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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.