Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Annual Ed O’Brien Dinner-Dance held on October 28th in Bethlehem

11.17.12

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

Annual Ed O’Brien Dinner-Dance held on October 28th in Bethlehem

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, November 2nd- The annual United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union Local 2599 Ed O’Brien Legislative Dinner-Dance was held on October 28th. The event is held at the USW building on East Lehigh Street in Bethlehem.

Local 2599 is one of the largest labor organizations in the Lehigh Valley and once represented workers employed at Bethlehem Steel Works the current site of the Sands Casino.

The annual dinner has been held since the 1960’s but was renamed after Mr. O’Brien in 2000, to honor the long-time USW member and officer.

This as in past years attendees of the Dinner-Dance included active and retired USW members, elected political officials, political candidates and other members of the labor community.

The Keynote Speaker of the event was Pennsylvania Senate Minority Floor Leader Jay Costa (Democrat-43rd Legislative District).

Also attending was Rick Daugherty. Mr. Daugherty was the Democratic challenger to House of Representative Charlie Dent (Republican-15th Legislative District) on November 6th. Mr. Dent won another two-year term in Washington.

Jerry Green, long-time President of Local 2599, told the newspaper Mr. Costa and Senator Lisa Boscola (Democrat-18th Legislative District) held a round-table discussion at the USW building on October 29th, regarding a project they are working on together that is aimed at creating jobs called ‘PA Works.’

Mr. O’Brien was twice the Democratic party nominee for the 15th Legislative District seat. He was defeated by the Republican nominee.

He first joined the Union in 1964 and served in many positions both in the Lehigh Valley and with the International Union.

Lehigh Valley unemployment rate increases to 8.8 percent

11.17.12

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

Lehigh Valley unemployment rate increases to 8.8 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 2nd- 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 one-tenth 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 at 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 8.3 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.0 percent. The Lebanon MSA and the Lancaster MSA are tied for the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 6.7 percent.

The Pittsburgh MSA and the Harrisburg MSA are tied for the third lowest at 7.4 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 8.2 percent, rising by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report and increasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before.

There are 530,000 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 6,504,000 and 5,974,000 of them have employment.

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 7.8 percent, dropping by three-tenths 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 one and two-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 432,200 civilians, increasing by 500 from the previous report and rising by 1,500 during the past twelve months.

The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor force at 3,007,500 with 264,200 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,259,700 with 93,100 without jobs; and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fourth largest civilian labor force in the commonwealth at 288,800 with 27,600 civilians without jobs. The Harrisburg MSA is the fifth largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 288,400 civilians and 21,400 of them are without jobs.

There are 12,086,000 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 16.8 million Americans without jobs.

Northampton County has the lowest unemployment rate in the MSA at 8.6 percent, unchanged from the previous report.

Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 10.2 percent, rising by four-tenths of a percentage point from the month before. Lehigh County has a unemployment rate of 8.7 percent, unchanged from the previous report.

Security Union attempting to organize courthouse workers

11.17.12

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

Security Union attempting to organize courthouse workers

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 4th- The United Government Security Officers of America Union, Westminister, Colorado, filed a petition with the The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia requesting the agency conduct a election to determine if security workers at several government offices in Pennsylvani,a including in the Lehigh Valley, want to be represented by the union for the purpose of collective bargaining.

According to the petition, which was discovered by the newspaper while reviewing representation petitions and labor complaints filed at the NLRB Region Four Office, the United Goverment Security Officers of America wants approximately 17 workers to be involved in the representation election.

The Poughkoepsie, New York office of the United Government Security Officers of America union filed the petition on October 23rd requesting the election.

Under National Labor Relations Board rules at least 30 percent of the unit of employees must support the election before a labor organization can file a petition.

Akal Security Inc. provides security services for government buildings in Pennsylvania including the United States Courthouse in Allentown and the United States Federal Building in Reading, which are the two courthouses the employes work that the union is attempting to organize.

The union request that all full-time and share-time Court Security Officers, Lead Court Security Officers, Special Security Officers, and Lead Special Security Officers, employed by Akal Security Inc. at those two courthouses participate in the election by the NLRB.

A labor organization must receive 50 percent plus one of the eligible voting workers in the election to become their bargaining representative for the purpose of collective bargaining.

The union request that all office clerical employees, professional employees, confidential employees, and supervisors as defined under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct) be excluded in participating in the representation election.

The petition was filed on behalf of the union by Travis Mastroddi, 42nd Street in New York City.

Moving processing center operations to region postponed

11.17.12

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

Moving processing center operations to region postponed

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 2nd- The United States Postal Service (USPS) has postponed moving the operations of the Scranton processing center to the Lehigh Valley until at least February 2014.

Kevin Gallagher, President of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 101 in Scranton, stated he is still hopeful the USPS will yet decide against moving the Northeastern Pennsylvania mail processing operations in 2014.

The USPS announced last year it would consolidate 48 mail processing centers throughout the nation in 2012 including moving their operations from Scranton to the Lehigh Valley. The plan would save the agency nearly $1.2 billion a year, according to information provided by the USPS.

The elimination of the Scranton facility would impact approximately 200 jobs, mostly members of Local 101. However, the USPS stated it plans no layoffs but the effected workers would need to travel to the Lehigh Valley processing center for employment.

The USPS first stated it would close about 250 processing centers after their plan is fully implemented. Overall, approximately 5,000 workers would be affected by the consolidation. The plan was to consolidate 92 mail processing centers in February 2013, and 89 more in 2014. There are currently around 487 mail processing centers in the United States.

The agency stated the move of consolidation of mail processing centers is intended to be a cost saving plan. The reason for the cutbacks is because of declining mail volume caused by customers no longer using the mail service.

However, the USPS is losing money mainly because of an 2006 law that forces the agency to fund the pensions of workers 75 years into the future. The USPS estimated that the post office department would have made a profit in 2010 and 2011 if not for the provision of the pension issue.

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

Meanwhile, 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 jobs most effected by the Scranton mail processing center operations being moved to the Lehigh Valley are members of APWU Local 101 and Local Branch 308. 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.

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.