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New ERISA Advisory Council appointments announced

01.21.13

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

New ERISA Advisory Council appointments announced

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 2nd- The United States Secretary of Labor (DOL) Hilda Solis in Washington, DC, recently announced the appointments of five new members to the 2013 Advisory Council on the Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans (ERISA). Ms. Solis also announced the incoming chair and vice chair of the council.

ERISA provides for the establishment of an Advisory Council which duties are to advise the DOL regarding the Secretary’s functions under ERISA.

The council consists of 15 members appointed by the Secretary of Labor. Three members are representatives of employee organizations (at least one of whom represents an organization whose members are participants in a multi-employer plan). Three members are representatives of employers (at least one of whom represents employers maintaining or contributing to multi-employer plans). Three members are representatives of the general public. There is one representative each from the fields of insurance, corporate trust, actuarial counseling, investment counseling, investment management, and accounting. Members must be qualified to appraise the programs instituted under ERISA. Members are appointed for three-year terms with five terms expiring on December 31 of each year.

“The ERISA Advisory Council is integral to the department’s work in enhancing and preserving the health and retirement benefits of American workers. The exceptional professionals joining the 2013 council are uniquely qualified to help it accomplish its goals. Their expertise will be valuable complement to the department’s mission to protect workers’ benefits,” stated Ms. Solis.

The new members include James Singer, who is partner at the Schuchat, Cook & Werner Law firm in St. Louis, Missouri and will represent one of the seats of the employee organizations. He counsels labor unions and multi-employer benefit plans to the operation and administration of plans, and on compliance with ERISA and the tax code. He also represents employees in claims against employee benefit plans.

The other new appointments are:

• Josh Cohen of Chicago, Illinois, which will represent the investment counseling seat;
• Christina Cutlip of Fairfax, Virginia, which will represent employers on the council;
• Ronald Gebhardtsbauer of State College, Pennsylvania, which will hold the actuarial consulting seat; and
• Paul Secunda of Wilwaukee, Wisconsin, which will represent the general public on the ERISA Advisory Board.

APWU files complaint against United States Postal Service

01.21.13

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

APWU files complaint against United States Postal Service

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 4th- The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 101 in Scranton filed a labor 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 Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge was filed against the USPS on December 11th, 2012 and alleges the agency failed to provide requested information regarding the proposed convertion of the Postal Vehicle Service (PVS) work currently being done at the Scranton Processing and Distribution Center to the designation of a Highway Contract Route (HCR). The work is currently being preformed by APWU members, however should the USPS convert the work to a HCR an outside contractor and their employees would preform it.

According to Kevin Gallagher, President of Local 101, PVS are USPS motor vehicle drivers that haul mail from the processing center in Scranton to post offices throughout Lackawanna County. Approximately 10 APWU members would be eliminated if the independent contractor is hired.

According to the ULP, since October 12th, 2012, the USPS failed to provide information which the Union requested in response to the proposal to convert PVS work stating the information is needed in order to evaluate the proposal as part of its representational responsibilities.

The complaint states the request for the information was sent to Don Hall, USPS Central Pennsylvania Transportation Manager on October 12th, 2012.

The ULP was filed on behalf of the APWU by Mr. Gallegher.

The request for information included factors why the USPS found it neccessary to make the change and the breakdown of the HCR contract cost.

Employees of the independent contractor, Nicholas Trucking Company, which currently already hauls some of the USPS mail in Northeastern Pennsylvania, are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 401 in Wilkes-Barre.

The Union requested the pay level of Nicholas Trucking Company and a copy of all factors considered in preparing cost estimate by the USPS.

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.

IBEW Local 1319 successfull in NLRB Representation Election

01.21.13

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

IBEW Local 1319 successfull in NLRB Representation Election

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 5th- The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 1319, 69 Public Square in Wilkes-Barre, won the right to represent workers employed by Frontier Communications by successfully winning a election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia.

In the December edition of the Union News it was exclusively reported Local 1319 filed a petition with the NLRB requesting the agency conduct a election to determine if employees of Frontier Communications wanted to be represented by the union for the purpose of collective bargaining.

According to the petition, which was filed on behalf of the union by David Blauer, President and Business Agent of Local 1319, the union requested that all full-time and regular part-time system professionals participate in the election.

The union requested that all managers, supervisors, technicians, and other administrators be excluded from participating in the election.

Workers of Frontier Communications Inc. in Williamsport, Hazelton, Plains and Scranton, participated in the election which was conducted by the NLRB on December 12th, 2012. Frontier provides telephone, data, and video services which includes telephone line installation.

The fifteen eligible to participate workers voted eight for union representation to seven against in the election. A labor organization must receive 50 percent plus one of the eligible to vote workers to become their bargaining representative.

The newspaper discovered the petition while reviewing labor complaints and petitions filed at the NLRB. The Union News is the only member of the local media that reviews the information.

Under NLRB rules at least 30 percent of workers must sign a petition before the agency will conduct a representation election.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA’s unemployment rate decreases to 9.4 percent

01.21.13

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

MSA’s unemployment rate decreases to 9.4 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 4th- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Industry, the region’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 9.4 percent, decreasing by one-tenth 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 9.2 percent.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 7.8 percent, dropping by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,542,000 with 512,000 not working and 6,030,000 with employment. The national unemployment rate is 7.7 percent, decreasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. The national unemployment rate decreased by a full percentage point from twelve months ago. The unemployment rate does not include civilians that unemployment benefits have expired and stopped looking for work.

There are 12,029,000 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 8.7 percent with the Philadelphia MSA and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA tied for third at 8.6 percent. The Williamsport MSA has the fourth highest unemployment in the state at 8.1 percent and the Reading MSA has the fifth highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 7.8 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.7 percent. The Lebanon MSA and the Lancaster MSA are tied with the second lowest unemployment rate at 6.6 percent. The Pittsburgh MSA and the Harrisburg MSA are tied for the third lowest unemployment rate at 7.2 percent.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fourth largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 291,400 civilians and 27,300 of them are without employment. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor force in Pennsylvania at 3,019,600 with 259,400 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,265,100 with 90,900 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force at 433,200 with 37,200 not working.

The Williamsport MSA has the smallest labor force in Pennsylvania with 63,900 civilians and 5,200 of them have no jobs. The Altoona MSA has the second smallest labor force with 65,900 civilians with 4,800 without employment and the Johnstown MSA is third with a labor force of 69,200 and 6,100 of them are not working.

Lackawanna County continues to have the lowest unemployment rate in the MSA at 8.7 percent, unchanged from the previous report. Lackawanna County has a civilian labor force of 110,500. There are 9,600 civilians without employment in Lackawanna County, unchanged from the previous report.

Wyoming County has the highest unemployment rate with in the MSA at 10.1 percent, also unchanged from the previous report. Wyoming County has a civilian labor force of 14,900, with 1,500 unemployed, unchanged from the previous report.

Luzerne County has a unemployment rate of 9.3 percent, decreasing by five-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Luzerne County has the largest civilian labor-force in the MSA at 165,700 and 15,400 civilians are unemployed dropping by 500 from the previous report.