Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Initial unemployment claims decrease from previous week

09.20.11

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

Initial unemployment claims decrease from previous week

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 2nd- According to the United States Employment and Training Administration, in the week ending August 27th the seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims was 409,000 a decrease of 12,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 421,000.

The four-week moving average was 410,250, an increase of 1,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 408,500. The numbers indicate jobs are still hard to find, in fact some economist have predicted a second recession is likely toward the end of 2011 or the beginning of 2012. The unemployment rate was reported to be 9.1 percent, however, besides the 14 million reported to be unemployed, there are 8.8 million American workers that are not counted, part-timers who want full-time work or those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits. There are 14 million workers reported to be unemployed.

The advance unseasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate is 2.8 percent, unchanged from the prior week.

The advance number for seasonally adjusted unemployment during the week ending August 20th, was 3,735,000, a decrease of 18,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 3,753,000. The four-week moving average was 3,726,000, a decrease of 3,250 from the preceding week’s revised average of 3,729,250.

The advance number of actual claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 334,372 in the week ending August 27th, a decrease of 10,498 from the previous week. There were 383,135 initial claims in the comparable week in 2010. However, since August 2010 thousands of workers have expired their benefits and are no longer counted as unemployed.

States reported 3,118,042 persons claimed Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits for the week, a increase of 31,261 from the prior week.

There were 4,556,751 claimants in the comparable week in 2010. The EUC weekly claims include first, second, third and fourth tier activity.

There are 31 states and the District of Columbia, which includes Pennsylvania, that extended unemployment benefits were available.

Pennsylvania was first among all fifty states with the highest insured unemployment rates in the week at 4.2 percent. New Jersey is second at 3.9 percent, Alaska, California and Connecticut were tied for third at 3.8 percent.

The largest increases in initial claims, (just recently laid-off), were in Pennsylvania, increasing by 1,904; Oregon, increasing by 698; Rhode Island, increasing by 634; and California, increasing by 615.

The largest decreases were in Massachusetts, dropping by 1,698; South Carolina, dropping by 1,058; Georgia, dropping by 978; Nevada, dropping by 695; and Florida, dropping by 670.

Allstate Agents vote to affiliate with OPEIU Union

09.20.11

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

Allstate Agents vote to affiliate with OPEIU Union

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION- August 29th- Members of the National Association of Professional Allstate Agents (NAPAA), on August 16th voted overwhelmingly to affiliate with the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU).

Secret ballots were mailed to all 1,200 members of the National Association of Professional Allstate Agents and according to OPEIU when the ballots were tallied, more than 94 percent has voted in favor of affiliating with the Union. The vote was administered by the American Arbitration Association (AAA) and was counted on August 17th at the AAA’s New York City office.

“Our members have sent a message and we hear them loud and clear,” stated Jim Fish, NAPAA executive director.

The NAPAA Board of Directors is expected to meet in the near future to formally approve the affiliation. Once the agreement is approved, NAPAA members will be granted membership in the OPEIU. OPEIU is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington, DC.

“Affiliating with OPEIU is the first step toward ensuring that Allstate agents are treated as true independent contractors instead of employees. Currently, agents are subjected to unachievable quotas, the specter of reduced compensation and an ever-present threat of contact termination. Many companies today are circumventing IRS precepts regarding employees status and are now classifying these same people as independent contractors. This practice has to stop,” stated OPEIU President Michael Goodwin.

NAPAA is based in Mississippi and is a non-profit organization, whose members are predominantly insurance agents under contract with Allstate Insurance throughout the nation.

On August 25th, one week after the membership of NAPAA voted in favor of affiliating with OPEIU, the Board of Directors approved the affiliation. The effective date of the affiliation agreement is September 1st, 2011. NAPAA members will now be granted membership in OPEIU.

The OPEIU represents more than 125,000 members throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada. The Union represents employees and independent contractors in banking, insurance, higher education, shipping, hospitals, medical clinics, utilities, transportation, hotels, and administrative offices.

CWA Union targeting Congressman Barletta regarding FAA

09.20.11

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

CWA Union targeting Congressman Barletta regarding FAA

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 30th- The Communications Workers of America (CWA) International Union in Washington DC has announced their targeted battleground U.S. House of Representatives Districts for their role in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shutdown. The CWA is targeting legislators, which includes two dozen Republicans, for what the Union called, “their willingness to shut down the FAA over a union-busting provision inserted into the House version of the multi-year FAA Reauthorization bill”.

According to Michael Earls, spokesperson for the CWA, there are fewer than 30 days until the FAA faces another potential shutdown due to the union-busting ideology of Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee John Mica (Republican-Florida) and many of his Republican House colleagues. The CWA campaign includes spending over a half a million dollars on efforts to educate voters about the causes and consequences of the FAA shutdown. The campaign includes direct mail, which will target over 600,000 voters in key battleground House districts including in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Republican House of Representative Lou Barletta (11th Legislative District) is included on the targeted list.

The direct mailing will highlight that “Americans are losing jobs because Congress is playing politics,” Mr. Earls stated.

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 the critical legislation. Then Congress took off on vacation and shut down the FAA,” Mr. Earls added.

