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Union files petition requesting NLRB election be conducted at Sands Casino

07.01.11

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

Union files petition requesting NLRB election be conducted at Sands Casino

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, May 16th- A labor organization from the State of New York is attempting to represent workers employed at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem.

The Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association of Catskills, New York, filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office requesting the agency conduct an election to determine if approximately 84 security guards want to be represented by the union for the purpose of collective bargaining.

According to the petition, which was discovered by the newspaper during the newspaper monthly review of petitions and labor complaints filed at the NLRB Region Four office in Philadelphia, the Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association requested that all full-time and part-time security guards employed at Sands Casino participate in the election.

Before a labor organization can file a petition with the NLRB, at least 30 percent of the employees in the unit must support the attempt of the union to organize the workers.

The NLRB will then investigate the petition and if found that enough employees support the union the agency will schedule a representation election.

The labor organization must receive 50 percent plus one of the eligible to vote employees during the election to become their bargaining representative.

The petition was filed on behalf of the union by Kenneth Wynder, indentified as the President of the Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association Union on May 10th, 2011.

Mr. Wynder stated Sands Casino was asked on May 10th, 2011 to recognize the union as the bargaining representive of the employees before filing the petition.

Lehigh Valley unemployment rate drops to 8.3 percent

07.01.11

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

Lehigh Valley unemployment rate drops to 8.3 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, May 6th- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Center for Workforce Information and Analysis in Harrisburg, the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 8.3 percent, decreasing by four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. The MSA includes Lehigh, Northampton, and Carbon Counties of Pennsylvania and Warren County, New Jersey. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was 9.5 percent.

There are fourteen Metropolitan Statistical Area’s in Pennsylvania and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area has the second highest unemployment rate.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 8.7 percent. The Philadelphia MSA has the third highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 8.2 percent with the Johnstown MSA fourth at 8.1 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 7.8 percent, decreasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report, which was released approximately four weeks ago. There are 495,000 Pennsylvania residents without jobs, but that number does not include residents that have exhausted their unemployment benefits and stopped looking for work.

Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted workforce of 6,364,000 and 5,869,000 of them have employment. The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 8.8 percent, decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. That number also does not include residents that have exhausted their unemployment benefits and stopped looking for work.

There are 13,542,000 residents nationally unemployed but counting workers that have exhausted their unemployment benefits or have been unable to find full-time work there are more than 19.3 million Americans without jobs. After workers have exhausted their unemployment benefits they are no longer counted as unemployed unless they continue to apply for work.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.3 percent, unchanged from the previous report. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.1 percent and the Lansaster MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate at 6.4 percent. The Altoona MSA has the fourth lowest unemployment rate at 6.5 percent.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 416,300 civilians. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor force at 2,947,200 with 243,000 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,213,400 with 82,800 without jobs; the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest civilian labor force at 280,600 with 19,200 without employment. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the fifth largest civilian labor force at 279,700 with 24,200 without employment. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA had the fourth largest civilian labor force for more than two decades until several months ago.

Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 9.3 percent, decreasing by five-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and decreasing by two and one-tenth of a percentage point from twelve months ago. Carbon County has a civilian labor force of 30,800 with 2,900 residents without jobs, decreasing by 100 from the previous report and dropping by 700 from twelve months ago.

Northampton County and Lehigh County are tied for the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 8.1 percent. Northampton County’s unemployment rate decreased by four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and dropped by one and two-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago.

Northampton County has a civilian labor force of 150,900. There are 12,200 Northampton County residents without jobs, decreasing by 300 from the previous report and dropping by 1,900 from one ago.

Lehigh County has a civilian labor force of 174,800. There are 14,200 Lehigh County residents without jobs, decreasing by 1,100 from the previous report and dropping by 2,700 from one ago.

There are 332,500 nonfarm jobs in the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA, increasing by 4,100 from the previous report and rising by 2,600 from twelve months ago.

Retail trade jobs were down by 1,100 from the previous report to 37,200. Mining, logging and construction jobs increased by 300 from the previous report to 11,500. Government jobs are down 1,500 from twelve months ago.

