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Labor Department proposes rules for Affordable Care Act

12.29.11

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

Labor Department proposes rules for Affordable Care Act

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, December 5th- The United States Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employee Benefits Security Administration on December 5th announced two proposed rules under the Affordable Care Act to protect businesses and workers whose health benefits are provided through a multiple employer welfare arrangement.

The multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWA’s) frequently have been used by scam artists and criminals to defraud consumers, resulting in an inability to pay medical claims. When such multiple employer welfare arrangement become insolvent, they may leave consumers with substantial unpaid medical bills. For employers or employee organizations that have paid premiums or made contributions to a multiple employer welfare arrangement, and thought they were doing the right thing for their workers and their families, the impact also can be significant.

The proposed rules call for multiple employer welfare arrangement’s to adhere to enhanced reporting requirements so that employers, workers and their families will not unexpectedly be cut off from needed health care services. The rules also will increase the Labor Department’s enforcement authority to protect participants in such plans and allow the department to shut down multiple employer welfare arrangements engaged in fraud or other activities that present an immediate danger to the public safety or welfare.

Since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in March 2010, more than 22.6 million people with Medicare have received free preventive care benefits such as screenings and vaccinations, and another 2.2 million have saved more than $1.2 billion on their prescription drugs, an average savings of $550 per person. Additionally, adults under the age of 26 are now able to remain on a parent’s health insurance plan, small businesses and tax-exempt organizations are eligible for tax credits and the denial of coverage to those with pre-existing conditions is coming to an end.

The Employee Benefits Security Administration protects the retirement, health and other workplace related benefits of America’s workers and retirees, and their families. The agency oversees approximately 718,000 private sector retirement plan, 2.5 million health plans and a similar number of other benfit plans that cover roughly 140 million workers, retirees and dependents.

The DOL stated the promoters, marketers and operators of MEWA’s often have taken advantage of gaps in the law to avoid state insurance regulations, such as a requirement to maintain sufficient funding and adequate reserves to pay the health care claims of workers and their families.

Some operators of WEMA’s have drained their assets through excessive administrative fees or outright embezzlement, resulting in harm to participants and their families. In the past some individuals incur significant medical bills before they learn that claims are not being paid, and that they are liable and need their medical bills themselves.

The Affordable Care Act includes provisions designed to remedy those gaps.

Teamsters Local 401 member receives Meany Scouting Award

12.29.11

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

Teamsters Local 401 member receives Meany Scouting Award

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, December 6th- The Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council labor federation in Luzerne County recently presented the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) George Meany Scouting Award to a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 401 in Wilkes-Barre.

The George Meany Scouting Award is a national recognition approved by the national AFL-CIO Executive Council in cooperation with the Boy Scouts of America.

Each AFL-CIO local labor council throughout the United States is permitted to present an award each year. This years recipient was the 23rd to receive the George Meany Award from the labor federation.

Labor organizations from throughout the Wyoming Valley are affiliated with the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council labor federation. The organization meets the fourth Thursday of the month. The group met until recently at the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Union Local 542 building in Wilkes-Barre Township. The labor federation is currently looking for a new office location because of structural issues with the IOUE building on Fox Hill Road.

Local 401 member Richard Maron of Wapwallopen received the George Meany Award on November 17th. Mr. Maron has been a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters for more than 25 years while working for the IBT represented Yellow/Roadway trucking Corporation.

According to James Murphy, President of Local 401, South Washington Street in Wilkes-Barre, the award is given to an adult union member who has made significant contributions to today’s youth through the Boy Scouts of America programs.

“This year, the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor County through its Community Services Committee, has selected their 23rd recipient of this prestigious award. As President of Teamsters Local 401, I am proud to present this award to one of my members,” stated Mr. Murphy who attended the meeting and presented the award, which is named after the long-time serving President of the AFL-CIO following the merger of the AFL and the CIO in 1953. Local 401 is affiliated with the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council.

Mr. Maron was present at the November 17th meeting to receive the recognition along with his wife and family.

“His efforts with scouting also extend to community groups and organizations, whereby he supports his local fire company by having the scouts help at their annual carnival and fireman’s parade. Additionally, he supports a chartered organization, which is a Lutheran Church, by having scouts help at church dinners, do clean up and spruce up projects on the church grounds, as well as help to maintain the American flag,” added Mr. Murphy.

