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Conservative political groups already targeting Senator Casey for 2012 election

01.13.11

JANUARY 2011, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Conservative political groups already targeting Senator Casey for 2012 election

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, December 16th- Conservative political groups are already targeting Pennsylvania Democratic United States Senator and labor supporter Robert Casey Jr. in the 2012 election.

In 2010 Democratic United States Senatorial candidate Joe Sestak was defeated by former Republican Lehigh Valley United States House of Representative (15th Legislative District) Pat Toomey who will replace Democrat Arlen Specter in Washington, in January.

Current Republican Lehigh Valley Congressman Charlie Dent is being mentioned as a possible candidate for the Senate seat.

Incumbent Charlie Dent defeated Democratic Congressional candidate John Callahan and a Independent candidate in the November election and will begin a fourth two-year term representing the Lehigh Valley in Washington, DC in January.

According to Newsweek magazine, Mr. Casey is one of 10 Democrats that are on the “endangered list” for re-election in 2012.

Mr. Casey is finishing his fourth-year of a six-year term representing Pennsylvania in Washington.

Senator Casey supported legislation important to the labor community in his first term in Washington, including voting to increase the federal minimum wage, voted for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCAct)/Card Check legislation, and voted in favor of extending unemployment benefits to long-term workers.

Conservative groups have already began buying advertising on radio stations, including in the Lehigh Valley, criticizing Mr. Casey’s voting record during his four-years in Washington.

Mailhandlers Union files several complaints against USPS

01.13.11

JANUARY 2011, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Mailhandlers Union files several complaints against USPS

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, December 9th- The National Postal Mailhandlers Union (NPMHU) Local 308, South Commerce Way in Lehigh Valley, filed several labor complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia against the United States Postal Service (USPS) alleging the mail delivery service violated the National Labor Realtions Act (NLRAct).

The newspaper recenlty reviewed Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges filed at the NLRB and found Local 308 filed three complaints against the USPS during a three day period.

On November 30th, the Union filed a ULP alleging the Employer violated the NLRAct by not providing requested information involving a grievance. “The Union has requested information on several subjects necessary for either the continuance of a grievance or the determining of whether we have a grievance. We have not received an explanation for the delays nor the requested information. Several requests have been submitted more than 1 or even 2 times,” states the ULP.

The complaint was filed on behalf on the Union by Pamela Baum, identified on the ULP as Chief Shop Steward. The company representative indentified on the complaint to be contacted is Brian Stewart, the Plant Manager and Brian Kelso, In-Plant Support.

On December 1st, Local 308 filed a ULP alleging the Employer violated the NLRAct when the Union requested information regarding Lehigh Valley Supervisors attendance and discipline issued. “Plant Manager Brian Stewart has marked a request for information “disapproved.” This was a request for a copy of Supervisors attendance and discipline issued. This is needed because the Union believes the T-1 Supervisors are holding Mailhandlers to a much higher standard than the Lehigh Valley Supervisors. We have ongoing grievances for which this is needed,” states the ULP.

The ULP was filed on behald of the Union by member Joseph Jacubowsky of Bath. The company representative indentified on the complaint to be contacted is also Brian Stewart, the Plant Manager.

The third complaint was filed on December 2nd and alleges the USPS has withheld information needed for the continuance of several grievances.

According to the ULP, the Employer has failed to provide requested information regarding grievances dating back as far as October 20th, 2010.

“The Union has requested information on several subjects necessary for either the continuance of a grievance or the determining of whether we have a grievance. We have not received an explantation for the delays nor the requested information,” stated that complaint.

Department of Labor re-establishes construction safety charter

01.13.11

JANUARY 2011, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Department of Labor re-establishes construction safety charter

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, December 14th- The United States Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced the agency will re-establish the charter of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH). The group advises the secretary on formulating safety and health standards and policies that affect construction workers and the construction industry. The charter will expire in two years.

