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Teamsters Local 229 members vote to ratify new labor agreements

08.16.12

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

Teamsters Local 229 members vote to ratify new labor agreements
BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 31st- Union members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 229 in Scranton have ratified several labor agreements involving several employers in Lackawanna County.

According to Charlie Miller, Vice President and Business Representative of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 229, workers at Pepsi Company, North Main Avenue in Scranton, and Verrastro Distributors, Moosic Road, have ratified new labor agreements with their employers.

The Teamsters represent approximately 55 workers employed at Pepsi Company. The North Main Avenue facility does not bottle any Pepsi product. Mr. Miller was not sure were the Pepsi products sold in the area were bottled.

Mr. Miller stated the previous contract agreement between the Teamsters and the company expired on March 31st, 2012 and the new contract was approved by the membership on June 26th, 2012. The vote for ratification was held at the Local 229 building, which is located across the street from the Pepsi Company facility. The two parties had agreed to work under the “terms and conditions” of the previous contract while negotiations continued for a successor labor contract.

The new pact will expire on March 31st, 2016. Under the agreement bargaining unit workers, which include drivers, sales personnel, and warehousemen, will receive wage increases of 45 cents an hour the first, second and third year of the contract while the hourly employees will receive an increase of 45 cents an hour the fourth and final year of the agreement. The bargaining unit employees that work on sales commission, will also see their wages increased under the new bargaining agreement.

Mr. Miller added that there was minor changes to the contract language from the previous pact. Also, employees pensions will increase under the new agreement.

“During a bad ecomonic time, we negotiated a good contract,” stated Mr. Miller. He said the membership overwhelmingly approved the new agreement.

Local 229 represents IBT members in Scranton and the surrounding areas while Local 401 in Wilkes-Barre represents IBT members in Wilkes-Barre and the surrounding areas.

Local 229 represents Verrastro Distributors employees, including truck drivers and warehouse personnel. The company warehouses and delivers beverage products throughout the region. Verrastro was located for many years on Lackawanna and 7th Avenue’s in Scranton but re-located to a larger facilty on Moosic Road in Old-Forge.

The members ratified the new five-year contract agreement by a 36 for to 28 against margin.

Under the new contract, employees pensions will increase, healthcare coverage cost will stay the same, and sickness benefits will rise. Workers wages will increase by 50 cents an hour each year of the five-year pact.

Postal Union files labor complaint regarding processing center

08.16.12

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

Postal Union files labor complaint regarding processing center

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 30th- The National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU) Local Branch 308 in Scranton, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia alleging the United States Postal Service (USPS) violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The Union believes the USPS is acting improperly by moving the mail processing center operations from Stafford Avenue in Scranton to a facility in the Lehigh Valley.

The Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge was filed on behalf of the NPMHU Local Branch 308 by Robert Glycenfer, Local Branch 308 President.

The USPS announced in May it would consolidate 48 mail processing centers throughout the nation including moving the operations of one in Scranton to the Lehigh Valley. The agency stated consolidating the mail processing centers would save nearly $1.2 billion a year. Approximately 5,000 workers will be immediately affected by the consolidation including around 300 in Scranton, which will be offered jobs at the Processing Center in the Lehigh Valley. There are currently around 487 mail processing centers in the United States.

The USPS stated it plans to close about 250 processing centers after their downsizing plan is fully implemented in 2014, which the unions are attempting to stop. Many of the the jobs affected are American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and NPMHU members.

The reason for the cutbacks is because of the declining mail volume caused by the recession and customers no longer using the mail service.

The jobs that will be most effected by the Scranton mail processing center operations being moved to the Lehigh Valley are members of Local Branch 308 and the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 101 in Scranton.

The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) and the American Postal Workers Union represent the majority of USPS workers with a combined membership of nearly 410,000 workers.

The major reason the USPS loses money is because of legislation that was passed in 2006 that forces the agency, which is not funded through any government program but only through postage income, to fund pensions for workers that have not even been born. The pensions for the future workers must be funded 75 years in advance.

