Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Philadelphia CLUW Event for Women Against Abuse

03.31.13

by John Mason

The Philadelphia chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) held its annual support event for Women Against Abuse, at the assembly hall of Workers United, 22 South 22nd Street in Philadelphia, on Thursday, March 28, 2013.

Participants brought donations of boys and girls clothes and maternity clothes; toilet articles such as toothpaste, soap, and shampoo, etc.; baby formulas and pacifiers; bed sheets and blankets; kitchen utensils; wash cloths and towels; stationary supplies such as notepads and pens; yarn and knitting needles; and children’s’ DVDs.

Kathy Black, President of Philadelphia CLUW, greeted the participants, saying, “This is the first time I can remember that I didn’t know pretty much everybody in the room, so that’s a really good sign for a CLUW event…This is the fifteenth year we’ve held a benefit for Women Against Abuse, often in conjunction with the Women’s History Month Program, so we’re really pleased with that relationship (which) we’ve cemented with them over the years.”

CLUW selected Women Against Abuse to work with for two reasons, said Black: “One, they run the only shelter in (Philadelphia) that’s exclusively for victims of domestic violence and their children, and in Montgomery County also. And their staff are UAW (United Auto Workers) members, the only shelter that’s represented by a union…The agency’s services remain in very high demand, especially in the last few years, while we’ve suffered economically nationwide, and they’ve suffered specifically from massive cuts in funding from (elected officials).

“Over the years,” added Black, “we’ve raised tens of thousands of dollars for this agency, and our members have always been very generous,” as she pointed to the piles of donated items. Black also spoke of CLUW’s involvement in the campaign for Earned Sick Leave, calling it “the biggest campaign, and the main focus of our work for the last three years.” That campaign, said Black, is to have passed in Philadelphia City Council an ordinance for businesses “to provide a fundamental few paid sick days per year for the almost two hundred thousand low-wage workers in Philadelphia who do not have a paid sick day. They are overwhelmingly women, in the service and care-giving professions generally.” Black urged participants to contact members of City Council to pass the bill and to override a possible veto by Mayor Michael Nutter.

Katie Young-Wilder, Development Director of Women Against Abuse, spoke of the relationship between CLUW and her agency, saying, “CLUW, for fifteen years, has been supporting women Against Abuse, and we’re very grateful for your contributions. They go a long way, and they’re really important.”

Describing the services of Women Against Abuse, Young-Wilder said, “We are a leading domestic violence service provider here in Philadelphia. Our mission is really twofold, the first part of it is to provide quality, compassionate care to survivors of domestic violence and their children. The other part of that mission has to do with changing the system, working across the city to improve our response to domestic violence, in hopes that one day, we will end domestic violence. We do a lot of direct service, as well as advocacy work in the community. We serve over thirteen thousand individuals each year through comprehensive services. We do emergency housing, legal aid, community education, hot line, and as Kathy mentioned we operate the only emergency shelter in Philadelphia for victims and their children.”

Kathy Black followed, and she spoke of the Young Women’s Committee of the chapter, named the Young Emerging Labor Leaders (YELL) organizing the event. Two members of the committee, Sandra Lane (SEIU) and Dina Yarmus (UNITE HERE), spoke of the video the committee produced, “Our Movements, Our Voices, Our History.” the video shows the experiences of women trade union activists-Gwen Ivey’ American Postal Workers Union; Evette Jones, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; Margarita Padin, Carpenters Union; Corean Halloway, UNITE HERE; and Patty Eakin, Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals.

Lane said, “This film came out of a process which started about a year ago, when we as the young women in the organization were asked to play of a leadership role in our CLUW chapter, and I’m happy to say that we willingly took the push. We had several conversations where we thought about, ‘What is the history of CLUW? Why is it important to have a gender lens in the Labor movement, and have a class lens in the gender-women’s movement?’…We thought about the big questions that lay before us, and what experiences we need to learn from.”

“To think about some of these really broad questions,” said Yarmus, “we decided to start right here in Philadelphia, with women who have been at the forefront of really significant fights in this city, and we wanted to understand first their experiences and also incorporate their analysis, which is really directly grounded in this work, so that we can build upon their work tomorrow in five months and in five years and in thirty years from now.”

Scranton Council member Rogan seeking second term

03.25.13

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

Scranton Council member Rogan seeking second term

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 1st- Incumbent Democratic Scranton City Council member Pat Rogan is seeking a second four-year term. Mr. Rogan, 24 years old, was recently interviewed by the newspaper.

When asked whether he supports the privitization of the Department of Public Works, (DPW) Mr. Rogan stated while in the past he voiced support for the privitization of the garbage collection he would now like to see employees working longer hours each day for a total of four days a week and have one day a week so they can be doing other things. “Something has to be done with how the DPW is set-up,” Mr. Rogan said.

“The police and fire department’s have been cut to the bone. The cuts in manning have been to drastic,” he added.

Mr. Rogan stated any more cutbacks in the police and fire department personnel should be off the table.

“I don’t like the recovery plan. It was created with unrealistic numbers. They don’t add-up,” added Mr. Rogan.

