Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Labor Community reaching-out to members regarding election

09.30.12

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

Labor Community reaching-out to members regarding election

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, September 17th- The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation and the rest of the labor community have begun reaching-out to their membership requesting they support Democratic United States of America President Barack Obama and vote on November 6th.

According to Roxanne Pauline, Field Representative of the Northeastern Area Labor Federation (ALF), which AFL-CIO labor councils throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania are affiliated including the Lehigh Valley Labor Council, the grassroots labor federation political program “Labor 2012″ is underway.

The program is intended to better educate union members and their households about how Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney if elected would not support the working people and legislation important to the labor community.

The grassroots political program includes visits by fellow union members at unionized job sites, making phone calls to members homes, and knocking on doors of union members. The home addresses and phone numbers are provided by the members labor organizations.

Ms. Pauline stated visits to union members homes is underway and fliers provided by the AFL-CIO in Washington are being left at union members homes.

According to a flier, Mitt Romney has been called a “pioneer” of outsourcing jobs as CEO of Bain Capital, and supports a tax plan that will encourage companies to ship even more jobs overseas.

Mr. Romney stated we should, “Let Detroit go bankrupt,” the flier points-out. The AFL-CIO stated Mr. Romney’s opinion makes sense considering he made his fortune destroying American companies and forcing them to close plants, lay-off workers and eliminate pensions and health care.

The AFL-CIO also wants to make sure union members votes count on November 6th due to changes made to the Pennsylvania election law.

The Repubican controlled General Assembly in Harrisburg passed H.B. 934 in the spring that will force voters to show identification in the fall election. Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett signed the legislation into law even though Democrats and others opposed the legislation believing it will result in longer lines at polls and was nothing but a “Trojan horse” designed to tip election battles in Republicans’ favor.

Approximately 21 million American adults do not have a government issued photo identification card. Around 15 percent of low-income people, which do not own or drive a car, lack a valid card.

According to all major polls in Pennsylvania, Mr. Obama has a big lead over Mr. Romney.

On September 15th the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper reported Mr. Obama leads his Republican opponent by 11 percentage points in Pennsylvania.

Also, Republican affiliated super PAC’s have cut or stopped advertising on television since Labor Day in the state instead investing into other swing states like Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Virginia and Wisconsin. According to the Wall Street Journal on September 14th, Mr. Obama holds leads outside the margin of error in Ohio, Florida and Virginia.

PLA’s signed for almost all NFL stadiums built since 1998

09.30.12

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

PLA’s signed for almost all NFL stadiums built since 1998

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, September 12th- According to the Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD) of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, the National Football League’s (NFL’s) season opening game played between Dallas and the New York Giants was played in a stadium built under a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with the unions affiliated with the BCTD.

Tom Owens, spokesperson for the BCTD, which has 13 national and international affiliated labor organizations that collectively represent 2 million skilled craft tradespeople throughout the United States and Canada, stated the NFL season kick-off game between the NFC East Division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants, featured some of the recent trends that have embraced pro-football, the use of Project Labor Agreements for the construction and renovations of NFL stadiums.

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.

Under a PLA, a nonunion contractor could still be hired for the project, however if they are selected, local unionized workers must be hired.

Mr. Owens told the newspaper since 1998, a whopping 12 out of 18 NFL stadiums have embraced the value of a project labor agreement.

“NFL owners, like any business people, are cost-conscious and profit-oriented. They understand that PLAs provide increased jobsite efficiencies through the utilization of the safest, most highly trained and productive skilled workforce. A workforce that is developed through the investment of approximately one billion dollars a year by America’s Building Trades Unions and their signatory contractors,” said Mr. Owens.

Stadiums in Baltimore, Foxboro, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Green Bay, New York, Pittsburgh, and Seattle, were built under a PLA. Also, the new stadium in San Francisco is being built under a PLA.

Mr. Owens indicated numerous private sector entities have also signed project labor agreements. He stated major private sector companies such as Toyota, Disney, Reebok and Wal-Mart have signed PLA’s.

However, Wal-Mart builds their stores in the Lehigh Valley with mostly nonunion construction workers.

The Building and Construction Trades Council of the Lehigh Valley labor federation, Liberty Street in Allentown, has 21 affiliated members.

Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area jobless rate at 8.9 percent

09.30.12

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

Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area jobless rate at 8.9 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, September 9th- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Center for Workforce Information and Analysis in Harrisburg, the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 8.8 percent, increasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report, which was released approximately four week before. The Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Lehigh, Northampton, and Carbon Counties of Pennsylvania and Warren County, New Jersey. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was also 8.8 percent.

There are fourteen Metropolitan Statistical Area’s in Pennsylvania and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA is tied with the Philadelphia MSA for the third highest unemployment rate.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA continues to have the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 9.6 percent. The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 9.0 percent with the Williamsport MSA fourth at 8.6 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.2 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.6 percent and the Lancaster MSA has the third lowest at 6.7 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 7.9 percent, rising by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report but dropping by two-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before.

There are 509,000 Pennsylvania residents without jobs, but that number does not include residents that have exhausted their unemployment benefits and stopped looking for work.

Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted workforce of 6,478,000 and 5,969,000 of them have employment.

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 8.3 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. That number also does not include civilians that have exhausted their unemployment benefits and have stopped looking for work. The nation unemployment was down eight-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 433,400 civilians, increasing by 700 from the previous report and rising by 11,600 during the past twelve months.

