Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Congressional candidate John Callahan endorsed by Pennsylvania AFL-CIO

08.31.10

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

Congressional candidate John Callahan endorsed by Pennsylvania AFL-CIO

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, August 17th- The United States House of Representatives (15th Legislative District) Democratic candidate, Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan, has received the endorsement of the Pennsylvania State American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Harrisburg for the November election. Mr. Callahan and Independent candidate Jake Towne are challenging incumbent Republican Congressman Charlie Dent.

In the Primary election in May, Mr. Dent defeated fellow Republican Matt Benol while Mr. Callahan had no challengers.

Mr. Dent is seeking a fourth two-year term in representing the Lehigh Valley in Washington, DC. Mr. Dent’s labor voting record has decreased each term since first being elected. He voted against raising the minimum wage, voted against providing loans to the American automobile makers and voted against the Employee Free Choice Act/Card Check (EFCAct).

AFL-CIO delegates met on August 12th and announced Mr. Callahan was endorsed by the labor federation for the November election.

The newspaper previously reported Mr. Callahan summitted a AFL-CIO candidate questionnaire indicating he would support the labor community if elected.

According to the questionnaire, Mr. Callahan would vote for passage of EFCAct.

He would also oppose a national “right-to-work” bill that would prohibit unionized workers and their employers from voluntarily agreeing to “union security” contract language. He vowed to support the raising of the federal minimum wage and automatic adjustments on an annual basis of the mimimum wage.

Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA unemployment rate decreases slightly to 9.7 percent

08.31.10

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

MSA unemployment rate decreases slightly to 9.7 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, August 4th- 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 is 9.7 percent, decreasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month. 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 8.8 percent.

There are fourteen Metropolitan Statistical Area’s in Pennsylvania and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area is tied with the Erie MSA and the Williamsport MSA for the second highest unemployment rate. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA, and the Johnstown MSA, are tied for the highest unemployment rate at 10.2 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 9.2 percent, unchanged from the previous report, which was released approximately four weeks ago. There are 591,000 Pennsylvania residents without jobs, but the number does not include residents that have exhausted their unemployment benefits and stopped looking for work.

Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted workforce of 6,437,000 and 5,847,000 of them have employment. The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 9.5 percent, decreasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. However, the reason the unemployment rate decreased was because of the workers that have exhausted their benefits and have stopped looking for work. Unemployed workers in Pennsylvania can receive up to 99 weeks of benefits. Should they be employed longer than 99 weeks, they will no longer be counted in the labor data.

There are 14,623,000 residents nationally unemployed but counting workers that have exhausted their benefits or have been unable to find full-time work there are more than 20 million Americans without jobs.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.5 percent with the Lebanon MSA the second lowest at 7.6 percent.

Northampton County has the lowest rate in the MSA at 9.5 percent and Carbon County has the highest at 11.3 percent. Lehigh County’s unemployment rate is 9.8 percent.

Teamsters Union Local 773 member files complaint against Bethlehem employer

08.28.10

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

Teamsters Union Local 773 member files complaint against Bethlehem employer

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, August 20th- Nelson Morales of Allentown filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia alleging his employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct) by suspending him.

According to the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge filed by Mr. Morales on his own behalf on August 16th and reviewed by the newspaper, he alleges his employer, Americold Logistics, Brodhead Road in Bethlehem, violated Section 8 (a) and subsections 8 (a)(3) of the NLRAct.

Americold Logistics operates a food products warehouse at the Bethlehem site.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 773 represents approximately 150 employees of Americold Logistics and filed multiple complaints against the employer in 2009. Mr. Morales is a member of the IBT.

Several stories were exclusively published in the newspaper indicating at least four labor complaints were filed against the employer during 2009.

The ULP’s and Mr. Morales complaint were discovered by the newspaper during the monthly review of complaints and petitions filed at the NLRB Region Four office. The Union News newspaper is the only member of the local media that reviews and publishes the information.

According to the ULP, the employer suspended and discharged him on July 30th, 2010 in retailiation for his union activity on behalf of IBT Local 773.

Labor complaint filed against Air Products in Allentown

08.28.10

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

Labor complaint filed against Air Products in Allentown

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, August 15th- The labor organization that represents the employees of Air Products and Chemicals Inc., Hamilton Street in Allentown, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia alleging the Employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The International Association of Machinists (IAM) Union District Lodge 1 in Cincinnati, Ohio, filed the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge against Air Products on August 6th, 2010 alleging the Employer violated Section 8 (a) and subsections (6) of the NLRAct. IAM Lodge 1 has an office in Philadelphia and represents IAM members throughout the region.

