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Signitures gained to force nursing home issue to voters ballot

01.31.11

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

Signitures gained to force nursing home issue to voters ballot

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, January 16th- Labor organizations representing workers employed at the Gracedale nursing home participated with the gaining of signatures of the public on petitions that will be used to force Northampton County, which owns and operates the facility in Upper Nazareth Township, to place the issue of privatization on the voters ballot.

The Coalition for Alzheimer’s Families submitted more than 23,000 signatures on January 18th, which was over 3,700 more than needed to force County officials to put the issue to the voters of whether they would rather the nursing home remain owned by Northampton County.

The nine member Northampton County Council voted in favor on August 19th, 2010 to seek offers for the 725 bed nursing home which has around 650 residents.

County officials have stated selling the nursing home, which is owned and operated by Northampton County, is about saving taxpayers money. There are approximately 750 workers, 600 full-time and 150 part-time, employed at the nursing home.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union Local 1435 represents around 600 workers employed at the nursing home including food service, cleaning and other support employees.

The United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union Local 2599 in Bethlehem represents approximately 50 nurses and social aid workers.

Both unions oppose the selling of the facility. The unions fear should the facility be sold to an outside operator their members will be required to give big wage and benefits concessions and contract langugage that protects their members will be changed.

The nursing home sell could be prevented if Northampton County residents vote not to privatize the facility. The minimum signitures that was needed to force the issue to be placed on the ballot was 19,630. The petitions will be checked to assure the signitures are those of registered voters of Northampton County.

Local 2599 President Jerry Green told the newspaper he personally brought petitions to local shopping malls and requested customers read and sign them.

“Most of the people we talked to were against selling the nursing home. I feel the voters want the nursing home to remain county owned,” said Mr. Green.

AFSCME agreed to the opening of their contract allowing for contract concessions hoping to change Northampton County officials about selling the facility. However, the county continues to pursue privatization.

After Lackawanna County sold their nursing home in March 2010, the new owners began to violate the labor agreement with the union that represents the workers. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has since filed multible labor complaints against the Employer.

Unions would likely be affected if state stores are sold

01.31.11

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

Unions would likely be affected if state stores are sold

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, January 9th- 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.

Wendell Young IV, President of UFCW Local 1776, which has offices in Plymouth Meeting, Gettysburg, and Pittston, stated there has been a lot of talk about the merits of selling the Wine and Spirit Shoppes recently but there are several myths being repeated regarding privatization including the two billion dollar wind-fall for Pennsylvania.

“While the UFCW PA Wine and Spirits Council representing local unions with a combined membership of over 40,000 members in Pennsylvania is not averse to engaging in the debate on this issue, we think that the discussion has to be based on facts, not fantasy,” stated Mr. Young.

Mr. Young stated privatization opponents suggest selling of the licenses would raise $2 billion but comparable licenses have not been shown to be worth anything close to that anywhere in the nation.

Also privatization supporters suggest selling of the stores would give “mom and pop” a chance to go into the liquor business. However, they do not show where “mom and pop” would come up with the $2.3 million needed to purchase a license.

“Selling the state stores is an irresponsible, risky scheme that won’t fix Pennsylvania’s budget,’ added Mr. Young.

Teamsters Union Local 773 files labor complaint against Breinigsville employer

01.31.11

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

Teamsters Union Local 773 files labor complaint against Breinigsville employer

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, January 11th- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 773, Hamilton Street in Allentown, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia alleging Magnolia Logistics Inc., 8301 Industrial Boulevard in Breinigsville, violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

According to the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge, which was discovered by the newspaper while reviewing petitions and complaints filed at the National Labor Relations Board, the Union alleges the Employer, violated Section 8 (a), subsections (1) and subsection (5) of the NLRAct.

The newspaper is the only member of the local media that reviews and publishes the information.

Magnolia Logistics Inc. is a grocery transportation company and according to the ULP employs approximately 60 workers at the Breinigsville facility.

“The above named Employer, by and through its agents, has violated the above-referenced sections of the Act by direct dealing with union member Juan Navarro and by refusing to bargain in good faith with the above-named Union, including but not limited to by failing to timely notify the Union of discipline as required under the parties’ collective bargaining agreement,” states the complaint.

United Auto Workers holds Christmas Party for union members

01.31.11

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

United Auto Workers holds Christmas Party for union members

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, January 16th- The United Auto Workers (UAW) Amalgamated Union Local 677 in Allentown held a Christmas party for children of members in December. Local 677 represents Mack Trucks employees, Americold and First Student bus workers.

According to William deMauriac, a UAW member and a member of Local 677’s Community Services Committee, approximately 44 families with more than 82 children attended the annual event.

“The children ages were newborns to twelve years of age. We gave gifts and candy to all those children. Of course Santa was there. We also had some very talented face painters called Fantasic Faces,” Mr. deMauriac.

The event was organized by Local 677’s Conservation and Recreation Committee. Mr. deMauriac is the Chairperson; Pam Hollinger is Secretary; Roger Knappenberger, Ron Rutman and Rob Pothering are also members of the Conservation and Recreation Committee.

“The main act was Clive Allen and his wife Tracy, they performed a magic act.

My wife Linda and Eileen Miller baked cookies for the children and adults,” added Mr. deMauriac.

Local 677 has one if not the largest community services committees within the labor community in the Lehigh Valley.