. The unions appealed to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court in 2009 and the Court affirmed a modified version of the decision. The Supreme Court will determine if Commonwealth Court erred in determining that the City remains distressed under Act 47 and that the recovery plan remains in effect and whether the court erred in failing to remand the matter to the Act 111 board of arbitration instead of modifying the interest arbitration award itself.

Mr. Schreiber spoke to the newspaper exclusively because of his untrust of the Scranton Times-Tribune reporters and editorial writers regarding stories published in the daily newspaper in the past. “Frankly, they write what they want. What you say has nothing to do with what they print,” Mr. Schreiber stated.

There was 240 firefighters in the Scranton Fire Department 20 years ago and under the previous contract negotiated between former Scranton Mayor James Connors and the union there was 150. However, under Mr. Doherty’s recovery plan, there is no limit to how many firefighters will be employed by Scranton.

The current contract has no expiration date and is loaded with management rights clauses. Under Mr. Doherty’s recovery plan, most rights normal to union contracts are excluded. Under the contract the employer can change working conditions at will at any time.

Mr. Schreiber stated that the Doherty Administration has violated their own recovery plan by increasing spending. “While the fire department’s budget has decreased since he has been mayor, the city budget has increased. We now have fewer people in the fire department than ever, so the city budget problems should not be blamed on us, ” he added.

Mr. Schreiber told the newspaper both sides need to submit their written legal briefs on July 14th. He is hopeful the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will hear the case in late summer or early fall.

The union wanted to negotiate a contract agreement with the Doherty Administration however, the city would not consider any contract language that did not include removing most work protections and replaced them with management rights clauses.

Nurses Union to hold labor rally in Wilkes-Barre


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

Nurses Union to hold labor rally in Wilkes-Barre


REGION, June 28th- The Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Professionals (PASNAP) Union will hold a rally on July 17th to protest the lack of success in gaining a successor contract agreement with the operators of the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital on North River Street in Wilkes-Barre.

PASNAP, Conshohocken Pennsylvania, represents approximately 440 nurses employed at the medical center. The Union also represents nurses employed at the Community Medical Center (CMC) on Mulberry Street in Scranton.

PASNAP and Community Health Systems (CHS) Inc., which operates the medical center, and the union have been negotiating for more than thirteen months attempting to gain a successor contract agreement. The previous pact expired on August 30th, 2009. The two sides agreed to work under the terms and conditions of the previous contract while negotiations continue for a new pact.

The Tennessee based CHS Inc. is the largest owner of for-profit hospitals in the United States and also operates a facility in Pottsville.

The newspaper has learned the rally will begin at the Waterfront at 11am and the protesters will picket the hosptial between 12 and 1 pm. A solidarity picnic at the River Grill/Waterfront will be held following the picketing. Union members are requested to attend to show solidarity for the nurses.

In the previous edition of the newspaper it was reported PASNAP filed a second complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia alleging the operators of the medical center violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The union filed a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge on March 11, 2010 alleging CHS Inc. is negotiating in bad faith and violated the NLRAct. On May 14th, the union filed another ULP charge alleging the Employer has withdrawn its agreement to specific bargaining proposals and has done so because of ULP’s filed by the Union.

Carpenters Union proud of training and education center


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

Carpenters Union proud of training and education center


REGION, June 29th- The Greater Pennsylvania Regional Council of Carpenters Union which is affiliated with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America International Union, is proud of their training and educational center in North Lebanon Township and continues to expand the center and the programs.

Robert Zukovich, Coordinator/Instructor of the Carpenters Training and Educational Fund of Greater Pennsylvania, told the newspaper the center first opened in 1988. Mr. Zukovich stated the facility is equipped with the highest quality of materials and machinery needed to educate union apprentices the skills of carpentry.

“The facility is designed to prepare the next generation of carpenters,” said Mr. Zukovich. The facility is also used by journeyman members to expand their skills in the trade.

According to Vern Johnson, Northeast Manager of the Council Greater Pennsylvania Regional Council of Carpenters and Vice President of Carpenters Union Local 645 in Scranton, which represents Carpenters Union members throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania, the training center is a state-of-art facility and has expanded since 1988 from 7,800 square feet to more than 35,000 square feet today.

Local 645 is affiliated with the Greater Pennsylvania Regional Council of Carpenters. Local 261 in Scranton had their own training center before the union merged with Carpenters Union Local 514 in Wilkes-Barre approximately seven years ago creating Local 645.

Under the apprentice program applicates must complete a four-year training program which requires classroom teaching and on-the-job training.

Working apprentices wage rates will increase every six months until reaching journeyman status at the end of the four-year program.

Under the millwrights training program, apprentices and journeymen who wish to continue their training, learn to install, maintain, diagnose and repair machines like compressors, pumps, conveyors, monorails, extruders, gas and steam turbines, and mining equipment.

Under the carpenters training program, apprentices learn the carpentry trade which includes working with building materials made with wood, installing tile and insulation, acoustical ceilings, cabinets, and siding.

Gary Ford, President/Organizer of Local 645 and an instructor at the training center stated the Carpenters Training and Educational Fund of Greater Pennsylvania has partnered with the Harrisburg Community College to provide the apprentices with the opportunity to receive college credits.

Mr. Johnson said the rewards of apprenticeship training through the Carpenters are the good wages and benefits received as a skilled craftsperson. He said a unionized carpenter will be working for a union contractor under the protection of a union contract.

Apprentice applicants must reside in twenty-seven counties of Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania which includes Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wyoming and Monroe Counties.

The United Brothershood of Carpenters has around 500,000 union members throughout the United States and Canada.