Once a candidate for Scranton City Council as a registered Republican Mr. Rogan has been a member of the Democratic party for five years and works as a constituent services representative in Republican United States House of Representative Lou Barletta Hazleton office.

He made it clear he supports the candidacy of Scranton Mayorial candidate Bill Courtright in this years election.

Mr. Rogan would like to see the parking meter collection be done by workers of Scranton, not a private contractor. “The meter collection should be done in-house,” added Mr. Rogan.

Scranton Mayorial candidate Elizabeth Randol does not support DPW privitization

03.25.13

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

Scranton Mayorial candidate Elizabeth Randol does not support DPW privitization

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 28th- During a interview at the newspaper office Scranton Democratic mayorial candidate Elizabeth Randol made it clear if elected she would support many of the issues important to the labor community.

When asked whether she would attempt to rescind Scranton’s Project Labor Agreement (PLA) contract with the affiliated labor organizations of the Scranton Building and Construction Trades Council, she said no.

The agreement was signed into law by former Mayor Jim Connors and current Mayor Chris Doherty, who is not seeking a fourth four-year term, supported the legislation during his term.

A PLA is a comprehensive agreement signed between a builder or a government body and local craft unions under which a construction project(s) 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.

The City of Allentown in 2012 overturned the PLA signed with the building and construction trade council of that region.

Ms. Randol, 42 years old and lives in South Scranton, stated she would not support the privitization of the Scranton Department of Public Works. The department workers are represented by the International Association of Machinists (IAM) Union Lodge 2305.

She said a goal of her administration would be to improve the relationship between the mayors’ office and the unions that represent Scranton employees, particularly the police and fire unions.

Ms. Randol said the labor unions must be part of finding the solution’s to the problems of the city.

”No-rights-at-work” law introduced in Harrisburg by anti-union Metcalfe

03.25.13

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

”No-rights-at-work” law introduced in Harrisburg by anti-union Metcalfe

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 13th- The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation held their 2013 Legislative Conference during the week of February 11th in which many issues important to the labor community were discussed including legislation introduced in Harrisburg that if passed by the General Assembly would make Pennsylvania the twenty-fifth state that has a “right-to-work” law on the books.

Anti-union Pennsylvania House of Representative Daryl Metcalfe (Republican-112th Legislative District) introduced a “right-to-work” or “no-rights-at-work” measure in February called the “Open Workforce Initiative”. The legislation would ban union security clauses in labor bargaining agreements.

Pennsylvania Republican anti-union Governor Tom Corbett stated he would not push for passage in 2013 for the “right-to-work” law.

Michigan became the twenty-fourth state in the nation to pass the anti-union legislation in 2012. Approximately 20 states had introduced “no-rights-at-work” bills in 2012 but most were bogged down in committees.

Mr. Metcalfe stated what happen in Michigan and before that in Indiana created more energy for the anti-union forces in Pennsylvania to pass the “no-rights-at-work” legislation.

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO told the participates of their annual legislative conference, which was attended by delegates from labor organizations affiliated with the labor federation, elected political officials, and invited guests, that the “right-to-work” bill is being promoted by corporate special interest groups and big multinational corporations that ship jobs overseas and offshore their profits to avoid paying taxes.

Under the legislation workers who decide not to be a part of a union will still benefit from union representation without having to pay a single penny for it.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, census of Employment and Wages, on average workers in states with “right-to-work” laws earn $5,680 a year less than workers in states that have no such laws. Also, the rate of workplace deaths is 36 percent higher in states with “no-rights-at-work” laws.

The agency data also states some 92 percent of private-sector union workers have access to medical insurance through their jobs compared with 67 percent of nonunion workers. And 70 percent of private-sector union workers have access to guaranteed (defined-benefit) retirement plans through their jobs, compared with 14 percent of nonunion workers.

Under the Metcalfe “right-to-work” proposal labor organizations would be weakened because under the law they would be required to spend its time and money representing a nonmember who decided to not join the union and pay no dues, even if the battle is long and costly.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics women workers in unions earn $226 more each week (34.6 percent more) than nonunion women. Women working in a “right-to-work” law state earn $5,434 less per year than women in states without the law.

According to information provided by the AFL-CIO in Washington, DC, by holding down union membership through “right-to-work” laws hurt all workers but especially women and of color, who benefit most from belonging to labor organizations.

Bureau of Labor Statistics data show Latino workers in labor unions earn 56 percent more each week that nonunion Latinos. Also, African American workers that are members of a labor organization earn nearly 30 percent more per week than nonunion African American workers.

The AFL-CIO contends that while “right-to-work” supporters suggest that laws that makes a employee join a union as a condition of employment is government interference actually the law allows the government to interfere unfairly in the freedom of private businesses and employees, and restricts the right of businesses to negotiate with their employees. The AFL-CIO believes employers should be free to negotiate labor agreements without government intrusion.