“Since on or about August 10th, and at all times thereafter, the Employer by its officers, agents, and representatives, has refused to bargain in good faith with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, a labor organization chosen by a majority of its employees in an appropriate unit for the purpose of collective bargaining in repect to rates of pay, hours of employment, and other terms and conditions of employment,” states the ULP, which was reviewed by the newspaper.

The complaint was filed on behalf of the IAM by James Smith, indentified as IAM District Lodge 1 Grand Lodge Representative in Ohio on the ULP.

According to information on the ULP, the IAM represents approximately 240 workers employed at the Air Products Allentown facility, which is a chemical plant providing flourine gases.

The complaint states the Employer has refused to abide by the contract agreement and make whole all effected employees outline in grievances. “The Employer failed to respond in a timely manner to these grievances awarded in favor of the grievant,” states the charge.

AFL-CIO DAY AT THE RACES- Maryland State Fair/Timonium Racetrack

08.28.10

AFL-CIO DAY AT THE RACES

Maryland State Fair/Timonium Racetrack

Saturday, August 28, 2010

12 noon to 10:00 pm - Post time 1:00 pm

Timonium, MD

Admission to the Timonium Racetrack

and/or the Maryland State Fair

Cost: $6.00

(normally $8.00 - valid for Aug. 28, 2010 only)

Each race on Saturday, August 28 will be named for a local union. Come out to the Fair, visit the Baltimore AFL-CIO Booth (near the 4-H Building) and then go enjoy a “DAY at the RACES.”

Tickets are $6.00 per person and will admit you to the Maryland State Fair and the Timonium Racetrack. The tickets at the gate are $8.00.

All proceeds to benefit AFL-CIO Community Services of Maryland Food Pantry project and other programs to help people during these hard economic times. This event is sponsored by Metropolitan Baltimore Council AFL-CIO Unions

Contact Ernie Grecco or Bea Harris, 410-242-1300 for tickets. This offer is for Saturday, August 28 ONLY!

See you at the Fair!

Ernie Grecco, President, Metropolitan Baltimore Council AFL-CIO

Despite Fresh Rhetoric About Saving U.S. Manufacturing, Obama Is Quietly Pushing Failed Bush Trade Policies

08.27.10

Despite Fresh Rhetoric About Saving U.S. Manufacturing, Obama Is Quietly Pushing Failed Bush Trade Policies
By Mike Elk

AlterNet.org article link

With jobs at the forefront of every voter’s mind, President Barack Obama and key members of his administration have been publicly promoting new trade policies to make sure that U.S. companies don’t send manufacturing jobs overseas. It’s a politically and economically sound strategy—but unfortunately, it’s all talk. Behind the scenes, the administration is still pushing for the same failed Bush-era trade policies that sent millions of American jobs abroad and created global imbalances that helped fuel the financial crisis.

After witnessing the outrageous Congressional hurdles presented to Obama’s efforts to pass a jobs bill, the administration is understandably looking for an inexpensive, politically popular way to create jobs in America. Encouraging companies to make more of their goods in the United States creates jobs directly and indirectly, since additional jobs associated with the services for manufactured goods become needed. The plan also eases international capital imbalances that funneled trillions of dollars into the Wall Street casinos, making the entire global economy less susceptible to financial shocks. It also happens to poll very well, something Obama adviser Rahm Emmanuel clearly understands.

“In coming weeks, the president will expand his push to create clean-energy jobs to include more traditional industries such as automobiles and railroads.”Made in America” will become the “big theme,” Rahm Emanuel said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

The numbers on American manufacturing are grim. In October 2009, more people were officially unemployed (15.7 million) than were working in U.S. manufacturing. That hasn’t happened since the Great Depression. And much of the damage has been dealt in the past decade alone ## 5.5 million manufacturing jobs, nearly 32 percent of the U.S. total, have been lost in the United States since George W. Bush took office in 2000.

Rebuilding an economy based on manufacturing makes our society less susceptible to the risks created by Wall Street speculation, and spurs further economic activity outside of manufacturing itself. We can’t have a stable economy without a sturdy manufacturing base## without it, our prosperity is dictated by the whims of big financiers. By 2007, nearly 40 percent of U.S. corporate profits were coming from finance, leaving a feeble base to support workers when Wall Street crashed. Fortunately, for each dollar invested in manufacturing, another $1.43 of economic activity in industries linked to manufacturing is created—a multiplier effect that makes the sector an efficient way to create jobs.

