Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

The Great Upheaval

02.25.11

The Great Upheaval
By Lorenzo A. Canizares
2/21/11

To understand what is meant by “The Great Upheaval” is important to provide some pertinent facts. We need to realize that there is a dichotomy amongst the American people in how we experience the reality around us. Regular common people that have been lucky enough not to have had to deal with losing a job or being discriminated because of race, gender, sexual preference or religion trying to understand what’s happening in America today, can become difficult especially if they have been mainly just paying attention to daily living.

As we are seeing, most states are going through an attempt to change the reality that Americans live in. Those with jobs, as teachers and state workers that might have been oblivious to the pain being suffered by those that have lost jobs and benefits in the private sector, are getting to know now how it feels. The people doing the deciding are ruthless in their disregard for the popular will or well-being. For example, Charles M. Blow mentions in his NYT column of 2/12/11 that Republicans in New Hampshire have filed bills to overturn the state’s same-sex marriage law, even though, according to a recent WMUR Granite State Poll, the state’s residents want to leave the law in place by a majority of more than 2 to 1. Who cares about being concerned about what constituents want?

The above example of disregard for the popular will is assisted by the corporate stranglehold that exists in our political life. The Supreme Court through their decision in Citizens United has opened the floodgates to corporate money overwhelming our democracy. Conservatives use a committed group of cadres that through the pretext of social issues push for economic policies that will benefit the Greedy Rich. The excuse of fiscal responsibility is widely used a justification to attain the political goals that the Greedy Rich are after. Notice, as in Wisconsin, dismantling of labor unions is the goal under the banner of fiscal responsibility while promoting tax cuts for the verywealthy, tax cuts that will deepen the deficit even further. As the headlines of the newspaper Roll Call said in its July 18 edition “Senate Republican Leader Mitch Mc Connell blasts deficit spending, urges extension of tax cuts.” The monies behind the Citizens United decision allow this utterly ridiculous statement to acquire political legitimacy! To make it a double dosage of hypocrisy, McConnell also considers defense spending to be sacrosanct.

The Democratic Party could have not been more compliant in the last Congress. We have seen Democrats watering down legislation one after another trying to gain the cooperation of Republicans. Take the Health Care bill as an example, the Democrats through compromise watered down the bill, but even that watered down bill that if implemented could have been a windfall for health insurance corporations is being rejected because the goal is to defeat Obama. Can anybody be so witless not to understand what Republicans are trying to do? After such a barrage of verbiage regarding jobs, jobs, jobs they are forcing the nation to revive the health care wars, all with the intent of defeating Obama in 2012, as McConnell has let us know to be the goal. Isn’t it coincidental that several Republican Governors have refused government monies to deal with infrastructure reforms that would have produced hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs throughout the country?

A major part of the “Great Upheaval” is what the lap-dogs of the Greed Rich have been able to come up with just to make sure that we understand the power that they have over us. What’s more clear than what E.J. Montini, a widely read Arizona Republic columnist, description of Arizona’s Governor and Republican legislators as a “death panel” that has originally condemned 98 Arizonans to death because it’s not cost effective to provide them organ transplants. Two has already died. Republicans do run effective death panels!

But, nothing is a more clear indication of the “Great Upheaval” than what’s going on in Wisconsin. Governor Walker intent is to destroy the unions, to destroy what brought the American working class into the middle class, and to destroy the societal cushion that was the base of America’s prosperity. Governor Walker’s plan would limit collective bargaining for most state and local government employees to wages, leaving issues like benefits and work conditions to their respective employer’s whims. It would require workers to contribute more to their pensions and health care, limit wage increases to a cap based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), and limit contracts to one year. It would require unions to take annual votes to maintain certification while also permitting workers to stop paying union dues.

These are just a few examples of what the Greedy Rich have done in their attempt to maximize profits coming their way. Notice we have not talked about wars, Wall Street, the Mortgage crisis, etc. But, we can be certain now that we have arrived to the point that those who don’t see it, is because they just don’t want to see it.

The “Great Upheaval” is about to unravel.