Mr. Maron also has received in the past the Cubmaster Award of the Year and the Cubscouter Award from the Boy Scouts.

Also, his personal involvement in pack 379 has resulted in it growing from 5 boys to 28 in the past 7 years.

Minor League Baseball umpires ratify new contract

12.29.11

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

Minor League Baseball umpires ratify new contract

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, December 1st- The Association of Minor League Umpires (AMLU) Union, which is affiliated with the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), announced that its more than 200 members voted on November 28th to ratify a new five-year labor agreement with Minor League Baseball. The OPEIU is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington, DC.

The AMLU/OPEIU Guild 322 represents minor league baseball umpires including those employed by the International League (IL), which the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees are affiliated. The Lehigh Valley Iron Bigs in Allentown are also affiliated with the IL.

In early 2010, the AMLU members, which was a non-AFL-CIO affiliated union, voted by a more than 90 percent in favor of joining the OPEIU. The OPEIU represents more than 125,000 employees and independent contractors in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada in banking and credit unions, insurance, shipping, hospitals, medical clinics, utilities, transportation, hotels, administrative offices and more. The AMLU was founded in 1999.

“It is exciting to have such a good contract and get it done before the December holidays. In this deal we have more money and a better overall contract than what we were able to get last time after a strike. It’s clear to me that this union’s solidarity and determination in 2006 was one of the driving forces behind getting a deal done this time around. And our affiliation with OPEIU gave us the strength and the resources we needed to get a deal done,” stated Shaun Francis, AMLU President.

The agreement is the first deal since AMLU went on a prolonged strike to start the 2006 baseball season. In 2006 Minor League Baseball used scabs, and amateur umpires while 100 percent of the professional umpires remained on strike. The umpires returned to work after agreeing to a six-year contract in June of that year.

“It isn’t necessarily the deal that you get when you’re on strike that makes a work-stoppage worthwhile, often it is the deal you get the next time around when both sides don’t want to have to go through that again,” said Mr. Francis.

“I cannot thank OPEIU, Kevin Kistler, lead negotiator for the union, and International President Michael Goodwin enough for the resources and support they put behind AMLU and the Minor League Umpires,” said Mr. Francis.

UFCW fails to win election, promises to try again

12.29.11

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

UFCW fails to win election, promises to try again

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, December 2nd- The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776 was unsuccessful in winning the right to represent workers employed by Mission Foods (Gruma Corporation), Elmwood Road, Mountain Top.

Local 1776 main office is in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania and has a office in Pittston Township.

The union also represents workers of the Pennsylvania Wine and Spirits Shoppes, the Dunmore Department of Public Works (DPW) and Rite Aid Pharmacies.

The UFCW filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia on September 26th, 2011 requesting the agency conduct a election to determine if the employees of Mission Foods want to be represented by the union for the purpose of collective bargaining. The union wanted to represent all full-time and regular part-time production and warehouse workers, sanitation and maintenance, quality control employees.

The NLRB held the election on November 9th and 10th at the site of the employer in Mountain Top, Luzerne County.

The employees voted to reject unionization, 135 for to 230 against with one vote void.

According to the NLRB, there were 360 employees eligible to participate in the election. The cut-off hiring date for workers that were allowed to vote was October 2nd, 2011. Any worker hired after that date were not allowed to cast a ballot in the election.

“We’ll be back next year,” stated Michele Kessler, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 1776. “We knew going in we where not going to win, but now we have our foot in the door.”

The union believes the company made promises to the workers during the campaign to threat them better after the election. However, Ms. Kessler said it isn’t likely the employer will be more responsive to employees concerns and the union will be back in 2012.

Under NLRB rules a labor organization must wait a full year following the election before the union can attempt to again organized the employees. “I can say right now, we will be back next year,” added Ms. Kessler.

A labor organization needs to receive 50 percent plus one of the eligible to participate in the election votes to win the right to represent them in collective bargaining.

The petition was filed on behalf of Local 1776 by Anthony Concha. Mr. Concha is identified as the union’s Strategic Programs Coordinator on the petition.

Report suggest United States tech workers being undermined

12.29.11

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

Report suggest United States tech workers being undermined

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, November 20th- A new report by the Federation for American Immigration (FAIR) concluded that the United States produces an ample supply of qualified workers to fill science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs, showing the constant told belief that American workers are either unwilling or unable to proform centain jobs are false.