The Philadelphia MSA has the most nonfarm jobs in Pennsylvania at 2,704,500, increasing by 15,500 from one year ago while the Pittsburgh MSA is second at 1,133,900 jobs rising by 16,600 during the past twelve months.

The Lebanon MSA has the fewest nonfarm jobs in Pennsylvania at 50,000 rising by 900 during the past twelve months.

Health experts advise against privatization of alcohol sales

07.01.11

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

Health experts advise against privatization of alcohol sales

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, June 2nd- According to a report by the Keystone Research Center, a left-leaning economic research organization in Harrisburg, national public health experts are recommending against further privatization of retail alcohol sales based on evidence that privatization would increase excessive alcohol consumption and associated health and social problems.

The recommendation was made in an April statement from the Task Force on Community Preventive Services, an independent, volunteer body of public health experts created in 1996 by the United States Department of Health and Human Sevices.

“The Task Force statement is the most definitive statement on retail alcohol privatization issued to date by United States public health researchers. It is based on the best available evidence, drawn from research on ‘natual experiments’ with actual privatizations. The Task Force statement deserves close examination as Pennsylvania lawmakers consider a proposal to privatize state wine and spirits stores,” stated Stephen Herzenberg, PhD, and an Economist and Executive Director of the Keystone Research Center.

In the Task Force statement, researchers explained that their recommendation against further privatization of alcohol sales in states with control of retail sales is “based on strong evidence that privatization results in increase per capita alcohol consumption, a well established proxy for excessive consumption.”

Mr. Herzenberg added that the Task Force periodically conducts rigorous “systematic reviews” of peer-refereed studies on a variety of issues, including “excessive alcohol consumption,” and makes recommendations based on the evidence it gathers.

Twelve research papers that examined the impact of actual cases of privatization were used as the “primary evidence” by the Task Force in its evaluation. The papers evaluated the effects of 21 instances of privatization or (in one case) re-monopolization of retail alcohol distribution. They included retail alcohol privatizations in seven United States states, two Canadian provinces, and the counties of Finland and Swenden.

Sixteen of the 21 privatization events studied examined the effects of privatization on per capita consumption of alcoholic beverages that were not privatized as well as those that were privatized. After privatization, the Task Force found consumption of privatized beverages increased by the median percentage of 42 percent.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Region’s unemployment rate remains the highest in the state

07.01.11

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

Region’s unemployment rate remains the highest in the state

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION- June 2nd- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Industry, the region’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 8.4 percent, decreasing by two-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 9.7 percent.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 7.5 percent, decreasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,356,000 with 477,000 not working and 5,879,000 with employment. The national unemployment rate is 9.0 percent, increasing by two-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 13,747,000 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 18,000,000 civilians in the nation without jobs.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the fourth largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 279,500 civilians. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor force at 2,929,400 with 240,000 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,209,900 with 82,700 without jobs; the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force at 419,200 with 34,200 not working; and the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fifth largest civilian labor force at 278,700 with 18,900 without employment.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA continues to have the highest unemployment rate among the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania. There are 23,800 residents, decreasing by 600 from the previous report and dropping by 3,500 from twelve months ago, reported to be not working in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA and the Philadelphia MSA are tied for the second highest unemployment rate at 8.2 percent with the Johnstown MSA the third highest unemployment at 8.1 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.5 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 6.1 percent. The Lancaster MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate at 6.3 percent with the Altoona MSA fourth at 6.4 percent.

Lackawanna County has the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 8.4 percent, decreasing by two-tenths of the percentage point from the previous report and dropping by eight-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago. There are 8,9 00 civilians in Lackawanna County without employment, decreasing by 900 from twelve months ago. Lackawanna County has a civilian labor-force of 106,400, rising by 1,200 during the past twelve months.

Wyoming County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 9.3 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by two-tenths of a percentage point from one year ago. Wyoming County has 1,300 civilians of the labor force without employment, unchanged from the previous report and decreasing by 100 during the past twelve months.