Ironically, Anti-Union Republicans Need Unions

02.25.11

by Walter Brasch

There are a lot of ironies in the Wisconsin fight between the Republican-dominated legislature and the working class.

On Tuesday, Feb. 22, the State Senate unanimously passed a resolution to honor the Green Bay Packers for winning the Super Bowl. Every one of the players is a member of a union.

Of course, only the 19 Republicans in the chamber voted for the resolution; the 14 Democratic senators, co-sponsors of the resolution, were in Illinois. They were in the neighboring state because newly-elected Gov. Scott Walker, supported by Big Business, the Tea Party, and far-right conservatives, had ordered the unionized state police to bring every Democratic senator into the capitol in order to assure a quorum. Needing one more member, the Senate couldn’t pass any fiscal legislation.

Walker and the legislature thought they could ram through a union-busting measure, disguising it under a cloak of balancing the state budget. All they needed were 20 senators—19 Republicans and, for that elusive quorum, one Democrat, even if he or she voted against the bill. The only reason the state had a deficit, they lied, was because of union wages and benefits.

The unions had already said they would accept what amounts to an 8 percent cut. But, Walker, acting more like a caricature of a Fat Cat Boss, refused to negotiate. His demands, if put into law, would essentially “gut” public worker unions.

For two weeks, beginning Feb. 14, thousands of government workers and their supporters came to Madison to defend unions and collective bargaining. At its peak, more than 70,000 were in the streets of the state’s larger cities. One of those protestors was all-pro cornerback Charles Woodson, the Packers’ co-captain, one of those honored by the Legislature. Woodson, strong in his condemnation of the governor and Legislature, said he was honored “to stand together with working families of Wisconsin and organized labor [who were] under an unprecedented attack to take away their basic rights to have a voice and collectively bargain at work.”

There are more ironies.

Thousands of anti-union voices have cried out that they don’t need unions. However, even the most rabid anti-union reactionary has benefitted from labor’s push for a 40 hour work week, overtime, better working conditions, the enactment of rigorous child labor laws, and basic benefits, including vacation time and sick leave.

Unions also led the push to create the National Labor Relations Board, which gives further worker protections, while restricting excesses, both by unions and employers; and the Davis–Bacon Act, which requires all private contractors on federal projects to pay wages equivalent to what union workers would earn, even if their own companies are not unionized. The “prevailing doctrine” has led to better wages and employee training in the construction industry, according to labor historian Rosemary Brasch.

Unions were primarily responsible for creating the rise of the middle class, thus elevating the poor, marginalized, and disenfranchised. With weaker unions, says economist Richard Freeman, “the U.S. will be slower in developing policies to help the disadvantaged and poor . . . and to protect consumers, workers, and shareholders from business crime and dishonesty.” All social programs, according to writer/activist Harvey Wasserman “can trace their roots to union activism, as can the protection of our civil liberties.” Strong labor unions generally have higher productivity, according to independent research done by Harley Shalen of the University of California, because there is “less turnover, better worker communication, better working conditions, and a better-educated workforce.” Further, merely the threat of unionization at a company usually leads to improved work conditions as employers, using extraordinary means to impose anti-union bias into their companies, nevertheless, will improve the lives of their workers solely to avoid collective bargaining and union benefits.

Anti-union rhetoric also leads people to believe that the generous health benefits that governments give to unionized workers has led to the current financial problems, all of which are absorbed by the taxpayers. But, the truth reveals another irony. Better health benefits actually result in lower costs to the taxpayers. Most of the 50 million uninsured are members of working families, and have lower incomes, making them eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), funded by taxpayers. Unable to pay even the co-insurance costs, low-income workers usually use medical facilities only when there are critical problems, thus jeopardizing their own health, and resulting in less productivity and more long term care, all paid by public programs. Uninsured patients also pay more for health care, and are more likely to stay impoverished because of health costs, according to recent studies by the Kaiser Foundation on Medicaid and the Uninsured. Medicaid payments in 2008 were about $204 billion.

