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United Steelworkers Union celebrates 70th year anniversity of the Union

05.27.12

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

United Steelworkers Union celebrates 70th year anniversity of the Union

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, May 23rd- The United Steelworkers Union (USW) Local 2599 celebrated the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the International Union with a event at the Union’s East Lehigh Street in Bethlehem building on May 22nd.

According to Jerry Green, who recently won a 5th three-year term as President of USW Local 2599, the ceremony honoring the USW was the only such event held in Pennsylvania.

The event began at 7:30 pm and was attended by approximately 150 people including former United States House of Representative for the 15th Legislative District Fred Rooney; Ed O’Brian, former USW Official; and Gary Ward, former USW Local 2598 President and current USW International Staff.

A slide show was displayed that included the past and recent history of the USW.

Before the event Mr. Green was sworn-in as President of Local 2599 for the fifth time. Mr. Green is the longest serving leader of Local 2599 in its history, which was chartered by the USW in 1942.

Local 2599 was one of the three USW Local Union’s that represented workers employed at the Bethlehem Steel Corporation plant in Bethlehem, which site is now the Sands Casino and Resort.

“I’m very proud to have served the members of Local 2599 for so many years,” stated Mr. Green.

In 1995 the USW merged the three Unions that represented workers employed at Bethlehem Steel, which were known as the “tri-local’s,” into Local 2599.

USW Local 2600 and USW Local 2598 also represented workers employed at the steel mill.

Mr. Green 57, is a Bethlehem resident and was employed at the Lehigh Heavy Forge Corporation plant in Bethlehem before being elected in 2000 to lead Local 2599.

Additional labor complaint filed against Sands Casino Resort

05.27.12

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

Additional labor complaint filed against Sands Casino Resort

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, May 19th- The newspaper has discovered the Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association (LEEBA) Union filed at least a second labor complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia alleging the Sands Casino Resort in Bethelhem violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct) during the past several months.

In the previous edition of the newspaper it was reported the Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association filed a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge against Sands alleging the legalized gambling resort violated the NLRAct. The ULP change was filed in March 2012 and alleged Sands violated Section 8 (a)(5) of the NLRAct.

The Union won the right to represent the security department of Sands in 2011 however, they have been unsuccessful in gaining a first-time contract with the casino operators. There are no other union workers employed at Sands, but members of the construction trades unions have been hired for the construction of the casino and other projects at the site.

According to the ULP, Sands have failed to negotiate with LEEBA during the first-time contract negotiations.

“Failure to Negotiate in good faith. On March 2nd, 2012 we requested dates in April for contract negotiations. On March 6th, 2012 the Sands Casino refused to begin negotiations. On March 9th, 2012 Sands casino informed the security officers they will not negotiate with the Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association,” states the labor complaint, which was reviewed by the newspaper.

The Union News is the only member of the local media that reviews petitions and complaints filed at the NLRB office in Philadelphia and publishes the findings.

On April 30th, the LEEBA filed a second ULP alleging Sands denied union representation to an employee and union member during a meeting with management.

“Security Officer Michael Then was summoned to the office of Kathy Bierbeck, Human Resource representative for a follow-up meeting regarding a “write-up” he received a couple days prior.

When told to report to the meeting Officer Then notified his union delegate, William Modzelewski to attend as his representative. Upon arriving at the meeting Officer Then was denied union representation,” states the labor complaint.

New nurses survey released by PASNAP Union indicates fear regarding workplace violence

05.27.12

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

New nurses survey released by PASNAP Union indicates fear regarding workplace violence

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, May 15th- The Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP) Union, which represents nurses employed at medical centers in Philadelphia, Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, released a survey of 25,000 Registered Nurses (RN’s) regarding workplace safety.

The survey was released on May 8th, and shows nurses are concerned about staffing, and workplace violence.

The report indicated that nurses continue to be alarmed by chronic unsafe nurse staffing at their facilities and that most believe they have much less time to spend with their patients than in prior years.

“These results clearly show that the issues of adequate staffing and patient safety continue to dominate the concerns of Pennsylvania nurses. All of the academic research lines up with the day to day concerns of nurses, minimum nurse to patient ratios would both keep patients safer and save millions for the health care system.

This new survey confirms what front line nurses have been saying for years, the hospitals industry should listen,” stated PASNAP member Patricia Eakin, an emergency department nurse at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia.

Legislation was introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in November, 2011 which would require Pennsylvania hospitals and other health care facilities to take proactive steps to protect nurses and other health care workers from suffering violence on the job.

House Bill 1992 was supported by PASNAP and would require hospitals to assess the security risks in their facilities, find ways to create a safer workplace, and help victims of violence report incidences.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released data in November 2011 that showed the incidence rate for health care workers that require days away from work because of nonfatal occupational injuries increased 6 percent in 2010. There were 283 cases per 10,000 full-time workers, almost 2 1/2 times the rate for all private and public sector workers at 118 cases per 10,000 full-time workers.

The rate among nursing aids, orderlies and attendants rose 7 percent to 489 per 10,000 workers. Also, the rate of musculoskeletal disorder cases with days away from work for nursing aids, orderlies and attendants increased 10 percent to a rate of 249 cases per 10,000 workers.

The PASNAP survey revealed a significant uptick in verbal and physical violence directed on the job. The union is affiliated with the California Nurses Association (CNA). The CNA is a member of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington, DC.

Eighty percent of surveyed nurses say that during the past five years they have had less time for their patients, citing low nurses-to-patient ratios as the main cause, and that 70 percent believe that having less time with each patient has negatively effected patient outcomes.

Other findings of the survey found that 46 percent of all nurses feel that threats to their safety and workplace violence are issues on their unit and 24 percent of nurses plan to retire in the next 3 years, 48 percent in the next 10 years.

“It is unacceptable that the workers who have dedicated their lives to caring for our loved ones when they are sick are the very same workers who face the highest risk of work-related injury and illness,” stated OSHA’s Assistant Secretary, Dr. David Michaels.

New union election regulations struck down by federal judge

05.27.12

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

New union election regulations struck down by federal judge

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, May 13th- The new standards proposed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that was intended to shorten when workers could vote whether they want to be represented by a labor organization for the purpose of collective bargaining had survived anti-union Republican party members and pro-business groups until May 13th when a federal judge struck down the new regulations.

Since December 2011 when the five member NLRB voted 2-0 anti-union groups, including most Republicans in Washington, have attempted to kill the new regulations.

In April 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 left intact the NLRB rules that had 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.

The NLRB has been the focus of partisan bickering since President Obama gave the agency its first Democratic party majority in a decade. The President gets to appoint members to the NLRB but the Senate must approve the appointments before they can be seated to a full-term on the board. However, Republicans in the Senate blocked Mr. Obama’s appointments by filibustering the vote and he placed two members on the NLRB by recess appointment in December 2011.

The federal judge ruled that the NLRB could not approve the new regulations, because they never had a quorum when it voted in December to approve the regulations. At the time, the agency only had three members because Republicans in the Senate blocked two President Obama appointments. The only Republican member of the NLRB although present, would not cast a vote on the new regulations, causing only two members to participate in the final vote. If he voted against the new rules, the NLRB would have had a quorum. Under NLRB rules at least three members must participate in rulings.

The rules were already 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 authorization cards requesting the NLRB conduct an election.

Also, under the new rules employers would have not been able to “delay” representation elections by filing appeals until after the election was held. Under current rules, employers often appeal NLRB findings before elections are held, causing delays that gives them more time to intimidate workers. 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.”

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 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 treat them better.

The NLRB is likely to vote again within several weeks on the new regulations.