Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

The Mason Missile, January 31, 2012

01.31.12

Greetings, freedom fighters! I have joined my congregation, Leyv Ha-Ir, to celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King-the REAL Dr. King, the man who challenged the status quo, not the sanitized peacenik that is put out by commercial media. Towards the latter part of his life, King opposed the Viet Nam war, and not only challenged racial hierarchies but the economic inequalities that are both cause and effect of racism.
On January 10, 1967, at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, King preached, “I’ve chosen to preach about the war in Vietnam because I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal.”
King, knowing he would be branded a traitor or unpatriotic for speaking out against the Viet Nam war, added, “Now, of course, one of the difficulties in speaking out today grows the fact that there are those who are seeking to equate dissent with disloyalty. It’s a dark day in our nation when high-level authorities will seek to use every method to silence dissent. But something is happening, and people are not going to be silenced. The truth must be told, and I say that those who are seeking to make it appear that anyone who opposes the war in Vietnam is a fool or a traitor or an enemy of our soldiers is a person that has taken a stand against the best in our tradition.”
Then, at Riverside Church in New York in April of that year-one year to the day he was murdered- King added, “Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read: Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.” The government and other opinion-makers tried thus to confine King to Civil Rights, as if that can be separated from the Viet Nam issue. To King, Viet Nam was a further sign of a sick nation governed by sick people, willfully ignorant of the needs of the Vietnamese people.
Also, King and his group, the Southern Christian leadership Conference (SCLC) in November 1967 started organizing the Poor People’s Campaign, dedicated to addressing issues of poverty, employment, and housing for people of all races, going beyond the issues of African-Americans. The Viet Nam war siphoned off money that could have been used for rebuilding cities, schools, transit systems, etc. - to pay for a war against a people that really wanted to engage us, and to prop up a gang of kleptomaniacs passing themselves off as a “government.”
King saw that it’s not either/or, either issues of class or race or war to work on. The upper classes traditionally tended to dominate the state, and still do to an extent; and they have twisted the work and emphasis of the state apparatus to its advantage, by repressing unions and other forms of lower-class organizing, and adjusting the tax code to favor the wealthy at the expense of the lower and working classes. The personnel to lead the state apparatus-cabinet ministers, military officers, etc. - has also traditionally come from the upper economic and social echelons-people who, in spite of their wealth and connections, are no more advanced that we working folks are.
Of course, the upper classes have been wise enough to create a hierarchy amongst the lower classes, due to race-to have the lower-class whites look down on the descendents of slaves stolen from Africa, sold as cattle, treated as livestock, as inferior to themselves, thus giving lower-class whites a false sense of superiority. Racism and plutocracy both have to be fought at the same time, it’s not either-or. The Labor movement, that cause to which I have worked for, is eminently suited to deal with racism among white workers, which I have heard plenty; working-class whites must know their fellow workers, no matter their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, and their allies, not their enemies.
I take this time to point out the work of A. Philip Randolph, the great African-American trade unionist and democratic socialist. Randolph, like King recognized the intersection of race and class in this country, and believed in the trade union movement as a means of advancement for African-Americans. The A. Philip Randolph Institute carries on his work, encouraging Black participation in unions and encouraging electoral activity. You can find out more about it at apri.org.
2012 marks the fiftieth anniversary of The Other America, the classic study of poverty in this the richest nation on the planet, by the great American Socialist and patriot Michael Harrington. Alas, poverty is still very much with us, even more so, the gap between rich and poor widening, the “middle class” whittling away. I urge everyone within the sound of this newsletter to look up the Democratic socialist of America, the group Harrington founded, at www.dsausa.org.
SOME hope for sanity in our spending priorities: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has announced cuts in military spending, reducing ground forces, Army and Marine Corps, and focusing on Special Ops forces, focusing on quick deployment in case of emergency. Of course the Republicans act like tremendous military spending leads to greater military strength, and defense industries locate their plants in a variety of congressional districts, to make their constituents dependent on the plants for jobs; with cuts in military spending, the thinking goes, people in the plants lose their jobs, and the congress-members lose theirs as will, so the congress-members keep voting for MORE weapons systems that do NO good.
It’s clear that the US of A is getting out of the empire business, since the VAST network of bases all around the world is economically unfeasible; we simply CAN’T afford world domination through military means. Consciousness of this fact is seeping through to the public. Let the critique continue-THAT, mutually respectful discussion and debate, is the real patriotism. Bye!

Union files complaint against Aramark Cleanroom Services

01.31.12

JANUARY 2012 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Union files complaint against Aramark Cleanroom Services

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 2nd- The Mid-Atlantic Regional Joint Board, Workers United Union, which is affiliated with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), filed a labor complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia alleging a Lackawanna County employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The Workers United Union was previously affiliated with the UNITE Union that was formed after the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) and the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU) merged in the 1990’s. The union voted to disaffiliated from UNITE and join the SEIU.

According to the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge, which was filed on December 5th, 2011, the Union alleges Aramark Cleanroom Services, Hemlock Street in Scranton, violated the NLRAct. The company provides cleanroom services throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The ULP was discovered by the newspaper while reviewing complaints and petitions filed at the NLRB.