And in the ultimate irony, Rush Limbaugh, who called union workers “bottom-feeding freeloaders,” Glenn Beck, who miraculously linked trade unionism with Communists, socialists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the United Nations, and numerous other conservative commentators are all members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), an AFL-CIO union.

[Next Week: Lies and the truth in Wisconsin. Walter Brasch, an award-winning journalist, is author of 16 books, including With Just Cause: Unionization of the American Journalist. He has been a member of several unions, including The Newspaper Guild, Communications Workers of America, International Association of Machinists, the United Auto Workers, the Association of State College and University Faculty, and three in the entertainment industry. You may contact Dr. Brasch at walterbrasch@gmail.com]

Labor Community getting involve with Counties leadership campaign’s

02.22.11

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

Labor Community getting involve with Counties leadership campaign’s

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 7th- The labor community is getting ready to be involve in both Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties government leadership political campaigns for 2011.

Incumbent Democratic Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien announced his new running mate would be Blakely Borough Mayor Jeanette Acciare-Mariani, and he told the newspaper if the team is elected the labor community will find a “smooth transition” with the new team.

John Gatto, Assistant Business Manager of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) Union District Council 21, told the newspaper his union will likely support Mr. O’Brien, who is seeking a second four-year term in the commissioner office.

“He has been responsive to our union. When we reached out to him I would say he has at least attempted to help us,” said Mr. Gatto.

Incumbent two-term Democratic Commissioner Mike Washo is not seeking a third term. Mr. O’Brien and Mr. Washo ran as a team during the 2007 campaign season.

“I have an outstanding labor record. My core values are with working familes. Labor will continue to have a friend in County government if we are successful in winning,” said Mr. O’Brien.

Mr. O’Brien told the newspaper that he wants a local workforce on local projects instead of workers from New Jersey and elsewhere. “I won’t shy away from union support, unlike many candidates today. I won’t apologize for supporting labor. People always know where I’m at,” added Mr. O’Brien.

In Luzerne County the labor community wants to form their own “political slate” for the 11 member government council. Luzerne County residents voted in 2010 to replace the current three-commissioner setup with a 11 member home-rule-charter council. Each government council member will be paid $8,000 a year and be elected by the voters in November, and begin their terms in January 2012.

Edward Harry, President of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council labor federation, and a former American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council 87 Union, Business Representative, told the newspaper the labor organization plans to support at least 11 “pro-labor” candidates including several union members. “Getting people on that council that will support labor is vital,” he said.

Patrick Connors, Secretary-Treasurer/Business Representative and Principal Officer of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 401 in Wilkes-Barre, which has several bargaining agreements with Luzerne County, stated there are around 13 labor contracts, union members on government boards, and Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s) that need to be “watched-out for” and it is very important that labor is represented on the new council.

“We (the labor community) are afraid anti-union people will control the council and they will hire a manager that will be bad for labor,” said Mr. Connors.

Legislators requesting for continuation of health-care program for uninsured

02.22.11

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

Legislators requesting for continuation of health-care program for uninsured

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 26th- Union member and Pennsylvania House of Representative Eddie Day Pashinski (Democrat-121st Legislative District) joined legislative colleagues at a news conference urging Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett to continue the adultBasic program that provides low-cost insurance for about 1,020 uninsured working adults in Luzerne County. Another 16,505 people in Luzerne County are on a waiting list to get in the program. The 121st Legislative District includes the City of Wilkes-Barre in Luzerne County.

“It’s time to man up. It’s time to work together with our new governor and the insurance companies and all participants in the health-care industry to provide a better funding mechanism and reduce the cost by eliminating fraud, inefficiencies and system failures,” stated Mr. Pashinski.

Mr. Pashinski is a retired member of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) Union and a member of the American Federation of Musicians Union Local 140.

Mr. Pashinski, who began his third two-term in Harrisburg in January, stated many of his constituents are in adultBasic program because they have fixed incomes, some earning a median salary of $385.00 a week.