There are few political slogans more popular on the left or the right than “Let’s make things in America again!” House Democrats began to talk about rolling out a massive “Making it in America” strategy after getting briefed on a poll by the Melman Group and the Alliance for American Manufacturing. The poll revealed that 74 percent of self-described Tea Party supporters would support a “national manufacturing strategy to make sure that economic, tax, labor, and trade policies in this country work together to help support manufacturing in the United States.” The top concerns of most Americans, including Tea Party supporters, is not the size of the federal budget deficit, but our relationship with China, which includes a massive trade imbalance that neither major political party is directly challenging.

After seeing this poll, Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said Democrats in Congress were eager to help revive the American manufacturing base. Nancy Pelosi then pressed the White House to adopt a more formal strategy and was seen leaving the White House with a folder labeled “Making It in America.”

So House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer consulted with the Obama team and announced a play to roll out 18-20 bills focused on promoting manufacturing in the United States. Roll Call labeled it a “Hail Mary” eager to show they can do something on jobs. It’s political gold, since Republicans will have a hard time obstructing measures strongly supported by their own political base. And the plan is cheap—it doesn’t impact the budget much, since most of the bills deal with simply re-routing government subsidies to companies that make products here, rather than paying them to companies that offshore jobs.

This program marks a complete about-face from the Obama administration’s prior stance on trade. Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch said that seeing Rahm Emanuel pushing Buy America provisions put her in a state of shock. “The White House has systematically pushed back against the actual attempts by members of Congress to expand Buy America policy.” Forces in the White House are working against attempts to include Buy America legislation in clean water legislation.

But the reality is that Rahm Emmanuel has only taken the polling on manufacturing to heart, not the actual trade policies. Despite efforts by House Democrats to revive manufacturing, the White House is actively pushing the exact opposite agenda with the South Korea Trade Agreement—a deal negotiated by the Bush administration that would offshore hundreds of thousands of jobs and widen the already yawning trade deficit with Korea.

“The Made in America frame works politically,” says Wallach. “But to translate it into policy the administration needs to renegotiate the leftover Bush-era Free Trade Agreements with Korea, Panama and Colombia that the International Trade Coalition says would increase our global trade deficit and explicitly forbid Buy America preferences, not push them toward passage and stop pushing back against congressional efforts to expand Buy America government procurement rules in other areas.”

One of the primary impacts of the deal will be on the automobile industry, a struggling U.S. industry that employs half a million people. Put simply, the South Korea FTA would deal it a devastating blow. At the end of 2008, the U.S. had a $13.4 billion trade deficit with Korea, $10.5 billion of which came from the auto sector. For every car the United States exports to Korea, we import over 1,000 into the United States.

Passing the South Korea treaty would only widen that gap, because Korean companies can abuse their labor without reprise, cutting costs for executives in the process. The nation currently refuses to comply with international labor rights stated under the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. Just as troubling, the proposed treaty also explicitly bans key Buy America provisions related to clean energy production—hampering American entrance into a critical new industry while boosting Korean manufacturers with some of the world’s worst labor records.

This isn’t the first time Democratic leaders have talked the talk on Making It in America while refusing to walk the walk. Bill Clinton famously campaigned against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), then aligned himself with Republicans to push NAFTA through over the objections of House Democrats. Outright lies like these have created distrust of Democrats among manufacturing workers in the Midwest. Even though the manufacturing sector is more heavily unionized than other industries, President Obama’s approval rating is 11 points lower among households were a family member is employed in manufacturing than a household where no one is employed in manufacturing.

Clinton’s NAFTA reversal didn’t just breed long-term distrust, it also had immediate political repercussions. The agreement passed in 1994, provoking a strong rebuke to Clinton from House Leaders, including then-Majority Leader Dick Gephardt. It weakened confidence in Democrats’ governing abilities by creating needless divisions within the party. Just a few months after the deal was signed, Democrats were swept out of Congress.

Obama is already facing similar divisions today. In late July, 109 Democrats wrote to President Obama asking him for a meeting. The 109 congressmen put it quite bluntly in their letter to the president what they think the treaty will do: “Implementing this pact without major changes to the text will exacerbate the U.S. trade deficit; further erode the U.S. manufacturing base; jeopardize our efforts to guard against another global economic meltdown… Moreover it is simply out of touch with what the overwhelming majority of American people want.”