According to the ULP, which was discovered by the newspaper while reviewing petitions and ULP’s filed at the NLRB office, NPMHU Local Branch 308 alleges the USPS will not supply information pertaining to the study that was used to justify the removel and consolidation of the mail processing center to the Lehigh Valley.

The complaint alleges NPMHU requests for the information was given to the plant manager and the USPS Labor Relations Manager in Harrisburg, but the information was not received.

“Without this information the USPS has in it’s possession the Union is “blinded” to the truth and cannot property seek justice through the grievance arbitration process over the decision to consolidate mail processing without having the full facts of the case,” states the ULP.

The ULP states the employer representative to be contacted is Sean Kesler, identified as the Plant Manager.

Verizon and Unions continue to negotiate for new pacts

08.16.12

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

Verizon and Unions continue to negotiate for new pacts

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 25th- Members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Union and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union are still without new collective bargaining agreements.

The CWA and IBEW members have been without new labor agreements with Verizon since August 6th, 2011.

Recently in an attempt to gain new contracts, the unions asked for federal mediation through the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) in Washington. Verizon first declined the request for mediation but later agreed and several negotiation meetings have been held with the FMCS present.

On August 7th, 2011, approximately 45,000 union Verizon workers, which included 35,000 workers represented by the CWA Local 13000 and CWA Local 13500 and 10,000 employees represented by IBEW, went on strike.

The union’s and Verizon were unable to reach an agreement because of managements insistence of give-backs and job cuts. The give-backs included higher healthcare benefit cost and jobs being outsourced to private contractors.

The unions stated the strike occured because Verizon came to negotiations with an extreme set of contract proposals and would not move off of them.

The workers returned to their jobs on August 23rd, 2011 without receiving new contracts but had the understanding negotiations would continue and the workers would work under the “terms and conditions” of the previous labor agreement.

The CWA and the IBEW felt working under the terms and conditions of the expired contract would be better for their members than agreeing to a “bad” contract in which pensions would be cut and current and retired employees health insurance would cost more.

According to CWA Local 13000, not much progress has been made at the bargaining table leading-up to federal mediation and the one year anniversity date of the expired contract will be held without a successor pact being reached.

Without reaching new pacts, the unions fear Verizon may implement new contracts on their members, following the one-year anniversity of the expiration of the previous contract. Should the communications giant “post conditions” workers could be forced to work under it’s terms and conditions or go back on strike.

As of press time, negotiations between the parties and the FMCS were continuing.

”Sam Bianco Labor Award” recipient is Kerri Gallagher

08.16.12

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

”Sam Bianco Labor Award” recipient is Kerri Gallagher

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 30th- This year’s recipient of the “United Way of Wyoming Valley’s Sam Bianco Labor Award” is American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87 Staff Representative Kerri Gallagher.

The award was originally created in 1977 to recognize either a union member or labor organization for their monetary or voluntary support to the United Way, their member agencies or community in general.

After the legendary labor leader Sam Bianco died in 2010, the United Way of the Wyoming Valley changed the name of the award to honor Mr. Bianco for his more than 55 years of volunteer service to the community based organization.

Mrs. Gallagher received the award on May 30th at the annual meeting of the organization, which was held a the Mohegan Sun Casino at Pocono Downs. She was presented with the award by the United Way of the Wyoming Valley President Bill Jones.

Walter Klepaski, the United Way of the Wyoming Valley’s American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) Community Services Liason, the go-beteen the labor community and the United Way, stated Mrs. Gallagher deserved the award because of her wide variety of volunteer activities, as well as her generous financial support to the organization over the years.

She is a current United Way board member and Labor Participation Committee member and chairs the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council (GWLC) labor federation Community Services Committee and their Workers Memorial Day Program.

Also, Mrs. Gallagher volunteers for the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Annual Food Drive in May, and the GWBLC’s Labor Christmas Stocking Project in December.