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Unions not sure if members will be hire for Casino projects

11.02.12

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

Unions not sure if members will be hire for Casino projects

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 22nd- Progress has been slow but affiliated union members of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council labor federation are beginning to get work at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Plains Township which is building a new hotel and convention center.

The two daily newspapers of Wilkes-Barre recently published articles regarding a letter mailed to members of the building trades unions requesting they return their Mohegan Sun Players Club cards to their labor organization. The unions’ intend to present the cards to Mohegan Sun officials if they failed to hire union workers from the area for the $50 million construction project.

The project was devided into two parts, the construction of the hotel and the construction of the convention center.

Kevin McHugh, Business Manager of the Iron Workers Union Local 489 in Yatesville, told the newspaper he wasn’t optimistic his members would be hire for the building project. However, several weeks later Mr. McHugh informed the newspaper that his members have been hired for some of the work but out-of-the-area nonunion iron workers were also hired. Some members of Local 489 have returned their Player Club cards, Mr. McHugh told the newspaper.

Mike Rozitski, President of the labor federation, told the newspaper he is continuing to meet and communicate with Mohegan Sun officials regarding hiring local union tradespeople for the projects. He stated signatory contractors of at least 5 local unions have been hired so-far for at least one of the projects. There are 14 local unions affiliated with the labor federation.

Mr. Rozitski said in 2005, when the main casino building was built, a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) was used. But, Mohegan Sun would not sign a PLA for these projects. 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 a guarantee of no strikes, a steady labor supply, and labor peace. Under a PLA, a nonunion contractor could still be hired for a project, but if selected, local unionized workers must be hired.

Paul Johnson, Secretary/Treasurer of the labor federation and President of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators Union Local 38 in Wilkes-Barre, stated he is holding the cards that the members of the building trades have returned. Mr. Rozitski said at least 500 members have turned-in their cards so far.

“We are trying to work this out. They should think it over. If workers are hired from out of the area, do they think those workers will be spending their money in Wilkes-Barre. Our members go there, they should think about that,” stated Mr. Rozitski.

Scranton hires IBT members fired by new parking garages operators

11.02.12

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

Scranton hires IBT members fired by new parking garages operators

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 24th- One of the first things Central Parking management did after being hired to operate the facilities formerly run by the Scranton Parking Authority (SPA) was fire the employees, which are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 229, North Main Avenue in Scranton.

Former Lackawanna County Democratic Commissioner Mike Washo, who while serving as Commissioner claimed to support the labor community, was appointed in August by a Lackawanna County Court judge as receiver to oversee the operations of the five parking garages and financial obligations of the Scranton Parking Authority. The court action was sought by the trustee who represented the people who held bonds for the construction and renovation of the Authority’s parking garages.

The holder of the bonds, Well Fargo Bank, sued to have a receiver appointed after the Scranton Parking Authority defaulted on a $1 million bond payment.

The SPA failed to be able to pay the bonds because of mis-management and Scranton would not back the bonds, causing the organization to not make payments on the bonds.

Mr. Washo announced just days after taking control of the Scranton Parking Authority assets, Central Parking would be hired to operate the parking garages. The company then fired the 12 members of Local 229 that were employed by the SPA and advertised for their jobs.

Craig Pawlik, Secretary-Treasurer and Principal Officer of Local 229, told the newspaper Central Parking is the largest parking garage operator in the United States and is anti-union. The IBT represent workers at Central Parking operated garages in Boston, Detroit and Philadelphia and they have had labor-management problems with the company.

Mr. Pawlik said his union contract with the Scranton Parking Authority does not expire until November 5th, 2012. The previous labor agreement expired on July 5th, 2012, however the two sides agreed to extend the pact until November 5th, 2012.

The union filed grievances over the termination of the IBT members, which includes maintenance employees, meter people, and a secretary.

At first Mr. Pawlik believed the union would file charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) over the termination of his members but he later said Local 229’s legal counsel advised pursuing the lay-offs through the labor contract before an arbitrator.

“I’m disappointed with Mike Washo. We supported him when he ran for Lackawanna County Commissioner and now he won’t even return my phone calls,” stated Mr. Pawlik. The newspaper did not speak to Mr. Washo regarding this story because he failed to return phone messages.

The meter people have since been hired by the City of Scranton and are working under the terms and conditions of the IBT contract with the Scranton Parking Authority, Mr. Pawlik stated.

Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty did return our phone message and stated he met with Mr. Pawlik and told him he would negotiate with Local 229 for a contract between the city and the IBT for the meter personnel.

Scranton hired the six people that collect money from the parking meters. Mr. Doherty explained the city receives 10 percent of all the money collected through the meters and the municipality can not afford to lose that income.

UNI Global Alliance launches drive to change Walmart

11.02.12

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

UNI Global Alliance launches drive to change Walmart

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 20th- The UNI Global Alliance, a international network of labor unions headquartered in Switzerland, is conducting a world drive to force Walmart to change their business practices and respect workers’ rights.

The UNI pledged to fight for fairness, decent working conditions and a union voice for Walmart workers at its inaugural meeting in Los Angles on October 5th.

“Walmart affects the lives of many millions and is the single most influential private actor on the planet ” stated Alke Boessiger, Head of UNI Global Alliance.

UNI Global Alliance released a report “Walmart’s Global Strategy: Undercutting Workers’ Rights” which focuses on Walmart’s global track record of disrespecting workers’ rights and lowering wages.

Los Angeles Walmart workers went on strike, the first strike action in the company’s 50 year history in the United States, on October 3rd and UNI Global Alliance held their meeting in California to show support for the workers.

Walmart spokesperson stated the strike action by their workers was a stunt for the benefit of the UNI delegation that visited Los Angeles to launch the Alliance.

“Once again Walmart is out of touch with reality on the ground in their own stores. People were matching because they wanted to impress on Walmart that they have had enough of the company crushing the opportunties for workers to form a union and because of poor working conditions,” said UNI General Secretary Phillip Jennings.

“It’s time to face down the bully. Walmart should accept the new reality. They now face a global alliance that is prepared to take a stand for decent work and for the rights of Walmart staff worldwide,” added Mr. Jennings.

Walmart has resisted labor union organizing for their stores. Walmart has went as far as to close a store that workers voted for unionization and reopened at another site avoiding bargaining for a collective bargaining agreement with a union.

UNI Global Alliance is supported by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union in Washington, DC which has attempted to organize Walmart workers for several decades. The retailer has opposed UFCW organizing attempts.

If we band together and act as one, we can change Walmart,” stated UFCW President Joe Hanson.