Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Seth Harris, Deputy US Secretary of Labor, speaks to Philadelphia Labor Leaders

06.27.12

by John Mason

Seth Harris, Deputy US Secretary of Labor, spoke to a meeting of Philadelphia Labor leaders and activists in the offices of the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO on Wednesday, June 20, 2012.

Harris spoke of his work in the Seafarers International Union, recalling that the president of that union told him, “Nobody ever really leaves the SIU,” and he added, “I feel that way about the Labor movement. I’m a congenital trade unionist; all my grandparents were involved in the needle trades unions, (like) the ILGWU, back in the early twentieth century. My parents were union teachers, AFT members, (and) my brother is a SAG-AFTRA member. So we have a lot of trade unionism in my family.”

Harris spoke of the Obama administration’s theme of “building an America that’s built to last.” That means, he said, building “an American economy that’s built to last, that’s strong on manufacturing, most particularly on the skill of America’s workforce.” Harris also warned of the “withering of the middle class” in America, “a chipping away of the middle class, a separation in our society that we really haven’t seen since the 1920’s. It feels almost like we’re traveling backwards through history; we started with the era of the robber barons and tremendous income inequality. Then you had the Depression, and you had essentially forty-five to fifty years of growth, where America grew together and there was a strong middle class.” During this time, added Harris, American workers showed their skills, the country’s manufacturing base was strong, and the interstate highway system was build.

But, he added, “In the last thirty years, we’ve been growing apart, and that was exacerbated by the Great Recession of 2007, which was visited upon us by a regime of deregulation and a massive transfer of wealth to the very top of society. We’ve seen incomes at the very top grow at an astronomical rate, while the vast majority of Americans are really struggling, to meet rising costs with flat incomes.” Workers are suffering, said Harris, because they’re not able to increase their incomes.

Under the leadership of President Barack Obama, and “the remarkable resilience of American workers,” said Harris, “the economy is growing again, we’ve created 4.3 million private sector jobs in the last 27 months, American manufacturing is creating jobs for the first time since the late 1990’s. The American auto industry is coming back (and) employment is growing in the American auto industry, they’re profitable for the first time and growing in market share for the first time since the 1990’s. The President has said we can’t go back to an economy that’s based on outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits.”

The federal budget proposals the President has laid out to Congress, said Harris, which show that “what you spend money on really reflects what your values are;” the President has called for “skills (training) for America’s workers and bringing back the American manufacturing center, and research and development in the American energy sector and other parts of the American economy,” as well as dealing with the unfair trade practices of other countries, “taking away tax advantages for (corporations) that outsource American jobs, and investing that money instead in folks who create jobs here in the United States.”

How to help UAW Local 1183 keep their community food bank running

06.26.12

UAW Local 1183 once represented thousands of active Chrysler auto workers in the now closed Newark, Delaware assembly plant. The plant has been torn down and the local has only a few hundred actively working members althoughthere are thousands and thousands of retirees. Exceptional management by the union leaders have kept the local active in helping the community in these difficult times.

The local somehow has managed to stay open. Hats off to their elected leaders for this accomplishment!

One of their greatest services to residents in northern Delaware along with those in nearby counties in Maryland and Pennsylvania is their community food bank. It is serving up to 10 times as many people or more than before the Great Recession hit. Thanks to the tireless work of UAW Local 1183 Financial Secretary Alena Bandy, they are helping the poor and hungry feed their families. This is being done with only a small fraction of dues paying members as before the Chrysler plant closed!

They need financial help. They need your help. You or your union can send donation checks if that is possible to: UAW Local 1183, attention: Alena Bandy, 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702.

Or you can support the weekly Flea Market fundraiser by shopping it or setting up to sell your unwanted items. All the table rents go to the UAW Local 1183 Food Bank. If you can, please help us spread the word about this worthy cause as widely as possible.

UAW 1183 “Food Bank Fund Day” every Sunday this summer

Flea Market Fundraiser- Weekly all Summer

When: every Sunday –weather permitting

Where: UAW 1183 (union hall parking lot) at : 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702

Space rental is $15 (cash only) -
Bring your own tables

Time: 8am until 2pm (seller set-up time starts at 7am)
Additional Contributions: UAW 1183 Food Bank, 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, DE 19702

UAW 1183 phone number is 302-738-4500.

More than 70 million pounds of food collected by NALC

06.26.12

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

More than 70 million pounds of food collected by NALC

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June14th- The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Union collected more than 70.5 million pounds of food in this years nationwide food drive, at a time when hunger is a major problem because of the weak economy and workers exhausting their unemployment benefits.