The report, “Jobs American’s Can’t Do?. The Myth of a Skilled Labor Shortage,” suggest immigration and guest worker policies undermine United States workers.

“In a post-industrial economy, STEM jobs were supposed to the the shining promise of the future for Americans who were prepared to put in the hard work to train for careers in these fields. Instead, after significant investment of time, energy and money, that promise has become a mirage for many Americans. Many STEM jobs are being outsourced to workers in other countries, while companies have nearly unfettered ability to in-source foreign workers to fill jobs that remain here,” stated Dan Stein, President of FAIR.

FAIR of Washington, DC, was founded in 1979, and is the country’s largest immigration reform group with over 250,000 members. The organization claims to fight for immigration policies that serve national interest. FAIR states that immigration reform must enhance national security, improve the economy, protect jobs, preserve the environment, and establish a rule of law that is recognized and enforced.

Prior to the recession, the National Science Foundation estimated that there were between 4.3 million and 5.8 million STEM jobs in the nation for some 16.6 million workers with degrees in those fields. As a result, nearly two-thirds of native-born workers with degrees in science and engineering are working in careers outside their field of training. Meanwhile, the United States labor market is flooded with hundreds of thousands of guest workers, and multi-national corpoerations are increasingly utilizing L-1 visas to transfer overseas workers to jobs in the United States.

“As is the case in so many other sectors of our economy, powerful business interests and an acquiescent federal government are undermining the interests of American workers, or forcing them out of their chosen fields entirely. Visa programs that were orginally designed to complement the American labor force are being used as a wedge to displace large numbers of American workers, or to artificially depress their wages,” said Mr. Stein.

Governor Corbett pushing “school voucher” legislation

12.29.11

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

Governor Corbett pushing “school voucher” legislation

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 20th- Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett made it clear he strongly supports “school voucher program” which if implemented would result in more funding cuts for public schools across the state.

Funding cuts for public schools in Pennsylvania continues to be a huge topic and according to a recently released poll, citizens of the commonwealth opposed the decreases.

Findings of the latest Terry Madonna Opinion Research survey, released on October 5th, found that Pennsylvanians strongly support investing in tutoring students, reducing class sizes and making schools safer.

By a similarly wide margin, state citizens oppose creating a taxpayer-funded voucher system for private and religious schools. Governor Tom Corbett recently announced he supports a “school voucher program” that is being pushed in the Pennsylvania legislature.

On November 16th, Mr. Corbett was at the First Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School talking about his education proposals and stating his support for “school vouchers” that would take more funds away from the public school system that have suffered hugh cuts in funding received from Pennsylvania despite the poll showing the general public does not support the funding cuts or like the voucher plan.

Mr. Corbett was joined at the “pro-Senate Bill 1 (SB1)” by students from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. However, the Grassroots Coalition for Real School Choice of Harrisburg, stated most of the attending students would not even benefit from the passage of the legislation.

“Sadly, many, if not most Diocesan students from across the state will not benefit from the SB1 voucher program since it is aimed at low income students and excludes middle income children who attend Diocesan schools in large numbers,” said Sharon Cherubin, spokesperson of the organization.

“By a nearly two-to-one margin, Pennsylvanians oppose the recent funding cuts to the Commonwealth’s public schools, stated Michael Crossey, President of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) Union, the state’s largest school employee labor organization.

The Madonna poll asked Pennsylvanians for their views regarding the $860 million cut from public schools as part of the state budget Governor Corbett signed into law in June. Sixty-nine percent of the people polled said they oppose or strongly oppose these cuts, while only 27 percent said they favor or strongly favor the action.

According to Keystone Progress, a left-leaning political action group in Harrisburg, since the public school funding cuts, many districts have raised property taxes; cut in after-school tutoring and mentoring programs; Kindergarten has been reduced to a half a day instead of full day; students have outdated materials and fewer computers; there are part-time school nurses; and fees are being imposed to play sports and participate in after school activities.

Under SB1 legislation, taxpayer money will be spent on a voucher program that gives hundreds of millions of dollars to private and sectarian religious schools that are not accountable for academic standards or results, or for their financial doings. After funneling money away from the community schools, many school children are left behind with fewer resources, Mr. Crossey added.

Keystone Progress stated there is no evidence that vouchers improve student achievement and choices. What choice will parents have when non-public schools can favor or exclude students based on gender, religion, ability, and behavior, the organization stated on their web-site and press release.

