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EIGHT FALSE THINGS THE PUBLIC “KNOWS” PRIOR TO ELECTION DAY

08.30.11

EIGHT FALSE THINGS THE PUBLIC “KNOWS” PRIOR TO ELECTION DAY

By Dave Johnson

http://ourfuture.org/blog-entry/2010104222/false-things-public-knows-they-go-vote

There are a number things the public “knows” as we head into the election that are just false. If people elect leaders based on false information, the things those leaders do in office will not be what the public expects or needs.

Here are eight of the biggest myths that are out there:

1) President Obama tripled the deficit.

Reality: Bush’s last budget had a $1.416 trillion deficit. Obama’s first budget reduced that to $1.29 trillion.

2) President Obama raised taxes, which hurt the economy.

Reality: Obama cut taxes. 40% of the “stimulus” was wasted on tax cuts which only create debt, which is why it was so much less effective than it could have been.

3) President Obama bailed out the banks.

Reality: While many people conflate the “stimulus” with the bank bailouts, the bank bailouts were requested by President Bush and his Treasury Secretary, former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson. (Paulson also wanted the bailouts to be “non-reviewable by any court or any agency.”) The bailouts passed and began before the 2008 election of President Obama.

4) The stimulus didn’t work.

Reality: The stimulus worked, but was not enough. In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the stimulus raised employment by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs.

5) Businesses will hire if they get tax cuts.

Reality: A business hires the right number of employees to meet demand. Having extra cash does not cause a business to hire, but a business that has a demand for what it does will find the money to hire. Businesses want customers, not tax cuts.

6) Health care reform costs $1 trillion.

Reality: The health care reform reduces government deficits by $138 billion.

7) Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, is “going broke,” people live longer, fewer workers per retiree, etc.

Reality: Social Security has run a surplus since it began, has a trust fund in the trillions, is completely sound for at least 25 more years and cannot legally borrow so cannot contribute to the deficit (compare that to the military budget!) Life expectancy is only longer because fewer babies die; people who reach 65 live about the same number of years as they used to.

8) Government spending takes money out of the economy.

Reality: Government is We, the People and the money it spends is on We, the People. Many people do not know that it is government that builds the roads, airports, ports, courts, schools and other things that are the soil in which business thrives. Many people think that all government spending is on “welfare” and “foreign aid” when that is only a small part of the government’s budget.

This stuff really matters.

If the public votes in a new Congress because a majority of voters think this one tripled the deficit, and as a result the new people follow the policies that actually tripled the deficit, the country could go broke.

If the public votes in a new Congress that rejects the idea of helping to create demand in the economy because they think it didn’t work, then the new Congress could do things that cause a depression.

If the public votes in a new Congress because they think the health care reform will increase the deficit when it is actually projected to reduce the deficit, then the new Congress could repeal health care reform and thereby make the deficit worse. And on it goes.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has many embedded links and readers should click on the link at the beginning of this article to see and explore them.

CWA Targets Rep. Harris and Other Members in House Battleground Districts over Their Role in FAA Shutdown

08.30.11

CWA Targets Rep. Harris and Other Members in House Battleground Districts over Their Role in FAA Shutdown

25 House Districts Targeted in New Component of “Countdown to Shutdown” Campaign

Washington – Today, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) announced a new campaign to target two dozen House Republicans, including Rep. Andrew Harris (R-MD-01), for their willingness to shut down the Federation Aviation Administration (FAA) over a union-busting provision inserted into the House version of the multi-year FAA Reauthorization bill. CWA calls on Rep. Harris and other targeted House members to deliver the benefits of a FAA bill without the contentious and unrelated union elections provision.

With less than 30 days until the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) faces another potential shutdown due to the union-busting ideology of Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee John Mica (R-FL) and many of his Republican House colleagues like Rep. Harris, CWA’s “Countdown to Shutdown” campaign is spending over half a million dollars on efforts to educate voters about the causes and consequences of the FAA shutdown. Included in this effort is the new direct mail effort, which will target over 600,000 voters in key battleground House districts.

The direct mailing highlights that “Americans are losing jobs because Congress is playing politics. Call Congress now and tell them to stop grounding our economy. Pass the FAA Reauthorization Bill.”

The mailing explains that “the FAA got shut down because Chairman John Mica and some Republicans would rather play politics with real people’s lives and the FAA Reauthorization bill. At the request of their big corporate airline donors, like Delta, Republicans snuck unrelated union provisions into this critical legislation. Then Congress took off on vacation and shut down the FAA. The result of their political games…”

100,000 hard working employees out of work
$400 million in taxpayer money pocketed by airline executives
$11 billion in stalled construction projects
“Another shutdown could happen Sept. 16 because of their political games. Tell them no more FAA shutdowns and to pass a clean FAA Reauthorization bill free of special interest provisions.”