There are other politically and economically sound strategies the Obama team could pursue. Instead of toeing the Bush line with South Korea, the administration could back a plan to overhaul the U.S. relationship with China—a major concern for voters of many ideological persuasions. A great entry point is Chinese currency manipulation. By tampering with the value of the yuan, China is able to effectively create huge, illegal tariffs which make Chinese goods 25-40 percent cheaper than American goods.

Democrats could divide the Republican base if they brought up a bill labeling China a currency manipulator. “Almost half the Republican caucus would vote for a bill like that,” said Alliance for American Manufacturing director Paul, who knows a thing or two about counting votes on trade issues from his days as trade adviser to House Minority Whip David Bonior.

So Obama and Democratic leaders have plenty of politically options available if they want to pursue sound trade policies to strengthen the economy. So far, however, the administration is simply performing a public head-fake, while continuing the Bush-era offshoring agenda.

Mike Elk is a third-generation union organizer and journalist whose work appears frequently in In These Times. He previously worked for Campaign for America’s Future and the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers (UE).

Dan Onorato spends day in Lehigh Valley including visit to UAW picnic grove

08.27.10

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

Dan Onorato spends day in Lehigh Valley including visit to UAW picnic grove

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, August 12th- Democratic gubernatorial nominee Dan Onorato appeared at the United Auto Workers (UAW) Union Local 677 picnic grove in Allentown during a day long campaign visit in the Lehigh Valley on August 8th.

Mr. Onorato, currently Allegheny County Executive, in May defeated four other Democrats to become their party’s nominee for Pennsylvania Governor.

The Republican nominee for Governor is current Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett, which Mr. Onorato has critized for stating that unemployed workers would rather collect benefits than go back to work.

Mr. Corbett stated in a public radio interview in Elizabethtown that if we keep extending unemployment compensation benefits people are going to just sit there. He suggested that jobless Pennsylvanians would rather continue to collect unemployment benefits than take a job. Adding he has literally had construction companies tell him “I can’t get people to come back to work.” He stated the employer told him the workers said, “I’ll come back to work when unemployment runs out.”

Mr. Onorato was recently endorsed by the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg.

Northampton County pushing to sell Gracedale Nursing Home

08.27.10

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

Northampton County pushing to sell Gracedale Nursing Home

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, August 23rd- The decision by Northampton County officials to sell the county’s Gracedale nursing home could be painful for the employees that work at the facility.

On August 19th, the nine member Northampton County Council voted 6 to 2 to seek offers for the 725 bed nursing home which has approximately 650 residents.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union Local 1435 represents around 450 of the Gracedale workers including food service, cleaning and others, while the United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union Local 2599 represents approximately 50 nurses and social aid workers.

The facility is located in Upper Nazareth Township and has around 600 full-time employees and around 150 part-time workers.

Northampton Republican County Council President Ron Angle stated should the union employees give up $6 million of salary and benefits he might back off plans to privatize the nursing home. However, at the August 19th public meeting, Mr. Angle voted to seek offers for the facility.

According to Jerry Green, President of Local 2599, AFSCME has already agreed to the opening of their contract, which does not expire until next year, to allow contract concessions. However, Mr. Green told the newspaper while he will meet with county officials to discuss the situation, his union is not ready to agree to concessions.

“We are always ready to talk. But, just to agree to something is not going to happen,” stated Mr. Green.

One issue that will need to be resolved is the USW contract, which expired in December 2008 but both sides agreed to work under the terms and conditions of the previous pact. In June the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) ruled the county violated the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act (PLRAct) when it reneged on a deal reached between the parties.

The union filed a labor complaint against the county after spending more than a year negotiating for a new contract and reaching a tentative four-year agreement. But, county officials changed their position and killed the deal.

Northampton County Executive John Stoffa was told by an PLRB Hearing Examiner to immediately present the tentative agreement to County Council for its consideration. The deal was reached with the previous council majority.

Mr. Green told the newspaper discussions have taken place between the parties in an attempt to settle the PLRB issue and reach a contract agreement between Local 2599 and the county.

Meanwhile, the selling of the Lackawanna County Healthcare Center nursing home in Lackawanna County by county officials in March has resulted in labor complaints being filed and unilateral labor contract changes being made by the facilities new operator.