According to Linda Giordano, NALC Food Drive Coordinator, the NALC annual one-day drive, the largest in the nation, was conducted in 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam. The event was held throughout the Lehigh Valley. Ms. Giordano stated the NALC, which represents letter carriers of the United States Postal Service (USPS), celebrated the 20 th year of the annual food drive in 2012.

“These results will enable the food pantries that we supply across the country to help feed the 50 million Americans, one-third of them children, who live in families that lack sufficient food,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said.

“Six days a week, as we deliver mail to every address in America, letter carriers see first-hand the needs in the communities we work in, and we’re privileged to lead an effort that brings out the best in so many Americans,” Mr. Rolando added.

Each year customers of the USPS are asked to place non-perishable food donations near their mailboxes so that the nation’s 200,000 letter carriers can collect them while they deliver mail.

“This drive allows letter carriers to help replenish food banks during difficult summer months when millions of children have no school breakfast or lunch programs to count on,” Ms. Giordano told the newspaper.

This was the ninth consecutive NALC food drive surpassing 70 million pounds of food collected. Several NALC Branches were still compiling their figures as of June 10th, however already this year’s total tops 2011’s 70.2 million pounds.

Ms. Giordano stated the good 2012 results were achieved despite the continuing tough economy, which made the drive all the more important.

“We could not achieve these results without the contributions of our national and local sponsors, the assistance of those groups that help our branches collect the food, and the generosity of our postal customers,” stated NALC Assistant to the President Pam Donato.

NALC members brought the food collected to local food banks, pantries or shelters, including many affiliated with feeding America, a national partner in the drive. Assisting approximately 1,600 NALC Branches nationwide were rural letter carriers, other USPS employees, civic volunteers and other members of the labor community, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union member truck drivers.

Other national partners were Campbell Soup Company, the National Rural Letter Carriers Association, and the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation.

Anti-Pennsylvania State Store legislators fail to pass privatization law

06.26.12

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

Anti-Pennsylvania State Store legislators fail to pass privatization law

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 20th- The anti-union, pro-business members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly continues to introduce legislation to get Pennsylvania out of the business of selling liquor and wine and privatize the state run stores.

The latest proposal, the second in 2012, was tabled because of the inevitability of defeat in the House of Representatives. The backers of privatization promises to re-visit the issue after the summer recess of the General Assembly.

The last plan would give Pennsylvania’s 1,200 beer distributors first shot at buying licenses to sell wine and liquor that is currently only available at state owned stores and licenses that are not sold would be auctioned off to other private companies. All 600-plus state stores would be closed over five years, with the employees being fired.

Pennsylvania House of Representative Republican Majority leader Mike Turzai has lead the way for the selling of the system. His latest proposal died before the full House voted on the legislation because even members of his own party would not show support for the plan.

At least three privatization proposals have been introduced during the past sixteen months but have failed to become law. The privatization supporters are led by pro-business groups, profiteers and corporate owned main-stream media members, which are unfriendly to labor unions. The groups continue to cite polling that suggest Pennsylvanians support the selling of the stores, despite the system success in making money for state. Also, the pro-privatization supporters have failed to provide a reason why making it easier to purchase liquor in Pennsylvania would be a “good thing.”

The United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union represents the majority of the workers employed by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), which operates the Pennsylvania Wine and Spirit Shops. The UFCW represents shelf stockers and clerk workers while the Independent State Store Union (ISSU) represents most lower supervisors of the system and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union represents mainly office employees including the PLCB auditors.

UFCW Local 1776 and Local 23 have requested the labor community contact their members of the General Assembly and ask them not to support privatizing the state stores.

Meanwhile, members the two UFCW Unions have ratified a new four year contract with the Commonwealth. Wendell Young IV, President of Local 1776 stated on June 5th the successor contract agreement was approved by a 85 percent to 15 percent margin.

Local 1776 represents approximately 2,000 state store employees throughout the Northeast, Southeast and Central parts of Pennsylvania while Local 23 represents around 1,500 workers throughout the Western part of the state.

The new pact provides wage increases in the second, third and fourth year of the agreement. The contract term runs from July 1st, 2011, when the previous pact expired, to June 30th, 2015. There was a wage freeze in the first year of the agreement.

Study indicates food system employs more than 20 million

06.26.12

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

Study indicates food system employs more than 20 million

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 14th- According to a new study just released, twice as many food system employees use food stamps as other types of workers and half admitted to working while sick due to lack of insurance and paid sick days.