“Since OSHA’s inception, ACCSH has played an important role in furthering the safety and health of workers in the construction industry. The members’ advice and recommendations are extremely valuable to the agency because they have a wealth of knowledge and real-world experience on a wide range of construction trades, activities and issues,” stated Assistant Secretary of labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels.

Established in 1969 as a continuing advisory committee under the Contract Work Hours Standards Act, commonly known as the Construction Safety Act (CSAct), the ACCSH is comprised of fifteen members appointed by the Secretary of Labor.

The advisory committee consists of five representatives of employers in the construction industry, five representatives who represent the viewpoint of employees in the construction industry, who are generally from various building trades unions, two public representatives of state safety and health agenices and one from the National Institute of Occupational Health. The members generally serve staggered two-year terms and may be re-appointed.

As part of its advisory role, ACCSH provides comments and recommendations on OSHA proposed rules affecting the construction industry. In addition, the committee provides other recommendations and develops various work products such as quick cards and fact sheets for OSHA’s consideration.

Currently, ACCSH also has a number of active work groups focusing on areas including women/diversity in construction, education and training, green jobs, multilinual issues in construction, power fastening tools such as nail guns, prevention by design, residential fall protection, and silica and other construction health hazards. The meetings of ACCSH and its work groups are open to the public.

For more information on Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health and the group’s reports and recommendations go to
http://www.osha.gov/doc/accsh/index.html

SEIU Local 32BJ files additional complaint against Lehigh Valley employer

01.13.11

JANUARY 2011, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

SEIU Local 32BJ files additional complaint against Lehigh Valley employer

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, December 15th- The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ filed another labor complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia alleging an Lehigh Valley employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The SEIU filed the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge against Sodexo Inc., which is a food service contractor and provides food service for three Lehigh Valley hospitals, on November 30th.

The complaint was reviewed by the newspaper and alleges the Employer barred employees at Lehigh Valley Hospital on Cedar Crest Boulevard in Allentown from wearing Union shirts.

“In or around mid-September 2010, the employer participated in, acquiesced in, caused hospital security officers’ conduct in threatening to call police if employees, who were engaged in Section 7 activity did not move from the public sidewalk in front of the hosptial,” states the complaint.

In the previous edition of the newspaper it was reported the SEIU filed a ULP against Sodexo Inc. on November 1st, 2010 alleging the employer violated the NLRAct when the company interrogated a worker and wrongfully disciplined several workers for being involved with the unions’ attempt to organize fellow workers.

Union supporters at the medical center staged a one-day strike against the three hosptials on October 11th, to protest low wages, anti-union tactics and lousy benefits.

The three hospitals, the Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest, Good Shepherd, and Sacred Heart, cafeteria workers are part of a national campaign by the SEIU to gain a national labor agreement with Sodexo Inc. SEIU Local 32BJ of New York, NY is conducting a ten-state organizing campaign of the food service workers. Sodexo Inc., is headquartered in France.

In April workers marched in downtown Allentown near the Sacred Heart Hospital and the medical centers kitchen and cafeteria workers attended the event alleging Sodexo Inc. is using intimidation to keep them from becoming union members.

According to information provided on the ULP, the number of workers at the hospital employed in food service is 135.

The complaint was filed on behalf of the Union by a paralegal in the New York office of SEIU 32BJ. Her name is not illegible because of poor penmanship.

The Employer Representative named on the ULP to be contacted is George Chavel, indentified as the company’s CEO from Gaitherburg, Maryland.

Area weatherization workers prevailing wages defined

01.13.11

JANUARY 2011 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Area weatherization workers prevailing wages defined

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 2nd- The United States Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division released Pennsylvania’s prevailing wage rates for weatherization of residential structures as those structures defined in the All Agency Memorandum Program through the United States Department of Energy (DOE).

The primary purpose of the project for which this wage determination is being issued is weatherization and is not for the nenovation, repair, or new construction of residential structures. All other types of residential construction projects are subject to the published general residential wage determinations for the State of Pennsylvania.