The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor force at 2,999,400 with 264,000 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,259,900 with 92,900 without jobs; the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fourth largest civilian labor force in the commonwealth at 288,300 with 27,700 civilians without jobs. The Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA is the fifth largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 287,100 civilians and 21,300 of them are jobsless.

There are 12,794,000 residents nationally unemployed but counting workers that have exhausted their unemployment benefits or have been unable to find full-time work there are more than 16.9 million Americans without jobs. After workers have exhausted their unemployment benefits they are no longer counted as unemployed unless they continue to apply for work.

Carbon County continues to have the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 9.9 percent. Lehigh County and Northampton County have the same unemployment at 8.8 percent.

IAM removed as bargaining representative in Allentown

09.30.12

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

IAM removed as bargaining representative in Allentown

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, September 17th- Employees of Five Star International, Hanover Avenue in Allentown, voted to remove the International Association of Machinists (IAM) Union Local Lodge 447 in Philadelphia, as their bargaining representative for the purpose of collective bargaining.

In the previous edition of the newspaper it was exclusively reported that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia would conduct an election on August 30th to determine if approximately 12 employees of Five Star International wanted to continue to be union represented.

The newspaper reported that an employee of the truck repair company filed the petition with the NLRB requesting the agency conduct the de-certification election.

According to the petition, which was discovered by the newspaper while reviewing representation petitions and labor complaints filed at the NLRB Region Four Office, Justin Allen Scheetz, an employee who resides on Walnut Street in Lansdale, requested the agency conduct a election to determine if Five Star International employees want to continue to be represented for the purpose of collective bargaining.

The petition was filed on July 12th, 2012 and requested that all full-time and regular part-time automotive mainterance and service employees that are currently members of the bargaining unit be allow to participate in the attempt to remove the IAM as their bargaining representative.

The employees voted 7 to remove the union to 5 to continue to be represented by the IAM during the NLRB conducted election.

In July the IAM filed a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge against Five Star International management alleging the company violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct) by conducting surface bargaining and by assisting Five Star International employees in an attempt to decertify the Union. However, the ULP was withdrawn because of the failure of the NLRB to find merit in the complaint.

Local Lodge 447 is affiliated with IAM District 15 in Cincinnati, Ohio. IAM Local Lodge’s throughout southeastern and northeastern Pennsylvania, including the Lehigh Valley, are normally affiliated with IAM District 1. But, Local Lodge 447 is affiliated with District 15 because the union represents workers in the engine repair trade.

The newspaper learned the most recent hired employees supported the removal of the IAM because the company plans to open on weekends and under the contract those employees would be forced to work.

Under NLRB rules, at least 50 percent plus one of the eligilble to participate voting employees must vote against the union before the labor organization can be removed as their bargaining representative.

Pennsylvania House candidates pledge to support labor

09.18.12

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

Pennsylvania House candidates pledge to support labor

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 1st- The two political candidates that defeated Incumbent Democratic party members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in the spring primary election have pledged the support the labor community if elected in November.

Kevin Haggerty defeated fellow Democrat Ken Smith (112th Legislative District) and Marty Flynn defeated Kevin Murphy (113th Legislative District) in April to become their political party nominees. The two seats share the City of Scranton in Harrisburg.

Both Mr. Smith and Mr. Murphy were supported by the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation for re-election.

However, Mr. Haggerty and Mr. Flynn have pledged to be equally supportive of the labor community as the previous legislators if chosen by the people in the November election.

Mr. Haggerty, a 1991 Dunmore High School graduate, and former United States Marine, stated he would support the labor community by voting against the anti-union legislative agenda that Republican Pennsylvania Governor has been pushing.

He would oppose any attempt by the Republicans to privatize the Pennsylvania Wine and Spirits Stores, weaken the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage law, and is against Mr. Corbett’s “school voucher program.”

His wife is a member of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) Union. She is a librarian in the Riverside School District.

Mr. Flynn was a member of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union while employed at Lackawanna County Prison.

Mr. Flynn’s grand-father was Business Manager of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Local 524. “Union is in my blood,” Mr. Flynn said.

While speaking recently before the Scranton Central Labor Union (SCLU) labor federation delegates, which meets every third Wednesday each month, Mr. Flynn stated the labor community should not be concerned that the loss of Mr. Murphy in Harrisburg will be bad for union people of the 113th district.

Mr. Murphy while serving in the Pennsylvania General Assembly in Harrisburg supported issues important to the labor community.

Nancy Krake, President of the SCLU, stated the labor organization recommended that he received the AFL-CIO endorsement for the spring election because of his support for public sector unions, building and construction trade unions, and his overall voting record on labor issues.

However, Mr. Flynn indicated the loss of Kevin Murphy will not hurt the labor community because he will involve himself with issues important to them. “I will be there to watch-out for you,” he stated.

Union protest the lack of members hired for Scranton project

09.18.12

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

Union protest the lack of members hired for Scranton project

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 29th- Mostly nonunion construction workers have been hired for a major redevelopment project in downtown Scranton and members of the Painters and Allied Trades International Union (PATIU) District Council 21 have staged protest against their members not getting the work.

The more than $10 million project involves converting the former Scranton Chamber of Commerce Building and offices of the lawfirm of O’Malley and Langan into a residential and commercial complex at the Mulberry Street location. The building will include 36 apartments and retail space.