APWU member files complaint against U.S. Postal Service

03.25.13

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

APWU member files complaint against U.S. Postal Service

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 21st- An employee of the United States Postal Service (USPS), 300 South Main Street in Wilkes-Barre, and a member of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 175 in Wilkes-Barre, filed a labor complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia, alleging the mail delivery service violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

According to the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP), the USPS violated the NLRAct when an APWU member was denied the right when he requested representation by a union steward in an investigatory interview which the employee believed could result in discipline.

The ULP states facing the interview, which concerned an allegation of an alleged violation of management policy, “he was denied the right to representation by the union steward to prepare for, have witness to, and obtain assistance during it. A steward was available and in the facility at the time of the alleged violation.”

The complaint states subsequently the employee was not allowed to work in the facility and the employer has withheld 39.34 hours of pay.

The ULP was filed by John Michael Wright, a APWU Local 175 member.John Kishel, President of Local 175 confirmed Mr. Wright is a member of the union and was aware he was preparing to file a NLRB charge.

The Employer Representatives identified on the ULP to be contacted are Edwin Turner, USPS Officer in Charge and Mike Hudak, USPS Customer Service Representative.

The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Union and the APWU represent the majority of the USPS workers.

Pennsylvania public employees pension plans under attack

03.23.13

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

Pennsylvania public employees pension plans under attack

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 25th- The Pennsylvania public pension cost issue is heating-up in Harrisburg with Republican Governor Tom Corbett announcing he wants to reduce the pension cost to free up money and put it back into programs he has slashed in previous state budgets.

Governor Corbett’s Budget Secretary, Charles Zogby, released a report of the long-term sustainability of the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System and the Pennsylvania State Employees’ retirement System.

A recent report by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) estimates teacher pension plans nationwide have almost $325 billion in unfunded liabilities. In Pennsylvania it is estimated there is an unfunded liability of $19.7 billion. The report suggests the pension problem is worse due to unrealistic assumptions and projections about what returns will be made on investments.

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. 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. Many schools districts across Pennsylvania have not made their contributions to the pension system.

Some states, including Pennsylvania, have attempted to change the pension system. In 2010 the Pennsylvania legislature passed Act 120, which lowered the amount a pension increases a year of employment from 2.5 percent of pay to 2 percent. Also, the vested time was raised from five years to ten and required most teachers to wait until they are 65 to start receiving pension payments. The new rules apply to newly hired teachers.

Mr. Corbett has linked the pension cost cuts to restoring funding for education and social programs, a proposal he hopes will get members of the General Assembly to support the pension cuts.

The Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System covers more than 100,000 active employees and provides for 100,000 retirees as well as their beneficiaries.

Chief Deputy Manetti seeking to become Lackawanna sheriff

03.23.13

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

Chief Deputy Manetti seeking to become Lackawanna sheriff

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 28th- A long-time veteran of the Lackawanna County Sheriff’s Department Dominick Manetti is running to replace Sheriff John Szymanski, who is retiring at the end of this year.

Mr. Manetti of Old-Forge, is a Republican and has been in the Lackawanna County Sheriff’s Office since 1983 and has been the Chief Deputy Sheriff, the second in command, since 1989.

The Lackawanna County Majoirty Democratic Commissioners have proposed amending the county Home Rule Charter to abolish the Sheriff from being elected by the citizens and make it a appointed position, however before that can happen it must be approved by the voters.

However, other candidates have announced they will also seek the office including at least one other Republican and at least three Democars have stated they will seek the position.

Mr. Manetti attended West Scranton High School and is a graduate of the Pennsylvania Deputy Sheriff Training Academy.

Currently he is responsible for the design, implementation, evaluation, and revision of security measures to ensure safety of facilities, personnel, and the public at the Lackawanna County Courthouse and other county owned properties and was often seen at the Lackawanna County Stadium.

Gino Arcurie Jr., Treasurer of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 81 in Scranton, told the newspaper Mr. Manetti is his cousin and he was raised in a working class family and deserves the support of the labor community.

County sheriffs have the same certification as police officers and their primary workload involves transporting prison inmates, serving lawsuits, and serving arrest warrants besides providing security at county facilites and the Sheriff manages the department.

Mr. Manetti was a Sergeant in the United States Army and also had acquired top-secret special background investigation clearance.

Liquor privatization plan would kill good paying jobs

03.23.13

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

Liquor privatization plan would kill good paying jobs

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 28th- Anti-union Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett unveiled his plan to get the state out of the liquor business that would lead to the elimination of family sustaining jobs and having twice as many private outlets selling both beer and wine.

Mr. Corbett announced his plan on January 30th stating the expansion would create consumption and therefore more tax revenue. He did not state why the selling of more liquor would be a good thing for Pennsylvanians.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) currently operates the wine and spirits shops and enploys more than 5,000 workers. The United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union represent the majority of the workers which are employed as clerks and shelve stockers.

Each plan previously introduce has failed to pass the state legislature, which is required for the selling of the asset of the liquor business, however, Mr. Corbett’s lastest plan includes using the revenue from the selling of the system to help fund school programs that he has cut in previous budgets.

The Independent State Store Union (ISSU) represent most lower supervisors of the system and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union represent mainly office employees including the PLRB auditors.

