Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Labor community requesting their members vote for Paul Kanjorski

10.31.10

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

Labor community requesting their members vote for Paul Kanjorski

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 17th- Incumbent House of Representative Paul Kanjorski (Democrat-11th Legislative District) is being challenged by Hazleton Republican Mayor Lou Barletta and the labor community is making phone calls and visiting union members homes attempting to mobilized them to vote for Mr. Kanjorski on election day, November 2nd.

The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Washington, DC endorsed Mr. Kanjorski’s attempt to gain a 14th two-year term representing residents of the 11th Legislative District in Washington. The district includes the three major cities of Northeastern Pennsylvania; Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton.

Meanwhile, the AFL-CIO through the policital program designed to educate and mobilize union members are conducting phone banks and labor walks from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87 building in Dunmore for Lackawanna County and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Union Local 542 building in Plains for Luzerne County.

The labor federation is also distributing fliers regarding how Mr. Kanjorski has supported the labor community while serving 26 years in Washington.

According to one flier obtained by the newspaper, the AFL-CIO suggest Mr. Barletta wants to privatize Social Security. “Lou Barletta’s position on Social Security is all over the place. But the truth is, when President Bush proposed privatizing Social Security, Lou Barletta said he supported putting workers’ retirement savings into risky private accounts. Barletta repeatedly denied this is “privatization,” stated the flier.

Mr. Barletta has denied he supports privatizing Social Security. His campaign did not contact the newspaper during the fall campaign regarding his political views with labor issues.

The flier states Mr. Kanjorski opposes any scheme that would privatize Social Security, stating he also is committed to ensuring the cost-of-living adjustments for beneficiaries reflecting the costs that seniors occur. In 2011, Social Security beneficiaries will not receive an cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) and Mr. Kanjorski supports seniors receiving a $250.00 check from Washington during 2011.

Some labor leaders are concerned that their members enthusiasm to participate in voting on November 2nd is lacking and it could result in a lack of involvement of a constituency group important to the re-election of Mr. Kanjorski.

Mr. Kanjorski visited the AFSCME building on October 14th to greet phone bankers and union members. He thank them for their support and was hopeful of a victory on November 2nd.

Labor involved with mid-term election in Pennsylvania

10.31.10

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

Labor involved with mid-term election in Pennsylvania

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 18th- Since Labor Day the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation has made more than 500,000 member-to-member telephone calls throughout Pennsylvania, including in Northeastern Pennsylvania, requesting their members support “pro-union” political candidates in the midterm elections on November 2nd.

According to the AFL-CIO, union members have knocked on 140,000 fellow member doors; distributed 750,000 pieces of political information at more than 2,000 separate work sites; during the past eight weeks mailed members pro-worker information regarding races in the Pennsylvania Senate race, for Pennsylvania Governor and six targeted United States House of Representatives races; deployed 350 full-time campaign workers released from national unions to work on the Pennsylvania Labor 2010 program; and more than 5,000 volunteers to date have worked phone banks and knocked on doors.

The effort by Democrats to match record fund raising by conservative organizations has come up short, leaving the political party more reliant than usual on the campaign efforts of labor unions.

According to America’s Families First Action Fund, a pro-Democratic political group, the party hoped to raise $10 million to help Democrats on November 2nd get elected in Congress, while Republican groups will spend $50 million to help the GOP in dozens of House races.

The United States Chamber of Commerce, and two other conservative groups could spend more than $300 million on TV advertisements, campaign mailings and other political efforts to elect Republicans in their attempt to regain control of Congress.

Locally, the AFL-CIO is conducting their political program from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87 building in Dunmore and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Union Local 542 building in Wilkes-Barre.

According to Roxanna Pauline, Field Representative for the Northeastern Area Labor Federation, as of October 15th, labor phone bankers have made 86,937 calls to union member homes and have visited 12,457 member homes throughout Zone 4, which includes Northeastern Pennsylvania.

“We had more than 45 volunteers (on October 16th) on Saturday that knocked on doors throughout Scranton and Wilkes-Barre area,” said Ms. Pauline.

The AFL-CIO is attempting to convince union members to support pro-labor political candidates which is mostly Democratic party nominees. Many political observers have stated it is likely the Republican party will gain the majority in the House of Representatives but is likely Democrats will continue to have the majority in the United States Senate. However, Democratic party nominee Joe Sestak is trailing in most polls to former Republican Representative (15th Legislative District) Pat Toomey. Mr. Sestak is being supported by most of the unions that have made endorsements for the November 2nd election.

According to Bill Herbert, Recording Secretary of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council labor federation in Wilkes-Barre, American workers have no reason to vote for Republican candidates on November 2nd. “So far we have learned that the trickledown theory is nothing more than a pyramid scheme. After thirty years of giving tax breaks to the top 1 percent they have not created good paying jobs. Today CEO’s make 263 dollars for every dollar the average worker makes,” stated Mr. Herbert.

Because of lack of benefits, restaurant workers serve sick

10.31.10

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

Because of lack of benefits, restaurant workers serve sick

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 15th- According to a study released by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United ROC United, a national organization with more than 6,000 members which includes seven restaurant worker groups across the country that is dedicated to improving conditions for industry workers, the majority of restaurant workers serve while sick.

The ROC United revealed their findings on October 1st, and indicated the high rates of injury and illness puts the workers and consumers at risk and was caused because of a lack of health insurance and paid sick days within the industry. The jobs sector is mostly nonunion.