Bob Griffiths, Business Representative of PATIU District Council 21, stated a signatory contractor with the union was not hired for the project and he believes the workers that were hired are not being paid the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage despite the state providing $3.5 million to the project.

The informational picket-line, which has included a huge inflatable rat, was staged by PATIU but several other members of the area building trade unions are also not working on the project.

According to Michael Tigue, Business Agent of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipeftters Union Local 524, a signatory contractor of his union also was not hired for the project.

Nonunion carpenters have been hired for the project as well. Drew Simpson, Representative of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Union Local 645 stated his members were not hired for the project and they did not participate in the picketing because legal counsel advised them not to when the inflatable rat is involved.

Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 81 are working on the project and for several days would not enter the building because of the picketing of the PATIU members. The project for two days was suspended when the IBEW members would not cross the picket line, shutting down the project.

Charles Jefferson, a player in the group that acquired the building, told a reporter of the Scranton Times daily newspaper that the protest of the lack of PATIU members not working on the project was “premature” because the painting contract was not yet awarded and their members may yet be hired for the painting.

However, according to John Gatto, Assistant Business Manager of District Council 21, Mr. Jefferson won’t even return phone calls from the union to discuss the project construction. “It’s not likely our members will get any work of the project. The guy won’t even return our calls,” stated Mr. Gatto.

PATIU represents drywallers, painters and glassworkers within the construction industry.

“We plan to picket the jobsite off and on until hopefully we get some guys on the project,” stated Mr. Griffiths.

Study suggest Pennsylvania workers wages stagnate since 2000

09.18.12

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

Study suggest Pennsylvania workers wages stagnate since 2000

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 29th- According to a new study by the Keystone Research Center, a left-leaning economic research group in Harrisburg, most middle-class Pennsylvania families have seen their wages and income stagnate since 2000 even though productively in the economy has grown.

The study suggest growth in the size of the overall economic pie could have supported rising living standards for all Pennsylvania workers, but an outsized share of the benefits went to the top one percent of earners, preventing board-based prosperity and slowing down the economic recovery.

“Policymakers are hitting the economic brakes when they should be hitting the accelerator. Policymakers are also tilting the rewards of economic growth to the top. Fix those problems and we can have broadly shared prosperity again,” stated Stephen Herzenberg, an economist and executive director of the Keystone Research Center.

Neithter the “lost decade” for working families since 2000 nor a recent increase in unemployment and the shortage of jobs in Pennsylvania occurred by accident, Mr. Herzenberg added.

The report concludes they were the result of poor policy choices that have been unfriendly to working families.

The organization’s annual report on the Pennsylvania economy had little good news for most workers, following a decade in which most workers experienced stagnant or falling wages and a recession that made family-sustaining job opportunities harder to come by.

For a four-person family, median income grew nearly twice as fast in the 1990s as it did in the 1980s, but it actually declined by $6,136 over the course of the decade, going from $82,818 in 2000 to $76,682 in 2010.

The decline occurred despite growth in the Pennsylvania economy because the benefits of growth went disproportionately to the top one precent of earners. The one percent captured more than half of all income growth in the state between 2002 and 2007.

The report suggests with economic forecasters predicting continued high unemployment in the nation and the state, workers face the danger of another decade of poor income. That would continue to claw back the wage gains of the second half of the 1990s, the only period of broad-based wage growth in the past 33 years.

Pennsylvania enjoyed a job advantage over most states coming out of the recession in 2010, but that advantage has slipped, Mr. Herzenberg stated. Budget cuts cost 25,000 teachers, first responders and other public servants their jobs in 2011, contributing to the state’s fall from top 10 to 38th in state job-growth rankings, the report added.

“In the end, its about values. What kind of Pennsylvania do you want. We want one with widespread opportunity, improved living standards across the board, and a democracy responsive to the middle class and what benefits all Pennsylvanians,” stated Mr. Herzenberg.

The data released with the Keystone Research Center report added;

• In the 1990s, Pennsylvania experienced the strongest job growth it has seen since the 1960s.

• Pennsylvania’s jobs deficit, the difference between the number of jobs the state has and the number it needs to regain its pre-recession employment rate, stood at 301,300 in July and is 74,000 jobs higher now than a year ago.

• Despite being better educated and more productive, the typical worker in Pennsylvania in 2001 earned $16.43 per hour, only 63 cents more than in 1979.

• During the short economic expension from 2002 to 2007, the top one percent in Pennsylvania captured 54 percent of all income growth. Average incomes grew by 15.4 percent, the top one percent grew by 50 percent.

NALC Branch 17 files complaint against Postal Service

09.18.12

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

NALC Branch 17 files complaint against Postal Service

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 16th- The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 17 Union in Scranton, which represents mail delivery workers of the United States Postal Service (USPS), filed a labor complaint alleging the agency violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge was filed by the labor organization against the USPS at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia and alleges the mail delivery service violated Section 8 (a), subsection (1) and (5) of the NLRAct.

According to the ULP, which was discovered by the newspaper while reviewing representation petitions and labor complaints filed at the NLRB office, NALC Branch 17 Financial Secretary Walter Sanko filed the complaint on behalf of the Union. The Union News is the only member of the local media that reviews the information.

“Since on or about March 20th, 2012, the United States Postal Service has violated the National Labor Relations Act by failing/refusing to provide information which the Union requested is necessary for processing and/or consideration of grievances and/or contract maintenance,” states the labor complaint.