Luzerne County has a unemployment rate of 8.5 percent, decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from four-weeks ago and dropping by one and six-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before. Luzerne County has the largest civilian labor-force in the MSA at 156,700, decreasing by 500 from the previous report and dropping by 800 during the past twelve months.

Goods producing industries increased 900 jobs, with the gain split between mining, logging, and construction, up 600 jobs, and manufacturing, up 300 jobs. Mining, logging and construction typically increases in the spring.

Trade, transporation, and utilities were up 500 jobs over the month. Wholesale trade gained 100 while retail trade gained 200. Transportation, warehousing and utilities gained 200.

First “Sam Bianco Memorial Golf Tournament” to be held on August 20th

07.01.11

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

First “Sam Bianco Memorial Golf Tournament” to be held on August 20th

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, June 2nd- The Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council labor federation, announced the creation of the “Sam Bianco Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament.”

Ed Harry, President of the labor organization who replaced Mr. Bianco following his death, stated the event will be held annually with the financial proceeds going toward helping sons and daughters of union members pay for college tuition.

The first tournament will be held on Saturday, August 20th at the Sugarloaf Golf Club in Sugarload, Luzerne County at noon. The cost is $75.00 per golfer, with the price including golf, food and prizes.

Anyone wanting to attend the event or wishing to sponsor a hole can contact Mr. Harry at 823-6716 or mail a check payable to the Sam Bianco Memorial Scholarship Fund and mail to the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council at 501 E. Main Street in Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702.

Also anyone with any questions can call Mr. “big John” Rusak at 1-(800) 635-6994, extension 305.

Mr. Bianco served as President of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Washington DC, from 1978 to September 28th, 2010 when he passed away from complications related to cancer. He was 88 years old.

Mr. Bianco was a retired District Manager of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU). The ILGWU once represented thousands of workers and hundreds of garment shops throughout the region. Only a hand-full of unionized garment shops remain today.

IUOE Local 542 files labor complaint against local employer

07.01.11

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

IUOE Local 542 files labor complaint against local employer

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 30th- The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 542 filed a labor complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia alleging a Lackawanna County employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

Local 542 filed the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge against Cushman and Wakefield, which is located at the Met Life Building at 1028 Morgan Highway in Clarks Summit. The company provides maintenance of the building.

According to the complaint, which was amended by the IUOE on May 3rd, 2011, Cushman and Wakefield is accused by the Union of violating Section 8 (a), subsections (1) and (3)(5) of the NLRAct.

The ULP was filed on behalf of the Union by Frank Bankard, a Local 542 Organizer from the Fort Washington, Pennsylvania office of the Union. Local 542 also has a office in Plains Township in Luzerne County. The majority of the members of the IOUE operate construction equipment, such as bull-dozers and cranes.

“Since about March 16th the Employer has refused to provide dates and times it is available to bargain and has canceled an agreed upon bargaining session, and since about April 4th has demanded to bargain in New York City,” states the complaint.

The ULP, which was reviewed by the newspaper, does not indicate how many employees the IOUE represents at the Met Life Building.

Also, the Union alleges the Employer has unilaterally and discriminatorily withheld annual pay increases and unilaterally changed health coverage and increased employees’ contribution without bargaining with the Union. Both items are considered under the NLRAct as issues of collective bargaining. The Union is attempting to gain a first-time contract agreement with the Employer for the workers.

The Union alleges the Employer has refused to provide requested information and has told employees they could retain their 10-hour shifts and receive their annual pay increases if they renounced the Union.

Northampton County voters reject selling of Gracedale

07.01.11

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

Northampton County voters reject selling of Gracedale

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, May 20th- Northampton County voters overwhelmingly rejected the selling of the Gracedale Nursing Home to a private operator for at least five-years on May 17th.

The ballot referendum passed overwhelmingly with more than 73 percent of the voters opposed to a sale to 27 percent for selling the facility, which is located in Upper Nazareth.

The nine member Northampton County Council voted in favor of selling the 725 bed nursing home, which currently has approximately 650 residents. However, after groups including unions that represent the employees of the nursing home, gained enough signitures to force the issue of whether Northampton County should continue to own and operate the facility for the next five years unto the May ballot, the council agreed to allow the ballot question.