The announcement of the targeted mailings follows after the announcement of a new MicaWatch website, highlighting the union-busting ideology of Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee John Mica (R-FL). In conjunction with Delta Air Lines, Rep. Mica was the lead driver behind the recent FAA shutdown that put nearly 100,000 people out of work and cost the U.S. government $400 million. Instead of forging a bi-partisan solution that would deliver hundreds of thousands of jobs and aviation infrastructure upgrades through the long-term FAA bill, Rep. Mica and Rep. Harris continue to insist that the legislation include an unrelated union-busting provision requested by Delta. This provision would change the rules for union elections overseen by the National Mediation Board (NMB) and seeks to count ballots not actually cast – in violation of democratic principles and the rules of every other type of American election.

In addition to Rep. Mica, some of his Republican colleagues in the House, including Rep. Harris, have been all too willing to go along with Rep. Mica’s ideological intransigence and insistence that the unrelated union provision be included in the FAA Reauthorization bill. In addition to Rep. Harris, Republican targets of the mailing include: Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ-01), Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ-05), Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA-03), Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA-45), Rep. Thomas Latham (R-IA-04), Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL-14), Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-IL-17), Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN-03), Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN-08), Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH-01), Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH-02), Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ-07), Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV-03), Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-NY-19), Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY-24), Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY-29), Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA-06), Rep, Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA-08), Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA-11), Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA-15), Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX-27), Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler (R-WA-03), and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI-07). All Democratic and independent households in Rep. Mica’s district (FL-07) also will receive a mailing highlighting their Member’s lead role in blocking hundreds of thousands of new jobs and aviation infrastructure upgrades that would be generated by the FAA Reauthorization bill.

The targeted mailings are part of the larger CWA “Countdown to Shutdown” campaign, which, among other components, features a petition highlighting Delta’s role in pushing the union-busting provision; flyering and events at airports throughout the nation; the MicaWatch website; and other targeted district events such as phone calls and picketing.

Moonstone Arts Center have put together a five part series called Class Warfare in Philadelphia

08.30.11

Dear Friends,

The last couple of years have been both angering and frustrating. What the hell is going on? How do you make sense out of it? Who understands the economy? Is it really as complicated as they make it seem? What do we do about it?

Our friends at the Moonstone Arts Center have put together a five part series called Class Warfare in Philadelphia to help us understand what has been happening and how people have been responding.

“The last several decades have seen a steady increase in the attack on the middle and lower classes. In the middle of the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression, the rich are getting much, much richer while everyone else sinks toward the economic bottom. This is a frontal attack by the rich on the rest of us. What can we call it except Class Warfare? We are under attack and have not recognized it; we are headed back to the “Gilded Age” of the 1890’s. But the Gilded Age gave rise to the Progressive Age, the rise of Unions, and Social Welfare. We can learn from the past and create solutions to the present problems.”

The programs take place on:

September 8 – The Financial Sector
September 22 – Foreclosures
October 6 – Vacant Land
October 20 – Unions & the Public Sector
November 3 – Communities Confront Class Warfare

Plus Sheriff candidates’ debate eviction on October 26

You can get more information on these programs on-line at www.moonstoneartscenter.org/classwarfare and flyers are available at Moonstone, 110A S. 13th Street, 2nd floor, 215-735-9600. Attached is a flyer for the first program on September 8, 2011. I hope you can join us. Any help you can give to spread the word would be appreciated.

AFT President Randi Weingarten Praises Community Engagement In Public Schools During Two Stops in West Virginia

08.30.11

AFT President Randi Weingarten Praises Community Engagement In Public Schools During Two Stops in West Virginia

2011 Back-to-School Tour Begins at Schools in Charleston and McDowell County

CHARLESTON, W.Va.—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, a national leader in efforts to improve schools, launched a coast-to-coast, back-to-school tour Monday with two stops in West Virginia.

At schools in Charleston and McDowell County, Weingarten highlighted collaborative efforts by school, union, parent, political, business and community leaders to strengthen schools and help students succeed by confronting poverty and other challenges with targeted programs and services.

In Charleston, Weingarten toured West Side Elementary School, one of two in the city that are becoming true community schools with the support of a grant from the AFT Innovation Fund and the help of an array of community partners, including the faith-based Hope Community Development Corp. She was accompanied for the tour and a round-table discussion at the school by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and First Lady Joanne Tomblin, former first lady Gayle Manchin, state schools Superintendent Jorea Marple and many others involved with the community school project.

“It takes the commitment of the entire community to ensure that its public schools are the best they can be,” Weingarten said. “That support is clearly in place at West Side Elementary as it becomes the hub of its community—a place not only for academics, but also a center where children can visit a health clinic and obtain other social and recreational services that will help them succeed.”

At a news conference, Weingarten, AFT-West Virginia President Judy Hale and school officials announced a partnership with First Book, a national organization that provides books to low-income children. On Monday, every student at West Side Elementary was able to take home two new books, all donated by First Book. The organization will make a similar donation to students at Stonewall Jackson Middle School. In addition, the AFT Innovation Fund presented the library at each school with a $1,000 grant to be used to purchase books at reduced prices through First Book’s marketplace, and First Book matched the grants with a $1,000 credit to each school.