Under Mr. Corbett’s latest plan all 600-plus state stores would be closed and the employees would be fired. In place licenses to sell wine and liquor would be sold and generate $1 billion in revenue, Mr. Corbett stated. Much of the money created would be funneled to public schools meaning public education would be financed by booze sales.

UFCW Local 1776 and UFCW Local 23 have requested the labor community contact their members of the General Assembly and ask them not to support privatizing the state stores. Local 1776 represent UFCW workers in eastern Pennsylvania including the Philadelphia area while Local 23 represent workers in Western Pennsylvania including the Pittsburgh area.

The system currently creates more than $500 million in profits and taxes a year for Pennsylvania, which benefits all taxpayers.

The privatization supporters are led by pro-business groups, profitteers and corporate owned and supported main-stream media members, which are unfriendly to labor organizations.

Raising federal minimum wage to $9 an hour proposed

03.21.13

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

Raising federal minimum wage to $9 an hour proposed

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 25th- President Barack Obama has proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour and increasing it annually to keep pace with the national inflation rate and pro-business advocates and profiteers immediately began attacking the increase.

Currently, there are 19 states and the District of Columbia in the nation that have a higher working minimum wage than the federal level including Pennsylvania.

Mr. Obama highlighted the issue in his State of the Union address.

The National Federation of Independent Business, a pro-business group which is funded by pro-business groups and business profiteers, attacked the proposal suggesting the increase would hit businesses hard and only hurt low-wage workers because many would be “laid-off” due to the increase wage.

However, a major 1994 study showed that a rise in New Jersey’s minimum wage did not reduce employment levels in the fast food industry that was predicted by pro-business groups.

President Obama’s proposal will face a tough path because of the Republican controlled House of Representatives that have pledged to fight against any plan that would support the working people.

Currently the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and raising the wage to $9 would increase the income of approximately 21 million American workers.

An editorial in The Wall Street Journey claimed the reason the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington, DC supports the wage increase is because their members directly benefit from minimum wage increases, despite the fact union members make more than the wage.

The newspaper stated a 2004 study showed that lower-wage union worker typically see a boost in employment and earned income following a minimum wage hike and because of the increase there is a job drop, which is a good thing for their members. They suggested labor contracts are often tied to the law, and it reduces the competition for lower-paying jobs.

The AFL-CIO stated for seven decades the minimum wage has been a critical safeguard for America’s working families. At the current level of $7.25 an hour workers earning the level make $15,080 per year.

The federal minimum wage has not be raised since July 2009.

A Union Plan to Guarantee Funding of Public Libraries in New York City

03.21.13

By GREGORY N. HEIRES

www.thenewcrossroads.com
http://www.thenewcrossroads.com/2013/03/17/a-plan-to-guarantee-steady-funding-for-new-york-citys-cash-strapped-libraries/

The Great Recession has brought years of service cuts and downsizing to revenue-starved public library systems throughout the United States.

In New York City, supporters are looking to put an end to the budget battle that occurs every year over library funding, which has plummeted by $67 million, or 22.1 percent, over the past four years.

District Council 37, the largest union of municipal workers in the city, recently launched a campaign to fight for a funding floor for the city’s cash-strapped three public library systems.

The union is calling for legislation that would require the city to dedicate 2.5 percent of its property tax assessments to public libraries.

“Having a permanent funding stream would free the library systems, staff and patrons from annual round of budget cuts and restorations that now take place and provide a more stable delivery of services to communities citywide, which are using public libraries at an increasing rate,” said Executive Director Lillian Roberts of District Council 37. DC 37 has four union locals that represent library workers—ranging from custodians, security guards, maintenance employees and clerks to technical and information assistants, and librarians—in the city’s five boroughs.

“Adequate funding to keep the gates of knowledge open to one and all should be a major priority for our elected officials, now and for the future,” said New York Public Library Guild Local 1930 President Valentin Colon.

But as library advocates press for stable financing, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed budget would allocate just $193 million to libraries—an astounding $106 million below the current funding. The billionaire mayor’s yearly budget cuts have led his critics to contend that defunding libraries will be one of his legacies after he finishes his third and last term this year.

What are some of the consequences of the inadequate funding over the years?

The front-line library staff is down significantly since 2002. Since then, the number of workers in the library systems has declined 20 percent.
Libraries have been forced to reduce their services to an average of five days a week, down from six in 2008.
The three-library systems face $1.5 billion in construction needs. Queens has deferred $647 million in maintenance projects in its 67 branches.
· Tight budgets have forced libraries to curtail spending on books and other material. In recent years, such spending in Queens has dropped from $15 million to $5 million.
New York City libraries are typically open 43 hours a week. Libraries in Chicago and Boston are open for 50 hours. Despite its well-known financial troubles, Detroit manages to operate its libraries 45.2 hours a week.
Meanwhile, as they have struggled with Bloomberg’s austerity in recent years, libraries continue to be enormously popular with residents.

Circulation is up by 59 percent in the three library systems over the past decade. Attendance of library programs has increased 40 percent.