The number of workers Branch 17 represents is not identified on the complaint. Branch 17 represents NALC members throughout Lackawanna County including Scranton. Branch 115 represents USPS mail delivery workers in Luzerne County including Wilkes-Barre.

The complaint was filed against the USPS facility on Stafford Avenue in South Scranton. The employer representative identified on the ULP to be contacted is Valerie Noga, Acting Postmaster.

Philadelphia Labor Community Celebrates Labor Day

09.15.12

A rainstorm did not dampen the spirits of thousands of trade unionists as they gathered to march in the 25th Annual Tri-State Labor Day Parade and family Celebration, on Monday, September 3 2012.
The march and celebration were co-sponsored by the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO and the Tri-State Labor Day Parade Committee.
Marchers assembled at the parking lot of the Sheet Metal Workers Local 19 Hall, 1301 South Columbus Blvd. Due to the rain, the building was opened to allow participants in, and the rally took place in the assembly hall; they were greeted by Philadelphia AFL-CIO President Pat Eiding.
Philadelphia AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz McElroy thanked Local 19 for opening their building to the marchers, and introduced John Greer, Co-Chair of the Labor Day Parade Committee.
Greer reminded marchers of the slogan of former Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Bill George: “What time is it?”, and the marchers replied, “Union time!” About the bad weather, Greer said, “We got a little rain on us today, but you know what? That doesn’t stop us.”
Of the forces that area aligned against working people, Greer said, “They want to break us, they want to make sure that we fall apart,” that would take away “what we (workers) have, what we fought for, all the things that we enjoy, like the forty-hour work week, vacations…Our ancestors fought for all that, they died for all that, and they know what they were fighting for.”
Pat Eiding spoke to the crowd, and commended the role of working people in building up the country, adding “All we ask from this country is, give us a place to work, and we’ll work you out of these economic problems.” Eiding urged employers, “Pay us a living wage, and maybe we’ll be able to dress our kids when they go to school, and maybe we’ll have some entertainment night, maybe take the kids to the movies.”
Speaking of the need for more jobs for workers, Eiding added, “All the talk in the world isn’t going to fix this country. The only way we’ll fix it is to work our way out of (economic problems). Give us the opportunity and we’ll do it.” Eiding also urged people to elect pro-worker candidates to public office.
Joe Dougherty, President of Ironworkers Local 401, said to the crowd, “Today, we not only celebrate Labor’s holiday, and the many accomplishments we have achieved…This is not a time for us to relax.” The threat to American workers, Dougherty added, “has never been greater. It’s a time for us to fight to protect what our ancestor fought so long and hard to gain for us, the need for us to stand together for all of America’s workers has never been more important.”
The upcoming presidential elections, said Dougherty, “is not just another election. It’s a war. It’s a war between the workers of America and the Republican party…It’s a war to regain and maintain a decent way of earning a living for all of America’s workers and their families. It’s a war to bring back the once-proud American philosophy of the American dream. It’s a war to protect the very existence of the American Labor union movement. Most of all, it’s a war we can’t afford to lose.” The Labor movement, added Dougherty, is the only thing standing against “the corporate-owned Republican party and the absolute poverty of America’s workers.”
Pat Eiding presented awards to students in the Philadelphia school district who did the art for the buttons and posters for the parade:
For buttons, first place went to Gabrielle Walls of Bishop Shanahan High School; second place, to Clarissa Kristie of Central High School; third place, to Brooke Clifford of Bishop Shanahan High School.
For posters, first place went to Megan thomas of Northeast High School; second place, to Rawan Abdemmdabi of Northeast High; and third place, to Desiree Trinidad of Northeast High.
US Representative Bob Brady (First District, Pennsylvania), a longtime ally of the Labor movement, called the movement “a sleeping giant,” adding, that Republican candidates for President and Vice-President, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan respectively, “are trying to take every one of your jobs away from you, and make everything non-union, and you heard it all last week,” during the Republican convention. Brady urged union members to get out and campaign and vote for workers’ interests.
After the rally, participants were greeted in the lobby by a performance of the Quaker City String Band. They assembled in the parking lot according to their unions and allied groups, and they marched through the rain north on Columbus Boulevard, ending at the festival pier of Penn’s Landing. The marchers enjoyed refreshments and the sounds of the Urban Guerilla Orchestra.

Union-owned bank provides loan to pay Scranton workers

09.12.12

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

Union-owned bank provides loan to pay Scranton workers

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 30th- The nation’s largest Labor Union-owned bank provided financing for the City of Scranton while their leaders work out the details of the financial recovering plan.

The Amalgamated Bank of New York, which has 25 retail branches including in New York, Nevada, New Jersey, California and Washington, DC, provided a $6.25 million short-term loan to Scranton that will allow the city to make payroll, nearly two months after Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty reduced the wages of 400 municipal employees to the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

On August 23rd a revised recovery plan was agreed upon by Mayor Doherty, Scranton City Council, and the Pennsylvania Economy League (PEL) which is Scranton’s co-ordinator under Act 47, Pennsylvania Municipal Recovery law.

On July 6th, Mr. Doherty slashed wages of the nearly 400 employees to the federal minimum wage citing the lack of funds due to his failure to control spending and cut cost. Mr. Doherty has been the mayor of Scranton for nearly 11 years.

