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Department of Labor releases fiscal year 2014 budget request

04.27.13

MAY 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Department of Labor releases fiscal year 2014 budget request

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, April 11th- Acting United States Secretary of Labor Seth Harris recently released the United States Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) fiscal year 2014 budget request, which supports President Obama’s plan to strengthen the economy and grow the middle class through continued investments in training and resources for job seekers. “The DOL’s fiscal year 2014 budget request is a critical ingredient in the Obama’s administration’s plan to grow the economy from middle class out, not from the top down,” said Secretary Harris.

The budget for the DOL requests $12.1 billion in discretionary funding. It invest in programs in services for workers and job seekers by modernizing the federal job training system and creating employment opportunities for the long-term unemployed and low-income adults and youths. The request devotes significant resources to putting veterans, particularly those with disabilities or other significant barriers to employment, back to work. It also provides improved re-employment services that enable individuals newly separated from the military to successfully transition into civilian careers.

The budget also proposes a new Universal Displaced Worker program that will reach more than a million workers a year with a set of services, replacing two more narrowly-targeted programs and ensuring that all dislocated workers receive high-quality job search assistance.

In addition, the budget provides $150 million for a competitive Workforce Innovation Fund to test new evidence-based workforce development strategies and bold systemic reforms from states and localities. Of that amount, $50 million will be used to identify strategies to help veterans, military family members, and members of the National Guard and Reserve, and $10 million will be focused on identifying effective strategies to improve outcomes for disconnected youths. The budget proposals $8 billion for a Community College to Career Fund, to be administered jointy with the United States Department of Education, that will invest in partnerships between community colleges and business to train workers in high-growth and high-demand industries. It would begin in 2015 as a successor to the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program.

The budget also includes a $4 billion Re-employment NOW program, which incorporates a number of reforms to help Unemployment Insurance claimants and other-term unemployed individuals get back to work more quickly.

The budget request will surely face obstacles by Republicans that oppose any budget request that provides funds for unemployed workers.

USPS plan to eliminate Saturday mail delivery delayed

04.27.13

MAY 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

USPS plan to eliminate Saturday mail delivery delayed

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, April 12th- The United States Postal Service (USPS) delayed its plan to discontinue Saturday mail delivery because of mandates passed by the United States Congress. The USPS announced several months ago five-day mail delivery will begin in August 2013, Monday through Friday.

The USPS operates as an independent agency but is subjected to Congress oversight. The House of Representatives passed legislation to force the USPS to continue the Saturday mail delivery, which was wrapped into a government spending bill. Congress passed the Postal Service Protection Act of 2013, which has a six-day-a-week mandate.

Congressman Matt Cartwright (Democrat-17th Legislative District) supported the legislation and publicly voiced his support for the labor organizations that represent workers of the USPS. Mr. Cartwright has a legislative office in Easton.

After the USPS announced their plan to eliminate six-day mail delivery, the National Association of Letters Carriers (NALC) Union held several rally’s throughout the state to inform the public why it is a bad idea to cut mail delivery service to five-days a week. The NALC members held signs stating “Don’t dismantle our postal service.” The reason the postal service gave for cutting the mail delivery to five-days was because of financial losses.

The NALC represents the postal service mail carriers.

The major reason the USPS loses money is because of legislation that was passed in 2006 that forces the agency, which is not funded through any government program but only through postage income, to fund pensions for workers that have not even been born. The pensions for the future workers must be funded 75 years in advance, something no other business, private or public, needs to do.

The USPS management suggest cutting Saturday mail delivery would save as much as $2 billion a year. They claimed the agency lost $15.9 billion last year, however, without the pension funding requirement the agency would have made money.

The NALC stated should mail delivery be cut to five-days approximately 22,500 jobs will be lost immediately.

The USPS announced last year it would consolidate 48 mail processing centers throughout the nation including moving their operations from Scranton to the Lehigh Valley. The plan would save the agency nearly $1.2 billion a year.

The USPS first stated it would close about 250 processing centers after their plan is fully implemented. Overall, approximately 5,000 workers would be affected by the consolidation. The plan was to consolidate 92 mail processing centers in February 2013, and 89 more in 2014.

The anti-union pro-business Republican House of Representatives stated the USPS agreed to keep six-day mail because of “special-interest (labor organizations) lobbying and intense political pressure.”

However, many small businesses that are opened on Saturdays disliked the elimination of Saturday mail delivery. Should Monday be a federal holiday with no postal service businesses would have no mail delivery from Friday to Tuesday.

The National Association of Letters Carriers Union and the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) represent the majority of the USPS workers with a combined membership of nearly 410,000 workers.

Lehigh Valley unemployment rate at 8.6 percent

04.27.13

MAY 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Lehigh Valley unemployment rate at 8.6 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, April 5th- 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, decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point 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 8.2 percent.