More people are going to the libraries, which have provided crucial support to the city’s unemployed during tough economic times. In fiscal year, 2011, more than 40.5 million patrons visited the city’s 206 public library branches.

Branch libraries became safe havens—homeless shelters, job search centers, a place to charge cell phones, facilities with heat and hot water and food distribution centers–in communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy in October.

“Libraries represent hope and opportunity for millions of New Yorkers,” said Jimmy Van Bramer, chair of the New York City Council’s Cultural Affairs and Libraries Committee, who accompanied the union when it announced the “baseline” funding proposal on the steps of City Hall on March 13. “They are an essential city service and must be fully funded. A $106 million cut to libraries is irresponsible and, if enacted, those cuts would prove devastating.”

“Dedicating 2.5 percent of existing property tax levies to funding public libraries would offer a way out of this bad situation and set up public libraries with stable budgets for the future,” said Eileen Muller, president of Brooklyn Library Guild Local 1482.

Supporters of the proposed legislation say that the measure would do more than guarantee a funding floor.

“All three library systems have experienced funding cuts totaling tens of millions of dollars in recent years, but cuts aren’t their only financial obstacle,” concludes a recent report, “Branches of Opportunities,” by the Center for Urban Future, a think tank in New York City devoted to public policy issues. “In many ways, the lack of security afforded by the city’s budget process has been at least as big a problem.”

The steady funding would put an end to an annual “budget dance” in which a lot of energy and resources are devoted to fighting for restorations.

The precarious funding creates anxiety among workers–who each year wonder whether they will lose their jobs–and makes long-term planning for services and capital improvements difficult.

In the face of budget uncertainty, Brooklyn Public Library and New York Public Library, which services Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, have looked to selling off properties.

Queens Library Guild Local 1321 President John Hyslop said, “Legislation providing a stable source of consistent and adequate public library funding would allow library staff in all three systems to provide all the services our customers expect; to plan for new and innovative library services; to assure our customers have a vast array of materials, programs and services; and to feel secure in their profession.”

Cuthbert Dickenson, president of Quasi-Public Employees Local 374, which represents maintenance, custodial and security workers, said, “Every year we have uncertainty related to the budget, but public libraries are part of the educational fabric of New York City and they need stable funding so the young, the old and the in-between can visit, do research and benefit from library services in clean, attractive and well-maintained facilities.”

Eliminating the Payroll Tax Cap Would Ensure the Solvency of Social Security for 75 Years

03.14.13

By GREGORY N. HEIRES

As President Barack Obama looks to strike a “grand bargain” on the deficit by July, Social Security is being targeted for cuts.

But the alarm over the system’s supposed weak fiscal health is more about deficit hysteria than real facts.

Social Security will be solvent for years. And whatever tinkering it needs can be achieved without harming the overwhelming majority of beneficiaries.

Currently, the regressive payroll tax that funds Social Security maxes out at $113,700. That means wealthy individuals are not taxed on their earnings above that amount while the workers who earn less are taxed on their entire income.

One simple step—doing away with the current cap structure—would not only eliminate the inequity of the payroll tax but also guarantee the solvency of Social Security for three-quarters of a century without raising the retirement age or cutting benefits.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (Ind.-Vt.) calls for scrapping the cap.
His sensible proposal should be a part of the discussion as Washington politicians seek to address the deficit by introducing changes in the country’s three principal entitlements, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The Social Security system is currently fully funded until 2037, according to its trustees. Scrapping the payroll tax cap would virtually eliminate the projected funding shortfall for the next 75 years.

Unfortunately, the beltway power brokers and pundits—including President Obama—seem to be coalescing around a proposal to change the inflation formula used to set Social Security payments—and that would reduce benefits.

“Social Security is facing an unprecedented attack from those who either want to privatize it completely or who want to make substantial cuts,” said Sanders at a news conference on March 7 in which he announced his introduction of the bill to eliminate the cap.

“The argument being used to cut Social Security is that because we have a significant deficit problem and a $16.6 trillion national debt, we just can’t afford to maintain Social Security benefits,” he said. “This argument is false. Social Security, because it is funded by the payroll tax, not the U.S. Treasury, has not contributed one nickel to our deficit.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Dem.-Iowa) is a co-sponsor of the legislation. Rep. Peter DeFazio (Dem.-) has introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Specifically, the Saunders bill calls for applying the 12.6 percent payroll tax to individuals with earned incomes of over $250,000. By kicking in at that amount, the legislation would only affect only 1.3 percent of the workers paying the Social Security payroll tax, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research. For a millionaire and the employer, the new tax burden would be $46,500 each.

The scrap-the-cap proposal flies in the face of the notion that all of us must “share the burden” as the country addresses the deficit. But the deficit hawks who promote that agenda in effect are ignoring the reality that our country over the last three decades has become a plutocracy in which the wealthy have enjoyed the fruits of production while everyone else has seen their income stagnate and drop.

As inequality rises, incomes fall, traditional pensions disappear, and the 401(k) fails as a retirement vehicle, Social Security needs to be strengthened not gutted.