AdultBasic was created by the legislature in 2001 with funding received through the National Tobacco Settlement Agreement. The program provides coverage for the basic health-care needs of people between 19 and 64 who do not have health insurance. They must also meet certain eligibility requirements, and cannot have an income greater than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

Utility Workers Union files complaint against water company

02.22.11

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

Utility Workers Union files complaint against water company

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 16th- The labor organization that represents workers of the Pennsylvania American Water Company (PAWC), North Pennsylvania Avenue in Wilkes-Barre, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia alleging the public water utility company violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

According to the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge, which was reviewed by the newspaper, the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 537, South College Avenue in Washington, PA, represents approximately 160 workers of the utility provider.

The ULP was filed on behalf of the Union by Attorney Samuel Pasquarelli of Pittsburgh.

“Since on or about January 4th, 2011, the employer by discrimination in regard to hire or tenure of employment or any term or condition of employment has discouraged membership with the charging party, a labor organization, which charging party is the certified collective bargaining representative of the employer’s office, clerical, production and maintenance employees, in that on said date the employer threatened members and officials of the charging party with discipline if they exercised rights lawfully available to them under the terms of their collective bargaining agreements and the law, and the employer also threatened legal action against the charging party directly for engaging in activities lawfully protected under the Act and permissible under various collective bargaining agreements extant between the charging party and the employer,” states the ULP.

The employer representative named on the compaint to be contacted is Nellie Murphy. Her position with the company is not identified on the complaint.

NALC Union will conduct annual food drive on May 14th

02.22.11

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

NALC Union will conduct annual food drive on May 14th

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 26th- The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Union, which represents city delivery letter carriers of the United States Postal Service (USPS) in all 50 states and United States jurisdictions, will conduct their annual food drive on Saturday May 14th. The NALC has approximately 300,000 members.

According to NALC International President Fredric Rolando, the collection is the largest one-day food drive in the nation. This year will mark the 19th collective year the food drive will be held.

The Campbell Soup Company and the United States Postal Service will jointly provide over 120 million full-color postcard flyers for mailing to homes in participating communities just before the drive to encourage donations. In addition, for the sixth year, Valpak direct marketing systems will promote the drive on more than 44 million envolope packets.

Customers of the mail delivery service will be asked to leave can goods in the area of their mail boxes. The items collected will be collected by the letter carriers on May 14th, seperated and donated to area food banks. The three NALC branches that represent letter carriers in Northeastern Pennsylvania will participate.

In 2010 the postal workers collected 77.1 million pounds of food, the seventh consecutive year above 70 million, and delivered the donations to local community food banks, pantries and shelters. Last year almost 1,500 NALC local branches participated.

The effort began in 1991 when the NALC, with the support of the USPS and the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington, DC, which the NALC is affiliated, conducted a 10-city pilot program as a “first step” in developing a coordinated, same-day nationwide food drive. Over 290 tons of food were collected in those 10 cities. The drive was not held in 1992 as plans were being developed to expand the efford nationwide.

In 1993 the drive expanded to 200 NALC barnches in all 50 states, covering more than 1,000 communities. A record 12 million pounds (6,000 tons) of non-perishable food donations were collected by city carriers, with help from their rural carrier counterparts in many communities.

The effort, called “Stamp Out Hunger,” is a example of organized labor working to advance the common good in communities throughout the United States, stated the NALC.

Until the Crisis in Wisconsin is over we are all Wisconsin workers and on Thursday 2/24/11 Philadelphia is Madison!

02.20.11

Rally for Wisconsin’s Workers!

Until the Crisis in Wisconsin is over we are all Wisconsin workers and on Thursday 2/24/11 Philadelphia is Madison!

What: Rally to stand with Wisconsin’s Workers

When: Thursday 2/24/11 @ 11:30 PM

Where: Thomas Paine Plaza; in front of Phila.’s MSB, across from Phila. City Hall

Wear your Union Colors to show your union pride and something RED to show solidarity with Wisconsin’s workers.

