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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.