In McDowell County, Weingarten visited Mount View High School, where she, Manchin and Marple had invited a diverse group of community partners to a round-table discussion of ideas and strategies for how the county school system can help overcome the difficult challenges of high unemployment and poverty that face McDowell students and their families. The county’s school system has struggled in an environment that includes one of the nation’s highest suicide rates and illegal drug use.

“With this meeting, we are opening a dialogue with state and local officials, parents and teachers, and many committed community partners to consider strategies for improving McDowell schools,” Weingarten said. “Our goal is to figure out what we might be able to do together to make the opportunities for kids better in McDowell County.”

Those participating in the discussion on Monday included representatives from Cisco and Frontier Communications, foundations and community groups, Save the Children, school board members and state legislators, as well as the president of Bluefield State College and the chancellor of the West Virginia Community and Technical College System.

“It is so exciting to see this broad-based support for public schools,” Weingarten said. “Rather than demonizing teachers and defunding public education as is happening in so many places across the country, West Virginia leaders, parents and teachers are stepping up to the challenge of making schools better.”

For stories and photos of the “Making a Difference Every Day” tour, see: www.aft.org/difference. The tour includes stops in Charleston and McDowell County, W. Va.; Palm Beach, Fla.; Hartford, Conn.; Tacoma and Seattle, Wash.; Detroit; Austin, Texas; and Long Island, N.Y.

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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.

Teachers Union President calling for review regarding expansion of charter schools

08.26.11

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

Teachers Union President calling for review regarding expansion of charter schools

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, August 17th- James Testerman, President of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), the state’s largest school employee union, is calling on Pennsylvania legislators to allow for meaningful public review of legislation that would dramatically expand the number of charter schools.

“Some members of the state House of Representatives are making a push to pass new legislation to allow the state to award charters to for-profit companies to take hundreds of public schools, diverting even more funding from programs that our students need,” said Mr. Testerman.

“This legislation allows a state board to impose charters on districts, taking decisions about the schools in a community away from local taxpayers.”

The Pennsylvania General Assembly has adjourned for the summer but will likely address legislation in the fall regarding the expansion of charter schools in the Commonwealth.

Mr. Testerman urged leaders of the House of Representatives to slow down long enough to answer serious questions about House Bill 1711. The bill, which is currently only available in draft form and could be amended into other legislation, would nearly double the number of charter schools in Pennsylvania.

Since the Pennsylvania charter school law’s enactment in 1997, the requirement that school districts fund charter school operations has cost school districts billions of taxpayers dollars. Pennsylvania public schools paid charter schools a total of $707.6 million for tuition of 73,054 students during the 2008-2009 school year.

“At a time when Pennsylvania’s public schools face unprecedented cuts in state aid, rushing through important charter school legislation without even considering the fiscal impact is irresponsible. Quality charter schools can be a valuable component of the Commonwealth’s education system, but significant questions should be addressed in a careful manner. Charter schools aren’t a sliver bullet solution to the challenges facing Pennsylvania’s struggling schools,” Mr. Testerman told the newspaper.

Earlier this year, Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett proposed to eliminate the $224 million in state funding to school districts for charter school reimbursement, as part of the cut in public education funding, that was passed by the General Assembly.

Pennsylvania currently has 135 charter schools and 12 cyber schools. House Bill 1711 would allow as many as 92 school districts, the lowest performing 10 percent of school districts on state standardized reading or math tests, to convert individual school buildings into charter schools.

A study recently released by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, shows that students in Pennsylvania charter schools on average make smaller learning gains in reading and math than their traditional public school counterparts. The Stanford University study notes that strong examples of quality charters do exist in the state, but policymakers need to “drive quality throughout the sector.”

At the very best, the Stanford University findings suggest that state lawmakers should proceed cautiously before approving rapid expansion of charter school development. I encourage state lwmakers to look at PSEA’s proposal for site-based decision making for struggling schools,” added Mr. Testerman.

Postal Service Union’s file complaints against USPS

08.26.11

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

Postal Service Union’s file complaints against USPS

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, August 15th- Two of the labor organizations that represent employees of the United States Postal Service (USPS) filed several labor complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia alleging the mail delivery service violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The newspaper discovered the Unfair Labor Practice’s (ULP’s) while reviewing complaints and petitions filed at the NLRB office in Philadelphia. The Union News is the only member of the local media that reviews and publishes information regarding compliants and petitions filed at the NLRB office.

The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 268, filed a ULP on July 25th alleging the USPS Lehigh Valley Office, Commerce Way in Lehigh Valley, violated the NLRAct when the Employer’s representative instructed postmasters not to supply relevent information to the Union for the purpose of collective bargaining.

The complaint states the parties recently negotiated a new category of postal employee. The Union submitted a request for information to various postmasters in order to enforce the provisions of the agreement relating to the new category of employee. The information requested was a copy of Part-time employee time clock rings.

“Only after analyzing this information could the Union determine whether the new category of employee is warranted in the post offices. The Post Office Operations Manager, Dan Reiss, intervened in the collective bargaining process and instructed Postmasters under his direction not to respond to the Union’s request for the information,” states the ULP.