According to the CWA, Mr. Mica was the lead driver behind the recent FAA shutdown that put nearly 100,000 people out of work and cost the United States government $400 million. The CWA stated 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, Representative Mica and many other House Republicans, including Mr. Barletta, continue to insist that the legislation include an unrelated union-busting provision requested by Delta. The provision would change the rules for union elections overseen by the National Mediation Board (NMB) and seeks to count ballots not actually cast.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA’s unemployment rate increases to 9.4 percent

09.20.11

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

MSA’s unemployment rate increases to 9.4 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 1st- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Industry, the region’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 9.4 percent, increasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report, which was released approximately four weeks before. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) includes Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wyoming Counties. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was 9.8 percent.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 7.8 percent, increasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,303,000 with 494,000 not working and 5,809,000 with employment. The national unemployment rate is 9.1 percent, decreasing 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 13,931,000 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 fifth largest labor force in Pennsylvania at 278,900 civilians with 26,100 not working. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor force at 2,941,800 with 257,600 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,215,100 with 90,100 without jobs; the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force at 416,800 with 36,900 not working; and the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest civilian labor force at 279,800 with 20,300 without employment. The Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA recently surpassed the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA for the fourth largest labor force in Pennsylvania because more civilians in our region have exhausted their unemployment benefits and are no longer counted. The numbers indicate that while the two MSA’s are close to the same labor force, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has more than 6,000 more civilians unemployed.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA continues to have 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 8.8 percent. The Johnstown MSA has the third highest unemployment rate in the Commonwealth at 8.7 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.1 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 6.6 percent, while the Lancaster MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate at 6.9 percent. The Altoona MSA has the fourth lowest unemployment rate at 7.1 percent.

Lackawanna County and Wyoming County are tied for the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 9.2 percent.

Lackawanna County’s unemployment rate increased by one-tenth of the percentage point from the previous report and decreased by one-tenth of a percentage point from twelve months ago. There are 9,700 civilians in Lackawanna County without employment, increasing by 100 from the previous report and dropping by 100 from twelve months ago. Lackawanna County has a civilian labor-force of 107,500.

Wyoming County’s unemployment rate decreased by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and from twelve months ago. Wyoming County has 1,300 civilians of the labor force without employment, unchanged from the previous report and during the past twelve months.

Luzerne County has a unemployment rate of 9.5 percent, increasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by six-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before. Luzerne County has the largest civilian labor-force in the MSA at 158,700, decreasing by 100 from the previous report and dropping by 100 during the past twelve months.

Manufacturing jobs within the MSA decreased by 300 from the previous report and have dropped by 700 from twelve months ago to 27,100.

Local government jobs dropped by 1,800 from the month before and decreased by 300 from one year ago to 19,200. Federal government jobs dropped by 600 during the past twelve months.

Public hearing held on how region school districts are effected by budget cuts

09.20.11

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

Public hearing held on how region school districts are effected by budget cuts

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 25th- The Pennsylvania Democratic Policy Committee held a public hearing at the Scranton High School auditorium in Scranton on August 16th to examine the challenges that state budget cuts have created for northeastern Pennsylvania schools and human service agencies.

The hearing was requested and co-chaired by Pennsylvania House of Representatives Kevin Murphy (Democrat-113th Legislative District) and Ken Smith (Democrat-112th Legislative District). The two legislators share Scranton in Harrisburg.

“The budget that passed without a single Democratic vote in June is unconscionable. At a time when the governor called for ‘shared sacrifice’ allowing big business and natural gas companies to escape without paying their fair share flies in the face of logic and disrespects the taxpayers across the Commonwealth and here in Scranton,” said Mr. Murphy, a former member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union while working for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB).

The House Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla (Democrat-96th Legislative District) stated both Mr. Smith and Mr. Murphy have been strong advocates for their communities and he applauds them for continuing the budget dialogue with their residents.

Those testifying included official’s from the Scranton School District, Abington Heights School District, Riverside School District, and the Blue Ridge School District.

Rosemary Boland, President of the Scranton Federation of Teachers (SFT) Union Local 1147 also gave testimony.

Union Pension capital creating jobs for construction workers

09.20.11

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

Union Pension capital creating jobs for construction workers

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 30th- The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation, Housing Investment Trust (HIT) are attempting to put union construction workers back to work. Unemployment among union construction trades remains at levels not seen since the Great Depression. HIT created more than 10,000 union construction jobs during the past two years, and set a new goal of reaching 15,000 jobs by year end 2012.

The HIT has implemented a Construction Jobs Initiative to put union workers from hard-hit construction industry back on the job. The initiative was first adopted in mid-2009 with the support of the AFL-CIO and their Building and Construction Trades Department. The program utilizes union pension capital for high credit quality fixed-income investments. All of the projects are 100 percent union built, and 60 percent of the 9,932 housing units produced under the jobs inititive will be affordable to low-to-moderate income families.

Since it was established in 1965, the HIT has invested more than $6.2 billion in developments that have created more than 101,000 housing units and 69,000 union construction jobs.

“The HIT is investing union pension capital to create jobs for union construction workers on projects that help communities grow. It’s one of the ways unions are supporting America’s economic recovery,” stated Mark Ayers, President of the Building and Construction Trades Department (AFL-CIO).

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO stated the HIT investments has helped many construction workers stay employed during the economic downturn.

“The HIT’s investments are a win-win for working people and their communities. At a time when construction activity has been at a virtual standstill because many lenders have withdrawn from real estate development the HIT is financing new projects that will help cities and towns spur economic development and strengthen their communities,” said Mr. Trumka.

The AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust is a fixed-income investment company registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It manages over $4 billion in assets for approximately 350 investors, which include union and public employee pension plans.