Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Tribute Dinner for late labor leader Sam Bianco to be held on April 28th


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

Tribute Dinner for late labor leader Sam Bianco to be held on April 28th


REGION, March 1st- The Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council labor federation will honor the late Sam Bianco with a tribute dinner on April 28th.

Mr. Bianco was first elected President of the labor federation, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), in 1978 and won consecutive terms until his passing on September 28th, 2010.

“We all know what kind of leader he was, and how much the labor community misses him,” said Ed Harry, current President of the labor organization.

The labor federation created a committee made up of union members to plan for the event which will held at Genetti’s Hotel and Conference Center, 77 East Market Street in Wilkes-Barre.

“As you know, Sam has touched the lives of so many people in so many positive ways, that I am hoping that you can share in this special tribute to Sam and his family,” added Mr. Harry.

The cost of attending the event is $40.00, which includes meal, soda and beer. There will be a cash bar for mixed drinks.

Reservations must be made by April 18th. Checks should be made payable to: Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council.

For more information Mr. Harry can be contacted at: (570) 823-6716.

Mr. Bianco represented the labor community on numerous boards and committees throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania.

He was a retired District Manager of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU). The union once represented thousands of workers and hundreds of garment shops throughout the region.

Mr. Bianco resided in Vandling and is servived by his wife of 60 years Chara, a son David, and two daughters, Barbara and Sandra.

Collective bargaining in Wisconsin has labor history


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

Collective bargaining in Wisconsin has labor history


REGION, February 28th- While the collective bargaining rights of public employees are being debated in the state of Wisconsin, the state has a long history of involvement with workers’ rights.Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker’s state budget repair bill calls for increased pension and health care contributions from public employees and calls for restrictions on collective bargaining for certain public employees.

Collective bargaining is the negotiation process between an employer (or group of employers) and a union on behalf of employees regarding wages, benefits and other conditions of employment, such as work hours and dispute resolution.

While the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct) of 1935 extended the right to collectively bargain to private sector employees, it did not include such rights for public employees. However, states may extend such rights to public employees within the affected states. Many states, including Pennsylvania, but not all, have granted collective bargaining rights to some or all public employees.

Wisconsin has a long history of involvement with workers rights in the public sector. In 1959, the Wisconsin legislature passed the Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act, the first state law allowing collective bargaining rights for public employees. It extended rights to local government employees and teachers. Wisconsin state employees were awarded similar rights in the 1970’s.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union grew out of the Wisconsin State Employees Union Council 24 which had its beginnings in 1932 in Madison when a small group of white-collar professional state employees met to discuss strengthening the civil services system.

Also, the first state workers’ compenstation law was passed in Wisconsin in 1911, as was the nation’s modern apprenticeship law. In 1932, Wisconsin enacted the first unemployment compensation law and established the nation’s first unemployment compensation program in 1936.

House of Representative Lou Barletta meets with labor


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

House of Representative Lou Barletta meets with labor


REGION- March 2nd- United States House of Representative Lou Barletta (Republican - 11th Legislative District) met with members of the labor community on February 25th at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council 87 building in Dunmore.

Approximately fourty-two members of the labor community attended with most being union officials.

Mr. Barletta has represented resident of the 11th Legislative District in Washington, DC since January. He defeated incumbent Democrat Paul Kanjorski in November 2010.

Mr. Barletta use the opportunity to give many of the conservative talking points including cutting the federal budget, replacing the national healthcare legislation, cutting at the United States national debt, and defending cutting taxes to the rich.

Mr. Barletta answered questions for around one hour and stated he needed to leave to attend another event.

Keith Hill, former President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Union Local 1647, which represents employees at the Tobyhanna Army Depot, and a Political Director for AFGE International Union, challenge Mr. Barletta why he supported cutting taxes for rich Americans when there are huge federal deficits caused mostly by two wars that were underfunded by former Republican President George W. Bush and the Republican led Congress.

“I had nothing to do with that. That happened before I got there,” stated Mr. Barletta.

Mr. Hill voiced his displeasure with Mr. Barletta’s remarks and asked why the government does not audit the Federal Reserve because the taxpayers had to pay the bill for the billions of dollars spent on bank bailouts several years ago.

Drew Simpson, a Representative of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Union Local 645 and until recently President of the Scranton Building and Construction Trades Council labor federation, asked Mr. Barletta why he voted for legislation that would have weakened the federal Davis-Bacon Act. The legislation failed.

Mr. Barletta responded he voted for the legislation knowing it would not pass and the Davis-Bacon Act would not be weakened. Mr. Simpson told the newspaper, Mr. Barletta’s remark only shows he will vote in Washington the way his party wants him to.

Mr. Barletta stated he had several problems with the David-Bacon Act including why less-skilled workers receive the same pay as more skilled construction workers on federal funded construction projects.

However, Joe Padavan, President of the United Steelworkers of America (UWA) Union Local 15253, which represents construction workers, said less skilled workers are paid less than higher skilled workers in their labor contract.