The report by the Food Chain Workers Alliance, a nation coalition of worker-based organizations whose members plant, harvest, process, pack, transport, prepare, serve, and sell food, looked at wages and working conditions of workers across the entire food chain. The sector employs approximately 20 million people in the United States, comprising one-sixth of the nation’s workforce.

Nearly 700 interviews with workers and employers in food production, processing, distribution, retail and service, were conducted. Collectively, the participants sell over $1.8 trillion dollars of goods and services annually, accounting for over 13 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

According to the report there are some good paying jobs in the food system with approximately 13.5 percent of workers surveyed earning livable wage, but, the vast majority are low-wage, with little or no access to paid sick days and health benefits.

More than 86 percent of workers reported earning subminimum, poverty, and low wages, resulting in food workers facing higher levels of financial insecurity, or the inability to afford to eat.

The report examines the five core food occupations and industries in the food system: farmworkers and production, slaughterhouse and other processing facilities, warehouse workers and distribution, grocery store workers, and restaurant and food service workers. It examines how corporate consolidation throughout the food chain has created impacts on workers in terms of low wages, small to midsize employers in terms of unfair competition, and consumers in terms of food quality and diversity.

The survey indicated 79 percent of food system workers do not have a single sick day, or do not know if they have paid sick days and 58 percent lack health coverage, also:

•Food system workers use food stamps at double the rate of the rest of the United States workforce. Food industry employees are also more likely receive Medicaid than other industries. Nearly 28 percent of food system employees are on Medicaid; and

•Despite taking on more duties, 81 percent never received a promotion.

American Patriotism in Hyper-Drive

06.23.12


by WALTER BRASCH

It’s midway between Flag Day and Independence Day.

That means several million copies of full-page flags printed on cheap newsprint, June 14, have been burned, shredded, thrown away, or perhaps recycled. It’s an American tradition.

Flag Day was created by President Wilson in 1916 on the eve of the American entry into World War I. It has since been a day to allow Americans to show how patriotic we have become, and give a running start to celebrating the Revolution by buying banners, fireworks, and charcoal briquettes for the upcoming picnic.

Within American society is a large class of people who fly flags on 30-foot poles in front of their houses and adorn their cars with flag decals and what they believe are patriotic bumper stickers. They are also quick to let everyone know how patriotic they are, and how much less patriotic the rest of us are. But patriotism is far more than flying flags and shouting about liberty in Tea Party rallies.

Find someone wearing socks, T-shirt, bandana, and even a jacket that looks like replicas of the American flag, and you might find a hyper-patriot. Of course, just a few decades ago, they would have spat out their disgust to anti-war protestors or hippies who had so much of a flag patch on their jeans.

Most of these hyper-patriots wrap themselves in the flag and Constitution, but are quick to try to shut off dissent, believe the only true religion is the one they espouse, demand that the police frisk citizens who aren’t White, and declare the Supreme Court is un-American when it doesn’t rule the way they think it should.

Many of the hyper-patriots waved those flags high whenever the U.S. has gone to war, even if that war was created by lies. In Iraq, almost 4,500 Americans have been killed; more than 32,000 were wounded, many of them with lifetime injuries.

Many of the hyper-patriots are insensitive to the problems of the 700,000 Americans, about 70,000 of them veterans, who are homeless on any given day.

They are oblivious to the 46 million Americans, about 16 million of them children, who live in poverty.

They oppose universal health care that would help all Americans, including the 50 million who are currently uninsured.

Many of these hyper-patriots believe unions are un-American, and workers who demand good work conditions and benefits are whiners.

These hyper-patriots are also the ones who believe Social Security should be privatized, oppose Medicare, and go ballistic when they think government is infringing upon rights of the individual. But they believe government should impose standards of what are or are not proper sexual positions for consenting adults.

Although the unemployment rate has fallen significantly in the past year, 12.7 million Americans are still trying to find work. The response of hyper-patriots has been to block all attempts by President Obama to pass a jobs creation bill. They readily accept corporate welfare and special tax benefits for the wealthy, but look away when corporations send work and their profits out of the country. The Wall Street Journal reports the 11 top American corporations cut 2.9 million jobs in the U.S. and hired 2.4 million overseas.

Since 2000, more than six million manufacturing jobs have been lost, and 50,000 factories closed. Among jobs now being outsourced are customer complaint specialists, medical records transcribers, phone operators, telemarketers, and even newspaper copyeditors.