During 2012 political season the labor community will be active

12.29.11

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

During 2012 political season the labor community will be active

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 10th- The labor community will be active during 2012 in what promises to be an interesting political year.

Democratic United States Senator from Pennsylvania Robert Casey Jr., a Scranton native, will definitively face a Republican opponent, with at least nine Republican’s so-far declaring their candidacy for the opportunity to challenge Mr. Casey’s re-election bid.

Five years ago Mr. Casey defeated Incumbent Republican right-wing Senator Rick Santorum, who is currently running for President of the United States. Senator terms are for six years.

In 2010 conservative Republican Pat Toomey defeated Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak for the other Pennsylvania Senatorial seat. Mr. Toomey is a Lehigh Valley resident and formerly represented the region in the United States House of Representatives.

Mr. Casey is one of ten Democratic Senators that are on the “endangered list” for re-election in 2012 according to Newsweek magazine.

Senator Casey has supported legislation important to the labor community in his first term in Washington, including voting to increase the federal minimum wage, voted for passage of the failed attempt of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCAct)Card Check legislation, voted in favor of extending unemployment benefits, and voted against the pending trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama. The Obama administration supports the trade agreements, which will likely cost American jobs.

Mr. Casey stated Pennsylvania has lost 300,000 jobs since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was implemented in 1993 despite the projected new jobs increases. NAFTA was signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton and was passed by the Democratic controlled House of Representatives.

On October 12th in rapid succession, the House of Representatives and the Senate passed the trade pacts, which will lower or eliminate trade 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.

Lehigh Valley Congressman Charlie Dent (Republican-15th Legislative District) voted for passage of the trade agreements.

NAFTA was recently criticized by three leaders of Mexico’s independent labor union’s. The labor leaders stated that Mexican workers lives have not improved because of NAFTA, and in fact the livelihoods of Mexican workers have seen an increase in violent acts against unions because taxpayers dollars are being used to bust unions in Mexico.

President Barack Obama will attempt to gain a second four-year term in 2012.

Mr. Obama has failed to deliver during his first term on much of the proposed labor legislation that was discussed during the 2008 political campaign.

Recently the labor community opposed the three free trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama that Mr. Obama supported. Also, the EFCAct/Card Check legislation was never even voted on in the Democratic controlled United States Senate in 2009.

Despite the failure of the Obama Administation to pass “pro-labor” legislation and his support for the free trade agreements, the labor community will likely support his re-election bid, mainly because the Republican party is currently extremely anti-union

Teachers Union President cites Ohio vote as lesson

12.29.11

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

Teachers Union President cites Ohio vote as lesson

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, November 9th- On election day Ohio voters rejected the anti-union law that limited collective bargaining for 350,000 unionized public workers and the President of the largest teacher’s union in Pennsylvania warns Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett to learn a lesson from the defeat.

The Ohio legislation, which was supported by anti-union members of the GOP and Republican Governor John Kasich, set mandatory health care and pension minimums for unionized government workers, banned public worker strikes, scraped binding arbitration, and prohibited basing promotions solely on seniority.

The vote followed a campaign in which anti-union forces spent millions of dollars to convince Ohio voters to support the legislation that was placed on a referendum after organized labor and supporters gained more than 1 million citizen signitures demanding the question of the anti-union law be placed on the November 8th ballot.

The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC participated in the campaign by having paid support staff and volunteers on-the-ground reaching-out to the public to vote against the measure.

Micheal Crossey, the President of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) Union, the largest labor organization in Pennsylvania that represents teachers, school employees and support staff, urged the Commonwealth’s policymakers to abandon Mr. Corbett’s anti-union public union legislative initatives that what he described, “the public strongly opposes”.

Mr. Crossey said that the strong vote in Ohio is a victory for middle class Americans and evidence that extreme legislation agendas are out of step with the will of the people.

“This vote in Ohio is a victory for America’s middle class. And, more than anything else, it is a victory for the people. In Ohio, the people spoke loud and clear. They said ‘enough’.”

The Ohio vote was a referendum on the controversial anti-union law the Republican controlled state legislature passed in March, which would strip public employees of most of their collective bargaing rights, reduce their health insurance without their involvement, and eliminate other legal protections and benefits. Voters objected to it and voted to repeal it through a state-wide referendum by a 61 percent to 39 percent margin.