John Meyerson

Director of Legislation & Political Action

United Food & Commercial Workers 1776

WISCONSIN WAVE OF RESISTANCE to announce next steps in anti-austerity movement

02.20.11

http://wisconsinwave.org/

WISCONSIN WAVE OF RESISTANCE to announce next steps in anti-austerity movement

MADISON - At this Monday’s 10am media conference in room 125W of Wisconsin’s capitol, union presidents together with student, business, and community leaders will announce their plans to work together in the new Wisconsin Wave of resistance to austerity and corporatization. Confirmed speakers includee:

Joe Conway, IAFF, President, Fire Fighters Local 311
Kabzuag Vaj, Executive Director, Freedom, Inc.

Beth Huang, Student Labor Action Coalition

Lee Abott, President, Milwaukee Graduate Assistants Association

Lisa Graves, Executive Director, Center for Media and Democracy

Ben Manski, Executive Director, Liberty Tree Foundation

John Matthews, Executive Director, Madison Teachers, Inc. (MTI)

The Wisconsin Wave’s next protests come this Wednesday against Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) at the corporate lobby group’s statewide conference in Madison.

“The Wisconsin Wave is a non-partisan democracy movement initiated by over 100 Wisconsin leaders, with hundreds more signing on every day,” says Ben Manski, Executive Director of Liberty Tree and coordinator of the Wave. “We are moving forward together to overcome the agenda of Walker and his extraction industry backers, and to create for Wisconsin the positive economic and political future all of us deserve.”

A formal call for the Wisconsin Wave has been initiated by over 100 signators. That list, as well as the call, is on the website - http://wisconsinwave.org/

Teamsters Union Local 229 members elect new Officers

02.20.11

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

Teamsters Union Local 229 members elect new Officers

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 29th- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 229, 3104 North Main Avenue in Scranton, has new officers.

According to John Petrochko, Office Manager of Local 229, seven new officers were elected to the Executive Board of IBT Local 229. They will serve in their positions from January 1st, 2011 through December 31st, 2013.

“In a fiercely contested election the rank and file members overwhelming supported the “Time For A New Direction Slate” to take over the reins of Local Union 229,” stated Mr. Petrochko.

Craig Pawlik was elected as the Secretary-Treasurer/Business Representative and Principal Officer. Mr. Pawlik was employed at Ocean Logistics in Dunmore. He served as a Union Steward and previously was the President of Local 229.

Charlie Miller was elected as Vice-President/Business Representative. Mr. Miller was previously a Union Steward at his employer, the United Parcel Service (UPS) and served as a Trustee of Local 229.

Other newly elected Officers include:

Fred Mitchell, President: Mr. Mitchell is an employee of Harper Collins
Publishers in Dunmore;

Bill Metzger, Recording-Secretary: Mr. Metzger work at Precision
Pipeline;

JoAnn Wiser, Trustee: Ms. Wiser is employed at Susquehanna County Prison;

George Burns, Trustee: Mr. Burns works for the Scranton Sewer Authority;
and

Mike Kovalski, Trustee: Mr. Kovalski is employed at UPS.

Mr. Petrochko stated the new leadership team have all been involved with their Union and have served as Union Stewards.

“All members of this new team have served as Union Stewards and Labor Leaders for many years and now welcome the opportunity to use their experience for the best interests of the hardworking members of Teamsters Local Union 229,” said Mr. Petrochko.

Local 229 represents IBT members in and around Lackawanna County while Local 401 in Wilkes-Barre represents IBT members in and around Luzerne County.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports anti-union agenda

02.20.11

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

U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports anti-union agenda

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION- January 22nd- The United States Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Donohue is cautionsly optimistic about the state of the economy and has outlined a four-point plan to put jobless Americans back to work which includes passing more free trade agreements favorable to international corporations and weakening American labor laws and “beating-up” on public sector unions.

In his annual statement Mr. Donohue suggest the economy began in 2011 in a lot better shape than in 2010. “The state of American business is improving. While the recovery may be picking up steam, it is fragile and uneven. There are many unanswered questions that must be addressed before companies will start aggressively hiring. Over the next year, the Chamber’s number one priority will be to turn this economic recovery into a jobs recovey so that we can start putting Americans back to work,” stated Mr. Donohue.

