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Privatization of state liquor stores takes step forward

04.20.13

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

Privatization of state liquor stores takes step forward

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 28th- The last hope for the labor organizations that represent workers of the Pennsylvania’s approximately 600 state-operated wine and liquor stores to save their members jobs from becoming a casualty of Republican Governor Tom Corbett push for privatization is the state senate.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed the Republican plan to phase-out the ownership of the state operated stores and sell licenses to private businesses by a 105 to 90 vote.

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.

The anti-union Corbett unveiled his plan earlier in 2013 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.

Mr. Corbett’s lastest plan of privatization included 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 to generate revenue, Mr. Corbett stated. Under the plan public education would be financed by booze sales.

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

The legislation will now go before the state senate where Republicans hold the majority, 27 to 23. However, at least four Republicans have express reservations of selling the state-stores. The union organizations are hoping the Republican senators do not weaken from pressure applied by their party leaders and vote to dismantle the current system.

Keystone Job Corps files labor complaint against SEIU

04.20.13

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

Keystone Job Corps files labor complaint against SEIU

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 27th- In a apparent attempt to intimidate the Union that represent workers of the Keystone Job Corps, West Foothills Drive in Drums, Luzerne County, the company headquaters in Utah filed a labor complaint against the Union.

In previous edition’s of the newspaper, it was exclusively reported that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Pennsylvania Social Services Union (PSSU) Local 668, Main Street in Dickson City, 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 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.

In the previous edition of the Union News it was reported the SEIU filed a ULP against the Employer 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.

Management filed their ULP with the NLRB alleging the SEIU failed to bargaing in good faith with the Employer. Also, Keystone Job Corp alleges the SEIU is interferring with the Employer’s choice of representation for collective bargaining.

The Employer ULP was filed by Utah Attorney Martha Amundsen.

Sam Bianco Golf Tournament to be held on May 11th

04.20.13

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

Sam Bianco Golf Tournament to be held on May 11th

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 29th- The Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council, Highway 315 in Pittston, will hold their annual Sam Bianco Memorial Scholarship Fund Golf Tournament on Saturday May 11th, 2013 at the Sugarloaf Golf Club.

All proceeds benefit the Scholarship Fund, which is named after the late labor leader, who died in September 2010.

Mr. Bianco served as President of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council labor federation, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Washington DC., from 1978 until his death from complications related to cancer. He was 88 years young.

He was a retired District Manager of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU). The ILGWU once represented thousands of workers and hundreds of garment shops throughout the region. Only a hand-off of shops remain today.

He also represented the labor community on numerous boards and committees throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania including; the Northeast Pennsylvania Area Labor Management Council; the United Rehabilitiation Services; the United Way of the Wyoming Valley; St. Vincent de Paul Kitchen; and the American Red Cross Wyoming Valley Chapter.

Mr. Bianco involvement with the labor community for decades was legendary and he even participated in union activities while ill with cancer.

The Golf Tournament registration begins at 9:00 am, with a shotgun start. The cost is $75.00 per golfer, which includes golf, food and prizes.

John Rusak, Business Representative of the United Food and Commericial Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776, in Pittston, stated individual golfers are welcomed, meaning two or four golfers are not needed to participate in the event.

For directions to the golf course or for any questions regarding the tournament including availability of hole sponsorship, Mr. Rusak can be contacted at 1-(800)-635-6994.

FMLA celebrates its 20th anniversity with proven success

04.20.13

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

FMLA celebrates its 20th anniversity with proven success

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 26th- According to a survey released by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), an independent progressive economic think tank, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has been successful but more can be done.

FMLA celebrated its 20th anniversity this February and CEPR stated it was a huge step forward for workers in the nation, which lags behind nearly all other developed countries in enabling people to take the time they need, without worrying that they may be fired from their jobs to care for themselves and their families when faced with serious illness or welcoming a new child.

Data indicates FMLA has been used 100 million times in the last 20 years, benefiting families and without burdening employers. But, there remain millions of American who are not covered by the FMLA, they can still be fired if they get sick, have a baby, or need to care for a serious ill family member. And millions more are eligible but do not take the time off because they do not know they are eligible or can’t afford to go without pay.

CEPR senior economist Eileen Appelbaum recently wrote a series of posts to review the findings of the FMLA surveys and draw lessons about what to do next.

According to the survey, about a third of all workers still have not heard about FMLA. A significant share of employers who are covered by FMLA do not comply with all of its provisions. Nearly a quarter of work sites subject to FMLA, employing nearly a tenth of all workers, do not know that the FMLA applies to them. One in five work sites covered by the FMLA do not permit employees to take leave for one or more qualifying reasons for leave. And nearly a third of workers are employed at these work sites.

In part 2 of the survey it was discussed that 20 years of experience with the FMLA has created the beginnings of a culture change among employers. Many businesses that are too small to be covered by FMLA either believe that they are covered and offer leaves for FMLA-qualified reasons to their employees or, even knowing they are not required to do so, allow workers to take leave for many of the FMLA-qualified reasons. Ms. Appelbaum feels it seems that expanding FMLA to cover work sites with fewer than 50 workers would not be a heavy lift for smaller businesses. Expanding the coverage of FMLA to smaller businesses would level the playing field for good employers.

The final entry in the survey series examined the experiences of employers with FMLA and found that it’s basically a non-event for them. Meaning, the warnings from business lobbyists that it would impose burdens and lead to fraud and abuse have proven to be unwarranted. More than 9 out of 10 of covered employers reported any confirmed cases of misuse, and only 1 in 40 report suspicion of misuse of FMLA leaves. Most covered work sites found it easy to administer and comply with FMLA, more than 8 in 10 employers stated that compliance was easy or had no noticeable effect.

Overall, the most important takeaway from the Department of Labor surveys of employee and employer experiences with FMLA is that it has greatly benefited workers who have access to job protection leave to care for their families without unduly burdening employers, for whom it has largely been a non-event. Also, expanding coverage to worksites with fewer than 50 employees will not be a heavy lift for small employers, many of whom already allow employees to take leaves for FMLA-qualifying reasons.

Ms. Appelbaum concluded that a Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program to provide paid leaves would ease the financial burden on many families that do not have access to employer-provided pay.