“I hope this message carries from one coast to the other. And I hope Governor Corbett and our elected officials in Pennsylvania hear it. Our nation’s constitution begins with the words ‘We the People.’ The people spoke in Ohio. And they are speaking here in Pennsylvania. We need to listen to them,” added Mr. Crossey.

Mr. Crossey cited a example of Mr. Corbett’s policy initiatives toward public education that the public opposes. Governor Corbett’s recent focus on the taxpayer-funded tuition voucher plan, which 65 percent of Pennsylvanians oppose.

“The vote in Ohio is a lesson for us all. Let’s listen to it. Let’s do what is right for working people, public school students, and the Americans who devote their lives to giving all of us a safe, bright future.”

Review by USPS of operations may result in jobs being added at Lehigh Valley facility

12.29.11

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

Review by USPS of operations may result in jobs being added at Lehigh Valley facility

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, November 5th- The United States Postal Service (USPS) is developing proposals that will likely result in the closing of post offices and mail processing centers throughout the United States, and could have work transfered to the Lehigh Valley.

The union’s that represents workers of the United States Postal Service have begun a public campaign to inform the general public about possible service cuts should their local postal offices are closed and the mail processing centers be eliminated.

It is expected that the USPS will announce by December 9th whether a mail processing center in Scranton will be closed and the work moved to the Postal Service processing facility in the Lehigh Valley.

According to Kevin Gallagher, President of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 101 in Scranton, which represents workers at the Scranton processing center, it is likely the decision by the USPS on whether to move the mail processing operations to Lehigh Valley will be made on or around December 9th. Should the USPS decide to close the facility, which processes mail and packages, workers could be relocated to the Lehigh Valley facility, which is located near Bethlehem Township.

Two years ago the mail processing operations were eliminated and moved to Scranton. Workers were relocated to Scranton or the Lehigh Valley.

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.

On July 20th, the USPS Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe stated it is possible 15 to 20 years from now mail delivery could be cut to three days a week.

Because of the decline in mail volume mostly caused by the recession and the shift of people to the internet to pay bills, the USPS over the past four years has cut its staff by 110,000 and reduced cost by $12 billion.

According to Mr. Donahoe, more cuts are neccessary and two unelected groups have been created to take steps to cut costs and reduce services. One of the groups is generating lists of post offices and facilities to be closed. The other to serve as financial overseers with the power to alter or nullify collective bargaining agreements and to make other operational decisions to reduce expenses, which would effectively marginalized the Board of Governors and the United States Congress, which oversees the USPS.

More than 250 mail processing centers across the nation, which employ approximately 35,000 workers are currently under review. There are 487 mail processing centers throughout the nation, including the Lehigh Valley and Scranton.

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

Labor Not Represented in Management of ‘The People’s Universities’

12.10.11

by WALTER BRASCH

Although more than one million Pennsylvanians are members of labor unions, and the state has a long history of worker exploitation and union activism, neither of the two largest university systems has a labor representative on its governing board.

The only labor representative on the Board of Governors of the State System of Higher Education (SSHE) in its 28 year history was Julius Uehlein, who served 1988–1995 while Pennsylvania AFL–CIO president. The appointment was made by Gov. Robert P. Casey, a Democrat.

Only two persons have ever represented labor on Penn State’s Board of Trustees. Gov. Milton Shapp, a Democrat, appointed Harry Boyer, the state AFL–CIO president, in 1973. Shortly after Boyer retired in 1988, he resigned as a trustee. Richard Trumka, a Penn State alumnus and Villanova law school graduate, now the national AFL–CIO president, served as a trustee, 1983–1995, while president of the United Mine Workers. He was first appointed by Gov. Dick Thornburgh, a Republican, reappointed by Gov. Casey, and not reappointed when Tom Ridge, a Republican, became governor.

The 32-member Penn State Board of Trustees is divided into five groups: ex-officio members (6), Governor appointments (6), members elected by the Alumni Association (8), Business and Industry members (6), and elected members from Agriculture (6). The Agriculture representation dates to 1862 when Penn State (at that time known as Farmer’s High School) was one of the first two land grant institutions; the land grant institutions were created to provide advanced education in agriculture and the sciences. Currently, 15 members either are or were CEOs. Among them are the CEOs of U.S. Steel and Merck. One of the ex-officio members is the Penn State president, which creates an interesting potential for a conflict-of-interest. Except for one student representative, most of the rest are lawyers or senior corporate or public agency executives. Only six members are women, only three are members of minority classes.