General weatherization work for the purpose of this wage determination is defined as minor repairs, batt insulation, blown insulation, window and door repair, and weather stripping, solar film installation, air sealing, caulking, minor or incidental structural repairs, duct sealing, air sealing, installation of light bulbs, and installation of smoke detectors. In Pennsylvania, the Department’s survey determined as a matter of prevailing practice that these duties are performed by a weatherization worker classification.

Additionally, specially weatherization work is defined as the;

• replacement of doors and windows;
• installation and repair of furance/cooling (HVAC) systems and all
associated work involved with the installation of the HVAC system including
electrical, pipe, and duct work.

In Pennsylvania the Department of Energy determined that the duties described above are to be performed by a window and door replacement worker, and by an HVAC worker.

In Pennsylvania wage payment data submitted includes wage data information for a weatherization crew chief classification. This classification of worker is essentially a working foreman who performs the same tasks as the weatherization worker, but who is repsonsible for supervision, job oversight, forms completion, work assignments and quality assurance.

The prevailing rates listed are the minimum rates that may be paid for the classification for the work performed. Wage rates are based strickly on work performed and are not based on the employee’s level of experience, seniority, ability, ect.

Workers preforming the work descibed are due at least the wages listed.

The three classifications listed under the Weatherization Survey Wage Determination are the classifications and rates determined to be prevailing for weatherization work and are based on wage data submitted in response to the weatherization survey. Weatherization work, as well as the specific duties that may be performed by these three classifications, is defined on this project decision.

According to the wage chart, weatherization workers in the Lehigh Valley will earn more than workers in Northeastern Pennsylvania for doing the same performed work.

In Luzerne County, Lackawanna County and Wyoming County the prefvailing wage is $14.97 an hour for electrical workers; $15.46 an hour for workers performing carpentry; $10.30 an hour for doors and windows replacement workers; $16.77 an hour for heating and cooling repair, installation workers and $10.30 an hour for weatherization workers.

A worker preforming carpentry work will earn at least $15.94 an hour; while an electrical worker will earn at least $25.44 an hour in Northampton County. A worker preforming carpentry work will earn at least $15.94 an hour while a electrical worker will earn at least $20.09 an hour in Lehigh County.

The wages quoted does not include fringe benefits.

New residential roofing construction requirement issued

01.13.11

JANUARY 2011 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

New residential roofing construction requirement issued

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 4th- The United States Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in Washington announced a new directive withdrawing a former one that allowed residential builders to bypass fall protection requirements. The directive being replaced, issued in 1995, initially intended as a temporary policy and was the result of concerns about feasibility of fall protection in residential building construction. However, there continues to be a high number of fall-related deaths in construction, and industry experts now feel that feasibility is no longer an issue or concern.

“Fatalities from falls are the number one cause of workplace deaths in construction. We cannot tolerate workers getting killed in residential construction when effective means are readily available to prevent those deaths. Almost every week, we see a worker killed from falling off a residential roof. We can stop these fatalities, and we must,” stated Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.

The national Association of Home Builders recommended rescinding the 1995 directive, as did OSGHA’s labor-management Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health; the AFL-CIO labor federation; and the Occupational Safety and Health State Plan Association, which represents the 27 states and territories that run their own occupational safety and health programs, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

According to data from the DOL Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of 40 workers are killed each year as a result of falls from residential roofs. One-third of those deaths represent Latino workers, who often lack sufficient access to safety information and protections and are mostly nonunion. Latino workers comprise more than one-third of all construction employees in the nation.

According to the DOL, construction and roofing companies will have up to six months to comply with the new directive. The Occupational Safety and Health Adminstration has developed training and compliance assistance materials for small employers and will host a webinar for parties in learning more about complying with the standard. To view the directive and for more information visit: http://www.osha.gov/doc/residential_fall_protection.html.