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Anti-PLA legislation was introduced in the previous General Assembly

01.18.11

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

Anti-PLA legislation was introduced in the previous General Assembly

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 6th- In September 2009 legislation was proposed that would have prohibit the use of Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s) on public projects in Pennsylvania.

The legislation was introduced by Republican House of Representative John Bear (97th Legislative District). Mr. Bear’s legislative district includes Lancaster County. However, the legislation died because not enough legislators supported the legislation.

In 2009 the Democrats held the majority in the House of Representatives while the Republican held the majority in the Senate. The Pennsylvania Governor was also a Democrat.

Mr. Bear told the newspaper at the time he also introduced the legislation in 2007 but it failed because it failed to gain enough co-signers. In 2009, the total amount of co-signers more than doubled from 2007 but it still failed.

The bill called the “Open Contracting Act” would have prohibit the use of PLA’s by public bodies for construction of schools, prisons, roads, and other public buildings in Pennsylvania.

A PLA is a comprehensive agreement signed by a builder and local craft unions under which a defined construction project is agreed to be completed by workers from local union halls, in return for the union’s guarantee of no strikes, a steady labor supply, and general labor peace. Under a PLA, a nonunion contractor could still be hired for a project, however if they are selected, local unionized workers must be hired.

With the Republicans gaining control of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the Governors Mansion, anti-union legislation will likely be introduced in the upcoming session of the General Assembly, including a fourth try at banning the use of PLA’s on public construction projects.

Anti-union legislators, like Mr. Bear, have stated in the past that PLA’s are often used by Democratic party elected officials to repay labor unions for their support during political campaigns. “PLA’s are used as political favors,” Mr. Bear was quoted as saying in the October 2009 edition of the newspaper.

The legislation’s biggest supporter is the Association of Builders and Contractors (ABC) construction group. The ABC is made-up of nonunion contractors and often lobbies for anti-union legislation in Harrisburg and was behind a anti-PLA rally held in the state capitol rotunda in February 2010.

Frank Sirianni, President of the Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council in Harrisburg, which is a labor federation representing unions who members are employed within the construction industry, believes corporate greed is behind any anti-PLA legislation.

“The fact of the matter is that many non-union contractors here in Pennsylvania and all over the country bid on projects with PLA’s and win those bids. They then go on to complete those projects using local crafts people and still earn a reasonable profit. They do this because PLA’s work. It is clear that the ABC and their legislative allies are not really interested in creating jobs for Pennsylvania skilled crafts people. They are more interested in finding ways to line their pockets with our tax dollars and with little protection of our community standards as possible,” stated Mr. Sirianni.

PASNAP Union members strike hospital for 24-hours

01.18.11

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

PASNAP Union members strike hospital for 24-hours

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 6th- Union members, their families and community leaders walked the picket line with nurses employed at Wilkes-Barre General Hosptial, which does business as the Wyoming Valley Health Care System, River Street in Wilkes-Barre, on December 23nd to protest the lack of reaching a new contract agreement between the employer and the labor organization that represents the employees.

The Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professional (PASNAP) Union of 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 owns the medical center, have been negotiating for more than nineteen months attempting to gain a successor labor 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 but the employer has changed several conditions of work including forcing union officials to collect monthly union dues rather than having them collected through employees pay-checks.

The Tennessee based CHS Inc. is the largest owner of for-profit hospitals in the United States.

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.

However, the NLRB found merit in a PASNAP Unfair Labor Practice charge alleging the Employer has withdrawn its agreement to specific bargaining proposals and has done so because of previous ULP’s filed by the Union.

The most recent complaint, which was filed on November 30th, 2010 at the NLRB office in Philadelphia, is at least the fifth ULP filed by the Union against the Employer during 2010.

The union filed a ULP charge on March 11th, 2010 alleging CHS Inc. was negotiating in bad faith and violated the NLRAct. On May 14th, the union filed another ULP.

On July 15th, 2010 the Union filed another ULP alleging the Employer violated the NLRAct. The NLRB found merit in the July 15th ULP and conducted a hearing in November.

The membership voted to authorize a strike against the medical center and on December 23rd, staged a 24-hour strike. The union gave the employer an advance warning of the strike so CHS could prepare for the work stoppage. CHS hired temporary scabs to replace the striking nurses.

At noon on December 23rd a rally was held to show support for the strikers. The event was attended by several political leaders, and union members from throughout the Wyoming Valley.

Unions would likely be affected if state stores are sold

01.18.11

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

Unions would likely be affected if state stores are sold

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 6th- The debate of whether Pennsylvania should sell their state liquor stores to private owners is likely to resurface during the 2011 session of the General Assembly in Harrisburg and the three labor unions that represent the workers will likely be affected if the stores are privatized.

The United Food and Commerical Workers Union (UFCW) represents the majority of the workers employed by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), which operates the retail stores. The UFCW represents shelf stockers and clerk workers.

Most lower tied supervisors of the system are represented by the Independent State Store Union (ISSU) in Harrisburg while the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union represents mainly office employees including auditors.

Should the stores be “sold-off” to private owners the unions would likely lose members and may even be removed as the bargaining representative of the employees.

There are approximately 625 liquor stores throughout Pennsylvania and the LCB also operates liquor stores located in around 50 grocery stores.

Currently, the system generates millions of dollars in profit including creating $400 million in tax revenue, which in put into the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania general fund.

Supporters of privatization suggest the selling of the stores would general $1.5 billion of state revenue yield, but it would be a one-time infusion of funds.

Before a sale can be held legislation would need to be passed in the Pennsylvania General Assembly and signed by Republican Governor Tom Corbett, which supports privatizing the stores.