Mr. Donohue outlined four immediate priorities that the United States Chamber of Commerce, which is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations, will address to boost America’s competitiveness in the global economy.

The business federation proposed in their own language:

• Regulatory restraint and reform; Work to reform the regulatory process, to restore some badly needed balance, restraint, and common sense. We will also start up a new group to tell the story to the American people, (buy advertising in the media) about the massive costs of excessive regulations on jobs and their personal and economic freedom, (meaning labor unions).

• Expanding American trade; Work to pass the pending free trade agreements and launch a major initiative to educate citizens and policymakers on trade that will clearly link global engagement to American jobs.

• Rebuilding our economic platform; Rebuild America’s economic foundation, the platform our society runs on. Roads, bridges, rail and mass transit networks, airports, and air transport systems must be modernized. Broadband capacity, power generation, and water supplies must be expanded. We can create jobs, reduce our trade and budget deficits and increase our own security by developing all forms of alternative, renewable, and traditional energy. We will also commence a new project to outline what our nation must do to create and secure a 21st century global supply chain and logistics system.

• Reducing deficits and debt; Support congressional efforts to lower spending. We will make the case for entitlement reform as any plan that fails to tackle these runaway programs is doomed to fail. We will also support efforts by Republican and Democratic governors to challenge public employee unions and their excessive payroll, and retirement demands.

“The Chamber is examining, in a factual and objective way, the actions by our government and the actions by the business community that are either moving us forward in the global economy or holding us back. We’ll then compare this analysis to what our competitors are doing with the goal of identifying the major factors that shape the decisions of job creators, innovators, and investors, to pinpoint our strengths so that we can build on them and our weaknesses so that we can fix them,” Mr. Donohue continued.

“No one should expect the Chamber to march in lock step with anyone else’s agenda but our own. And our agenda is simple. We will continue to win important policy victories for the business community, and advance the free enterprise system,” Mr. Donohue added.

IOUE Local 542 successfully organizes Clarks Summit workers

02.14.11

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

IOUE Local 542 successfully organizes Clarks Summit workers

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 29th- The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Union Local 542 was successful in winning the right to bargain for six employees of a Clarks Summit employer. Clarks Summit is located in Lackawanna County just outside of Scranton.

IOUE Local 542 has a office in Wilkes-Barre Township in Luzerne County.

Local 542 filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia on December 10th, 2010 requesting the agency conduct an election to determine if six employees of Cushman and Wakefield, 1028 Morgan Highway in Clarks Summit, want to be represented by the labor organization for the purpose of collective bargaining.

The NLRB conducted the election on January 13th, 2011. The employees voted five for union representation to one against. A labor organization must receive at least 50 percent plus one of the eligible to vote employees in a NLRB election to become their bargaining representative.

According to the petition, which was reviewed by the newspaper, Local 542 Union Organizer, Frank Bankard filed the petition on behalf of the Union.

The petition requested that all facilty operating engineers be allowed to vote. All chief engineers, supervisors, managers, clerical workers, and guards were requested to not be allowed to participate in the election.

The petition states the employer operates a computer information center at the Clarks Summit location. Their main product is providing maintenance and mechanical services.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA unemployment rate remains the highest in state

02.14.11

FEBRUARY 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, February 2nd- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Industry, the region’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 9.5 percent, decreasing by three-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 9.6 percent.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 8.5 percent, decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,358,000 with 538,000 not working and 5,819,000 with employment. The national unemployment rate is 9.4 percent, decreasing by four-tenths of a percentage 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 14,485,000 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 20,000,000 civilians in the nation without jobs.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the fourth largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 282,400 civilians. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor force at 2,953,000 with 259,100 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,218,400 with 96,500 without jobs; the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force at 417,000 with 37,700 not working; and the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fifth largest civilian labor force at 282,200 with 23,500 without employment.

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 9.2 percent. The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA and the Reading MSA are tied for the third highest at 9.0 percent and the Erie MSA has the fourth highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 8.9 percent.