Northampton County Executive John Stoffa appealed but county Judge Stephen Baratta ruled the referendum does not violate the home rule charter’s ban on ballot questions relating to the budget or capital program.

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court affirmed Judge Baratta’s decision after Mr. Stoffa apealed setting the stage for the spring election.

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 at the nursing home including food service, cleaning and other support staff employees.

Local 2599 represents approximately 50 nurses and social aid workers.Both unions opposed the selling of the facility fearing their members will be required to give even bigger wage and benefits concessions than they already have offered.

Mr. Green told the council they have an obligation to the residents to find ways to not have an excessive tax increase including dipping into the 60 million surpluss the county currently has.

The two union’s agreed to concessions if Lehigh County officials would agree not to sell the facility. However, Mr. Stoffa and a majority of the County Council continued with the desire to sell the nursing home.

In April Jerry Green, President of Local 2599, which represents USW members throughout the Lehigh Valley, addressed Northampton County Council pertaining to their attempt to take the ballot issue away from Northampton voters.

“How does it feel the courts take the decision power out of councils hands to order the sale,” Mr. Green asked Northampton County council on April 14th. “That’s how the Steelworkers felt when the county reniged on an agreed contract in 2009 and subsequently had to settle for a less inferior contract that the county still hasn’t fully honored”.

Mr. Green stated all involved parties wust now set down and work things out to save the facility.

Teamsters Union files petition requesting NLRB conduct election

07.01.11

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

Teamsters Union files petition requesting NLRB conduct election

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, May 23rd- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 773, Hamilton Street in Allentown, filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia requesting the agency conduct a election to determine if employees of a Palmertown employer want to be represented by the union for the purpose of collective bargaining.

The newspaper discovered the petition while reviewing labor complaints and petitions that were filed at the NLRB office in Philadelphia. The newspaper is the only member of the local media that routinely reviews and publishes the information.

According to information provided on the petition, which was filed with the NLRB on May 9th, 2011, the union wants to represent all full-time and regular part-time drivers of Leon George School Buses Inc., Delaware Avenue in Palmertown. The company provides school bus transportation in Palmertown. Local 773 has several labor agreements with other school bus operators in the Lehigh Valley.

The union requested that all other employees, including dispatchers, mechanics, office clericals, and guards and supervisors be excluded from participating in the representation election.

A labor organization must receive 50 percent plus one of the eligible to vote employees in a NLRB election to win the right to represent them in collective bargaining.

Before a labor organization can file a petition requesting a election be conducted by the NLRB at least 30 percent of the employees must support the union.

The petition was filed on behalf of Local 773 by Dennis Hower, identified as Vice President of the union. The petition states there are 17 employees in the unit of workers.

Meanwhile, the newspaper also discovered that a Local 773 member and an employee of the United Parcel Service (UPS) in Stroudsburg filed a complaint with the NLRB alleging the package delivery company violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge was filed by Todd Tatum of Allentown which is identified on the complaint a steward for the union at the UPS facility in Stroudsburg.

Mr. Tatum alleges he was given a 1 day suspension for insubordination based on messages he sent to the building. He requested from the Employer, copy of the messages and was denied. The ULP states Mr. Tatum also gave a written request to UPS Manager Frank Govan and again was denied a copy of the messages that he allegedly sent.

According to information provided on the complaint the United Parcel Service facility on Rockdale Lane in Stroudsburg employs approximately 86.

The company official named on the ULP to be contacted is Frank Govan, indentified as the UPS Center Manager.

State Black Caucus denounces Republican education cuts

07.01.11

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

State Black Caucus denounces Republican education cuts

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, May 20th- The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus (PLBC) has denounced what they have termed the Republican assault on education in the Commonwealth.

“As members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, we have grave concerns about the cuts to basic education that Governor Corbett and the House Republicans have proposed for the 2011-2012 budget.

