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Scranton Mayoral candidate Bill Courtright states he would support labor if elected

04.17.13

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

Scranton Mayoral candidate Bill Courtright states he would support labor if elected

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 29th- Former Democratic Scranton City Council member and current Scranton Tax Collector Bill Courtright stated if elected Mayor of the electric city he would support many of the issues important to the labor community.

During a interview by the newspaper Mr. Courtright, A West Scranton resident, stated he has been reaching-out to candidates seeking to become members of the Scranton City Council. There are five council seats and three of them are available in 2013. Only incumbent Pat Rogan is seeking re-election, meaning there will be at least two new members on Scranton City Council in 2014.

“I’ve contacted all of the candidates, including current members, to build a positive relationship so hopefully if I’m elected we can work together to solve the city’s problems,” stated Mr. Courtright.

There were three Democrats that filed petitions seeking to become mayor. Current three-term Democratic Mayor Chris Doherty is not seeking a fourth four-year term in city hall.

One of Mr. Courtright’s Democratic opponents, Elizabeth Randol, was interviewed by the newspaper in the previous edition.

Mr. Courtright and Ms. Randol both stated they would not support the privatization of the Scranton Department of Public Works (DPW). The issue has been raised over the past several years at Scranton City Council meetings.

The International Association of Machinists (IAM) Union Local Lodge 2305 represent the DPW workers. Local Lodge 2305 relationship with Mr. Doherty has been better than the relationships he has maintained with the other labor organizations that represent Scranton employees.

Both Mr. Courtright and Ms. Randol also stated they would not attempt to rescind Scranton’s Project Labor Agreement (PLA) contract with the affiliated labor organizations of the Scranton Building and Construction Trades Council. In fact Mr. Courtright added he would veto any legislation that if passed by council would rescind the PLA law.

The employees of the Scranton Tax Office are represented by the International Association of Machinists (IAM) Union Local Lodge 2462. Mr. Courtright said in the more than three years he has served as Tax Collector not one grievance has been filed by Local 2462

Scranton School Board candidate supports PLA’s

04.17.13

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

Scranton School Board candidate supports PLA’s

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 30th- Scranton Democratic School Board candidate Douglas Miller stated during a interview with the newspaper if elected to serve he would not vote to overturn the Project Labor Agreement (PLA) between the School District and the affiliated labor organizations of the Scranton Building and Construction Trades Council.

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 agreement between the parties has been in place for more than a decade and the building of the high school in Scranton along with the new elementary school and the removation of a elementary school in South Scranton was done under the terms of the PLA.

Mr. Miller is 23 years old and had previously unsuccessfully attempted to gain a seat on Scranton City Council.

Four of the nine seats of the Scranton School Board are available in 2013.

Mr. Miller told the newspaper he is not running as any part of a team of candidates, stating that is part of the problem with Scranton politics, elected officials vote as a team rather than support legislation that is good for the people.

There are eleven candidates seeking to be nominated in the May election. Three of the candidates, including Mr. Miller, are seeking the Democatic party nomination and the others have cross filed.

SMWIU Local 19 files at least one more ULP against M.B.I.

04.17.13

APRIL 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

SMWIU Local 19 files at least one more ULP against M.B.I.

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, March 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 more 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, including in the March edition, published by the newspaper it was reported Local 19 filed multiple 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 filed at least five ULP’s since the election was conducted alleging the Employer violated the NLRAct.

On February 28th, 2013 Attorney Martin Milz, who represents Local 19, filed a ULP alleging the HVAC construction company violated the NLRAct by threatening, and intimidating employees during the election campaign by interfering with the laboratory conditions necessary to conduct a fair election.

Job market improves, but may have more to do with weather

04.17.13

APRIL 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Job market improves, but may have more to do with weather

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, March 20th- The decline in the national unemployment rate has more to do with a drop in the labor force participation than a huge inprovement in the economy. The Labor Department reported recently the economy added 236,000 jobs in February, with a small downward revision in job growth over the prior two months.

The employment-to-population ratio (EPOP), was unchanged at 58.6 percent, exactly the same as the rate in February 2012 and 0.4 percentage points above the summer of 2011. This compares with an EPOP of 63.0 percent in 2007. The 54.8 percent employment to population ratio for women is 0.2 percentage points above the low hit last month.

According to Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Ecomomic and Policy Research (CEPR) in Washington, DC, an progressive economic think-tank, the decline in labor force participation in this cycle has been striking.