The complaint was filed on behalf of the APWU by Fran Friel, Clerk Craft Director of Local 268.

The National Postal Mail Handlers Union Local 308 filed a ULP against the USPS on August 1st, also alleging the mail delivery service violated the NLRAct.

The complaint states Local 308 Shop Steward requested Union time was denied several times by USPS representatives. The time was requested to investigate pending Local 308 grievances.

The ULP was filed on behalf of the Union by Brian Odums, indentified as Local 308 Shop Steward.

Germany discovers that boosting unions reduces unemployment

08.24.11

Germany discovers that boosting unions reduces unemployment

By SY SLAVIN, Ph.D., Kentucky Labor Institute Director

Germany, with a 6% unemployment rate, relatively low by economic measures both in Europe and USA, has found that strengthening unions is an important way for reducing unemployment. It is also an important policy for reducing economic inequality.

The New York Times on June 8, reporting on the German economy, stated, “Germany, with its 6% unemployment rate against the US 14 % unemployment rate,” enacted policies based on strengthening and building unions as a way of increasing consumer spending through higher wages paid to union workers. Thus this policy reduces unemployment by increasing workers’ purchasing power. In addition, German policies encouraging union building and negotiation power found that it was able to reduce economic inequality. Proof of this is the fact that the top 1% of German households earns 11% of all income, virtually unchanged since 1970. However, in the US the top 1% makes more than 20% of all income, up from 9% in 1970. It should be noted that Germany has the tightest market regulation of banks in Europe.

Germany does not have a smaller deficit than the US because it spends less; it has a smaller deficit because its tax policies take a heavier toll from huge corporations. Thus, this reduces the total amount of governmental deficits that it carries. Unlike the US, the German government believes that fairness demands that its huge corporations pay a heavier share of taxes which increases their general government revenue stream. It is the obverse of US tax policies as illustrated by the Bush tax cuts….

Read the rest of this article at http://unionreview.com/germany-discovers-boosting-unions-reduces-unemployment

Activist Recruitment.com added a new issues-based blog

08.23.11

The site at http://www.ActivistRecruitment.com is designed to help student activists connect with organizations including the Labor Movement.

Of course sponsoring unions and other organizations will be able to post the blog.

The program needs labor financial support to fund an outreach college bulletin board campaign.

Activist Recruitment.com College Bulletin Board Postering - FALL 2011
PROPOSED DISTRIBUTION LIST FOR FIRST PROMOTIONAL POSTER (state/quantity)
Alabama – 500
Arizona – 600
California – 2,000
Colorado - 750
Delaware- 250
District of Columbia - 500
Florida - 1,000
Georgia – 1,000
Illinois - 750
Maryland – 750
Massachusetts - 750
Michigan – 750
Mississippi – 400
New Hampshire - 350
New Jersey – 650
New Mexico - 350
New York (outside NYC & Long Island) – 1,500
North Carolina – 500
Ohio – 1,000
Pennsylvania – 1,500
Rhode Island - 300
Tennessee – 750
Texas – 1,000
Vermont - 350
Virginia – 1,000
Washington – 750

The postering for this first round will us 20,000 posters. If successful, it will be followed by a full national campaign in the Spring 2012 Semester of 50,000 posters.

It will cost $1 per poster for distribution plus printing/shipping. We need to raise a total of less than $25,000.00 for the first effort and around $60,000.00 for the Spring 2012 effort.

Sponsors can help pay for the effort in their states only or be fully national. They will all get hotlink buttons to their respective websites on the Activist Recruitment.com landing page for each semester they sponsor. Additionally, they will get the data collected for those students who indicate an interest in the issues in which they are involved for every geographic area they sponsor.

By acting in conjunction with other progressive, issue, labor or reform organizations to share costs, it should be very inexpensive to sponsor efforts in selected states. This should be very helpful for state-based organizations with limited budgets.

Depending on how much money that can be raised, we may only post posters to drive traffic to Activist Recruitment.com in certain states on the proposed list.

National organizations that are major sponsors and help pay for printing can have their logos added to the posters and have a say in the poster copy/artwork.

It is our intention to use an 8 ½ “ by 11” color poster with perforated tear-off tabs. The tabs will have the website address on them and effectively act as poster multipliers since the first interested students will not remove the posters to get the contact information (at least until all the tabs are removed.)

We will be targeting all 2 year and 4 year college and university in the selected states that we can reach with the poster quantities assigned.

Please contact Stephen Crockett at collegemarket@aol.com or 443-907-2367 to work out details.

Full details on the all 50 states Spring 2012 campaign are available to potential sponsors.

SAG and AFTRA Union’s formally meeting to discuss merging

08.23.11

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

SAG and AFTRA Union’s formally meeting to discuss merging

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 16th- The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Union and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) Union are holding formal discussions to create one Union.

The two groups began face-to-face meetings beginning on June 20th after the sides formed groups to discuss merging.

The AFTRA New Union Commitee and the SAG Merger Task Force met together at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, Maryland on June 20th and will meet again on August 27th in New York to facilitate the creation of one successor union.