The study was based on 4,323 surveys of restaurant workers in cities nationwide, including New York, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and Miami.

The organization findings include that restaurant workers largely lack paid sick days and health insurance to cope with high rates of injury and illness.

Highlights from the study include:

• Nearly 90 percent of workers said they did not receive paid sick days. As a result, two-thirds of respondents said they had worked while sick in the previous year, preparing, cooking and serving food.

• Around 90 percent of people reported not having insurance through their employers, and 61 percent reported not having health insurance at all.

Almost one quarter (22.7 percent) reported that they or a family member had gone to the emergency room without being able to pay last year.

• Health and safety violations reported by restaurant workers include: fire hazards; missing mats on the floor to prevent slipping; and missing guards on cutting machines. Fourty-six percent of respondents have been burned on the job and 49 percent reported being cut on the job.

With more than 10 million workers, the restaurant industry is one of the largest and fastest growing sectors of the economy.

“Restaurants should offer workers safer places to work, and workers should have access to benefits including health insurance, paid sick days and workers’ compensation insurance. Without these improvements, the industry will continue to put both workers and consumers at risk,” stated ROC United Director Saru Jayaraman.

Tastykake Bakery workers vote to become union members

10.31.10

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

Tastykake Bakery workers vote to become union members

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 12th- Tastykake Bakery workers voted on August 11th to be represented by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTWGM) International Union Local 492 in Philadelphia and contract negotiations are underway for a first-time labor agreement between the parties.

Tastykake Bakery was founded in 1914 and last year had gross sales of more than $280 million.

According to Attorney Mike Kopac, legal counsel of Local 492, while the maintenance employees are represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 98 in Philadelphia, and despite numerous organizing drives, the company has always made their product with nonunion workers. The drivers of Tastykake are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 115.

The Tastykake Bakery is located in the Philadelphia Yard in South Philadelphia and has around 240 employees. The company employs approximately 870 workers overall.

Local 492 President John Lazar stated the organizing drive was sparked by a move to a new plant that aroused concerns about seniority and employment security among the workers. Workers had received an “employee handbook” that said that they were employees at-will.

The workers voted 149 for to 72 against to be represented by the union for the purpose of collective bargaining in the election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia.

Under NLRB rules, fifty percent plus one of the eligible workers to participate must cast a ballot in favor of unionization before the labor organization can represent the workers.

Mr. Lazar told the newspaper the Union held a meeting on September 19th to discuss bargaining proposals and elected shop stewards.

One of the issues important to the Union is placing the union label on company products, which includes cupkakes and other bakery goods.

“Considering that you loose more than you win, the improtant thing is to keep plugging along, and eventually the high fives will come. It is a fantastic feeling,” Mr. Lazar stated regarding union organizing in general.

Complaint filed against Lackawanna County nursing home

10.31.10

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

Complaint filed against Lackawanna County nursing home

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 14th- The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Healthcare Pennsylvania, North Second Street in Harrisburg, has filed multiple labor complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia that alleges an employer in Lackawanna County violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

On September 23rd, 2010, the Union filed a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge against Lackawanna Healthcare Center, Sturges Road in Olyphant Borough, alleging the Employer violated Section 8 (a)(5) of the NLRAct.

Lackawanna Healthcare Center is a nursing home and is owned and operated by Millenium Management LLC of Miami, Florida.

The nursing home was owned and operated by Lackawanna County until March 2010 when the facility was sold to Millenium Management for $13.4 million. The funds from the sale is being used to fill a budget hole in Lackawanna County for 2010.

The 272 bed facility was sold by Lackawanna County after bids were accepted to purchase the nursing home. Since the purchase of the facility by Millenium there has been several ULP’s filed by the SEIU regarding the nursing home.

On March 9th, 2010, the Union filed a complaint against the Employer alleging they have failed and refused to bargain collectively in regardss to hours of employment and other conditions of employment.

The ULP stated the Employer has refused to talk to the Union, process grievances or meet with the Union to discuss changes in employees working conditions. Such as changing member’s job, changing the medical plan, assigning union jobs to managers (erosion of the bargaining unit), failure to provide information requested in the attempt to investigate a possible grievance and change direct deposit procedure without discussing with the Union.

Before Millenium took over the operation of the nursing home, company officials stated they would honor the “terms and conditions” of the bargaining agreement signed by the SEIU and Lackawanna County. However, according to the Union, company officials have made unilateral changes to the bargaining agreement without meeting with them. Under the NLRAct, an employer must negotiate with a union before making changes regarding working conditions.

According to the March 9th complaint, the SEIU represented approximately 295 workers at the facility, But, according to the ULP filed on September 23rd, the Union now represents around 247 workers at the nursing home.

The September 23rd complaint was filed against Lackawanna County, 200 Adams Avenue in Scranton.

“Since on or about July 27th, 2010, and at all times thereafter, the above-named employer, by its officers, agents, and representatives, refusing to process grievances and arbitrations. Failed and refused to bargain collectively and in good faith with SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, a labor organization, designated or selected by a majority of the employees of said employer in an appropriate unit for the purpose of collective bargaining in respect to rates of pay, wages, hours of employment and other conditions of employment,” states the ULP.

The Unfair Labor Practice charge was filed on behalf of the Union by Carlos Rivera, indentified on the complaint as Organizer of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania.

SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania Union for many years was called SEIU 1199P and changed the name several years ago.

The Employer Representative named to be contacted on the ULP is Nancy Pearson, indentified as Lackawanna County, Deputy Director of Human Resources.