“Two-thirds of Americans who are over the age of 65 depend on an average annual Social Security benefit of $15,168.36 for at least half of their income,” wrote Thomas B. Edsall in a March 6 New York Times blog post titled “The War on Entitlements.” It is people like them who will suffer if the predominant “reform” proposals—raising the retirement age and cutting benefits—are adopted.

The proposal to adjust the Consumer Price Index used for calculating the Social Security benefit—known as the “chained CPI” is one of those proposals. It would constitute another attack on the standard of living of recipients. Using the chained-CPI formula for determining benefits for Social Security would result in the typical 65 year old living on some $15,000 a year receiving $650 less each year when they turn 75 and $1,000 less a year when they turn 85, according to Sanders.

“We shouldn’t cut benefits or try to balance the budget on the of seniors who have earned these benefits,” said DeFazio. “We can just close a tax loophole that allows millionaires and billionaires to pay a lower percentage of their income into Social Security than everyone else.”

“Ninety-four percent of the country pays Social Security taxes on all their income. Six percent do not. This has got to change,” Sanders said.

Posted on http://www.thenewcrossroads.com on March 11, 2013. This article was previously posted on the Daily Kos on March 10, 2013.

Cutting Saturday mail service will impact annual food drive

03.13.13

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

Cutting Saturday mail service will impact annual food drive

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 2nd- This year could be the last National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Union annual food drive to be held on a Saturday if in fact the United States Postal Service (USPS) cuts mail delivery to five days a week.

The USPS announced in February it wants to end Saturday mail service to save money. Mail delivery will be from Monday to Friday.

The NALC with support from the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation have conducted the annual food drive, which customers of the USPS are asked to place non-perishable food donations near their mailboxes so that the letter carriers can collect them while they deliver mail, since 1992.

The food collected each year is used to replenish food banks which helps feed the 50 million Americans, one-third of them childeren, who live in families that lack sufficient food.

In 2012, more than 70 million pounds of food was collected by members of the NALC.

However, the elimination of Saturday mail service could decrease the amount of food collected and volunteers needed for the event. Thousands of volunteers from labor organizations participate in the one-day food drive.

Moving the event to another day of the week could prove costly because many of the volunteers work during the week and will be unavailable or be forced to take a day-off from their regular job.

Approximately 1,600 NLAC Braches nationwide are involved in the food drive, which is held on the first Saturday of each May.

The elimination of Saturday mail delivery adds to the impact of the USPS actions of closing of 13,000 post offices, cutting hours of operation, shuttering hundreds of mail processing centers, and lowering the standards for mail delivery to the country’s homes and businesses.

SEIU files additional complaint against Keystone Job Corp

03.13.13

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

SEIU files additional complaint against Keystone Job Corp

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 22nd- The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Pennsylvania Social Services Union (PSSU) Local 668, Main Street in Dickson City, filed at least one more labor complaint against a regional job training organization with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia alleging they violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

In the previous edition of the newspaper, it was exclusively reported that the SEIU filed several Unfair Labor Practices (ULP’s) against Management Training Corporation, which does business as Keystone Job Corp Center. The company is headquatered in Centerville, Utah. The complaints were filed on the same day, December 26th, 2012, and filed on behalf of the SEIU by Kimberly Yost, SEIU Local 668 Business Agent.

The SEIU represent workers employed by Keystone Job Corp Center. The Union has three separate bargaining units at Keystone, which includes maintenance, dietary, transportation, residential advisor, instructors, counselors, nurses and other professional employees.

The most recent ULP was filed on January 28th, 2013 and alleges Keystone Job Corp Center violated the NLRAct when management held a meeting with a bargaining unit worker and alleged several students had made allegations against her, which the employee denied. The union member was told she could write a statement of the allegation and she was informed she would receive a verbal warning regarding the statement allegedly made.

The employee refused to provide a statement because she denied anything was said inappropriately to any student.

Lori Thuringer, Human Resource Manager of Keystone Job Center, later sent an e-mail to the employee requesting a statement and suggested discipline was made because she refused to provide a statement.

A grievance was filed on behalf of the employee and processed, but Keystone Career Transition Readiness Counselor Heather Rebarchak later e-mailed the only way for the employee to avoid potential discipline was for her to withdraw the grievance.

On January 31st, a manager of Keystone Job Corps filed a ULP against the SEIU alleging the union failed to bargain in good faith.

Carpenters Union members the latest to protest Mohegan Sun

03.13.13

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

Carpenters Union members the latest to protest Mohegan Sun

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 28th- More nonunion trades-people have been hired for the $50 million construction project at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Plains Township, which is building a new hotel and convention center. The project was devided into two parts, the construction of the hotel and the construction of the convention center.

In the previous edition of the newspaper Kevin McHugh, Business Manager of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union Local 489, told the newspaper a nonunion out-of-the-area contractor was hired instead of a signatory contractor of Local 489 for some of the project. But, a signatory contractor of the union was hired for other work that usually is done by ironworker members.