There are 26,700 residents reported to be not working in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA, rising by 400 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 5.8 percent. The Lebanon MSA and the Lancaster MSA are tied for the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 7.2 percent. The Altoona MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate at 7.3 percent with the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA having the fourth lowest unemployment rate at 7.6 percent.

Lackawanna County has the lowest unemployment rate in the MSA at 9.1 percent, decreasing by four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and unchanged from one year ago. Lackawanna County has a labor force of 107,500, increasing by 100 civilians from the previous report and dropping by 300 from twelve months ago. There are 9,800 Lackawanna County residents without jobs, decreasing by 400 from the previous report and unchanged from twelve months ago.

Wyoming County and Luzerne County have a unemployment rate of 9.7 percent.

Wyoming County’s unemployment rate increased by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and rose by three-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago. Wyoming County has a civilian labor force of 14,500, unchanged from one year ago. There are 1,400 civilians unemployed, unchanged from twelve months ago.

Luzerne County’s unemployment rate decreased by four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and dropped by three-tenths of a percentage point during the past twelve months.

Luzerne County has a labor force of 160,400, unchanged from the previous report and decreasing by 900 during the past twelve months. Of the labor force, 15,500 civilians do not have a job, decreasing by 700 from the previous report and dropping by 700 during the past twelve months.

The main reason the unemployment rate decreased in MSA was because the labor force dropped, not because of job creation.

Nurses Union files additional complaint against hospital

02.14.11

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

Nurses Union files additional complaint against hospital

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 26th- The union that represents nurses employed at Wilkes-Barre General Hosptial, which does business as the Wyoming Valley Health Care System, River Street in Wilkes-Barre, filed another complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia alleging the Employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

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 twenty months attempting to gain a successor labor contract agreement. The previous pact expired on August 30th, 2009.

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

The Union filed multiple labor complaint’s with the National Labor Relations Board 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.

On November 30th, 2010 the Union filed a ULP against the Employer which was at least the fifth ULP filed by the Union against the Employer during 2010.

The most recent complaint, which was filed on January 25th, 2011, states “since on or about August 11th, 2010, the above-named employer, by its officers, agents and representatives, has conditioned a collective bargaining agreement on the Charging Party waiving its right to bargain over mandatory subjects of bargaining.”

The Employer has changed other terms and conditions of work.

NLRB rules Teamsters Union Local 401 unable to organize workers

02.14.11

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

NLRB rules Teamsters Union Local 401 unable to organize workers

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 26th- 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 wanted to be represented by the union but later withdrew it because the employees were ineligible to be organized.

Local 401 filed the petition on January 5th, 2011 requesting the agency conduct a election to determine if 38 employees of Garda Cash Logistics, Stewart Road in Wilkes-Barre, wanted to be represented by the Union for the purpose of collective bargaining.

According to the petition, which was reviewed by the newspaper, the Union wanted all full-time and regular part-time drivers/messangers, vault tellers, and money room tellers employedby Garda Cash Logistics to participate in the election.

However, according to James Murphy, President and Business Representative of Local 401, the Employer objected and the NLRB found the employees were considered to be classified as the same as prison guards therefore ineligible to be represented by the Union.

Mr. Murphy stated the NLRB ruled those classification of workers could be represented by a labor organization that only represents the same type of worker.

“It’s really a shame. Most of the employees had signed authorization cards requesting for the NLRB conduct the election. More than 75 percent of the workers signed authorization cards. We had a great chance to win the election,” Mr. Murphy said.

The company provides amored car services and security transportation.

UFCW Union making noise about selling of liquor stores

02.12.11

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

UFCW Union making noise about selling of liquor stores

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 6th- The union that represents the majority of the workers employed by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), which operates the Pennsylvania Wine and Spritit Shoppes, began a public awareness campaign against selling the retail stores to private business people and union officials are meeting with legislators requesting they not support the plan.

The debate of whether Pennsylvania should sell their state liquor stores to private owners will likely resurface in 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 PLCB. 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.

The retail store system generates millions of dollars in profit including creating $400 million in tax revenue.

Supporters of privatization suggest the selling of the stores would generate $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 stores 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.