The Screen Actors Guild, headquartered in Los Angeles, California, is the nation’s largest labor union representing working actors. Established in 1933, SAG was created to standup to studios to break long-term engagement contracts in the 1940’s to fighting for artists’ rights amid the digital revolution sweeping the entertainment industry in the 21st century.

With 20 branches nationwide, SAG represents more than 125,000 actors who work in film and digital television programs, motion pictures, commercials, video games, music videos, industrials and all new media formats.

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists has 32 locals across the country. Their members work as actors, broadcasters, singers, dancers, announcers, hosts, comedians, disc jockeys, and other performers across the media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, audio books, non-broadcasters, and recording artists.

The two committees have established a series of work groups to discuss six key areas that rank-and-file members identified as important. The six workgroups are:

• Governance and Structure
• Finance and Dues
• Collective Bargaining
• Pension, Health and Retirement
• Operations and Staff
• Member Education and Outreach

The work groups will meet throughout 2011, formulate recommendations for how the successor union should address each area and bring those recommendations back to the members for approval.

These recommendations will work to create the Merger Agreement, National Constitution and uniform dues structure that will be required for review by both unions by January 2012.

Partial shutdown of FAA effected area airport tower project

08.23.11

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

Partial shutdown of FAA effected area airport tower project

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 2nd- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was partial shutdown after Congress in Washington, DC failed to resolve differences between congressional Democrats and Republicans on FAA spending. The stalemate may effect a project underway at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport in Luzerne County.

Workers were sent home from constructing the new $20 million eight-story high air traffic control tower at the local airport because of the federal government stalemate. Republican House of Representatives sought to eliminate $16.5 million in federal subsidies for 13 rural airports that would have been forced to stop providing service on routes that do not make money for airline carriers.

Senate Democrats refused to support the cuts and legislation on the FAA’s operating budget was stalled. Congress took their August recess without resolving the issue.

However, a bipartisan compromise was reached on August 4th that ended the partial shutdown of the FAA. Congress suspended their August recess to vote on the measure on August 5th.

“We had people at the airport,” said John Gatto, Assistant Business Manager of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 21 in Drums.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) Union in Washington, DC urged lawmakers to pass an FAA extension before recess.

The agreement will extend the FAA’s operating authority through mid-September. The legislation includes the rural airports subsidies.

“This FAA extension is a jobs bill and it directly impacts the lives of real people, skilled aviation professionals who play a vital role in the safety critical function of the FAA,” stated Paul Rinaldi, President of the NATCA, which represents 4,000 FAA employees including air traffic controllers. Air traffic controllers are still working and are not effected by the stalemate.

The union represents nearly 1,200 FAA Engineers and Architects, FAA Airports Division and Aviation Technical Systems Specialists. Those workers were laid-off which had caused the shutdown of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Airport tower construction project.

The lack of funding restoration effected tens of thousands of construction jobs across the nation along with modernization projects which includes the area airport.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Region’s unemployment rate increases to 9.2 percent

08.23.11

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

Region’s unemployment rate increases to 9.2 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 30th- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Industry, the region’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 9.2 percent, increasing by five-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 7.6 percent, increasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor-force of 6,327,000 with 480,000 not working and 5,848,000 with employment. The national unemployment rate is 9.2 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. The unemployment rate does not include civilians who unemployment benefits have expired and stopped looking for work.

There are 14,087,000 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 is tied with the Harrisburg-Carlisle MSA with the fourth largest labor force in Pennsylvania at 279,400 civilians. There are 25,600 civilians in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA unemployed and there are 20,200 civilians without jobs in the Harrisburg MSA.

The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor force at 2,941,000 with 256,300 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,219,100 with 88,500 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force at 416,800 with 36,300 not working.

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

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA and the Philadelphia MSA are tied for the second highest unemployment rate at 8.7 percent with the Johnstown MSA the third highest unemployment at 8.6 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.7 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 6.4 percent. The Lancaster MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate at 6.7 percent with the Altoona MSA fourth at 6.9 percent.

Lackawanna County has the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 9.1 percent. Lackawanna County has a civilian labor-force of 106,200 with 9,600 without jobs, unchanged from the previous report.

Wyoming County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 9.4 percent. Wyoming County has 1,300 civilians of the labor force without employment, unchanged from the previous report.Luzerne County has a unemployment rate of 9.2 percent. Luzerne County has the largest civilian labor-force in the MSA at 158,800, with 14,600 without employment.

Geisinger faces relationship with another labor union

08.23.11

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

Geisinger faces relationship with another labor union

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 3rd- On July 18th the Community Medical Center (CMC), Mulberry Street in Scranton, and Geisinger Health Systems in Danville announced plans to merge that will provide CMC with about $158 million in capital improvements.

With the merger, Geisinger Health Systems will need to have a relationship with another labor union that represents hospital employees.

The Geisinger Hospital employees in Wilkes-Barre are represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Pennsylvania Healthcare Union in Harrisburg.

The Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP) Union of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania represents nurses employed at the CMC. The contract between the parties expired on December 6th, 2010. The two sides have been negotiating for a successor contract agreement.