In December members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 163 in Wilkes-Barre picketed outside of the Mohegan Sun for several days protesting the hiring of a Missouri-based contractor for the electrical work.

Mohegan Sun responded by setting-up two gates to the construction site, one for nonunion workers and one for union tradesmen. IBEW members were then forced to picket only the nonunion worker gate, so not to cause delays in the construction schedule after other union construction members began not to cross the information picket line.

Members of the International Brotherhood of Carpenters Union Local 645 Pear Street in Scranton, have been holding a banner stating Mohagan Sun officials should be ashamed of themselves for not hiring local construction workers to proform work usually done by Local 645 members.

Mike Rozitski, President of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council labor federation told the newspaper he is disappointed nearly every construction union affiliated with the labor organization are not being hired for some of the work construction.

Mr. Rozitski said when the main casino building was built in 2005, a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) was used. But, Mohegan Sun would not sign a PLA for these projects.

Mr. Rozitski told the newspaper several months ago he would encouraged union members, their families, and supporters, to travel a little further to Mount Airy Casino to gamble because local unionized construction workers were hired for the casino construction.

Posting this site

03.08.13

Please email me at demlabor@aol.com if you want to post articles or comments. Or call me at 443-907-2367.

We are looking for labor activists and leaders to post news items and press releases. We need more coverage from all the Mid-Atlantic states (Delaware, Maryland, DC, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.)

In Solidarity,

Stephen Crockett

Editor & Owner,
Mid-Atlantic Labor.com

Discharged Lehigh Valley Honda employee files complaint

03.08.13

MARCH 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Discharged Lehigh Valley Honda employee files complaint

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, February 11th- An employee of PWP Enterprises Inc., which does business as Lehigh Valley Honda, 675 State Avenue in Emmaus, filed a labor complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia, alleging the auto dealer and service center company violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

According to the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge, Lehigh Valley Honda allegedly violated the NLRAct by dischanging Sheldon Iudicello of Northampton for speaking out on behalf of his co-workers. Mr. Iudicello and the workers were service technicians of the Employer.

The ULP states Mr. Iudicello spoke on behalf of his co-workers regarding the Employer’s unilateral imposition of an unfair charge back policy against the service technicians. “This was concerted activity which occured at a meeting of the service technicians called by Respondent. On the same occasion, Employer threatened the remaining service technicians with discharged should any of them speak out against the imposition of the aforesaid charge back policy,” states the labor complaint, which was discovered by the newspaper while reviewing ULP’s and petitions filed at the NLRB Region Four office.

Lehigh Valley Honda employees are not represented by a labor organization, therefore Mr. Iudicello does not have a union to represent him.

The ULP was filed on behalf of Mr. Iudicello by Luzerne County Attorney Kimberly D. Borland.

Mr. Borland when contacted by the newspaper confirmed he filed the ULP on behalf of Mr. Iudicello however he would not make any other comment regarding the labor complaint.

The ULP states Lehigh Valley Honda has more than 50 employees.

Lehigh Valley unemployment rate remains at 8.6 percent

03.08.13

MARCH 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Lehigh Valley unemployment rate remains at 8.6 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, February 13th- 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 8.6 percent, unchanged 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 at 8.5 percent.

There are fourteen Metropolitan Statistical Area’s in Pennsylvania and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the fourth highest unemployment rate.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA continues to have the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 9.5 percent. The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 8.9 percent with the Philadelphia MSA fourth at 8.7 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 for the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 6.7 percent while the Pittsburgh MSA and the Altoona MSA are tied for the third lowest at 7.3 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 7.9 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 517,000 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 6,559,000 and 6,042,000 of them have employment.

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 7.7 percent, unchanged 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 seven-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 433,800 civilians, increasing by 300 from the previous report and rising by 11,400 during the past twelve months.

The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor force at 3,027,600 with 262,400 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,268,100 with 92,000 without jobs; and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fourth largest civilian labor force in the commonwealth at 292,300 with 27,700 civilians without jobs. The Harrisburg MSA has the fifth largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 290,100 civilians and 21,000 of them are without jobs.

Northampton County has the lowest unemployment rate in the MSA at 8.6 percent, increasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and rising by four-tenths of a percentage point from twleve months ago.

Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 10.4 percent, increasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the month before and rising by one-tenth of a percentage point from twelve months ago.

Lehigh County has a unemployment rate of 8.9 percent, increasing by five-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and twelve months before.

”No-Rights-At-Work” law in Pennsylvania being discussed

03.02.13

MARCH 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

”No-Rights-At-Work” law in Pennsylvania being discussed

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, February 13th- The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation held their 2013 Legislative Conference during the week of February 11th in which many issues important to the labor community were discussed including legislation introduced in Harrisburg that if passed by the General Assembly would make Pennsylvania the twenty-fifth state that has a “right-to-work” law on the books.

Anti-union Pennsylvania House of Representative Daryl Metcalfe (Republican-112th Legislative District) introduced a “right-to-work” or “no-rights-at-work” measure in February called the “Open Workforce Initiative”. The legislation would ban union security clauses in labor bargaining agreements.

