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Meeting scheduled between Lackawanna County and SEIU

01.20.13

JANUARY 2013, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Meeting scheduled between Lackawanna County and SEIU

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 5th- Representatives of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 668, and the Lackawanna County Commissioners Office met on December 20th in a attempt to negotiate for a new contract agreement between the parties.

The previous four-year contract between the Union and Lackawanna County expired on December 31st, 2012.

In the December edition of the newspaper it was reported the chief negotiators of the Union were unhappy how contract negotiations have been conducted so-far between officials of Lackawanna County and the Union for a successor agreement between the parties.

The SEIU represents approximately 200 workers of Lackawanna County including roll offices employees. The union has one major contract that covers all of the bargaining unit employees.

Michelle Williard, Business Agent with Local 668, who is involved with negotiations stated, Democratic Majority Commissioner Jim Wansacz attended the December 20th meeting and spoke to the Union’s negotiating committee regarding why he and fellow Democratic Majority Commissioner Corey O’Brien are seeking only a one (1) year contract agreement with the SEIU. Several sticking points have emerged in gaining a new pact including length of contract, which the County has requested only a one-year pact, to the elimination of retro-active pay should negotiations go well into 2013.

Mr. O’Brien told the newspaper he will not negotiate in the media and believes the union should not also. “I think it is counter-productive for the union to negotiate in the press,” said Mr. O’Brien.

Lackawanna County recently eliminated four positions, increasing the number of jobs cut since October 2012 to twenty-eight (28). Many of the workers laid-off were SEIU members, something Ms. Williard has pointed-out.

Also, Ms. Williard said the Union is the last one to find-out of lay-offs. “They don’t notify us. The workers are told they will be laid-off on the day of the lay-off.”

The next negotiating meeting is scheduled for January 15th.

Teamsters Union members ratify new four-year pact with the City of Wilkes-Barre

01.20.13

JANUARY 2013, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Teamsters Union members ratify new four-year pact with the City of Wilkes-Barre

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 5th- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 401 members employed in the public works department of Wilkes-Barre voted to ratified a new four-year labor agreement. The previous pact expired on December 31st, 2012 and the new contract will expire on December 31st, 2016.

Local 401, South Washington Street in Wilkes-Barre, represents 40 workers employed by the Wilkes-Barre Department of Public Works. The memebrship voted to ratify the new pact on December 28th by the vote of 36 for to 1 against.

“Local 401 is sincerely appreciative to the City of Wilkes-Barre for its professionalism in regard to the negotiation and ratification of this contract,” stated Pat Connors, Secretary-Treasurer/Business Representative and Principal Officer of Local 401.

Under the new agreement, the workers will receive wage increases of three precent each year. Also, the four temporary workers that were laid-off due to budget problems were recalled on December 27th, Mr. Connors added.

Other agreement highlights are:

• Temporary employees will be evaluated after 90 days from the date of hire and every quarter after that. If there has been no disciplinary action, reprimands or excessive time missed, the employee will get one (1) day of paid time-off (PTO) after each evaluation.
• Any person who retires after December 31st, 2013, can remain on the City’s Health Insurance Plan until they are eligible for Medicare benefits.
• All employees hired on or after January 1st, 2002 shall be granted ten (10) sick days per year.
• If an employee is ordered to operate a piece of heavy duty equipment they shall receive a minimum of one (1) hour at operators rate.
• All full-time employees shall be entitled to and required to take a meal period of one (1) hour between 11:30 a.m. and12:30 p.m.

Public employees pension debt, right-to-work to be huge topics during 2013

01.20.13

JANUARY 2013, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Public employees pension debt, right-to-work to be huge topics during 2013

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 2nd- Public sector unions in Pennsylvania are getting ready for another battle with Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett and conservatives in the state General Assembly in 2013 when they will attempt to cut retirement benefits.

Mike Crossey, the President of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), which represents approximately 190,000 active and retired school teachers and employees in Pennsylvania, reacted to the Keystone Pension Report which was released on December 3rd by Governor Corbett’s budget secretary.

Mr. Crossey noted that the report stated what PSEA has said all along, that the public employees of Pennsylvania and taxpayers did not create the pension problem.

Mike Crossey emphasized that teachers, nurses, and other public employees across the Commonwealth already pay for a significant portion of their pensions, and have made their contributions on time. The pension shortfall was caused by politicans who failed to make their appropriate contributions to the pension system.

“To blame Pennsylvania’s budget problems on debts employers owe to the pension systems is to make a scapegoat of working people who have contributed to their Pensions, year in and year out,” Mr. Crossey stated.

Mr. Crossey remarks on the pension issue comes on the heels a newly released study indicating the funding cuts to school districts have resulted in increased class sizes, eliminated program offerings, and shutting down tutoring programs for struggling students.

Overall, in the past two budgets Mr. Corbett has cut more than $1 billion in education funds which has caused havoc on Pennsylvania school districts, forcing them to dramatically reduce or eliminate student programs and causing them to raise property taxes.

Mr. Corbett also recently stated he will not push for passage in 2013 for Pennsylvania to become the twenty-fifth state that now has “right-to-work”, or “no-rights-at-work”, laws on the books. Michigan became the twenty-fourth state in the nation to pass the anti-union legislation in early December.

Mr. Corbett recently said other issues other than right-to-work were more pressing however, Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder also stated in 2012 he did not believe the legislation was important but signed the legislation into law only an hour after the Republican controlled legislature in Michigan passed it.

Anti-union Pennsylvania House of Representative Daryl Metcalfe (Republican-112th Legislative District) said he plans to introduce a right-to-work measure in the first quarter of 2013. The legislation would ban union security clauses in labor bargaining agreements.

Approximately 20 states have introduced “no-rights-at-work” bills in 2012 but most were bogged down in committees. However, banning of union security clauses in Michigan have given backers, mostly profiteers and their supporters in the legislature, renewed hope that similar legislation could be passed in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

For several years the National Right-to-Work Committee, a organization funded by multi-national corporations and other anti-union groups, has placed pro-right-to-work propaganda in the Union News wire racks that are placed throughout the region. The newspaper ask that any union member or reader discovering the material to remove it and place it in a proper garbage container.