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NALC Branch 17 files complaint against Postal Service

11.15.11

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

NALC Branch 17 files complaint against Postal Service

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Union Branch 17 in Scranton, filed a labor complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia alleging the United States Postal Service (USPS) violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge was filed on October 17th, 2011 by Branch 17.

The newspaper discovered the complaint while reviewing Unfair Labor Practices’s and organizing petitions filed at the NLRB. The Union News is the only member of the local media that reviews and publishes the information.

“Scranton Postmaster has failed to adhere to a grievance settlement. Management has not restored City Carrier Erin Flynn’s leave that was taken from her unjustly. They have appealed it to the Area and Area representative Mark A. Sisto agreed with DRT decision and instructed management to make the proper leave adjustment,” states the ULP.

Branch 17 represents letter carriers of the USPS in and around Scranton while Branch 115 represents the carriers in and around Wilkes-Barre.

The “Postmaster is now out on sick leave furthering the delay to make the grievant whole. There have been many attempts to get management to make the adjustments through the Business Agents office and the AREA to no avail,” states the labor complaint.

The ULP was filed on behalf of NALC Branch 17 by Thomas Gavin, President of the the Union.

The employer representative indentified on the complaint to be contacted is Linda Sosniak, Scranton Postmaster.

Verizon Communications and union’s still without pact’s

11.15.11

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

Verizon Communications and union’s still without pact’s

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 16th- Nearly two months since members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) International Union and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union (IBEW) agreed to return to their jobs after a two-week work-stoppage against Verizon Communications Inc., the parties have yet to reach a new successor contract agreement.

The union’s went on strike August 7th against Verizon Communications because of the failure of reaching a new pact with the communications company and returned to their jobs without new contracts on August 23rd. The previous contract expired at mid-night August 6th.

The two union’s and the company agreed to work under the “terms and conditions” of the previous contract for thirty days while negotiations continued. However, under the return to work agreement, should a new contract not be reached within the thirty days, the two sides could agree to extend the pact for yet another thirty days, which has happened.

The company recently began placing full-page advertisements in daily newspapers in New York and Philadelphia stating that the union’s have inflexible work rules and want union-represented employees to contribute to their own healthcare premiums.

The strike involved approximately 45,000 workers across the Northeastern part of the nation, including the region. The strike was the first by the union’s against Verizon since 1998, when the dispute lasted 13 weeks.

The CWA represents around 35,000 of the workers which include members of Local 13000 and Local 13500, which represents Verizon employees throughout the region. The IBEW represents around 10,000 of the employees including members of Local 1944, which represents workers in the region.

The two sides were unable to reach an agreement because of Verizon’s insistence of “give-back” despite the company making $3 billion in profits during the first half of 2011.

The concessions included work-rules, cuts in employee pensions, and forcing workers to pay toward their health insurance premiums.

During the strike the company placed full-page advertisements in daily newspapers throughout the region, and the placing of new advertisements could suggest the company is preparing for another labor dispute.

Union workers have randomly conducted informational picketing at Verizon stores throughout the region since the strike ended.

Anti-American worker trade agreements passed in Washington

11.15.11

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

Anti-American worker trade agreements passed in Washington

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, On October 12th the United States Congress overwhelmingly passed trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama despite the opposition of labor unions and the failure of past agreements to create jobs as promised.

In rapid succession the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate passed the trade pacts, and President Barack Obama supported the passage of the legislation, which will lower or eliminate tarriffs.

The trade agreements were supported by many Democratic legislators that have in the past received labor support and have promised to support “pro-labor” legislation.

United States Senator Robert Casey (Democrat-Pennsylvania), a Scranton resident, voted against the trade agreements citing they will only hurt the American workers just as the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993 has done. The trade pacts was also signed into law by a Democratic President, Bill Clinton.

On September 13th, Mexico’s independent labor unions testified before the United States Congress on the failure of NAFTA to improve the lives of Mexican workers as was promised before the trade agreement became law. The briefing was sponsored by House of Representative Mike Michaud (Democrat-Maine) on behalf of the Congressional Labor Caucus and International Worker Right Caucus.