PASNAP represents all full-time and regular part-time registered nurses (RN’s) employed by the Community Medical Center.

PASNAP also represents approximately 440 nurses employed at the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, River Street in Wilkes-Barre.

Community Health Systems (CHS) inc. of Tennessee owns and operates the Wilkes-Barre General Hosptial medical center and owns and operates the former Scranton Mercy Hosptial in Scranton. Employees of the hosptial are represented by the SEIU/Pennsylvania Healthcare Union. Mercy Hosptial was renamed Regional Hospital of Scranton.

Before the merger can take place it must be approved by the court system. Lackawanna County Judge Carmen Minora approved the $150 million sale of Mercy Health Partners’ hospitals to CHS in March. The sale included Scranton Mercy Hosptial, hospitals in Tunkhannock and Naticoke.

On July 19th Community Health Systems announced it wants to purchase Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton and the Mid-Valley Hospital in Peckville. Moses Taylor Hospital nurses are nonunion. Geisinger plans to make investments in the CMC infrastructure including expanding services to include organ transplants, a wider range of cancer treatment and the emergency care trauma center.

With the merger Geisinger Health Systems will have a medical center located in Lackawanna County. Previously, the closest medical center operated by the healthcare group was in Wilkes-Barre Township in Luzerne County.

‘Step Right up!’ Snake Oil for Sale

08.19.11

by Walter Brasch

The Tea Party, mutant spawn of the Republicans, held their spineless parents and the nation hostage during the debt ceiling crisis, and is now demanding an even greater ransom.

Flushed with what they mistakenly believe is success, they have launched an all-out assault upon the presidency. Their generals, fattened by Iowa corn and midway schmaltz, are Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and Herman Cain. Sarah Palin, hovering near the battlefields to soak up the media sunlight, much like a black hole absorbs all energy and light from nearby stars, is waiting to see how the war goes (and if she can write some intelligent sentences) before deciding to re-enter battle.

Bachmann is the winner of the strangest political non-election in the country, the Iowa Straw Poll. She won the race the old-fashioned way. She bought it.

To make sure that Iowans entered the Tents of Instant Gratification and, thus, cast their ballot the right way, the candidates, who paid $15,000–$31,000 to rent space at Iowa State, provided food, music, and carnival fun for the voters. Bachman had a petting zoo, and drew fans to a concert by country superstar Randy Travis. Cost of the banquet: $30 a ticket.

To assure there were enough votes, Bachmann’s campaign, like all other campaigns, paid the $30 admissions ticket. That would be $144,690 for 4,823 votes, plus several hundred thousand dollars in related campaign expenses. Related campaign expenses for the candidates included renting charter buses to bring voters from throughout Iowa to Ames.

But, Iowans aren’t stupid. Many wanted to see Randy Travis and eat the food of politics but didn’t plan to vote for Bachmann. About 6,000 persons took the “free” $30 tickets. Thus, she officially paid $180,000, $37.32 a vote; unofficially, with all expenses figured in, the cost could easily have been well over $200 a vote so she could be the winner and earn the title of Media Darlin’ of the Week.

The establishment media generally avoided Ron Paul, the second place winner, who “only” got 4,671 votes, 152 less than Bachmann, and 27.7 percent. Paul is a pariah in the Republican party, and something the media can’t figure out, because he actually has a core set of principles, which sometimes leads him to ally with liberals, but for different reasons.

Third place, with 13.6 percent of the vote and, according to numerous media pundits not charismatic enough to be a serious contender, went to Tim Pawlenty, who didn’t drink much of the tea and dropped out of the race after spending about $1 million in Iowa. Not dropping out were Tea Party favorites Rick Santorum (9.8 percent) and Herman Cain (8.6 percent), who lured voters into his tent with free Godfather’s Pizza. Mitt Romney, who had spent about $2 million in the 2007 Straw Poll, but skipped this year’s non-binding poll, finished behind Rick Perry, dripping tea with every statement he makes, entered the presidential race only after the Iowa Straw Poll, but did get 718 write-in votes for 4.3 percent of the vote. Nevertheless, Romney is still believed to be the front-runner.

Thus, going into the primary season, the Tea Party can arouse themselves with Bachmann, Perry, Santorum, Cain, and maybe Palin. Not identified with the Tea Party, but in its gravitational pull are Romney, Jon Huntsman, and whatever is left of Newt Gingrich’s chances.

The Tea Party began a few months after Barack Obama was elected president, with a stated purpose to reduce wild government spending. But its deep structure shows an amorphous bunch of white middle-class ultra-conservatives, aided by upper-class political consultants and media manipulators, who have developed the ability to sound impressive with only half-truths behind their rants and chants, and a zealous determination to keep President Obama out of a second term.

During the debt ceiling crisis, Tea Partiers refused to budge on a demand of not raising the debt ceiling, cutting numerous social and educational programs, and holding firm to the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Everyone must cut back, especially during economic crises, they bleated. Austerity is their mantra.

But, based upon their extravagant lifestyle and the wild spending they did in Iowa, shouldn’t their mantra now be “hypocrisy”?