There are fourteen Metropolitan Statistical Area’s in Pennsylvania and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA is tied with the Philadelphia MSA for the third highest unemployment rate.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA continues to have the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 9.8 percent. The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 9.4 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.0 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest rate at 6.7 percent and the Lancaster MSA has the third lowest at 6.8 percent. The Harrisburg MSA has the fourth lowest unemployment rate at 7.3 percent while the Pittsburgh MSA has the fifth lowest at 7.4 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 8.1 percent, dropping by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report and increasing by five-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before.

There are 532,000 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 6,540,000 and 6,009,000 of them have employment.

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 7.7 percent, decreasing by two-tenths from the previous report. That number also does not include civilians that have exhausted their unemployment benefits and have stopped looking for work. The national unemployment was down six-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before, because of a decrease in the workforce.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 436,800 civilians, increasing by 1,000 from the previous report and rising by 13,800 during the past twelve months.

The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor force at 3,037,800 with 262,600 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,265,100 with 94,000 without jobs; and the Harrisburg MSA has the fourth largest civilian labor force in the commonwealth at 290,800 with 21,300 civilians without jobs. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fifth largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 290,100 civilians and 28,500 of them are without jobs.

Northampton County has the lowest unemployment rate in the MSA at 7.9 percent, dropping by one full percentage point from the previous report and decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from twleve months ago.

Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 10.1 percent, decreasing by six-tenths of a percentage point from the month before and rising by one and six-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago.

Lehigh County has a unemployment rate of 8.2 percent, dropping by six-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report but increasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago.

IUOE Local 542 unsuccessful in NLRB conducted election

04.27.13

MAY 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

IUOE Local 542 unsuccessful in NLRB conducted election

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, April 4th- The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 542, Virginia Drive, Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, was unsuccessful in their attempt to represent several workers of a local heavy equipment contractor.

Local 542 represent members of the IUOE throughout the Lehigh Valley. IUOE members operate heavy construction equipment on construction sites, including cranes and bulldozers.

The IUOE filed a representation petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia requesting the agency conduct a election to determine if two employees of Great Western Services Inc., 3rd Street in Allentown, wanted to be represented by Local 542 for the purpose of collective bargaining.

Frank Bankard, Local 542 Organizer, filed the petition on behalf of the Union on March 1st, 2013.

According to the NLRB, the Union received one vote while one employee voted against unionization.

Under NLRB rules, a labor organization must receive 50 percent plus one of the eligible to vote employees to become their bargaining representative for the purpose of collective bargaining. Therefore, the tie vote indicates the union was unsuccessful in their attempt to represent the Great Western Services workers.

According to the petition, which was reviewed by the newspaper, the Union requested all mechanics employed in the shop and or doing field repair work participate in the election.

Local 542 requested that all other employees, including supervisors, managers, clerical and guards be excluded from participating in the election.

The NLRB conducted the representation election on March 21st, 2013.

SMWIU Local 19 alleges company violated NLRAct

04.27.13

MAY 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

SMWIU Local 19 alleges company violated NLRAct

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, April 5th- The attorney that represents the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) Union Local 19 in Philadelphia, which represents SMWIA members throughout the Lehigh Valley, alleges numerous violations were conducted by management of a Lehigh Valley construction company of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The newspaper in previous editions have reported Local 19 filed multiple Unfair Labor Practices (ULP’s) against M.B.I. HVAC Inc., 450 Business Park Lane in Allentown with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia 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.

Attorney Martin Milz, who represents Local 19, has filed at least four ULP’s against M.B.I. HVAC Inc.

Mr. Milz alleges the employer stated on multiple occasions that it would “never sit down with Local 19″ and “never reach an agreement if the Union were successful in the election”. Also, the employer told a group of bargaining unit employees they would “lose pay and be made apprentices in the event the Union was successful”.

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

04.27.13

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

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

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 28th- 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 forward.

USW Union files labor complaint against InterMetro

04.27.13

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

USW Union files labor complaint against InterMetro

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 29th- The United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, commonly known as the United Steelworkers Union (USW), Local 5652-00 filed a labor complaint against a Luzerne County employer.

The Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge was filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia and alleges InterMetro Industries Inc., North Washington Street in Wilkes-Barre, violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

InterMetro principal product is the manufacturing of stainless steel utility shelving trays.

The ULP was filed by USW District 10 Sub-District Director Joseph Pozza III, Berwick on March 1st, 2013.

According to the ULP, which was reviewed by the newspaper, the USW alleges the Company has refused to bargain collectively with the Union regarding provisions of Section 9(a), and Section 159(a) of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the parties.

The newspaper is the only member of the media that reviews ULP’s and Representation Petitions filed at the NLRB office and publishes their findings.

“About December 2012, Union President Dave Carey, was handed a paper titled “Powered Material Handling Equipment”. On January 3rd, 2013, his Union Representation sent a letter to the Company Safety Director. Shortly thereafter the Company required a bargaining unit employee to take a full physical. A grievance has also been filed,” states the labor complaint.

The Employer Representatives identified on the ULP to be contacted is Darrin Woodruff, Vice President/Human Resources officer.