“The City of Scranton has faced years of financial turmoil. After every other financial institution abandoned Scranton, Amalgamated Bank today is stepping forward in a bold way to provide critical assistance that will allow Scranton to have time to finalize the details of our recovery plan and get our long-term fiscal house in order,” stated Janet Evans, Scranton City Council President and a retired union member.

The Amalgamated Bank was established by the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU) in 1923. The union merged with the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) in the 1990’s and currently it is known as Workers United. The Amalgamated Bank is the largest union-owned bank in the United States providing banking and investment management services to hundreds of unions and their members.

The International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Union Local 60 represents the Scranton Fire Department and seen it’s membership drop by more than 35 percent during Mr. Doherty’s tenure as mayor of Scranton. Mr. Doherty has closed neighborhood firehouses and “rewrote” their labor agreement.

“When hearing that Scranton’s fire fighters, police and other municipal employees had their wages cut to minimum wage, the leaders of Amalgamated contacted us to see what they could do to help,” stated John Judge, President of IAFF Local 60 and a Scranton fire fighter.

IBEW Local 1600 files a second complaint against PPL Utility

09.12.12

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

IBEW Local 1600 files a second complaint against PPL Utility

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 30th- A second complaint was filed in the past several weeks by the labor organization that represents employees of the PPL Corporation with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia, alleging the utility provider violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

According to the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP), which was discovered by the newspaper while reviewing representation petitions and labor complaints filed at the NLRB office, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 1600 alleges PPL violated the NLRAct by stalling efforts by the Union to expedite a labor arbitrator’s ability to adjudicate a ongoing dispute between the parties.

The IBEW alleges PPL has and continues to deny sick pay to employees who do not meet the requirements for needing to provide a “medical certification” as was negotiated.

The parties entered into a Summary of Agreement on May 2010, which revised the contract language of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the parties. The new language states employees are required to furnish medical certification of illness upon return to work for all absences in excess of three days in a pay period year or anytime an employee is out three or more consecutive days.

The Union alleges PPL continues to deny sick pay to employees who do not meet the requirements for needing to provide a “medical certification” as was negotiated.

The Union has attempted to expedite a labor arbitrator’s ability to adjudicate the ongoing dispute but the Employer’s continuing actions, or inactions, has violated various sections of the NLRAct, the IBEW alleges.

General Dynamics lays-off more workers at both local plants

09.12.12

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

General Dynamics lays-off more workers at both local plants

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 25th- Workers employed at the two General Dynamics operated plants in Lackawanna County are continuing to face lay-offs because of the budget cuts in defense spending.

The General Dynamics Land Systems plant in Eynon, which reconditions parts for the United States Army M1A1 battle tank, and the General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems plant in South Scranton, which primarily manufactures casings for military projectiles, have laid-off workers this year and more is expected.

The workers at the Eynon plant are represented by the United Auto Workers of America (UAW) Union Local 1193. Local 1193 had approximately 200 members employed at the Eynon plant in 2010, however nearly100 workers have been laid-off or notified they will be with many told maybe permanently due to cut-backs in defense spending in Washington, DC. The M1A1 tank was used in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The International Association of Machinist (IAM) Union Local Lodge 847 in Scranton represents around 195 workers at the Scranton General Dynamics plant.

Approximately 17 employees of the Scranton plant were laid-off in the first half of 2012 because of a decrease demand for elbows manufactured for the natural gas-drilling industry. However, the employer announced that around 60 workers will be laid-off between October and December.

According to Joe Cron, a employee of General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems and a IAM Local Lodge 847 member, the 60 lay-offs will take place as work is finished-up on two contracts for production of 120mm shell for the Defense Department.

Mr. Cron stated the company is co-operating with the Union in helping the laid-off workers get help with learning how to receive unemployment benefits and what other programs are available to help them and their families.

Ken Klinkel, President of Local 1193 stated officials of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Bureau of Workplace Development Partnership Rapid Response Team has held meetings with the laid-off employees of his Union. The group includes officials of agencies that assist laid-off or soon to be laid-off workers in gaining new employment, signing-up for unemployment benefits, and explaining to them other programs that are available to help them with the job loss.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA’s unemployment rate increases to 9.6 percent

09.12.12

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

MSA’s unemployment rate increases to 9.6 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 30th- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Industry, the region’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 9.6 percent, an increase of two-tenths of a percentage point 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 9.4 percent.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 7.9 percent, rising by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,478,000 with 509,000 not working and 5,969,000 with employment. The national unemployment rate is 8.3 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. The national unemployment rate has decreased by eight-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago. The unemployment rate does not include civilians who unemployment benefits have expired and stopped looking for work.

There are 12,794,000 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.

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

The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate in the commonwealth at 9.0 percent with the Philadelphia MSA and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA tied for third at 8.8 percent. The Reading MSA has the fifth highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 8.1 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.2 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 6.6 percent, while the Lancaster MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate at 6.7 percent. The Pittsburgh MSA and the Harrisburg MSA are tied with the fourth lowest unemployment rate at 7.4 percent.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fourth largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 288,300 civilians and 27,700 of them are without employment. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor force in Pennsylvania at 3,999,400 with 264,000 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,259,900 with 92,900 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force at 433,400 with 36,100 not working.

The Williamsport MSA has the smallest labor force in Pennsylvania with 63,700 civilians and 5,400 of them have no jobs. The Altoona MSA has the second smallest labor force with 64,500 civilians with 4,900 without employment and the Johnstown MSA is third with a labor force of 68,100 and 6,200 of them are not working.