[As a young reporter in Iowa, Brasch covered everything from fairs to politics to rock concerts. His current book is Before the First Snow, a powerful look at how the collusion of Big Government and Big Business can destroy civil liberties and lead to environmental destruction and health issues. The book is available at www.greeleyandstone.com, www.amazon.com, or Barnes & Noble.]

Scranton Firefighters Union donates funds to aid September 11th Memorial

08.17.11

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

Scranton Firefighters Union donates funds to aid September 11th Memorial

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 22nd- The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Union Local 60, which represents Scranton Firefighters, donated $1,000 toward the construction of a newer memorial to the Heroes and innocents of the September 11th, 2001 terror attacks.

A citizens’ committee was formed to remember the September 11th terror attacks by former Scranton educator and member of the Scranton Federation of Teachers (SFT) Union Charlie Spano. The SFT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) International Union.

Mr. Spano told the newspaper the organization is raising funds to pay for the memorial that will be unveiled on Sunday, September 11th, 2011 at McDade Park.

The monument will consist of two four foot tall jet black granite monuments holding a dedicatory plaugue to the four airplanes and the logos of the Civilian Uniformed Emergency Services; Firefighters, Police and EMT’s.

To contribute make checks payable to 9/11 Memorial Committee, P.O. Box 20101, Scranton, PA 18502.

Photo: Scranton Fire Captain E.J. Gallagher; Scranton Fire Chief Tom Davis; IAFF Local 60 President David Gervasi; Committee members, Charlie Spano, Joe DeAntona, Francis Tyson, and Pat O’Malley.

Teachers Union president comments about voucher plan

08.17.11

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

Teachers Union president comments about voucher plan

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION- August 5th- James Testerman, President of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) Union, which represents teachers and other school employees across the commonwealth, questioned how Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett’s administration could support an expension new entitlement program after cutting public school funding by $860 million in this year’s state budget.

Mr. Testerman stated Mr. Corbett told Pennsylvanians that he had to cut millions from public schools but “now, he wants to spend money that the state supposedly doesn’t have on a tuition voucher program that doesn’t work.”

“No one knows how much a tuition voucher plan will cost, but Pennsylvanians can’t afford a nichel of it. This kind of spending is reckless, ill-advised, and dangerous for the students who learn in Pennsylvania’s public schools,” said Mr. Testerman.

Mr. Testerman offered his comments in response to testimony from proponents of private school tuition voucher plans offered during August 3rd’s House Education Committee meeting in Harrisburg. He pointed out that school districts across Pennsylvania were forced to cut programs that work for students, eliminate more than 5,000 jobs, increase class sizes, and raise local property taxes in order to compensate for the unprecedented state funding cuts. Tuition voucher programs in other U.S. cities and states have not demonstrated improved student academic achievement, either for children who enrolled in private schools using tax funded voucher, or for the students left behind in public schools, Mr. Testerman stated.

In contrast Pennsylvania public schools have posted dramatic achievement gains over the past decade. The percentage of students doing better on the state PSSA exam has increased in all three tested grade levels, added Mr. Testerman.

“Our public schools work and tuition voucher plans don’t. It’s that simple. I hope legislators will keep that in mind.”

IOUE Local 542 amends complaint against area employer

08.17.11

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

IOUE Local 542 amends complaint against area employer

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 25th- The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 542 amended the labor complaint that was filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia alleging a Lackawanna County employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The newspaper previously reported the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge was filed by Local 542, Fort Washington, Pennsylvania and also has an office on East Main Street in Wilkes-Barre, against Cushman and Wakefield, which is located in the Met Life Building, Morgan Highway in Clarks Summit. The company provides maintenance for the building.

According to the amended ULP, which was filed on June 30th, 2011, and reviewed by the newspaper, the Union alleges the Employer violated Section 8 (a), subsections (1) and (3) and (5) of the NLRAct.

“On about March 23 the Employer promised employees they could retain their 10-hour shifts if they renounced the Union, interrogated an employee about the Union and solicited the employee to get rid of the Union. On about march 25, the Employer interrogated an employee about the Union and solicited the employee to get rid of the Union,” states the complaint.

The ULP was filed on behalf of the Union by Frank Bankard, a Local 542 Union Organizer. The majority of IUOE members operate construction equipment.

“Since about April 1st, the Employer has unilaterally and discriminatorily with held annual pay increases. Since about April 1, the Employer has unilaterally changed health coverage and increased employees’ contribution without bargaining with the Union, continues the complaint.

The Union has been unsuccessful in gaining a first contract with the Employer. The unit was organized by the Union in 2010.

The Employer Representrative named on the ULP to be contacted is John Melendez. His position with the company is not indentified on the labor complaint

IOUE Local 542 files complaint against Lion Brewery

08.17.11

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

IOUE Local 542 files complaint against Lion Brewery

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 25th- The labor union that represents the employees of the Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre filed a labor complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia alleging the brewing company violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge was filed on July 1st, 2011 at the NLRB.