More than 500,000 call center jobs have been outsourced. This past week, hyper-patriots in the U.S. House of Representatives, voting largely along party lines, blocked a bill that would have barred American companies that outsourced call center jobs from receiving federal grants and loans and would have given further protection to Americans from identity theft by overseas companies.

These hyper-patriots readily buy products made outside the United States, proudly proclaim the great bargains they just scored, and somehow believe they are still patriots.

But here are two statistics hyper-patriots might wish to reflect upon during the three weeks between Flag Day and Independence Day. About 99 percent of legal fireworks used during July 4th celebrations are made in China. The second statistic is that during the past decade, Americans paid more than $93 million for U.S. flags made overseas, most of them from China. Many of those flags are proudly waved by hyper-patriots.

[Walter Brasch was recently honored by the Pennsylvania Press Club with its lifetime Communicator of Achievement award for journalistic excellence and community service. His latest book is the critically-acclaimed novel, Before the First Snow, a look at the American counterculture, including the media.]

LiUNA! Local 199 Rally- Wilmington Renewable Energy Biosolids Facility Vote

06.21.12

Labor activists and friends from Delaware, Maryland, Philadephia & southeast PA and southern New Jersey please attend if possible.

LiUNA! Local 199 Rally
June 21, 2012 – 5:15pm
Wilmington Renewable Energy Biosolids Facility Vote
Information Fact Sheet

You have answered the call; you have come out with your other union brothers and sisters on this hot summer day to stand united for our jobs. We want members of Local 199 to be informed about this $35 million project. If passed, this project will:

• Create 100 constructions jobs employing Local 199 members
• Reduces the city’s wastewater expenses
• Reduces the city’s electrical needs
• Reduces harmful greenhouse gas emissions
• Saves the city money, allowing spending on other city-issues
• Make the city more environmentally-friendly

It is not every day that the city can vote on a project that will both create jobs and help the environment. We stand united in orange for this project that will get people back to work and better the city we live in. You being here today will send a message to the City Council that you care about jobs for the community, want a better Wilmington, and will fight for our future.
At the Plaza between 800 and 820 French Street in Wilmington, Delaware.

Anti-union forces again attempting to privatize liquor stores

06.18.12

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

Anti-union forces again attempting to privatize liquor stores

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, June 3rd- The anti-union, pro-business members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly will have another go at getting the state out of the business of selling liquor and wine and privatize the state run stores.

A new proposal lead by Pennsylvania House of Representative Republican Majority leader Mike Turzai is attempting to gain enough support by his fellow state store haters in Harrisburg for his latest plan.

The latest plan would give Pennsylvania’s 1,200 beer distributors first shot at buying licenses to sell wine and liquor that is currently only available at state owned stores and licenses that are not sold would be auctioned off to other private companies. All 600-plus state stores would be closed over five years, with the employees being fired.

Mr. Turzai announced on June 1st his latest proposal and stated it would be introduced at the House Republican caucus meeting during the week of June 4th.

The United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776 and Local 23 are requesting the labor community contact their members of the General Assembly and ask them not to support privatizing the state stores.

The UFCW represents the majority of the workers employed by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), which operates the Pennsylvania Wine and Spirit Shops. The UFCW represents shelf stockers and clerk workers while the Independent State Store Union (ISSU) represents most lower supervisors of the system and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union represents mainly office employees including the PLCB auditors.

Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett supports the selling of the state stores and has stated will sign legislation that would privatize the system if it should reach his desk.

Several privatization proposals have been introduced during the past sixteen months but have failed to become law.

The privatization supporters are led by pro-business groups, profiteers and corporate owned main-stream media members, which are unfriendly to labor unions.

Pipeline Contractors Association and IBT agreement ratified

06.18.12

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

Pipeline Contractors Association and IBT agreement ratified

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, June 1st- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union members employed within the pipeline industry that went on strike that affected several work sites in the region on January 1st, 2012 have overwhelmingly voted to ratify a new three year contract agreement.

The Teamsters National Pipe Line Agreement with the Pipe Line Contractors Association (PCLA) was overwhelmingly supported with 92 percent of the membership voting to approve the successor labor agreement.

The previous contract expired on Janaury 2011 however the two parties agreed to work under the terms and conditions of the previous pact while negotations continued. There are approximately 70 pipeline construction companies affiliated with the PLCA.

