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Teachers Union supports Senate Democratic budget plan

05.15.12

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

Teachers Union supports Senate Democratic budget plan

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, April 18th- Michael Crossey, the President of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) Union, which represents approximately 193,000 future, active and retired teachers and school employees in Pennsylvania, stated the Union supports the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic budget alternative proposal.

Mr. Crossey has continued to attack Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett’s state budget proposal for education. In February, Mr. Crossey stated Governor Corbett used a complicated fiscal shell game to “redesign school and district” basic education funding and his budget proposal represents an unwise experiment that will cause chaos in the public school system. He also added the proposal would eliminate research-testing, and classroom-proven programs.

Mr. Crossey has been very critical of Governor Corbett’s cuts in education since he signed into law in June 2011 a state budget that cut $860 million from public schools. This year’s budget included another round of cuts to education and cuts to essential public school programs is inevitable, he stated.

He continued the governor’s 2012 budget proposal uses an accounting gimmick, combining line items for employee Social Security contributions and transporation costs in an attempt to create the appearance of an increase in the state’s main basic education subsidy to public schools.

Also, he stated as school districts struggle to compile their 2012-2013 budgets, districts are being forced to cut more essential programs.

The labor leader said under the Pennsylvania Senate proposal, ending a corporate tax break and restoring a successful education program can begin to reverse Governor Corbett’s unprecedented funding cuts to Pennsylvania’s public schools.

“Our students are feeling the consequences and Pennsylvania’s public schools are in crisis because of nearly $1 billion in cuts. Someone needs to have the courage to stand up for our students and propose better alternatives,” said Mr. Crossey.

The Senate Democrat proposal includes the restoration of $100 million in cuts to the Accountability Block Grant program and discard the governor’s proposal to collapse four existing school funding programs that work into one program that doesn’t.

Mr. Corbett’s block grant proposal creates a single line item in the state budget by lumping together line items designed to cover costs districts must pay, such as employees’ Social Security and pupil transportation, and shifts away from a formula based upon students’ actual needs.

“The governor claims his plan gives schools more flexibility, but the only real flexibility would be where and how to make even more cuts that harm students,” Mr. Crossey added.

Mr. Crossey added that the Senate budget alternative also demonstrates that there are untapped state revenues that can be used to invest in the public schools. The plan includes the elimination of the Delaware loophole, which allows Pennsylvania companies to avoid paying state taxes by incorporating in Delaware. The elimination of the loophole would generate $550 million which could be used to restore programs that work for students.

“The choice is clear. The Senate Democrats’ budget proposal invests in Pennsylvania’s students and the governor’s doesn’t. It is time for us to stop cutting education funding and start making responsible choices for Pennsylvania’s students.

Our students need this kind of leadership and vision. If we don’t provide it, they are the ones who will suffer for it,” added Mr. Crossey who is a special education teacher in the Keystone Oaks School District.

Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act again under attack in Harrisburg

05.15.12

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

Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act again under attack in Harrisburg

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, April 2nd- Republican House of Representatives in Harrisburg are again attempting to repeal the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act.

The Prevailing Wage Act was implemented in Pennsylvania more than 50 years ago to stop the practice of out-of-the-state workers, often from the South, of being brought to the North to undercut local labor on construction projects. Jobs on construction projects being funded by taxpayers were being lost to workers that would return to their home state without having any or little economic benefit to Pennsylvania. Without the legislation many local laborers wouldn’t get the jobs and unemployment within the industry increased.

The Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act was modeled after the national prevailing wage law passed in 1931.

Republican House of Representative John Bear (97th Legislative District), is a co-signer of the lastest legislation that is intended to repeal the Prevailing Wage Act.

Mr. Bear has sponored other anti-union legislation in Harrisburg including the prohibiting the use of Project Labor Agreement (PLA’s) on public projects in Pennsylvania.

A PLA is a comprehensive agreement signed by a builder and local craft unions under which a defined construction project is agreed to be completed by workers from local union halls, in return for the union’s guarantee of no strikes, a steady labor supply, and general labor peace.

Despite Mr. Bear’s obvious anti-union opinions he has always been accessible to the newspaper.

Mr. Bear stated it’s time the state Legislature repeals the prevailing wage law. “The mandate adds as extra 5 percent onto the costs of public school, municipal and state building projects compared with private sector costs.”

“Weakening prevailing wage laws is a failed policy that Pennsylvania already tried in the late 1990’s and that didn’t work. When it comes to construction work, you get what you pay for. Prevailing wage laws help ensure the use of more skilled and experienced workers on state projects,” stated Dr. Stephen Herzenberg, economist and Executive Director of the Keystone Research Center, a ecomomy think-tank in Harrisburg.

“At a time when Pennsylvania needs every middle-class job it can find, it makes no sense to weaken a law that ensures that state projects hire local workers that spend their earnings at local businesses,” added Mr. Herzenberg.

Gary Martin, Business Manager of the Bride, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers Union Local 420 in Reading, stated a big lie about the Prevailing Wage Rate is that most people think that the “Unions” get all the work.