Pennsylvania Republican anti-union Governor Tom Corbett stated he would not push for passage in 2013 for the “right-to-work” law.

Michigan became the twenty-fourth state in the nation to pass the anti-union legislation in early December 2012.

Approximately 20 states had 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.

Mr. Metcalfe stated what happen in Michigan and before that in Indiana created more energy for the anti-union forces in Pennsylvania to pass the “no-rights-at-work” legislation.

Before Indiana passed the anti-union legislation in 2011 and Michigan in 2012 the last state to successfully pass right-to-work laws was Oklahoma in 2001.

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO told the participates of their annual legislative conference, which was attended by delegates from labor organizations affiliated with the labor federation, elected political officials, and invited guests, that the “right-to-work” bill is being promoted by corporate special interest groups and big multinational corporations that ship jobs overseas and offshore their profits to avoid paying taxes.

Democratic governors in New Hampshire, Kentucky and Missouri have stated they would veto the anti-union legislation should their legislators passed it. Also, Ohio pro-business legislators have pledged to attempt to make their state a no-rights-at-work state in 2013. Missouri is surrounded by six states that have no-rights-at-work laws on the books.

Under the legislation workers who decide not to be a part of a union will still benefit from union representation without having to pay a single penny for it.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, census of Employment and Wages, on average workers in states with “right-to-work” laws earn $5,680 a year less than workers in states that have no such laws. Also, the rate of workplace deaths is 36 percent higher in states with “no-rights-at-work” laws.

The agency data also states some 92 percent of private-sector union workers have access to medical insurance through their jobs compared with 67 percent of nonunion workers. And 70 percent of private-sector union workers have access to guaranteed (defined-benefit) retirement plans through their jobs, compared with 14 percent of nonunion workers.

Under the Metcalfe “right-to-work” proposal labor organizations would be weakened because under the law they would be required to spend its time and money representing a nonmember who decided to not join the union and pay no dues, even if the battle is long and costly.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics women workers in unions earn $226 more each week (34.6 percent more) than nonunion women. Women working in a “right-to-work” law state earn $5,434 less per year than women in states without the law.

According to information provided by the AFL-CIO in Washington, DC, by holding down union membership through “right-to-work” laws hurt all workers but especially women and of color, who benefit most from belonging to labor organizations.

Bureau of Labor Statistics data show Latino workers in labor unions earn 56 percent more each week that nonunion Latinos. Also, African American workers that are members of a labor organization earn nearly 30 percent more per week than nonunion African American workers.

The AFL-CIO contends that while “right-to-work” supporters suggest that laws that makes a employee join a union as a condition of employment is government interference actually the law allows the government to interfere unfairly in the freedom of private businesses and employees, and restricts the right of businesses to negotiate with their employees. The AFL-CIO believes employers should be free to negotiate labor agreements without government intrusion. Union security contract language is a term of collective bargaining and both sides must agree to the contract provision.

Sheet Metal Workers Union files additional ULP complaint

03.02.13

MARCH 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Sheet Metal Workers Union files additional ULP complaint

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, February 17th- The Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) Union Local 19 in Philadelphia, which represents SMWIA members throughout the Lehigh Valley, filed at least one additional labor complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia alleging a Lehigh Valley construction company violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

In previous news articles published by the newspaper it was reported Local 19 filed multible Unfair Labor Practices (ULP’s) against M.B.I. HVAC Inc., 450 Business Park Lane in Allentown with the NLRB alleging the company violated several sections of the NLRAct.

The agency conducted a representation election of employees of M.B.I. HVAC Inc., on November 16th 2012.

There were 8 eligible to vote employees and 3 workers voted for union representation and 3 voted against. Under NLRB rules a labor organization must receive at least 50 percent plus one of the voting employees to become their bargaining representative.

However, Local 19 challenged two of the workers eligibility to participate in the election and have since filed at least three ULP charges since the election was conducted alleging the Employer violated the NLRAct.

The SMWIA Union Local 19 filed the representation petition on September 14th, 2012 with the NLRB requesting the agency conduct an election to determine if the employees of M.B.I. HVAC, wanted to be represented by the Union for the purpose of collective bargaining.

The union requested that all service employees of the company participate in the election while all sheet metal workers, pipefitters, laborers, supervisors, professionals, secretaries, guards, office personnel and other workers be excluded from participating in the representation election. Local 19 Area Marketing Representative William Dorward filed the petition on behalf of the union.

On November 20th, 2012, Local 19 filed a ULP against the construction contractor alleging the Employer violated Section 7 of the NLRAct by interferring with conditions necessary to conduct a fair election. The company the night before the election, without explanation or notice to employees, disabled the use of company issued cellular phones to inhibit communication among bargaining unit employees, the ULP alleges. Mr. Dorward told the newspaper the company never had disabled the workers phones before.

The latest ULP was filed on January 29th, alleging a company representative threatened a known union supporter in advance of the NLRB hearing regarding previous filed complaints.

“If I was you, I’d find a new job because things are going to get ugly here,” the ULP states was said by a employer representative to a known union supporter before the NLRB hearing.