Millennium Management LLC of Miami Florida purchased the 272 bed facility from Lackawanna County for $13.4 million and almost immediately began to violate the contract agreement between the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Pennsylvania Union and the employer. Before the purchase the company agreed to recognize the union and honor the pact reached with Lackawanna County officials.

However, the union filed a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge alleging Millennium Management has refused to talk to the union, process grievances or meet to discuss changes in the employees working conditions.

IAFF Union wins right to bargain for Nanticoke workers

08.26.10

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

IAFF Union wins right to bargain for Nanticoke workers

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 29th-The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Union Local 2655 was successful in organizing workers of the Nanticoke Fire Department Community Ambulance. The union won the right to represent the employees of the Nanticoke ambulance personnel after successfully winning an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia.

The IAFF filed a petition with the NLRB on June 11th, 2010 requesting the agency conduct an election to determine if the employees wanted to be represented by the Union for the purpose of collective bargaining.

On July 16th, the 15 eligible to vote workers voted 7 for union representation to 3 against.

According to the NLRB, the election was certified on July 27th after the employer failed to challenge the balloting result.

The union won the right to represent all land transport and emergency medical service personnel including paramedics and EMT’s employed by Nanticoke. The Nanticoke firefighters are already represented by the International Association of Fire Fighters.

The IAFF also represent firefighters in Carbondale, Scranton, Dunmore, Wilkes-Barre, Pittston, and Hazleton. Scranton is the largest unit of firefighters the IAFF represents in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

According to the petition requesting the NLRB conduct the election, Attorney Stephen Richman of Philadelphia filed the petition on behalf of the IAFF.

The Employer representative to be contacted was Dan Shaw the petition states.

Machinist Union attempting to organize Tobyhanna workers

08.26.10

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

Machinist Union attempting to organize Tobyhanna workers

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 16th- The International Association of Machinists (IAM) Union filed four petitions with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia requesting the agency conduct elections for four units of workers employed at the Tobyhanna Army Depot in Monroe County.

The newspaper discovered the petitions while reviewing petitions and labor charges filed at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia.

The Union filed three petitions with the NLRB on July 7th and the fourth petition was filed on July 8th.

According to information obtained from the petitions, the Union wants to represent workers employed by Defense Support Services, an sub-contractor employed by the Army Depot. The IAM Cincinnati, Ohio office filed the petitions.

Petition case number 21717 states the Union wants to represent approximately ten full-time and regular part-time Production Control Clerks employed at the Tobyhanna Army Depot.

Petition case number 21718 states the Union wants to represent four full-time and regular part-time POC or Team Leaders employed at the Tobyhanna Army Depot.

Petition case 21719 indicates the IAM wants to represent sixty-six full-time and regular part-time Supply Techs, POC or Team Leaders and production Control Clerks employed at the Tobyhanna Army Depot.

The fourth petition states the Union wants to represent fifty-two full-time and regular part-time Supply Techs employed at the Tobyhanna Army Depot.

Under NLRB rules, the petition requesting for the agency to conduct an election must be supported by more than 30 percent of the unit of employees. At least 50 percent plus one of the employees must cast ballots in favor of union representation in a NLRB election before the agency will certify the labor organization as their bargaining representative for the purpose of collective bargaining.

The IAM currently represents several units of employees at the Tobyhanna Army Depot. Approximately 50 percent of the workers employed at the military facility are members of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Union Local 1647.

Wilkes-Barre nurses rally for new contract agreement

08.26.10

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

Wilkes-Barre nurses rally for new contract agreement

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 29th- The Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Professionals (PASNAP) Union, which represents nurses employed at the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital on North River Street in Wilkes-Barre, conducted a rally and picnic on July 17th to show solidarity in their attempt to gain a new contract with the employer.

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, have been negotiating for more than fourteen 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.

The rally included other members of the labor community picketing the hospital and holding a solidarity picnic.

The Union filed multiple labor complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia in the spring however the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges were dismissed by the agency ruling the complaints lacked merit.

The union filed a ULP charge on March 11, 2010 alleging CHS Inc. was 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.

On July 15th, 2010 the Union filed another ULP alleging the Employer violated the NLRAct.

“Since on or about May 10th, 2010, and at various times thereafter, the above-named Employer, by its officers, agents and representatives has failed to bargain collectively and in good faith with the Charging Party,” the ULP states.

