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IBEW Local 81 conducts annual Bowling Tournament

05.16.13

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

IBEW Local 81 conducts annual Bowling Tournament

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 15th- The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 81, Wyoming Avenue in Scranton, recently held the 11th annual Toby Joyce Memorial No-Tap Doubles Bowling Tournament at South Side Bowl in South Scranton.

According to Geno Arcurie Jr., IBEW Local 81 Membership Development Representative, the bowling tournament is held for two reasons.

The first is to keep the memory of a good friend and member of Local 81, who participated in the event right-up to the time he passed away from cancer, and the second is eleven years ago the Union looked for a worthy cause that they could donate proceeds made from the tournament to. The proceeds benefit the Friendship House.

“Each year this tournament continues to grow, allowing us to give the Friendship House a sizable donation.

We have bowlers come from near and far such as areas of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Ashley, Pittsburgh, Binghamton and Syracuse,” stated Mr. Arcurie.

Mr. Arcurie added that other labor organizations, electrical contractors, local banks, and businesses participate by sponsoring bowling lanes, in which there name is placed on a 2 foot by 4 foot sign which is hung on the top of the lane the day of the tournament. The sponsorship is a major factor in helping Local 81 raise the much needed money for the Friendship House.

In this years event 149 bowlers participated, which was the most ever and there were 36 lane sponsors.

“Once the tournament concluded we all headed to the Waldork Park where we enjoyed a wonderful hot buffet,” added Mr. Arcurie.

The tournament raised $4,600 for the Friendship House.

Lackawanna County Commissioner praises prison guards

05.16.13

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

Lackawanna County Commissioner praises prison guards

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 23rd- Former member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union Local 2736, which represents Correction Officers (CO’s) of the Lackawanna County Prison in Scranton, and current Republican Lackawanna Minority Commissioner Patrick O’Malley, believes the killing of CO Eric Williams at the federal Penitentiary at Canaan in Wayne County on February 25th only shows most people don’t understand the duties and dangers of the job.

“Once they enter the prison, there are the prison walls, fences with rolls of concertina wire on top, and gates. I would like the readers to recognize that Correction Officers only carry on their person handcuffs, a radio, their training and use of common sense, which is paramount for their job,” said Mr. O’Malley.

Mr. O’Malley told the newspaper that most CO’s work in an environment where there are more inmates than staff and that also is dependent upon the activities that are going on.

“Correction Officer Eric Williams, gave everything he had, including his life, to make sure that our community is safe.

Inmates always outnumber staff. The average shift is 8 hours but can lead to 16, which is mandatory overtime. The prison must be manned 24/7 without question. The prison never closes or shuts down,” added Mr. O’Malley.

The CO’s at the federal prison where Mr. Williams worked are represented by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Union, but he was not a member.

Mr. O’Malley pointed-out that CO’s are multi-taskers at work, taking care of medical , nutritional, and religious needs, preventing and stopping fights, cell extractions, preventing suicides if possible, financial or sexual extortion of inmates, gambling, and cell searches for contraband. They are the first responders that arrive on the scene to access the medical situation.

Luzerne County Controller candidate seeking labor support

05.16.13

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

Luzerne County Controller candidate seeking labor support

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 1st- Luzerne County Controller candidate Michelle Bednar, 47 of Wapwallopen, is requesting the support of the labor community for the May 21st Primary Election. She is one of four Democratic candidates seeking the nomination.

During a interview by the newspaper, Mrs. Bebnar stated both of her parents were union members and her husband John is a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 163 in Wilkes-Barre. Mike Kwashnik, Business Manager of Local 163, told the newspaper Mr. Bednar has been a member of the union in good standing for more than a decade.

Mr. Kwashnik said the labor community needs to do better in getting pro-labor political candidates elected to office because all too often elected officials have a “negative” opinion of labor unions and their members and work against them legislatively.

“I have no doubt, if elected she would support the labor community,” Mr. Kwashnik stated.

Local 163 recently held a fund raising event in Nanticoke to help Mrs. Bednar’s campaign.

“I support the right for workers to collectively bargain,” Mrs. Bednar stated.

The current Luzerne County Democratic Controller Walter Griffith is facing a lawsuit by Judd Shoval, a member of the board of CityVest, a nonprofit organization that once attempted to revitalize the Hotel Sterling, for recording telephone conversation without knowledging Mr. Shoval. Mr. Shoval is seeking damages for the violation of Pennsylvania’s wiretap law and invasion of privacy. Mrs. Bednar made no mention of the lawsuit during the interview with the newspaper.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87 represents one worker of the Luzerne County Controllers office. AFSCME Local 1398 had represented more of the workers but under a dispute with the current County Manager the union classification is under review.