Lackawanna County continues to have the lowest unemployment rate in the MSA at 9.1 percent, increasing by five-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by one-tenth of a percentage point from one year ago. Lackawanna County has a civilian labor force of 109,400, rising by 600 from the previous report with 10,000 civilians without employment, rising by 700 from the previous report.

Luzerne County continues to have the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 9.9 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report and rising by four-tenths of a percentage point during the past twelve months. Luzerne County has the largest civilian labor-force in the MSA at 164,400, decreasing by 100 from the previous report. Luzerne County has 16,400 civilians unemployed, increasing by 200 from the previous report and rising by 1,100 during the past twelve months.

Wyoming County’s unemployment rate is 9.2 percent, increasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point during the past twelve months. Wyoming County has a civilian labor force of 14,600, with 1,300 unemployed, unchanged from the previous report.

Report shows differences between U.S. and Canada labor laws

09.10.12

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

Report shows differences between U.S. and Canada labor laws

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 29th- A new report released by the Center for Economic and Policy Research offered an explaination in why unionization in the United States has been on the decline since the 1960’s.

While many reasons have been given to explain the drop in the rate of workers represented by labor organizations, the report released by the Center for Economic and Policy Research highlights the roles that employer opposition to labor unions and weak labor laws have played in the decline.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research is a Washington, DC based left-leaning economic think-tank that reviews economic and social issues that effect working people’s lives.

The report, “Protecting Fundamental Labor Rights: Lessons from Canada for the United States,” begins with a comparison of the current state of organized labor in the United States and Canada. It notes that from the 1920’s to around 1960, Canada and the United States had approximately the same percentage of unionized worker rates. However, in 1960, the two began to diverge. As of 2011, the unionization rate in Canada stood at 29.7 percent, while the unionization rate in the United States was less than half that at 11.8 percent.

The report then goes on to look at the legal process for forming labor unions and how impasses in contract negotiations are handled in both countries, reaching the conclusion that these institutional factors help to explain much of the difference in unionization rates.

While in Canada and the United States both have elections as one route to forming labor unions, Canadian workers in several provinces also have the much faster option of card-check certification. Under card-check, once a majority of employees sign cards in support of unionization, an employer is required by law to recognize their union.

However, in the United States unless an employer voluntarily recognized a union, workers must first file a petition showing support for unionization and then vote to unionize in an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) before an employer is required to recognized their union.

As of 2011, the median amount of time between the petition to form a union and the election was 38 days, and it often extends far beyond. During this time, United States employers often engage in anti-union campaigns, committing illegal acts such as threatening to close the workplace or threatening to and/or fire workers, to discourage them from voting to form a union. In fact, workers were illegally fired in about 30 percent of certification elections in 2007.

The report suggest it is worth nothing that union decertification in Canada was no more common in periods where card-check certification was in place than at other times. Opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCAct), which would have brought card-check to the United States, argued that the process would allow unions to “bulldoze” workers into signing cards, leaving them with union representation even when they didn’t really want it. However, the fact decertification was no more prevalent under card-check than it was under mandatory elections in Canada shows that this has not been a problem.

In closing, the report notes that even after a union has been certified, negotiations for a first-time contract is a much more difficult prospect in the United States than in Canada.

Though required by law under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct) to negotiate with workers “in good faith” to obtain a contract, some employers have never reached an agreement with the union. The failure to get a first-time contract often leads to the union being decertified. In Canada, “first contract arbritration” mandates that if bargaining for a first-time contract has come to an impasse or if certain conditions have been met, there is a mediation procedure to reach a mutual agreement. Should that fail, arbitration will lead to a legally binding contract agreement.

NLRB cancels hearing involving local painting contractor

09.10.12

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

NLRB cancels hearing involving local painting contractor

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 30th- The newspaper has learned the local painting contractor the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia issued a complaint against has yet to respond and the agency postponed the hearing scheduled for October 24th, 2012.

In the previous edition of the newspaper it was reported the NLRB found merit in a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge filed by the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 21, Azalea Drive in Drums, Luzerne County, against Accents Painting and Wallcovering, LLC Accents Contracting, Church Road in Mountain Top and scheduled a hearing.

The ULP allege an signatory contractor with the Union violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct) by not making fund payments as per District Council 21’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.

According to the Unfair Labor Practice charge, which was discovered by the newspaper while reviewing representation petitions 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.

Accents Painting and Wallcovering, LLC Accents Contracting refuse to furnish District Council 21 with requested information for collective bargaining, the ULP alleges.

“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,” stated the labor complaint.

IUPAT represent painters and drywall construction workers within the building and construction trades industry.

The NLRB issued a complaint against the operators of the painting company, Jennifer and Ken Phillips. The agency scheduled a hearing for October 24th, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. at the NLRB office in Philadelphia.

However, according to John Gatto, Assistant Business Manager of IUPAT District Council 21, the Employer failed to respond to the NLRB notification of the hearing.

Mr. Gatto stated the NLRB “canceled” the hearing date and has now transferred the case to their Washington DC office that will now procede against Accents Painting and Wallcovering.

Teamsters Union Local 773 files complaint, amends charge against Employer’s

09.03.12

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

Teamsters Union Local 773 files complaint, amends charge against Employer’s

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, August 20th- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 773, Hamilton Street in Allentown, which represents IBT members throughout the Lehigh Valley, filed a labor complaint against a Quakertown employer and amended a complaint filed against a Macungie located company.