The Union also alleges in the complaint that the President of the Wyoming Valley Nurses Association/PASNAP, Alex Rendina, has been discriminated against because they have denied Mr. Rendina reinstatement to his position, after they were ordered by an arbitration award to do so.

“Moreover, since or about July 8th, 2010 and continuing thereafter, the above-named Employer, by its officers, agents and representatives, has brought a baseless lawsuit in bad faith, seeking to overturn the June 9th, 2010 labor arbitration award reinstating Alex Rendina to his position,” states the complaint.

Building Trades Unions hold rally in Scranton for Dan Onorato

08.26.10

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

Building Trades Unions hold rally in Scranton for Dan Onorato

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 30th- Democratic gubernatorial nominee Dan Onorato appeared at the John Mitchell Monument in downtown Scranton before union construction workers and officers to discuss jobs and the Republican nominee Tom Corbett’s remark that unemployed workers would rather collect benefits than go back to work.

Mr. Corbett, currently the Pennsylvania Attorney General, stated in a public radio interview in Elizabethtown that if we keep extending unemployment compensation benefits people are going to just sit there. He suggested that jobless Pennsylvanians would rather continue to collect unemployment benefits than take a job. Adding he has literally had construction companies tell him, “I can’t get people to come back to work.” He stated the employer told him the workers said, “I’ll come back to work when unemployment runs out.”

Mr. Onorato, currently Allegheny County Executive, in May defeated four other Democrats to become their party’s nominee. He and Mr. Corbett wants to replace out-going Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Edward Rendell beginning in January 2011.

Mr. Onorato called on Northeastern Pennsylvania workers and job seekers to rally against Mr. Corbett’s comment.

Mr. Corbett stated on July 12th he didn’t mean to be “insensitive” when he suggested that jobless Pennsylvanians would rather continue to collect unemployment benefits than take a job.

According to the most recent unemployment data from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Center for Workforce Informational and Analysis in Harrisburg, the unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 9.2 percent.

The information indicates there are 591,000 Pennsylvanians without jobs but the number does not include workers who have exhausted their unemployment benefits or have stopped looking for work.

The Scranton Building and Construction Trades Council labor federation President Drew Simpson contacted affiliated local unions requesting their members participate in the event.

Mr. Simpson, Warden/Representative of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Union Local 645 in Scranton, told the newspaper while several unions of the building trades supported candidates during the spring campaign, his union did not support any candidate. “Onorato got most of the building trade unions endorsements, but the Carpenters stayed out of it,” said Mr. Simpson.

Mr. Simpson said the Carpenters Union Council, which Local 645 is affiliated, is headquartered in Pittsburgh which is in Allegheny County, and the leadership has worked with Mr. Onorato in the past. “Pittsburgh knows him and has worked with him in the past,” added Mr. Simpson.

The labor community is likely to support and endorse Mr. Onorato during the fall campaign.

The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) will meet on August 12th in Harrisburg and will decide which political candidates the labor federation will support. It is likely Mr. Corbett’s comment will damage his chance of receiving the endorsement of the AFL-CIO.

EFCA’s Dead, but Fear of It Still Driving Anti-Worker Measures

08.24.10

EFCA’s Dead, but Fear of It Still Driving Anti-Worker Measures

By Mike Elk

IN THESE TIMES article link

Months after Arizona politicians passed S.B. 1070, the controversial and now delayed immigration law, the right wingers are going on the attack against not just hispanic workers, but all workers.

Earlier this month, Gov. Jan Brewer called a special session of the legislature into session to put an anti-union amendment on the November ballot. If voters approve the measure, it would block any charges to labor law made by federal passage of the proposed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).

Eight other states have similar measures on their respective ballots that aim to do the same thing. For a variety reasons, many legal scholars question whether these measures are even constitutional—one reason being that Congress never actually passed the Employee Free Choice Act. In fact, early this month the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that as crafted, the amendment is illegal.

Beyond that obvious obstacle, the larger question is: Why would big business and its Republican allies in the Arizona legislature want to push the measure if card check (as EFCA was often referred to) is already dead? Answer: They want to crush the ability of organized labor to shape the overall political agenda.

They want to beat up labor so badly that they will never push for EFCA again. The Chamber of Commerce keeps pushing against the bill because they want to push unions back into making concessions on weakening current law. We have already seen the success of Big Business to change the political dynamic by its ability to stop the routine nomination of Craig Becker to the NLRB.