According to the complaint, which was reviewed by the newspaper, Brett Toomey, Business Representative of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Union Local 542 in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, filed the ULP.

“The above named Employer, by and through its agents and supervirors violated the act by changing conditions of employment without bargaining with the Employee Representative. The Employer changed shift starting times without bargainng and in violation of the collective bargaining agreement,” states the complaint.

The employer representative named on the ULP to be contacted is Cliff Rissel. His position with the company is not indentified on the labor complaint.

According to the ULP, the number of workers employed by the Lion Brewery at the North Washington Avenue in the City of Wilkes-Barre facility is 120.

The IOUE alleges the company violated Section 8 (a), subsections (1) and (3) of the NLRAct.

According to the NLRB, the complaint is under investigation by the agency.

Teamsters represented warehouse to close in September

08.15.11

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

Teamsters represented warehouse to close in September

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 23rd- Ocean Logistics, a super market distribution facility located in the Borough of Dunmore, announced on July 13th it plans to close in September.

The company notified the Pennsylvania Department of Labor (DOL) its warehouse in the Keystone Industrial Park in Dunmore, will cease operations by September 25th. The closure is expected to commence on September 12th. Approximately 206 people are employed at the facility.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 229 in Scranton represents 163 of those workers.

The facility was formerly known as Supermarker Services when it was owned and operated by the Great Atlantic & Pacific Supermarkets (A&P), which sold the building and operations to C&S Wholesale Grocers, a third party logistics provider for various grocery stores. The warehouse selects, packs and distributes non-perishable grocery items such as health and beauty aids like toothpaste, shampoo and housewares such as spices, light bulbs, and batteries.

Craig Pawlik, Secretary/Treasurer and Principal Officer of Local 229, was a employee of Ocean Logistics before he replaced Robert Weber, who retired in 2010.

Many of the employees are eligible for retirement under the Central Pennsylvania Teamsters Pension rules because most of the workforce has been at the warehouse for 25 years. The majority of the employee population is female.

The lowest seniority bargaining unit member has 14 years with the company.

According to Bill Cockerill, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) United Way of Lackawanna County Labor Liaison, representatives from the DOL Rapid Response Team, a group of people affiliated with community organizations, will begin meeting with the workers to assist them during the warehouse closure. Also, Mr. Pawlik has been successful is gaining employment for some of the workers at several IBT represented employers including Topps Chewing Gum and New Penn Motor Express.

Ronald Vogel Jr., Regional Representative of the Bureau of Workforce Development Partnership, Rapid Response Coordiation Services, stated the Rapid Response Information Sessions with Ocean Logistics employees will begin at the facility on August 16th, 17th and 23rd, if needed. Also, onsite services and informational workshops will begin. Mr. Vogel stated the most serious issue facing the workers is the affordability of health insurance.

C&S is based in Keene, New Hampshire, and is the nation’s largest grocery store distributor supplying 3,900 supermarkets in 11 northeastern states.

Latest proposal for selling of State Stores criticized by UFCW Union

08.15.11

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

Latest proposal for selling of State Stores criticized by UFCW Union

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, July 17th- The union that represents the majority of the workers employed by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), which operates the Pennsylvania Wine and Spirit Shoppes, is critical of the latest proposal to privitize the state-owned liquor stores.

The debate of whether Pennsylvania should sell their state liquor stores to private owners resurfaced in 2011 in the General Assembly in Harrisburg and the three labor unions that represent the workers will likely be affected if the stores are privatized.

In early summer, the Pennsylvania Senate held hearings on what impact privatization will have on the public, the business community, and the unions that represent the PLCB employees.

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.Pennsylvania House of Representative and Majority Leader Mike Turzai (Republican-28th Legislative District), stated on July 13th that current workers would likely be hired by private store owners.

Wendell Young IV, President of UFCW Local 1776, which has offices in Plymouth Meeting, Gettysburg, and Pittston, stated most of the licenses under Representative Turzai’s plan would go to big box stores that would reallocate current shelf space and use their current employees to stock the shelves. Also, those companies, such as Wal-Mart, Target, and Costco dislike labor unions.

Mr. Young previously 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.

Under Mr. Turzai bill, new license holders would receive an incentive to hire the affected workers, and includes tax credits for those employers who hire wine and spirits store workers. However, the workers would likely lose their union protection.

Union wins election involving workers at Sands Casino

08.15.11

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

Union wins election involving workers at Sands Casino

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, July 25th- The Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association of Catskills, New York, which filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia requesting the agency conduct an election to determine if security guards employed at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem want to be represented by the union for the purpose of collective bargaining, was successful in gaining enough votes to represent the employees.

In the previous edition of the newspaper, it was a reported that the union filed the petition on May 10th, 2011, which was discovered by the newspaper during it’s 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.

The NLRB conducted the election at the Casino on July 21st and the employees voted 51 for the union to 35 against representation. The NLRB ruled one of the employees the union wanted to participate in the election was management and was not be able to vote on the unionization issue. The employee is a lock-smith at the casino. The agency determined there was 92 workers eligible to participate in the election.