Our position is clear, we stand firmly in opposition to these cuts, which would be a detriment to our children and our future, and set back underprivileged children in this Commonwealth for years to come,” stated Ronald Waters, (Democrat-191st Legislative District, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Causus.

The PLBC criticism comes on the heel of the Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee voting 15-11 to approve legislation that will be the nation’s largest publicly funded school choice program. Senate Bill 1 would create a school voucher program allowing children to attend private schools in Pennsylvania with taxpayer help which would take funding from the public school system.

Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett stated he would sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Union and the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), which are the two biggest teacher unions in Pennsylvania, are opposed to the legislation fearing if it becomes law it will weaken the public schools by taking funds from the local education system and the taxpayers will not receive any accountability on how the funds are being spent.

According to Pat Halpin-Murphy, of AFT Pennsylvania, Senate Bill 1 lacks basic accountability measures to protect the taxpayers’ investment and to measure student achievement. The legislation also does not contain any provisions to require private schools receiving taxpayer dollars to account for the funds.

In Governor Corbett’s budget the state’s commitment to basic education funding will be reduced by $337.8 million, using federal money to make up the difference in 2010-2011. Combined with stimulus money from the last two years, federal funding for basic education would total nearly $1.0 billion, none of which will be available in 2011-2012 and beyond.

The AFT believes Pennsylvania needs to invest in proven school improvement strategies that help every child, not just those who receive a tax-funded voucher.

The PLBC stated data analysis compiled by the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign, the governor’s budget would cut education spending on average, by $819 for a low income student, by $867 for an Hispanic student and $1,091 for a black student. The typical Caucasian student would experience only a $493 cut. Statewide, the average cut would be $623 per student.

“The PLBC believes that this analysis is the missing link, the untold story in the Republican assault on education. The Republicans would make the most vulnerable among us, poor children and children of color, bear the brunt of these disastrous cuts to our schools. This is not an example of shared sacrifice, as Governor Corbett touted in his budget address. This is an example of bait and switch, as some children will be forced to sacrifice more than others. The leaders of the commonwealth have a responsibility to provide an opportunity to learn to all children, disproportionate cuts are antithetical to democracy and decency,” added Mr. Waters.

“Public education was not supposed to be this way. State funding for education is designed to level the playing field, and bring less harm to those who need the greatest help,” he continued.

Business group study calls for employment regulation cuts

07.01.11

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

Business group study calls for employment regulation cuts

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 29th- According to a study released by the United States Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC, states in the nation could create jobs by cutting safety programs that protect employees at work and cut government regulations regarding worker rights on the job.

The organization, which is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses as well as state and local chambers and industry associations, released a study that was conducted by Seyfarth Shaw LLP and Navigant Economics that revealed that states with the “largest burden of labor and employment regulation are sacrificing opportunities to reduce their employment rate and generate new business startups.”

The United States Chamber of Commerence, financed the study, and found if each state were to improve their regulatory climates to the level discussed in the report, the effect would be equivalent to a one-time boost of 746,462 net new jobs nationwide. The rate of new business formation would increase by 12 percent resulting in the creation of 51,590 new firms nationally each year. Reducing the “burden of labor and employment regulation in the states could act as a free shot of economic stimulus, equal to approximately seven months of job creation at the current average rate,” stated the business group.

The study was conducted by surveying states’ labor and employment policies across six categories: the employment relationship and the cost of separation; minimum wage and living wage laws; unemployment insurance and workers compensation; wage and hour policies; collective bargaining issues; and the litigation/enforcement climate.

“Governors across the country from both parties are looking at ways to encourage economic growth in their states, and reform of state labor and employment regulations could make an important contribution to returning the United States to a more rapid-growth trajectory,” stated Lisa Richard, of the Chamber of Commerence.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett supports many of the study’s findings including making the commonwealth a right-to-work state; making changes or the eliminating of prevailing wage laws; cutting teachers salaries and benefits; and selling the unionized state liquor stores.

“Without cost to state governments or the federal government or the taxpayers, states can take steps now to improve their economic conditions and begin to prime the pump of job creation and new business formation,” added Ms. Richard.