Negotiations “broke down” in December 2011 when the PCLA demanded the IBT members agree to a 401(k) savings plan, similar to the one that already existed with three other labor unions. In short, the PLCA proposed withdrawning from the IBT Central States Pension Plan and substitute it with a 401(k) plan.

The PLCA also has labor agreements with the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), the United Association of Pipefitters and Plumbers (UA) Union and the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA).

IBT members working at several pipeline sites in the region walked off their jobs on January 1st, 2012. IBT Local 229 in Scranton and IBT Local 401 members were involved in the local strike. IBT members operate dump trucks and other vehicles that haul pipes and other materials to pipeline construction sites.

James Murphy, President of Local 401, stated the two unions shared the jurisdiction of the pipeline construction.

The workers returned to their jobs after the PCLA agreed to a three-month extension of the previous pact and continue contract negotiations. The parties agreed to extend the pact two other times.

The IBT has around 700 members within the industry but the union did not call for a national strike instead they conducted a “selective work stoppage” that involved the local pipelines, stated Craig Pawlik, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 229.

The pipelines affected by the strike included the Appalachian Pipeline Contractors site near Tunkhannock and Otis Eastern Services site near Towanda. Approximately 26 members of the IBT participated in the local strike.

Under the new agreement IBT members will receive wage increases for each year of the contract including retroactive pay dating back to January 2011. Also, all employees will receive a 3 percent wage increase retroactive to January 1, 2012, when the strike began.

During the strike several incidents occurred at the local pipeline site that cause “friction” between unions.

Painters Union files complaint against painting contractor

06.18.12

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

Painters Union files complaint against painting contractor

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 28th- The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 21, Azalea Drive in Drums, Luzerne County, filed a labor complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia alleging a signatory contractor with the Union violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

According to the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge, which was discovered by the newspaper while reviewing representation peitions and labor complaints filed at the NLRB Region Four office, the IUPAT represents approximately four workers of the company.

The Union News is the only member of the local media, including newspapers, television or radio broadcasters, that reviews and publicizes the information.

The labor complaint was filed on May 23rd, 2012 against Accents Painting and Wallcovering, LLC Accents Contracting, Church Road in Mountain Top.

The ULP was filed against the painting contractor on behalf of the Union by John Gatto, identified as the Assistant Business Manager of IUPAT District Council 21. IUPAT represent painters and drywall construction workers within the building trade industry.

“On or about March 23rd, 2012 Accents Painting and Wallcovering refused to furish District Council 21 with requested information for collective bargaining.

Since September 2011 Accents Painting and Wallcovering has not made fund payments as per District Council 21’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Since approximately January 2012 the officers of Accents Painting and Wallcovering have been running Accents Contracting, a non signatory alter ego, within the same industry,” states the labor complaint.

When contacted by the newspaper, Mr. Gatto stated the employer is attempting to not pay their obligations under the IUPAT contract and the Union was left with no choice but to file the labor complaint.

The ULP states the company representatives to be contacted are Jennifer and Ken Phillips. Their position with the company is not identified on the labor complaint but Mr. Gatto stated they are owners of the company.

According to the NLRB, the complaint is under investigation and both parties have been contacted that the ULP has been received by the agency and is under review

New union election regulations struck down by federal judge

06.18.12

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

New union election regulations struck down by federal judge

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@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.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA’s unemployment rate remains highest in Pennsylvania

06.17.12

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

MSA’s unemployment rate remains highest in Pennsylvania

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 30th- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Industry, the region’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 8.7 percent, unchanged from the previous report, which was released approximately four weeks before. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) includes Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wyoming Counties of Pennsylvania. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was 9.2 percent.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 7.4 percent, decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,428,000 with 474,000 not working and 5,954,000 with employment. The national unemployment rate is 8.1 percent, dropping by one-tenth 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 12,500,000 civilians in the nation reported to be unemployed. That number also does not include civilians that have exhausted their unemployment benefits and have stopped looking for work. During the past several weeks more than 500,000 long-timed jobless workers have exhausted their unemployment benefits and are no longer counted as unemployed.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA continues to have the highest unemployment rate among the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania.

The Philadelphia MSA and the Johnstown MSA are tied for the second highest unemployment rate in the Commonwealth at 8.2 percent. The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third highest unemployment rate at 8.1 percent. The Reading MSA and the Williamsport MSA are tied for the fourth highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 7.5 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.5 percent. The Lebanon MSA and the Lancaster MSA are tied for the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 6.1 percent, while the Altoona MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate at 6.7 percent. The Pittsburgh MSA has the fourth lowest unemployment rate at 6.8 percent.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fourth largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 285,900 civilians and 24,900 of them are without employment. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor force in Pennsylvania at 2,989,100 with 246,300 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,241,500 with 83,900 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force at 425,100 with 34,300 not working.