Organized labor spent tens of millions of dollars to fight for EFCA, and it got nothing in the way of labor law reform in return. Instead, labor’s defeat and the loss of the public narrative about the role of unions have created political openings for big business to go on the attack against labor.

If labor had passed even a compromised version of the Employee Free Choice Act, we would have never had the problems over appointing Democrats to the National Labor Relations Board. Instead, Democrats fumbled on offensive and labor finds itself on the defensive once again.

Big Business was able to so successfully tar and feather labor that now we are seeing dramatic changes in the way the public views labor. As a result, the popularity of U.S. unions is at a 70-year low—a Pew survey this year showed that unions had a favorability rating of 41 percent, down dramatically from 58 percent in 2007.

Public employees and their pension funds are under attack all over the country as a result of the negative public narrative against unions. The public hysteria against union is so high that even labor’s allies and its own union members are turning against organized labor.

The person helping to lead the attack against unions in New Jersey is an Ironworkers union leader himself, Democratic State Senate President Stephen Sweeney. Sweeney was quoted in the New York Times saying “I’m a labor leader, but I’m also elected to do right by all the people in the state of New Jersey, and not just union members.”

Let the example of Sweeney serve as a stern lesson to the labor leaders who stayed silent and made a deal with Rahm Emanuel to wait to push EFCA until after healthcare “reform” passed. If you don’t stand up to the corporate interests and their political allies, you will be forced to sit down and work on their side. Any time you don’t take advantage of even a small opportunity to win, your opponents will turn it into an even greater defeat.

As one of my mentors, legendary DC press man Toby Chaudhuri, is famous for saying, “If you’re not winning, you’re losing. If you’re not defining yourselves, your opponents are defining you.” Labor’s defeat on EFCA has allowed Big Business to increasingly define organized labor’s power, and the public’s perception of it.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: I advise readers to check out this article at the original IN THESE TIMES link. It has many embedded links not reproduced here.

Stimulating Hypocrisy: 114 Lawmakers Block Recovery While Taking Credit For Its Success

08.24.10

Stimulating Hypocrisy: 114 Lawmakers Block Recovery While Taking Credit For Its Success

http://thinkprogress.org/touting-recovery-opposed/

This is a very detailed, well-documented list. Please look for your member of Congress and publicize what you find in your local media, community and blogs.

Congressman Carney helps local helmet manufacturer gain military contract

08.20.10

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

Congressman Carney helps local helmet manufacturer gain military contract

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 30th- United States House of Representative Christopher Carney (Democrat-10th Legislative District) announced that Gentex Corporation, which operates a manufacturing plant in upper Lackawanna County, has been selected to produce helmets for the Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve.

Mr. Carney stated the $12.6 million subcontract provides a boost to the regional economy and means the addition of new jobs to the northeast Pennsylvania company. The Gentex plant in Simpson Township is nonunion.

Mr. Carney played a role in getting the Federal Prison Industries (also known as UNICOR) contract with the United States government suspended in May. The company manufactured military helmets with prison labor and more than 44,000 helmets were recalled in the spring because they did not met the standards required in helmet manufacturing. Mr. Carney was pursuing action against the company because of alleged multiple problems it had with ballistic standards testing.

“I am very pround of the work that Gentex does for our fighting men and women. This contract will help boost our economy through job creation while also adding to our national security. It is the latest in a long legacy of successes for the company. I fight to secure investments that our local businesses require to develop state-of-the-art technologies. This is a perfect illustration of the good those investments often bring,” Mr. Carney stated.

United States Chamber of Commerce criticizes Craig Becker

08.20.10

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

United States Chamber of Commerce criticizes Craig Becker

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 15th- The United States Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC critized National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) member Craig Becker for not recusing himself from a dozen cases including local affiliates of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which has used to work for. The business organization, which also has labor unions as affiliated members, suggest implications can be drawn from his decision not to recuse himself from a single case involving pre-recognition bargaining.

The Chamber of Commerce stated that with the NLRB at full strength with five sitting members, thanks to President Obama’s appointments, the organization announced on July 9th they have launched a new periodic publication to assist employers, associations, and others in indentifying important developments at the NLRB.

“In recent years, we have seen an increasing debate over American labor policy. While the NLRB was deadlocked with one Republican and one Democratic member for more than two years, it was not a significant player in the labor policy debate. The Chamber fully anticipates that the Board will now enter a very active period with numerous decisions and policy changes that will be of keen interest to all shakeholders,” said Randel Johnson, senior vice president of the Chamber of Commerce’s Labor, Immigration and Employee Benefits committee.