In previous edition’s of the Union News, it was reported Local 773 filed several Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia alleging Pratt Corrugated Logistics, 7533 Industrial Parkway in Macungie, violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

On June 8th, the agency conducted a Representation Election at the workplace of Pratt Corrugated Logistics to determine if employees of the paper products manufacturer wanted to be represented by Local 773 for the purpose of collective bargaining.

Employees of Pratt voted 4 against becoming Local 773 members to 1 for.

On August 16th, the IBT amended a ULP that alleged Pratt management unlawfully discharged several employees for their support for the union and request the agency implement a (10j) relief status. Should the agency grant the (10j) request, the IBT would be recognized by the NLRB as the employees bargaining representative.

Also, Local 773 filed a ULP on August 16th against Lifequest Nursing Center in Quakertown. The ULP alleges the nursing home operator unlawfully discharged several employees for their union activities.

IAM members vote on continued membership on August 30th

09.03.12

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

IAM members vote on continued membership on August 30th

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, August 19th- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four will conduct an election on August 30th to determine if approximately 12 employees of Five Star International, Hanover Avenue in Allentown, want to continue to be union represented.

It was exclusively reported in the previous edition of the newspaper that a employee of the truck repair company filed the petition with the NLRB requesting the agency conduct a de-certification election.

According to the petition, which was discovered by the newspaper while reviewing representation petitions and labor complaints filed at the NLRB Region Four Office, Justin Allen Scheetz, an employee who resides on Walnut Street in Lansdale, requested the agency conduct a election to determine if Five Star International employees want to continue to be represented for the purpose of collective bargaining by the International Association of Machinists (IAM) Union Local Lodge 447 in Philadelphia.

The petition was filed on July 12th, 2012 and requested that all full-time and regular part-time authomotive mainterance and service employees that are currently members of the bargaining unit be allow to participate in the attempt to remove the IAM as their bargaining representative.

The IAM on July 18th filed a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge against Five Star International management alleging the company violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct) by conducting surface bargaining and by assisting Five Star International employees in an attempt to decertify the Union. However, the ULP was withdrawn because of the failure of the NLRB to find merit in the complaint.

The newspaper has learned the most recent hired employees support the removal of the IAM because the company plans to open on weekends and under the current collective bargaining agreement those employees would be forced to work. The newer hired employees do not like the “seniority rights” clause of the contract that allows older hired employees to reject working on weekends.

Local Lodge 447 is affiliated with IAM District 15 in Cincinnati, Ohio the ULP indicates. IAM Local Lodge’s throughout southeastern and northeastern Pennsylvania, including the Lehigh Valley, are normally affiliated with IAM District 1. But, Local Lodge 447 is affiliated with District 15 because the union represents workers in the engine repair trade.

Under NLRB rules, at least 50 percent plus one of the eligilble to participate voting employees must vote against the IAM before the labor organization can be removed as their bargaining representative

Don’t Count Out the Labor Movement

09.01.12

by WALTER BRASCH

Almost every conservative political columnist, pundit, commentator, blogger, and bloviator has written about the decline and forthcoming death of the labor movement.

They happily point to Wisconsin, where Republican Gov. Scott Walker shortly after taking office in January 2011 took advantage of a Republican majority in the House and Senate to ram through legislation that stripped numerous collective bargaining rights for public employee unions. Among collective bargaining rights are those that assure decent working conditions and a fair grievance process to prevent arbitrary and discriminatory discipline.

The Republicans point to Ohio, where Republican Gov. John Kasich, with similar legislative support, signed legislation in March 2011 that restricted collective bargaining rights for public sector employees.

They point to state after state where Republican legislators, with the financial support of private industry, have brought forth self-serving bills to oppose collective bargaining.

The conservative mantra is to pander to the middle-class pocketbook by creating a pseudo-populist appeal. The right-wing claims they are the ones who care about the people enough to cut government spending, which will lower all kinds of taxes. They altruistically scream that inflated payrolls and pensions caused economic problems, and the best way to help those who are struggling in a depressed economy is to lower those costs by curtailing the perceived power of unions. It sounds nice; it’s also rhetoric encased in lies.

Numerous economic studies have shown that the pay for public union employees is about the same as for private sector employees in similar jobs. And in some jobs, public sector workers earn less than non-unionized private sector workers, leading to professionals and technical specialists often switching jobs from government to private industry, usually at higher wages and benefits.

So what, exactly, is the problem? Tax cuts. Bill Clinton left office, having given the nation a strong economy. During the Go-Go years in the first part of the 21st century, under the Bush–Cheney administration, states and the federal government created tax cuts for individuals, and held out generous tax cuts, tax waivers, and subsidies to corporations. The Republican theory was that these tax cuts would eventually “trickle down” to the masses by stimulating the economy.

What happened is that instead of benefitting the masses, these forms of wealthfare and corporate welfare have done little to stimulate an economy that was heading down because the Republican executive and legislative branches, preaching less government, didn’t want government interference in financial institutions, the most politically conservative business. As a result of deregulation or, in many cases minimal regulation oversight, came the twin catastrophes of the Wall Street scandals and the housing mortgage crisis that spun the nation into the deepest recession since the Depression of the 1930s.

But you don’t hear the Republicans tell you they caused it, only that a run-away economy is because of those fictional high government salaries that need to be cut.