The lack of diversity became an issue this week when the Faculty Senate called for a more diverse board. The challenge to the Trustees was unusual because the Senate “has always been a relatively non-confrontational group,” according to Dr. Paul Clark, head of the university’s prestigious Department of Labor Studies and Employment Relations, who had served as a senator for 15 years. However, child molestation charges against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, combined with how poorly the university administration and the secrecy-clad Trustees handled the problem, exposed the university and trustees to additional scrutiny.

“Because of the number of union members in Pennsylvania, and the need to have working people’s issues and perspectives represented on the board, we always thought it made a lot of sense for that constituency [working class] to be represented on the trustees,” says Dr. Clark.

At one time, Penn State had an active labor studies advisory committee, dating back to the early 1950s when Milton Eisenhower was the university president. That committee met at least four times a year and “was well respected,” says Irwin Aronson, general counsel for the Pennsylvania AFL–CIO, and a Penn State labor studies graduate. After Dr. Graham Spanier became president in 1995, the committee quickly dissolved because “he didn’t seem to have much interest in it,” says Richard Bloomingdale, Pennsylvania AFL–CIO president. There is no doubt, says Aronson, that “the previously warm relationship between labor and Penn State’s administration collapsed under Dr. Spanier’s administration.” Bloomingdale says he hopes Rodney Erickson, Penn State’s newly-appointed president, will see the necessity to reinstate the committee.

Penn State also has what may be the state’s premiere collection of labor history primary source documents, especially from the coal region. The letters, notes, diaries and other materials are archived in the Paterno Library.

Penn State is a state-related private university which received $279 million in state funding for the current fiscal year; it has 94,000 students on its 24 campuses, with 44,000 of the students enrolled on its main campus. About 3,000 Penn State staff (mostly those working in maintenance, physical plant, dormitories, and the cafeteria) are members of the Teamsters. About 1,300 registered nurses, including those of the Hershey Medical Center, are members of the Service Employees International Union. However, there is no faculty union at Penn State. Part of the problem, says Dr. Clark, is that faculty in the large business and agriculture colleges, plus those in engineering and science, tend not to have strong union loyalties; those in the liberal arts tend to have more acceptance of the value of unions.

SSHE, the larger of the two systems, has 120,000 students enrolled in 14 universities. Its 20-member Board of Governors isn’t much more diverse than Penn State’s. The Board has three student representatives who are appointed by the Board after being nominated by the presidents of the 14 universities. However, because of the way the students are nominated by presidents of the individual campuses and then selected by the Board of Governors, most usually have views similar to what the administration sees as mainstream and acceptable. Membership also includes four legislators, selected from each political caucus (Democrat and Republican caucuses in the House and Senate) and the secretary of the Department of Education; the rest are appointed by the Governor, with the consent of the state senate. Gov. Tom Corbett and his designated representative, Jennifer Branstetter, a public relations executive, serve on both Penn State and SSHE boards. Most of the other members are lawyers or senior business executives. One of them, Kenneth M. Jarin, who served as chair for six years and is currently a member, is a lawyer who represents management in labor issues.

The lack of at least one representative of labor on the SSHE Board of Governors is because of “a lack of sensitivity to the labor point of view,” says Dr. Stephen Hicks, president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College & University Faculties (APSCUF), which represents 6,400 faculty. Dr. Hicks, who has tried to get the Board to include a faculty member, says that when a Board has most of its members “who have run a business and made money, you get a certain viewpoint.”

Richard Bloomingdale says he’s proposed to the boards and governor persons who could effectively represent the working class, “but they were always turned down.”
Even one representative, says Bloomingdale, “would still leave the Boards with heavy pro-business orientations.”

There is no question that politics and a pro-business or anti-labor philosophy has left working class Pennsylvanians with no representation on the boards of universities that are designated as “the people’s universities.”

Unfortunately, the lack of labor representation is the case at almost every public university in America.

[Walter Brasch is an award-winning reporter and syndicated columnist, and the author of 17 books. His latest book is the novel, Before the First Snow, primarily set in Pennsylvania. It is a look at the counterculture between 1964 and 1991, with a social justice and pro-labor focus. Disclosure: Dr. Brasch is professor emeritus of mass communications from the SSHE system.]