“More than 15 years ago, we were told that NAFTA would create a thriving middle class in Mexico. Economists and government officials said that the agreement would lead to growing trade surpluses and that hundreds of thousands of jobs would be gained. As our friends from Mexico can attest, NAFTA did not bring these benefits. Instead, workers’ rights are being violated on a regular basis, and both the United States and Mexico are worse off for it,” stated Congressman Michaud.

Three Mexican union leaders participated in the caucus and President of the United Steelworkers of America (USW) International Union, Leo Gerard also spoke before the committee.

“It is clear that the agenda of the Mexican government is to keep workers’ wages low and use that as an economic tool, and we are here today so that representatives and their staff have the opportunity to hear the facts. The Fox and Calderon administrations in Mexico have done everything they could to repress the independent unions that were actually raising the standards of living for Mexican workers,” said Mr. Gerard.

The panel of union leaders provided a detailed accounting of the windening threat to the well-being and livlihoods of Mexican workers, increasing violent acts against unions and the growing and detrimental inequality between United States workers and their Mexican counterparts.

Mr. Casey stated Pennsylvania has lost 300,000 jobs since NAFTA was implemented despite the projected new jobs increases.

The trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama were first proposed under Republican President George Bush four years ago.

The three Mexican union leaders who spoke at the event were: Francisco Hernandez Juarez, General Secretary of the Mexican Union of Telephone Workers (STRM); Marco del Toro, Legal Counsel of the National Union of Mine, Metal Steel and Allied Workers of the Mexican Republic (SNTMMSSRM) also known as Los Mineros; and Sergio Beltran Reyes, Internal and External affairs and Recording Secretary for Los Mineros.

Meanwhile, Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) legislation was passed by Congress following the vote of the trade pacts. The TAA is intended to help workers displaced by foreign trade. Many legislators would not support TAA unless the trade agreements were ratified first.

Postal workers conducting public campaign to save service

11.15.11

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

Postal workers conducting public campaign to save service

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION- October 20th- The union’s that represents workers of the United States Postal Service (USPS) in Lackawanna County have begun a public campaign to inform the general public about possible service cuts should local postal offices are closed and the mail processing center in Scranton is eliminated.

Kevin Gallagher, President of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 101 in Scranton, opposes the possible closure of the Scranton mail center in South Scranton by the United States Postal Service (USPS).

The mail processing facility, just off the Davis Street exit of Interstate 81 in South Scranton, is one of more than 250 across the nation under review by the USPS for the next several months that could be closed. If the processing facility is closed the local mail operations would be moved to the Lehigh Valley, meaning when a letter is mailed in Scranton for delivery in Wilkes-Barre it will first be sent to Bethlehem and back to Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Two years ago the mail processing operations in Wilkes-Barre was eliminated and moved to Scranton.

Mr. Gallagher believes the USPS wants to “down the road” close all processing facilities throughout Pennsylvania and combine all operations into their Philadelphia and Pittsburgh processing centers. “Mail delivery will suffer. There is no way cuts like these won’t hurt customer service,” added Mr. Gallagher.

Mr. Gallagher told the nerwspaper the main problem is that a bill Congress passed, which oversees the USPS, in 2006 is pushing the agency into bankruptcy. The law imposed a burden on the USPS that no other government agency or private company bears. It requires the Postal Service to pay a 75-year liability in just 10 years, to “pre-fund” healthcare benefits for future retirees. This congressional mandate costs the USPS more than $5 billion a year, and it is the cause of the USPS’s financial crisis, Mr. Gallagher stated.

The USPS does not operate on tax dollars, it is solely funded by the sale of postal stamps and postage.

Under proposed legislation in Washington, H.R. 1351, the Postal service would be allowed to apply its excess retirement payments to meet its current financial obligations.

The legislation was introduced by Representative Stephen Lynch (Democrat-Maine) and would allow the USPS to apply the billions of dollars in pension overpayments to meet the agency’s financial obligations.