“There is a real need to sort through the dozens of decisions and actions taken by the NLRB each week and identify those that have policy implications. In launching this publication, we hope to fill that need so that stakeholders are aware of important developments at the Board and can take action when appropriate, such as by submitting comments or legal briefs on pending matters,” said Mr. Johnson.

The organization was critical of President Obama appointment of Mr. Becker and lobbied law makers in Washington to reject his nomination. Pro-labor Democrats failed to gain enough votes to stop a Republican filabuster on Mr. Becker’s nomination. However, President Obama placed Mr. Becker on the NLRB through recess appointment.

Settlement reached between SEIU and UNITEHERE

08.20.10

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

Settlement reached between SEIU and UNITEHERE

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 28th- The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Workers United and UNITEHERE announced they have reached a settlement agreement on behalf of the unions’ members and elected leadership that will bring to a close the protracted dispute between the unions.

The agreement was reached after months of negotiations, and resolves all issues related to jurisdiction and asset distribution and establishes a process for determining the rightful bargaining representative for the remaining disputed units. There has been a dispute between the unions for several years after members of UNITEHERE voted to disaffiliate and rename themselves “Workers United” and join the SEIU. Workers United members work within the garment industry. The agreement was signed by the parties on July 25th.

The recently elected SEIU national President Kay Henry, who replaced Andy Stern, made settling the dispute a top priority of her administration.

“Working families all around this nation are facing the most profound crisis since the Great Depression. There are 26 million people out of work and far too many who are facing cutbacks, layoffs, and benefit reduction. When hardworking people are losing the roof over their head or borrowing money to pay for groceries, we know we have more work to do. This moment calls on all of us in the American labor movement to dedicate ourselves to being part of the solution,” said Ms. Henry.

“Despite the tensions that have existed between our unions over the past months, John Wilhelm, Bruce Raynor and I have worked together to find common ground and we’ve been able to put our differences behind us. We agreed that we cannot be spending our time fighting one another over workers who are already represented when there are far too many people who want and need a voice on the job. Our resources and our attention must be put toward solutions for the crisis workers face right now.”

“We need to drive change for people in this country. None of us can go it alone. Moving forward, SEIU plans to link arms with our allies in labor and the progressive movement and forge stronger relationships with communities to be more aggressive force pushing for the demands that help working people on the job, at the bargaining table, and with public policy makers all around our country,” Ms. Henry added.

Nursing Home worker in Hazleton files labor complaint

08.20.10

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

Nursing Home worker in Hazleton files labor complaint

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 20th- The President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Pennsylvania Healthcare Union, Mountain City Nursing Home Chapter, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia alleging his employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct). The facility provides long term resident care. Ronald Patrick Hvizda, Freeland, is indentified on the complaint as the President of the SEIU/Pennsylvania Healthcare Union Chapter at the Mountain City Nursing Home on Township Road 318 in Hazleton and is an employee of the nursing home.

Mr. Hvizda states on the complaint the Union represents approximately 200-250 workers at the Mountain City Nursing Home.

“On July 10th, 2010 management administered a disciplinary action against me (union delegate) for information and statements from employees while I was investigating needed information concerning another members grievance. Management has treated me in a discrimative manner (as a union delegate) compared to the treatment and actions of other employees. Management has interferred with the investigation of a delegate ascertaining information to find merit and just cause of a disciplinary action to a bargaining unit member,” states the complaint.

The Employer representative indentified on the complaint to be contacted is Paul Braum.

Support Xerox workers

08.20.10

Compliments of American Rights At Work:

Xerox just told 19 workers they must transfer departments or leave the company. What do all these workers have in common? They’re all fighting for a fair union contract.

At the same time, Xerox is shipping thousands of American jobs overseas.

It’s greed, pure and simple.

Just a few months ago, Xerox fired union workers – and then, after thousands of people protested, gave them their jobs back. It looks like Xerox needs a reminder that we’re still watching, and we still won’t stand for this type of behavior.

Click here to join me in helping Xerox workers keep their jobs:

http://act.americanrightsatwork.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=576&track=201008_tafp_xerox

Response to Rush Limbaugh

08.19.10

My sister-in-law Nicole sent me this and I have to share it with all of you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHvgH5m1ujU

I absolutely love this video!

-Stephen Crockett