Mr. Barletta stated he is in Washington to represent the residents of 11th District not just his party.

Charlie and the CBS Factory (and other news)


by Walter Brasch

There has been a lot in the news this past week.
Most important, if measured by getting most of the ink and air time, is the continuing soap opera, “Charlie and the CBS Factory.”
The latest in a seemingly never-ending story is that after Charlie Sheen melted down, was fired, and spread himself to every known television talk show, declaring himself to be a winner and announcing a $100 million forthcoming law suit against CBS for breech of contract, the president of CBS announced he wanted Sheen back in “Two and a Half Men.”
Details are to be worked out. CBS said it would work with creator/executive producer Chuck Lorre and producing studio Warner Brothers, The relationship among Sheen, Warner Bros., Lorre, and most of the cast and crew may be a bit more difficult since Sheen’s warm-and-friendly on-air persona didn’t match his vitriolic attacks upon his co-stars and anti-Semitic remarks about Lorre.
CBS probably wouldn’t be as eager to bring Sheen back if the show wasn’t the best-rated comedy on the schedule. The SitCom brings in about $2.89 million in advertising revenue per show, about $63 million per season. A ninth and possibly final season also makes it even more lucrative for all the parties when the show goes into full syndication.
The boozing, possibly drug-induced self-destructive Sheen earns about $1.8 million an episode. In contrast, Mark Harmon, star of “NCIS,” the top-rated scripted show on TV, and also broadcast by CBS, is paid about $400,000 per episode, the same as any of the “Desperate Housewives,” according to TV Guide. In contrast to Sheen, Harmon is happily married, and his professional and personal lives have been devoid of scandal.
Also devoid of scandal, except for an adulterous affair and subsequent marriage to Richard Burton, was Elizabeth Taylor, one of the greatest film actresses, who died at 79 from congestive heart failure. Unlike Sheen and dozens of sub-par actresses, Taylor set the standard for both acting and a social conscience, being one of the first major celebrities to support not only AIDS education but the victims of the disease at a time when it could have been career-damaging to do so. She won numerous awards, including two Oscars for her acting. But, her most important honor may have been a special Oscar for her humanitarian work, proving her beauty was far more than skin deep.
But, there were still other stories this past week.
● Barry Bonds is in trial, charged with lying about taking steroids. He acknowledges taking steroids but was never told what they were by his trainers. Don’t Congress and the federal judiciary system have far more important things to worry about than baseball players who do or don’t take steroids? How much money has already been spent by Congressional investigations and the subsequent trial that could very well, according to several impartial legal experts, result in a minimal sentence or no sentence at all?
● Because of the disaster in Japan, a few hundred million Americans are now concerned about problems of nuclear energy. When America’s nukes were being planted throughout the country in the ’70s and ’80s, these were the same Americans who bought into all the propaganda about how “clean” and how “safe” nuclear power is. More important, these were some of the same people who not only disregarded but mocked those who, with facts, disputed the claims of the power companies.
● Two passenger jetliners landed at Reagan National Airport without air traffic controller assistance. The lone controller may have been asleep. That, alone, is bad enough, but there are greater issues not being discussed in the media. In one of the busiest airports, one located in the nation’s capital, and with the government well aware that air traffic control is one of the most stressful jobs, why was there only one controller on duty?
● The U.S. launched about $175 million worth of Tomahawk missiles into Lybia this past week. Perhaps another $100–$300 million was spent on tactical operations. President Obama told us the reason for the attack, supported by the UN, was because dictator Muammar Khadafi was attacking civilians in his country. If that’s the reason for the attack, why has the U.S. military been silent on the ethnic slaughter in Darfur/the Sudan? Why have there been no attacks on Iran, North Korea, or other dictatorships that suppress the rights of people? Is it because Libya has more strategic importance, and oil, for the U.S. than Darfur? A more important question is why are we attacking a country in a civil war? Khadafi’s attacks upon rebels may be harsh, but he’s protecting his country. Apparently we learned nothing from the war in Viet Nam. What if England invaded the U.S. on behalf of the Confederates or France provided military assistance to President Lincoln during our own Civil War?
● Finally, labor has come under intense attacks the past couple of months. Wisconsin has eliminated collective bargaining, against the largest protests since the Viet Nam war. Other Republican-controlled states are in full battle gear. And, in Maine, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has proven that he cares nothing about the working class when he ordered murals of workers taken down from the halls of the Department of Labor. He claimed, without providing any proof, that some businessmen said the panels, which have no political theme, just depictions of workers, was anti-business. But, no matter what radical conservatives believe, about two-thirds of Americans still believe in collective bargaining, even if they aren’t in unions, according to several recent national polls.

[Walter Brasch has been a journalist and editor for 40 years, covering everything from PTA meetings to the White House and federal court system. His forthcoming book, Before the First Snow, looks at the problems of the nuclear power industry. The book is available for pre-order at ]