Teamsters Local 401 files petition requesting election in Wilkes-Barre

01.18.11

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

Teamsters Local 401 files petition requesting election in Wilkes-Barre

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 6th- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 401, South Washington Street in Wilkes-Barre, filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia requesting the agency conduct an election to determine if the employees of a Luzerne County employer want to be represented by the union.

According to the petition, which was filed with the NLRB on January 5th, 2010, employees of Garda Cash Logistics, Stewart Road in Wilkes-Barre, is requesting for the agency to conduct a election to determine if a majority of them want Local 401 to represent them for the purpose of collective bargaining.

“We have already received notice that the NLRB got the petition,” stated James Murphy, President and Business Representative of Local 401. Mr. Murphy filed the petition on behalf of Local 401 and is an participating member of the Union’s organizing committee.

According to the petition, which was reviewed by the newspaper, there are presently 38 employees in the unit of workers seeking the election.

Under NLRB rules, a labor organization must receive 50 percent plus one of the voting employees during an agency election to become their bargaining representative.

Mr. Murphy stated approximately 75 percent of the unit of employees signed authorization cards requesting the NLRB conduct an election.

The company provides amored car services and security transportation.

The Teamsters requested on the petition that all full-time and regular part-time nonmanagement employees participate in the election.

Writer challenges Republicans on health-care reform bill

01.18.11

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

Writer challenges Republicans on health-care reform bill

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 4th- According to a article published by the Americans United for Change.org, a left-leaning web-site in Washington, DC, if Republican members in the United States House of Representatives repeal healthcare reform it would cost hundreds of billions of dollars, violating their campaign pledge of reducing the federal deficit.

According to a article authorized by Ezra Klein one of the Republican members of Congress new rules says that new legislation must be paid for. But the health-care bill reduces the federal deficit by more than $100 billion over the next 10 years.

However, Klein states that the Republicans have figured out an answer to their program: “They’ve decided to simply exempt the repeal bill from the rules. That means they’re beginning the 112th Congress by lifting their own rules in order to take a vote that will increase the deficit. Change we can believe in, and all that,” states Klein.

Republican are aware that their action does not look good, so they are trying to explain why their decision to lift the rule requiring fical responsibility is actually fiscally responsible. Majority Leader Eric Cantor got asked about it and said they talked about 10 years worth of tax hikes and six years’ worth of benefits and everyone knows beyond the 10-year window, the health-care reform legislation has the potential to bankrupt the federal government as well as the states, Mr. Cantor stated.

Klein stated the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the health-care reform law saves vastly more money in its second decade than in the first 10 years.

“The legislation will reduce federal deficits during the decade beyond the 10-year budget window relative to those projected under current law, with a total effect in a broad range around one-half percent of the GDP,” states Klein.

Klein added, “What’s important about Mr. Cantor’s argument is not that he’s wrong. It’s why he’s saying something he knows to be wrong. There are plenty of reasons to oppose the health-care reform bill. You might not want to spend that money insuring people, or you might not think the legislation goes far enough in reforming the system. But as a matter of arithmetic, using the math that Congress always uses, the bill saves money. It cuts enough spending and raises enough taxes to more than pay for itself, both in the first 10 years and in the second 10 years.”

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Metropolitan Statistical Area unemployment rate remains the highest in state

01.18.11

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

MSA unemployment rate remains the highest in state

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 1st- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Industry, the region’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 9.7 percent, decreasing by four-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 9.4 percent.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 8.6 percent, decreasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,362,000 with 547,000 not working and 5,815,000 with employment. The national unemployment rate is 9.8 percent, increasing by two-tenths of a precentage point from the previous report. However, the unemployment rate does not include civilians who unemployment benefits have expired and stopped looking for work.

There are 15,119,000 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 actually at least 21,000,000 civilians in the nation without jobs.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the fifth largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 281,600 civilians. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor force at 2,952,400 with 267,800 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,217,600 with 97,800 without jobs; the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force at 417,800 with 39,200 not working; and the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest civilian labor force at 281,700 with 23,500 without employment. The Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA just recently passed the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA for the fourth largest civilian labor force.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA continues to have the highest unemployment rate among the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania.

The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment in the Commonwealth at 9.5 percent. The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton has the third highest at 9.4 percent with the Erie MSA and the Reading MSA tied with the fourth highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 9.2 percent.

There are 27,300 residents reported to be not working in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA, rising by 500 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 5.9 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 7.2 percent, the Altoona MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate at 7.4 percent with the Lancaster MSA with the fourth lowest unemployment rate at 7.5 percent.

Wyoming County has the lowest unemployment rate in the MSA at 7.8 percent, decreasing by two full percentage points from the previous report and dropping by one and six-tenths of a percentage point during the past twelve months. Wyoming County has a civilian labor force of 14,100 with 1,100 unemployed.

Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 10.1 percent, decreasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and increasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago.

Luzerne County has a labor force of 160,300, decreasing by 500 from the previous report and decreasing by 800 during the past twelve months. Of the labor force, 16,200 civilians do not have a job, decreasing by 300 from the previous report and rising by 400 during the past twelve months.

The unemployment rate in Lackawanna County is 9.4 percent, decreasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by four-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago.

Lackawanna County has a labor force of 107,300, decreasing by 500 civilians from the previous report and dropping by 700 from twelve months ago. There are 10,100 Lackawanna County residents without jobs, decreasing by 400 from the previous report and increasing by 400 from twelve months ago.

The retail trade sector jobs increased by 1,200 from the previous report mainly because of several Wal-Mart openings.