Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Changes already made to flawed Pennsylvania voter ID law

05.13.12

MAY 2012, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Changes already made to flawed Pennsylvania voter ID law

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, April 17th- The haste by Republiocans in Harrisburg to pass legislation to force voters to present photo identification in the fall election has resulted to changes already to the law. Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett signed into law just hours after the Pennsylvania State House passed House Bill 934, that will force voters to show photo ID.

Mr. Corbett stated the “so-called voter ID bill” will bring greater integrity to the election process and would protect honest voters. However, most Democrats of the Pennsylvania General Assembly opposed the legislation believing the law will result in longer lines at polls and was nothing but a Trojan horse designed to tip election battles in Republicans’ favor.

During the debate many raised questions, including Democrats and the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg, about the bill’s necessity and its intent.

The move is mostly being supported by Republican party members and Democrats charge the GOP members of attempting to suppress the votes of elderly, many are still President Franklin Roosevelt Democrats, young and low income citizens, and minority groups, which polls show are more likely to support Democratic candidates.

The reason Republicans gave for the legislation was because of “voter fraud” however, according to several studies the problem is not an issue.

A five-year study released by the Bush Administration Justice Department found virtually no evidence of voter fraud and only a few mistakes that have allowed ineligible voters to participate in elections. From 2002 to 2007, the Bush Administration ordered its United States Attorney Generals in every state to look for and prosecute cases of voter fraud. Only 120 people were charged nationwide, with just 86 convictions out of 300 million votes nationwide cast.

The report stated many of those cases involved erros, not deliberate fraud by people who appeared to have mistakenly filled out registration forms or misunderstood eligibility rules.

Approximately 21 million American adults don’t have a government issued photo identification card, or can’t get access to one.

About 18 percent of young voters have no ID, while around 15 percent of low-income people lack a valid card. Also, nearly 25 percent of voting-age African-American citizens, or 5.5 million people, do not have a photo identification card.

On April 18th, a new policy was announced by state election officials that will help senior citizens who no longer drive comply with the voter law. Seniors and others can use an expired state driver’s license or expired non-driver ID card to obtain a “free” photo ID card for voting from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Carol Aichele outlined the policy that will allow individuals with expired driver’s licenses to give their name to a Department of Transportation (DOT) driver license center employee and once they are vertified in the system the agency will provide a non-driver photo ID. The individual does not even need to have a copy of their expired license to receive the non-driver ID which will be enough proof to vote.

After Mr. Corbett signed the legislation into law of the voter ID legislation, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale called the legislation “the Voter Suppression Bill.

Attorney Matt Cartwright defeats Tim Holden for Democratic nomination

05.13.12

MAY 2012, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Attorney Matt Cartwright defeats Tim Holden for Democratic nomination

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, April 25th- Scranton Attorney Matt Cartwright cruised to a easy victory over 10-term incumbent United States House of Representative Tim Holden for the Democratic nomination in the newly redrawn 17th Legislative Congressional District.

Because of the newly redrawn boundaries in Pennsylvania, due to a loss of one congressional seat after the 2010 census, approximately 75 percent of the territory in the 17th Legislative District will be new beginning in January 2013.

Currently the Lehigh Valley is represented in Washington by the 15th Legislative District. The seat is held by Republican Charlie Dent, who is serving his fourth two-year term. However, beginning next year the Lehigh Valley will be represented by two legislative districts in Washington, DC.

The newly redrawn 17th District will run from Schuylkill County to Lackawanna County including a part of Northampton County.

The new district will include the Cities of Easton, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Pottsville.

Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties will be represented in Washington by three Legislative Districts.

Mr. Holden had a 92 percent voting ranking for supporting labor issues by the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation during the 20 years he has been in Washington. He was endorsed by the AFL-CIO over Mr. Cartwright despite voting against progressive initiatives such as housing finance reforms, greater consumer protections, energy reform, health care reform and the American auto loans.

He has the distinction of being called a “Blue Dog” Democrat, meaning Mr. Holden’s voting record indicates he hasn’t always supported Democratic party legislation.

During the campaign Mr. Cartwright pledged to support the labor community and took aim at big banks, oil and energy companies and corporate lobbyists who he said are now writting the laws in Washington.

During a interview with the newspaper Mr. Cartwright indicated if elected he would support raising the minimum wage and would vote against any legislation that would hurt the Davis-Bacon Act.

“I will be working for working families, right from the beginning. I won’t care about some statistical formula,” Mr. Cartwright told the newspaper.

Mr. Cartwright will face Republican home health nurse company owner Laureen Cummings of Lackawanna County in the November’s general election.

GWBLC honors workers killed on the job and late federation President

05.13.12

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

GWBLC honors workers killed on the job and late federation President

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 2nd- The Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council (GWBLC), which is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation, held their 8th Annual Workers’ Memorial Day Candlelight Vigil observance on April 26th.

Since 1989 the labor community throughout the nation have held events, just like the one conducted at the United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Local 1776 building in Pittston Township, recognizing April 1970, the anniversary date of the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHAct).

As part of the event a special prayer was led by Father William Pickard and Luzerne County Council member Tim McGinley read a proclamation honoring workers killed on the job.

According to Walter Klepaski, the AFL-CIO Community Services Liaison of the Wyoming Valley United Way, one new name was added to the list of workers that were killed because of workplace injuries during the past twelve months.

Mr. Jason Rowlands of Dalton died on February 10th, 2012 after an accident at work. He was employed by Wyoming Pallet.

In addition to the Workers Memorial event, two labor history books were donated to area libraries in memory of decreased labor council members. Books were donated to honor Sam Bianco, long-time President of the GWBLC, and Jack Costello, a member of the Utility Workers of America (UWA) Union Local 406.

Rick Bloomingdale, President of the Pennsylvania State AFL-CIO attended the event and stated that worker rights, such as OSHA, the 40 hour work-week, and the minimum wage, are under attack throughout the nation.

“He was the first occupier,” said Mr. Bloomingdale referring to Jesus Christ after chasing the money changers from the temple of Jerusalem.

New NLRB election standards took effect on April 30th

05.13.12

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

New NLRB election standards took effect on April 30th

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 1st- The new standards proposed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that will shorten when workers could vote whether they want to be represented by a labor organization for the purpose of collective bargaining have so-far survive the anti-union Republican party members and pro-business groups.

On April 24th the United States Senate rejected a Republican attempt to overturn the new regulations designed to give labor organizations quicker representation elections in the workplace. The party line vote against a resolution of disapproval leaves intact the NLRB rules that took effect on April 30th.

The Senate voted 54 to 45, with Pennsylvania Democratic Senator Bob Casey voting against the Republican resolution and Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey voting in favor.

However, the rules have been weakened since first being proposed in June 2011. Under the new standards elections must be held within 42 days after workers request the agency conduct an representation election. Currently elections are held between 45 and 60 days. Before a labor organization can file a petition requesting a election at least 30 percent of the employees must support the union and sign a petition or autorization cards requesting the NLRB conduct an election.

A labor organization must receive 50 percent plus one of the eligible to vote employees in a NLRB election to win the right to represent them in collective bargaining.

The United States Chamber of Commerce in Washington DC and other business groups termed the new standard the “ambush election rule.”

The groups argued that the new rule has no conceivable purpose but to make it easier for unions to win elections. They stated the purpose of this regulation is to “cut-off” free speech rights to educate employees about the effects of unionization. However, in reality, employers often want the extra time to hire anti-union lawfirms and consultants at the cost of thousands of dollars, that will attempt to convince the employees not to support the union, or make promises to them that if they vote no the employer would threat them better.