Region’s unemployment rate remains the highest in the state

07.01.11

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

Region’s unemployment rate remains the highest in the state

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION- April 30th- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Industry, the region’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 8.7 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 9.7 percent.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 7.8 percent, decreasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,364,000 with 495,000 not working and 5,869,000 with employment. The national unemployment rate is 8.8 percent, decreasing by one-tenth 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 13,542,000 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 18,500,000 civilians in the nation without jobs.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the fifth largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 279,700 civilians. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor force at 2,947,200 with 243,000 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,213,400 with 82,800 without jobs; the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force at 419,300 with 34,400 not working; and the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest civilian labor force at 280,600 with 19,200 without employment.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA for decades had a larger civilian labor force than the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA until recently after the region’s working age civilians (18 years old to 65 years old) continued to drop. The region now has the fifth largest labor force dropping from the fourth.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA continues to have the highest unemployment rate among the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania. There are 24,200 residents reported to be not working in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 8.3 percent with the Philadelphia MSA the third highest unemployment at 8.2 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.3 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 6.1 percent. The Lancaster MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate at 6.4 percent with the Altoona MSA fourth at 6.4 percent.

Lackawanna County has the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 8.6 percent, decreasing by five-tenths of the percentage point from the previous report and dropping by six-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago. There are 9,2 00 civilians in Lackawanna County without employment.

Wyoming County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 9.2 percent, decreasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by seven-tenths of a percentage point from one year ago. Wyoming County has 1,300 civilians of the labor force without employment.

Luzerne County has a unemployment rate of 8.7 percent, decreasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from four-weeks ago and dropping by one and four-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before.

Luzerne County labor unions requesting support for slate

07.01.11

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

Luzerne County labor unions requesting support for slate

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 1st- On May 17th voters in Luzerne County will decide which political candidates seeking to serve on the new 11 member council will be their party nominees. And the labor community is requesting union members support their slate, “Working Families 4 Better Government for Luzerne County.”

Edward Harry, President of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council, and a retired American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87 Business Representative, which has several labor agreements with Luzerne County, told the newspaper the labor federation wanted to support at least 11 “pro-labor” candidates for the county council, that will form the new county government beginning in January 2011.

Currently, the government is led by three county commissioners, two from a majority political party and one from a minority party.

The charter establishes 11 part-time county members and will hire a county manager to run county business. Also under the home-rule charter the county will hire a full-time chief solicitor. Other roll-offices will also be elinimated.

“Getting people on that council that will support labor is vital,” Mr. Harry said.

A committee was established by the labor federation to meet with potential candidates and discuss their views regarding collective bargaining rights and whether they would support the labor community if elected.

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 contract agreements with Luzerne County, stated there are approximately 13 labor contracts, union members on government boards, and Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s) with the unions of the building trades, that need to be “watched-out for” and it is very important the working people of Luzerne County vote for the endorsed candidates to assure labor is represented on the new council.

The 11 candidates that the labor federation supports include 10 current or former union members. The candidates are:

Linda Houck, John Nadolny, Theresa Morcavage, Jane Waitkus, Jane Waitkus, Salvatore Licata, John Livingston, Brian Overman, Joe Padavan, Frank Sorokach, Michael Collins, and Michael Chrobak.

The labor federation have began calling union members at their homes requesting they support the endorsed slate.

Mike Kwashnik, Business Manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 163 in Wilkes-Barre, stated union members need to support the labor slate and understand it doesn’t have anything to do with any single individual or union, it is about labor as a whole.

Mr. Harry believes there are anti-union candidates seeking to be elected on the council and if they should gain enough votes to hire an anti-union manager to run county business the labor community will face a tough battle in the future.

“Everything depends on getting at least six of our candidates elected to the council. If union members in Luzerne County get out and vote and support our candidates we can’t lose,” said Mr. Harry.

Building Trade Unions gather to discuss strategies

07.01.11

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

Building Trade Unions gather to discuss strategies

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 1st- Leaders of the labor unions that make-up America’s building and construction trades recently convened in the nation’s capitol for a legislation conference on the attacks on organize labor.