“I would love to see a survey about that, as there is so much cheating done by non-union contractors on wages, workman’s compensation insurance, and worker misclassification, that non-union construction companies get the overwhelming amount of Prevailing Rate work,” Mr. Martin said.

“The lack of ‘enforcing the law’ allows non-union companies to cheat so drastically, they have the monopoly on getting awarded the work because by law, the job is awarded to the ‘lowest bid’.

The State has it’s hands full, there aren’t enough inspectors to ever come close to patrolling Pennsylvania for cheating contractors,” added Mr. Martin.

Lion Brewery Union files labor complaint against company

05.15.12

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

Lion Brewery Union files labor complaint against company

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 29th- The labor organization that represent workers of the Lion Brewery in Luzerne County filed a labor complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia, alleging the company violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 542 represents approximately 100 workers of the Lion Brewery, Laird Street in the City of Wilkes-Barre according to the complaint.

The Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge was filed on April 16th alleging the brewery company violated Section 8 (a), and subsections (1) of the NLRAct.

The newspaper discovered the ULP while reviewing petitions and complaints filed at the NLRB Region Four office. The Union News is the only member of the local media that reviews and publishes the information.

The complaint was filed on behalf of Local 542 by IOUE Legal Counsel Louis Agre, Virginia Drive, Ft. Washington, Pennsylvania.

“The above named Employer, by and through its agents and attorney, violated the act by threatening the employees’ representative with legal and criminal action in an attempt to deter them from representing their members.

The above named Employer threatened its employees with civil and criminal action for exercising their rights under the Act,” states the complaint.

IOUE Local 542 has a regional office on Fox Hill Road in Wilkes-Barre.

The company representative named on the Unfair Labor Practice to be contacted is David Michalesko. Mr. Michalesko position with the Employer is not identified on the labor complaint.

Block Grant plan will shortchange schools states PSEA

05.15.12

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

Block Grant plan will shortchange schools states PSEA

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 3rd- The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) Union, which represents approximately 187,000 active and retired teachers and other school district employees in Pennsylvania, stated Republican Governor Tom Corbett’s plan to fund public schools with “block grants” will shortchange students.

Michael Crossey, President of the PSEA, stated funding Pennsylvania’s public school with block grant funds will let political deals drive state funding, and force local school districts and communities to solve the $1 billion crisis that state funding cuts have caused.

“The governor’s plan to “block grant” public school funding is just another way to pass the buck on the school funding crisis. It’s a dramatic reversal, a 180-degree turn away from a fair and predictable system. Instead of solving the crisis in our schools, these block grants will make it worse,” said Mr. Crossey, who is a special education teacher in the Keystone Oaks School District.

Mr. Crossey warned that block grants will end up shortchanging school districts, since block grants would erase the laws and formulas that account for schools’ real costs and students’ real needs. He believes instead, block grants would base state funding on arbitrary numbers and political backroom deals. And the governor’s proposal, if approved by the legislature, would set the stage for political backroom deals on how much to give public schools in future state budgets. Public schools funding was cut by $860 million in the 2011-2012 budget.

“The governor’s block grant proposal would conbine four programs that work into one that doesn’t. It’s another part of the shell game he is playing with his budget. Fair and equitable funding will go out the window, and political deals will decide how much we invest in our students,” added Mr. Crossey.

Combining the payments will make it appear as through the Corbett administration has increased school funding, even though the governor’s budget propossal contains another $100 million in state funding cuts.

“The governor claims his plan gives schools more flexibility, but all it offers is the flexibility to make even more cuts that harm student.

The school funding crisis is real, and it’s hurting Pennsylvania students every day. Shell games and accounting tricks won’t solve it. We need to fund the schools, stop these cuts, and invest in Pennsylvania students,” Mr. Crossey stated.

Former Coal Miner Out-Mobilizes Millionaire in Big Win for W.Va. Workers

05.15.12

Former Coal Miner Out-Mobilizes Millionaire in Big Win for W.Va. Workers

by Nora Frederickson

Can a former coal miner win an election against a millionaire? Just ask Clyde McKnight.

A retired coal miner from southern West Virginia, he worked for more than 30 years in the mines and currently serves as the South Central AFL-CIO president. McKnight defeated millionaire and former gubernatorial candidate Melvin Kessler in the Democratic primary by a razor-thin margin of 52 votes this past Tuesday, a win in large part to the grassroots efforts of working people.

A former coal miner beating out a millionaire for a state representative seat was just one of the success stories in West Virginia’s primary election. More than one-third of the 100 candidates that the West Virginia AFL-CIO endorsed this year were union members. And they’re enjoying a high success rate –of the 34 union members who ran in the state primary on Tuesday, 30 won their races….

(Read the rest of this article at the link below.)

http://www.aflcio.org/Blog/Political-Action-Legislation/Former-Coal-Miner-Out-Mobilizes-Millionaire-in-Big-Win-for-W.Va.-Workers