“Since around October 24th, 2011, the employer has refused to provide the union with information neccessary for collective bargaining,” states the ULP.

The complaint was filed on behalf of the union by the Workers United office in New York, New York.

The number employees represented by the union is not completed on the ULP.

IOUE Local 542 files labor complaint against area company

01.31.12

JANUARY 2012 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

IOUE Local 542 files labor complaint against area company

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 2nd- The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 542, Virginia Drive in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, filed a labor complaint alleging a Lackawanna County employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRB).

The Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge was filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia.

The employer, Cushman & Wakefield, provides mechanical maintenance repair for an office building located on the Morgan Highway in Clarks Summit, Lackawanna County.

The NLRB ruled in 2011 that the employer must recognize Local 542 as the bargaining representative of the workers of the company.

However, the union alleges the employer has failed to bargain fairly and because of their failure the two parties have not been able to reach a first-time labor agreement.

“On or about November 18th, 2011 and forward, the above Employer has refused to bargain and set dates to bargain in an area recognized for suitable bargaining of the Certification which was obtained on January 13th, 2011.

The above infractions along with the past merit fingings of other unlawful practices of the Employer for refusal to bargain, along with recent information provides to the Region, provides the Union for demand of 10j injunction relief to eliminate the possible chill for union representation,” states the ULP, which was filed on December 9th, 2011.

The complaint was filed on behalf of Local 542 by Frank Bankard, identified on the ULP as Local 542 Organizer. Local 542 has a office on Fox Hill Road in Wilkes-Barre.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA’s unemployment rate unchanged at 9.2 percent

01.31.12

JANUARY 2012 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

MSA’s unemployment rate unchanged at 9.2 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 2nd- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Industry, the region’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 9.2 percent, unchanged 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 7.9 percent, decreasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,353,000 with 499,000 not working and 5,854,000 with employment. The national unemployment rate is 8.6 percent, decreasing by four-tenths 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 13,303,000 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.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA is tied with the Harrisburg/Carlislie MSA for the fourth largest labor force in Pennsylvania at 280,400 civilians with 25,700 not working. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor force at 2,963,900 with 250,400 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,235,700 with 89,700 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force at 416,700 with 35,900 not working.

The Williamsport MSA has the smallest labor force in Pennsylvania with 59,900 civilians. The Altoona MSA has the second smallest labor force with 64,100 civilians and the Lebanon MSA is third with a labor force of 73,400.

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 has the second highest unemployment rate in the Commonwealth at 8.6 percent, while the Philadelphia MSA has the third highest at 8.5 percent. The Johnstown MSA has the fourth highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 8.4 percent followed by the Reading MSA at 8.0 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.3 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 6.3 percent, while the Lancaster MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate at 6.6 percent. The Altoona MSA has the fourth lowest unemployment rate at 6.9 percent.

Wyoming County has the lowest unemployment rate within the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA at 8.6 percent. Wyoming County’s unemployment rate decreased by six-tenths of the percentage point from the previous report and dropped by one full percentage point from twelve months ago.

There are 1,200 civilians in Wyoming County without employment, decreasing by 100 from the previous report and dropping by 200 from twelve months ago. Wyoming County has a civilian labor-force of 14,200.

Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 9.5 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by five-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before.

Luzerne County has the largest civilian labor-force in the MSA at 159,000, decreasing by 500 from the previous report and dropping by 100 during the past twelve months.

Lackawanna County unemployment rate is 8.8 percent, decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by seven-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago. Lackawanna County has 9,300 civilians of the labor force without employment, decreasing by 200 from the previous report and dropping by 700 during the past twelve months.

GCC/IBT Union files complaint against Offset Paperback

01.31.12

JANUARY 2012 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

GCC/IBT Union files complaint against Offset Paperback

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 2nd- The union that represent workers employed at Offset Papaerback Manufacturers Inc., Memorial Highway in Dallas, filed a labor complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia, alleging the employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

According to the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge, the Graphic Communications Conference/International Brotherhood of Teamsters (GCC/IBT) Union Local 137C, represents approximately 500 workers employed at the printing company facility in the back mountain area of Luzerne County.

“During the last six months, (1) the Employer has refused to meet on a timely basis to discuss pending grievances; (2) the Employer has made unilateral changes with regard to manning and refused to meet with the Union with regard to those changes,” states the ULP which was reviewed by the newspaper.

The complaint also alleges the Employer has temporarily laid-off employees and forced them to utilize their vacation time and/or take a pay cut and forced journeymen to take a pay cut of more than $8.00 an hour or be laid-off.

The Employer and Union entered into an agreement on April 14th, 2011 and under the terms and conditions of the agreement, there were not to be any temporary employees working in the plant, and the company has not complied with the agrement by making the unilateral change in keeping temporary employees in the building, the ULP added.

The complaint was filed on behalf of the Union by Harrisburg labor attorney Ira Weinstock.

The Employer Representative named on the ULP to be contacted is Ken Getz. Mr. Getz position with Offset Paperback is not stated on the complaint.