The Williamsport MSA has the smallest labor force in Pennsylvania with 62,000 civilians and 4,600 of them have no jobs. The Altoona MSA has the second smallest labor force with 65,300 civilians with 4,400 without employment and the Johnstown MSA is third with a labor force of 68,300 and 5,600 of them are not working.

Lackawanna County and Wyoming County are tied for the lowest unemployment rate within the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA at 8.5 percent.

Lackawanna County’s unemployment rate is unchanged from the previous report and has dropped by six-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago. The County has a civilian labor force of 108,700, decreasing by 200 from the previous report.

Wyoming County’s unemployment rate decreased by two-tenths of a percentage point for the previous report and dropped by one and three-tenths of a percentage point during the previous twelve months. The County has a civilian labor force of 14,500, unchanged from the previous report with 1,200 unemployed, decreasing by 100 from the previous report.

Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 8.9 percent, unchanged from the previous report and decreasing by four-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before.

The County has the largest civilian labor-force in the MSA at 162,700, decreasing by 200 from the previous report and rising by 3,000 during the past twelve months. Luzerne County has 14,400 civilians unemployed, unchanged from the previous report.

Within the MSA total nonfarm jobs have increased by 4,400 during the past twelve months to 259,000. Service providing jobs rose by 3,200 during the period while manufacturing jobs rose by 400 from twelve months before.

Meanwhile, Government jobs was the biggest loser dropping by 1,000.

Obama adminstration launches new manufacturing initiative

06.17.12

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

Obama adminstration launches new manufacturing initiative

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, June 1st- The Obama administration announced a $26 million multi-agency Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge to foster innovation fueling job creation through public-private partnerships.

“The Jobs Accelerator Challenge is one way the federal government is helping to support the manufacturing industry, a vital source of middle-class jobs. The innovation products developed as a result of this federal grant program will help our economy maintain its global competitive advantage, while also creating jobs at home,” stated United States Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.

“This $26 million Jobs Accelerator Challenge is yet another example of the Obama administration’s commitment to supporting American manufacturers in building things here and selling them everywhere. We are so pleased to join with our federal agency partners to further strengthen the American manufacturing sector, which creates high-quality, good-paying jobs. Commerce’s Economic Development Administrations has a strong record of investing in regional innovation clusters that foster the job creation and business development crucial to an economy that is built to last,” stated Commerce Secretary John Bryson.

Mr. Bryson added the challenge further bolsters the effort of the Obama administration to build on the momentum in the United States manufacturing sector in recent months with the sector gaining 489,000 manufacturing jobs since January 2010.

Approximately 12 projects are expected to be chosen through a competitive interagency grant program. Applicants are encouraged to submit proposals that will help a region’s industry clusters by strengthening connections to regional economic development opportunities and advance manufacturing assets. The dealine for Advance Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge applications is July 9th, 2012.

Manufacturing accounts for 70 percent of private sector research and development, and 60 percent of United States exports. Over the past 25 months, manufactures have created nearly half a million jobs, the best showing since 1995.

The program is designed to assist the development and implementation of regionally driven economic development strategies that will support advance manufacturing and cluster development. The goal is to create jobs, and enhance manufacturing in the global marketplace. The funds is entended to bring federal agencies together with small businesses to create manufacturing jobs.

Democratic Talk Radio format change

06.15.12

We have finally begun the process for changing the Democratic Talk Radio format.

We are taking down certain sections of our website…. program archives, articles and the message board. The first two listed have already been taken down.

New text will soon go up on our front page announcing our upcoming format change and change in legal structure.

We are moving from a show to a brand of shows. We are moving from commerical radio to college and NPR type radio stations. We will no longer be a “for profit” entity probably next month.

We are looking for both new college radio talk show hosts and new stations willing to carry our programs. It is our intention to create unique new shows for each station. Our experienced DTR hosts will be working with new people as we begin this process. We hope to create and train an entire new generation of progressive talk show hosts moving forward.

Democratic Talk Radio ceased being a politically partisan “Democratic” radio show a couple of years ago but it does still have a point of view. We will be talking about “democratic government and democratic economic issues.” The small “d” in democratic is significant.