What was described as an “unprecedented and politically motivated attack on labor unions across the United States,” over 2,000 state and local building and construction trade union leaders met for the 2011 National Legislative Conference. This year’s conference was focused upon developing strategies to beat back attempts of a radical conservative movement to hurt and eliminate labor unions, and re-direct focus on putting Americans back to work.

The conference session was highlighted by the Keynote Address of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) Building and Construction Trades Department President Mark H. Ayers.

Mr. Ayers stressed that the labor movement will aggressively defend the wage benefit and workers rights standards that created the American middle class.

“Brothers and sisters, the tools of conquest and oppression do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions. They are sometimes forged through thoughts, attitudes, and prejudices that can only be found in the minds of men and women,” stated Mr. Ayers.

The AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department is an alliance of 13 national and international unions that collectively represent 2.5 million skilled craft men and women in the United States and Canada.

John Mellow seeking to regain Lackawanna County Controllers seat

07.01.11

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

John Mellow seeking to regain Lackawanna County Controllers seat

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 28th- John Mellow, former Lackawanna County Controller, is seeking the Democratic nomination on May 17th in an attempt to regain the office that he lost four years ago.

Mr. Mellow is requesting the support of the labor community because he has been a union member for more than 40 years.

John Mellow served as Lackawanna County Controller for two terms (eight years) and was defeated in the primary election four years ago.

He was a member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union Local 2333. He also served as President of Local 2333 and was one of the founding members of the union when AFSCME organized workers at the Scranton State General Hospital. The site now houses the Veterans Nursing Home in Scranton. He is retired from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

If elected Mr. Mellow stated his goals are to perform the duties of Lackawanna County Controller, supervise the fiscal affairs of the county, including who shall collect, receive, hold or disburse public monies.

“Also, I will refuse to authorize any fiscal transactions that are not authorized by law, has not been undertaken according to law, has not received approval according to laws or upon investigation, I discover any fraud or flagrant abuse of public office,” stated Mr. Mellow.

He previously served as Controller of Dickson City Borough, Borough Council and President.

Labor Community gathers to honor late labor leader Sam Bianco

07.01.11

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

Labor Community gathers to honor late labor leader Sam Bianco

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 1st- On April 28th the labor community came together to honor the late Sam Bianco. The event was held at Genetti’s Hotel and Conference Center in Wilkes-Barre.

Mr. Bianco served as President of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council labor federation, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Washington DC, from 1978 to September 28th, 2010 when he passed away from complications related to cancer. He was 88 years old.

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

Also, he represented the labor community on numerous boards and committees throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania including: Northeast Pennsylvania Area Labor Management Council; United Rehabilitation Services; the United Way of the Wyoming Valley; St. Vincent de Paul Kitchen; and the American Red Cross Wyoming Valley Chapter.

Approximately 300 union officials, political leaders, community leaders and political candidates attended the memorial dinner to honor Mr. Bianco.

“We all know there is noway we can replace Sam. He made sure that the labor council was involved with the community,” stated Edward Harry, who became President after Mr. Bianco’s passing.

Pat Connors, Secretary/Treasurer and Principal Officer of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 401 in Wilkes-Barre and Treasurer of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council stated Mr. Bianco’s commitment to the labor community was legendary and even when he was ill with cancer during 2010 he continued to participate in labor union activities. “It is impossible to replace Sam. Things will never be the same without him,” said Mr. Connors.

Mr. Connors stated Sam’s family enjoyed the memorial dinner and expressed their appreciation that the labor community honored Mr. Bianco.

“Sam made sure that the labor council was involved with the community,” said Walter Klepaski, the labor council’s AFL-CIO Community Services Labor Liaison of the Wyoming Valley United Way, who worked with Mr. Bianco through the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council Community Services Committee to help working people in need.

Mr. Bianco resided in Vandling, which is located in upper Lackawanna County, and was survived by his wife of 60 years Clara, a son David, and two daughters, Barbara and Sandra and four grandchildren.