While the unemployment rate has dropped more than 40 percent of the way back to its pre-recession level, the unemployment-to-population ratio is still far closer to its trough than its pre-recession peak. While women have fared better than men, this is because they did not see the same sort of steep hit to employment at the start of the downturn. In the last couple of years the gap in performance has been closing with the EPOP for men rising and the EPOP for women drifting lower.

Also, African Americans have fared much worse than whites in the downturn. The fall in the EPOP for black women has been almost as sharp as for men. The drop in the EPOP for black men has been by far the sharpest. Their EPOP has edged up slighly in the last two years but is still almost 8 percentage points below the pre-recession level, Mr. Baker stated.

Among the big jobs gainers during the month of February was construction, which added 48,000 jobs after adding 25,000 in January. Given the uptick in housing the economy should expect to see more construction employment, but this jump was likely driven in large part by unusually good winter weather. Good weather likely also contributed to the 23,700 jobs added in retail after an increase of 29,000 in January.

The healthcare sector added 32,000 jobs, offsetting a weak rise of 13,000 in January. Restaurants added 18,800, roughly their average over the last year, while the employment services sector added 21,100 jobs. Mr. Baker stated this could be a sign of increased permanent hires in the future, but may also just be an anomaly. The motion picture industry added 20,800 jobs.

The CEPR reported there was some modest good news on the wage front with the average hourly wage increasing at a 2.85 percent rate in the last three months compared to the prior three. This would indicate some acceleration and actual real wage growth, but it is too early to assume the pattern with continue.

The EPOP with less than a high school degree is almost back to its pre-recession level. It rose by 1.9 percentage points in February to 41.9 percent. This compares with a 43.3 percent average for 2007. As the aging of the population is a factor depresses EPOP the decline should show up clearly among those less than a high school degree since these are disproportionately older workers.

The fact that EPOP’s have not fallen much for this group suggests that the aging of the population is not an important factor behind declining EPOP’s.

Mr. Baker added that the new jobs reported for February is a good sign but there is the risk that this is being driven by unusually good winter weather. This could lead to a situation like we saw last year with the very weak job growth in the spring as the result of hiring being pulled foward.

House Labor and Industry Committee Approves Two Anti-Prevailing Wage Bills

04.17.13

House Labor and Industry Committee Approves Two Anti-Prevailing Wage Bills

E-MAIL YOUR STATE REPRESENTATIVE

Today the House Labor and Industry Committee voted two anti-prevailing wage bills out of committee so that they may be considered by the full house. These were just two of a large package of new anti-prevailing wage bills that have been introduced this session, and represent a bold new set of attacks on workers by this misguided anti-worker agenda. We have already seen that this legislature is willing to pass anti-worker legislation, as demonstrated by the recent vote to privatize the state Wine and Spirits stores.

As a unified labor movement, we must draw a line in the sand. We must continue to fight the privatization battle in the state senate and win; we must make our voices clearly heard in the state house on prevailing wage; and we must leave no doubt that right-to-work is a non-starter in Pennsylvania. We must do all of these things as a united labor movement, and prove to those who would take away our rights that they will not succeed in their ‘divide and conquer’ strategy.

CLICK HERE to e-mail your state legislator today, tell them to oppose HB 665, HB 796, and any other anti-prevailing wage legislation that comes before the state house. Share this page with your friends, co-workers, neighbors, and social networks and encourage them to join you in opposing this latest attack on middle class working families.

Here is a look at the current prevailing wage bills that have been voted through committee:

HB 665 would change the definitions of “construction” and “maintenance” projects, so that more public projects would be classified as “maintenance” and therefore be exempt from prevailing wage laws. “Maintenance” projects under this proposed legislation would include full replacement of guide rails, curbs, pipes and other road equipment as well as repaving up to 3 1/2 inches of road surface, including associated milling. This would exempt a huge number of construction crews from prevailing wage protections.

HB 796 would amend the Prevailing Wage Act to raise the threshold from $25,000 to $100,000 for projects that would be subject to prevailing wage laws. This bill is a transparent effort to undermine prevailing wage laws in Pennsylvania, which have protected workers from exploitative labor practices for generations.

These bills represent a misguided attack on workers by contractors who are more concerned with having a low-wage workforce than providing the Commonwealth with quality products and services.

www.paaflcio.org