Our show will be putting together a new national Democratic Talk Radio Advisory Board. We will be asking a few key individuals to serve. If you think you can help raise the needed funding to make the changes we are in the process of undertaking, we would certainly consider placing you on our national Advisory Board. If you have special technical skills in radio, IT, organizational development, legal, non-profit management or public relations, we might be able to place you on the Advisory Board.

Please contact Stephen Scott Crockett by email at CollegeDTR@aol.com or phone at 443-907-2367 if interested in getting involved with the new Democratic Talk Radio.

Sincerely,

Stephen Crockett

IAM files labor complaint against Tobyhanna contractor

06.12.12

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

IAM files labor complaint against Tobyhanna contractor

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 19th- The International Association of Machinists (IAM) Union, District Lodge 1, filed a labor complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia, alleging a contractor working at the Tobyhanna Army Depot in Tobyhanna violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The IAM filed the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge in early May against UBS Corporation, identified as a United States Department of Defense (DOD) contractor, at the Tobyhanna Army Depot.

“Within the last six months, the above named Employer, through its officers, agents and representatives, has interfered with, restrained and coerced, and is interfering with, restraining and coercing employees of URS Corporation in the exercise of their rights guaranted in Section 7 of the Act,” states the ULP, which was filed on behalf of the IAM by James Smith.

Mr. Smith is identified on the ULP, which was reviewed by the newspaper, as IAM Grand Lodge Representative.

According to the ULP, the IAM alleges UBS has violated the NLRAct by not bargaining for a labor contract in good faith.

“Since on or about March 16th, 2012 and at all times thereafter, the Employer, by its officers, agents, and representatives, has refused to bargain in good faith with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO, District Lodge 1, a labor organization chosen by a majority of its employees in an appropriate unit,” the ULP continued.

The IAM alleges the company has failed to provide requested healthcare utilization data needed to bargain healthcare benefits and/or providers, intelligently.

PSEA President critizes distressed school district legislation

06.12.12

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

PSEA President critizes distressed school district legislation

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 29th- The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) Union, which represents approximately 187,000 active and retired teachers and other school district employees in Pennsylvania, again has critized a proposal by Republican Governor Tom Corbett regarding the financial situation of public schools.

Michael Crossey, President of the PSEA, stated on May 23rd that a proposal backed by Mr. Corbett would place Harrisburg bureaucrates in control of financially distressed districts and will do nothing to address the financial situations facing these districts.

“There is a serious funding crisis in a growing number of our schools. But this bill isn’t a solution. The problem was manufactured largely by state underfunding in the first place. This bill is a bureaucratic power grap masquerading as a fix, and it leaves these struggling schools guessing about how to balance their budgets and educate their students,” stated Mr. Crossey.

Recently Mr. Crossey critized Mr. Corbett’s plan to fund public schools with “block grants” stating it would shortchange students and 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 combine 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. 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.

He urged legislators to vote “no” on House Bill 1307, which now includes Governor Corbett’s distressed school district proposal.

Mr. Crossey pointed out that nearly $1 billion in state funding cuts have contributed significantly to the funding crisis in Pennsylvania schools.

“Across the state, the crisis is growing worse, as school district deplete their reserve funds and continue to cut staff and programs that work for their students.

If their state funding hadn’t been cut, these school districts wouldn’t be is crisis. Restoring these funding cuts is the solution. Putting state bureacrats in charge isn’t,” added Mr. Crossey.

Initially, the distressed school district proposal would target the Chester Upland, Duquesne City, Harrisburg, and York City School Distrcts. However, in future years, the State Board of Education would be left with sole discretion to determine which districts are financially distressed. In these districts, state-appointed bureaucrats would be required to fashion response plans, and a state receiver could be put in place to run the districts if their budget crisis continue. The legislation would allow these officials to cancel contracts, convert community schools into charter schools, and attack school employees’ collective bargaining rights.

IBEW Union Local 81 wants to represent satelite television workers

06.12.12

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

IBEW Union Local 81 wants to represent satelite television workers

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, June 3rd- The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 81, Wyoming Avenue in Scranton, filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia, requesting the agency conduct a election to determine if workers of a Lackawanna County employer want to be represented by the Union for the purpose of collective bargaining.

On April 30th, IBEW Local 81 filed the representation petition requesting the NLRB conduct a election to determine if employees of the MasTec Company, East Lackawanna Avenue in Olyphant, want to be represented by the IBEW for the purpose of collective bargaining. The employer installs and provides service for Direct Satelite systems throughout the nation.