Joseph Slater, professor of law at the University of Toledo, says because of the 2008 crisis, states experienced massive budget shortfalls because growing unemployment decreased tax revenue. The problem in the states and the federal government, Slater told NEA Today, isn’t because of collective bargaining, “because some of the worst state budget problems are in the small handful of states that prohibit public sector collective bargaining, states like Texas and North Carolina.” However, said Slater in an article for the American Constitution Society, “states with strong public sector collective bargaining laws . . . have smaller than average deficits.”

In response to conservative calls to curtail “pension abuse” in the public sector, Slater pointed out that “the vast majority of states don’t allow unions to bargain over public pension benefits,” and that some of the worst pension problems are in the so-called right-to-work states that have no public employee unions.

In contrast to the all-out assault upon the workers by Republicans, Govs. Dan Malloy of Connecticut and Jerry Brown of California, both Democrats, have been reducing budget deficits, sometimes with a heavy hand as they slash programs and the number of workers, in consultation with the unions and without curtailing union rights. Unionized workers in both private and public sectors have taken temporary pay cuts or agreed to taking vacation days without pay. Few corporate executives and no state legislators have willingly matched the sacrifices of the workers.

Now, as for those conservatives who are dancing on what they think are the graves of the working class labor movement. There are a few stories they aren’t happily reporting.

In Wisconsin, the recall election of Scott Walker did fail, as out-of-state individuals, PACs, and corporations contributed about two-thirds of his $30 million campaign to keeping him in office, as opposed to his opponent raising only about one-eighth of that amount. However, in subsequent elections, all three Democratic senators survived recall votes, and two of six Republican senators were recalled, leading to a change in Senate membership from 19–14 Republican to 17–16 Republican, but effectively blocking a “super majority” from ramrodding further anti-worker legislation into law.

In Ohio, voters overwhelmingly rejected, 62–38 percent, the new Ohio law that stripped collective bargaining rights of public employee unions. In defeat, Gov. Kasich, whose attacks upon collective bargaining were a central part of his campaign, said “It’s clear the people have spoken.”

Monday is Labor Day. It’s more than just picnics and a three-day weekend. It’s a time to honor the working class, and the unions that gave them the rights of collective bargaining. They may be struggling but they are far from dead.

[Walter Brasch is a syndicated social issues columnist and author. His latest book is the critically acclaimed journalistic novel, Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution, which has an underlying union theme. He is a proud member of several professional and trade unions, including The Newspaper Guild/Communication Workers of America.]

Plenty on the line for the labor community in November election

09.01.12

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

Plenty on the line for the labor community in November election

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, August 19th- The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington, DC and the rest of the labor community are getting ready for the fall political campaign. In November all of the House of Representative seats are up, Pennsylvania United States Incumbent Democratic Senator Robert Casey Jr. is attempting to gain a second six-year term in Washington, and Democratic United States President Barack Obama is seeking a second four-term term.

Beginning in January 2013, because of newly redrawn congressional boundaries in Pennsylvania due to the loss of one seat because of the 2010 census, the Lehigh Valley will be represented in Washington by two legislative districts. Currently the Lehigh Valley is represented in Washington by the 15th Legislative District. The seat is held by Republican Charlie Dent, who is seeking his fifth two-year term. Mr. Dent is being challenged by Democratic nominee Rick Daugherty.

Mr. Daugherty told the newspaper he could defeat Mr. Dent in November because he would better represent the working people of the Lehigh Valley in the nations capitol. He stated if elected he would be a Democrat such as defeated 17th Legislative District Congressman Tim Holden. Mr. Holden has the distinction of being called a “Blue Dog” Democrat, meaning his voting record indicates he hasn’t always supported Democratic party legislation. Mr. Holden voted against progressive initiatives such as housing finance reforms, greater consumer protections, energy reforms, health care reform legislation, and the American auto loans.

Mr. Holden lost to first-time elected office seeker Matt Cartwright in the April primary election. Mr. Holden has served in the House of Representatives for 20 years.

The newly 17th District will run from Schuylkill County to Lackawanna County including part of Northampton County. The City of Easton, the surrounding areas, and a part of Bethlehem are included in the 17th Legislative District.

Mr. Cartwright has made it clear if elected in November he would support progressive issues such as the raising of the federal minimum wage, and other issues important to the labor community. Mr. Cartwright is facing Republican home health nurse company owner Laureen Cummings.

Mr. Casey is being challenged by Republican Tom Smith, who has made an issue of the support Mr. Casey has shown for legislation supported by the labor community.

During the first term in Washington, Senator Casey supported legislation important to the labor community including increasing the federal minimum wage, passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCAct), and extending unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed workers.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney choice of right-wing Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan indicates that the privatization of Social Security will again be a topic heading into the November election.

Mr. Ryan proposed a plan in 2010 that would allow younger workers to divert more than one-third of their Social Security taxes into personal accounts, which would damage the rest of the retirement system.

Postal Union files labor complaint regarding processing center

09.01.12

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

Postal Union files labor complaint regarding processing center

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, August 12th- 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, Scranton 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. Local 268 repressents APWU members at the Lehigh Valley processing center.

APWU Local 268 President Bernie Ogozalek previously told the newspaper he disagrees with the USPS decision to close the Scranton facility. Mr. Ogozalek stated the APWU does not want any mail processing centers closed.

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 NPMHU Local 308 represents workers both at the Scranton and the Lehigh Valley processing centers.

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.