According to Eugene Arcurie Jr., Organizer and Treasurer of Local 81, the organizing campaign is being held by the IBEW throughout the nation. “This is a huge employer. The IBEW is going after the whole system,” said Mr. Arcurie.

The union is hopeful to win the right to represent workers throughout the United States and negotiate a “master agreement” with the company.

Currently, the newspaper is not aware of any cable or satelite service companies in our region that have unionized workers. IBEW Local 375 in Allentown does represent a cable television provider in the Lehigh Valley.

According to the petition, which was reviewed by the newspaper, the IBEW request all technicians and warehouse employees participate in the NLRB election. The petition estimated that there was approximately 50 workers in the unit, however after a NLRB review, eighty-two workers will be eligible to participate in the election.

The newspaper discovered the petition while reviewing labor complaints and petitions filed at the NLRB office. The Union News is the only member of the local media that reviews and publicizes the information.

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 card requesting the NLRB conduct an election.

According to the NLRB, a election was first scheduled for June 9th, however, because a federal judge struck down new election standards, 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, the new election date is June 28th, 2012.

The new standard took effect on April 30th, but 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. In December 2011 the normally five member NLRB voted 2-0 with the lone Republican appointed member not participating. At the time of the vote there were three members of the NLRB.

The first election was scheduled under the new standards but after the federal judge ruled that the agency could not approve the regulations, the company, the IBEW, and the NLRB needed to choose a new election date and the old standards will be used.

Mr. Arcurie told the newspaper the union has provided information to the workers hoping they will vote in favor of representation. Also, meetings have been held between union officials and the employees to answer any questions they may have on the organizing drive and how their jobs will be effected by joining a labor organization.

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 newspaper has learned the attorney representing the company in the election was once a NLRB employee working in the Region Four office in Philadelphia.

UAW Local 1183 begins weekly Sunday summer flea market to help fund their community food bank

06.11.12

UAW 1183 “Food Bank Fund Day”

Fundraiser- Weekly all Summer

Flea Market

When: every Sunday –weather permitting

Where: UAW 1183 (union hall parking lot) at : 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702

Space rental is $15 (cash only) -
Bring your own tables

Time: 8am until 2pm (seller set-up time starts at 7am)

Additional Contributions: UAW 1183 Food Bank, 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, DE 19702

Mid-Atlantic Labor editorial comment on Walker Recall Election results

06.06.12

If the Labor Movement let a defeat or two stop us, there would never had been a labor movement. Working people need us badly. We are not going to let the bastards grind us down. The fight is still on in all 50 states…. including Wisconsin.

The bad guys won a battle with their mega-millions thanks to Citizens United but we are never going to give up in the fight for the American middle class, American democracy and basic economic justice!

In Solidarity,

Stephen Crockett

Editor, Mid-Atlantic Labor.com

College Marketing.com wants to work with the Labor Movement to reach college students

06.04.12

To All Labor Unions and allies,

Would your organization have any interest in using our services at College Marketing.com to reach the college community on a local, state, regional or national level?

College Marketing.com can help you:

(1) Recruit new members from the student body, faculty and/or staff,
(2) Promote your general mission and increase public awareness of your organization,
(3) Drive specific messages,
(4) Hire interns, part-time employees and graduating seniors,
(5) Increase attendance at events your organization sponsors (conferences, demonstrations, etc.)
(6) Help get college communities and student activists behind your lobbying efforts,
(7) Influence the future leaders and opinion-makers of America,
(8) Create media events on American campuses,
(9) And much more. We are interested in assisting with the execution of your unique ideas.

We have more than 30 years of experience in working with academic institutions in the execution of advertising, marketing, promotional and public relations campaigns targeting the college community. You can find more about of our services and history at www.CollegeMarketing.com. Our fees are very reasonable and our services cost-effective. We can design customized campaigns around your needs and budget. In some cases, our efforts on your behalf may be able to fund themselves in short order.

Our President, founder and owner, Stephen Crockett has a lifelong background as a political activist, labor activist, blogger, talk show host (Democratic Talk Radio), writer, campaign manager, political strategist and consultant. You are invited to discuss working together with College Marketing.com by calling him directly on his cell phone at 443-907-2367 or emailing him at collegemarket@aol.com.

We are not interested in working with organizations that support policies, programs and goals that we oppose. Our primary goal is to support your goals. Your organization would not be receiving this letter if we did not support your mission.

In Solidarity,

Stephen S. Crockett
President, College Marketing.com