Mrs. Bednar has worked as a branch manager of investment securities, a payroll broker commission’s assistant supervisor, an administrative assistant of corporate leading and a corporate trust supervisor. She studied corporate trust operations at the Cannon Financial Institute within the University of North Carolina and studies accounting at Penn State University.

The controller oversees couty fiscal and management activities.

During the interview Mrs Bednar made it clear she is not a part of a political machine or clique and would run the Luzerne County Controller’s office in that manner.

Mohegan Sun officials conduct construction ceremony

05.16.13

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

Mohegan Sun officials conduct construction ceremony

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 20th- Mohegan Sun Casino officials recently held a ceremony in front of the legalized gambling facility in Plains Township, Luzerne County, hoisting a evergreen tree on top of the $50 million construction project which involves the building of new hotel and convention center. The hoisting of the tree is a ironworker ceremony indicating that were no workers killed during the steel erection of the building under construction.

The more than 20,000 squre foot convention center is still under construction and will stand adjacent to a 238 guest room hotel. The project is expected to be completed by the fall of 2013.

However, most labor organizations affiliated with the building and construction trades council are not celebrating because nearly all have seen their work being done by nonunion workers, sometimes workers from out-of-the-area.

The project was devided into two parts, the construction of the hotel and the construction of the convention center.

Union construction workers have protested in front of the construction site during the project expressing their displeasure of not being hired. Mohegan Sun responded by setting-up two gates to the construction site, one for nonunion workers and one for union tradesmen.

Most recently, members of the International Brotherhood of Carpenters Union Local 645 Pear Street in Scranton, have held 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.

In the past 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.

Mike Kwashnik, Business Manager of Local 163, said unlike most building trades union members, which did get some of the work of the project(s), no IBEW members were hired.

Employer using “delay tactics” in AFSCME requested election

05.16.13

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

Employer using “delay tactics” in AFSCME requested election

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 1st- The operators of a Hazleton nursing home are pulling out all of the stops in attempting to keep employees of the facility from voting on whether they want to be represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87 in Dunmore. Council 87 represents AFSCME members throughout nine counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

AFSCME filed a representation petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia on March 18th, 2013 requesting the agency conduct a election to determine if full-time and regular part-time Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN’s) and other professional employees of the Manor and Pavilion at St. Luke’s Village nursing home on Stacie Drive in Hazleton want to be represented by AFSCME. District Council 87 represents other employees including aids and food service workers, of the nursing home.

The newspaper discovered the petition while reviewing representation petition’s filed by labor organizations and any Unfair Labor Practice’s (ULP’s) labor complaints filed at the NLRB office in Philadelphia. The newspaper is the only member of the media in Northeastern Pennsylvania that reviews the information, including other newspapers, television stations and radio outlets.

The petition was filed by Robin Calabria, a union organizer for AFSCME Council 13 in Harrisburg, which District Council 87 is affiliated.

AFSCME withdrew the petition on April 1st, 2013 but refiled it on the same day. However, the employer has challenged the right of whether the LPN’s have the right to become union members claiming they are supervisors and under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct) are ineligible from joining unions, something AFSCME is disputing.

The employer’s legal representation has objected to the attempt by the union to represent the LPN’s and have challenged the right of the workers to participate in the election.

The NLRB has instructed both sides to file legal briefs by May 1st and will make a determination if the employees should be allowed to participate in a NLRB conducted election. Under NLRB rules a labor organization must receive 50 percent plus one of the eligible to participate employees in a election to become their bargaining representative for the purpose of collective baragining.

Often employers fearing they would lose an election will challenge the right of workers from participating in elections or made other challenges to delay a election hoping to be able to influence workers not to support unionization.

According to the petition, AFSCME requested that approximately 42 workers participate in the NLRB conducted election.

Wilkes-Barre Labor Council conducts event to mark OSHAct of 1970

05.16.13

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

Wilkes-Barre Labor Council conducts event to mark OSHAct of 1970

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 29th- The Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council (GWBLC) labor federation, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Washington DC, and its Community Services Committee recently held their “9th Annual Workers Memorial Candlelight Vigil” at the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776 building on Highway 315 in Pittston.

The ALF-CIO request their affiliated labor councils to conduct an event each year around April 28th to mark the anniversary date of the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHAct) in 1970.

According to Walter Klepaski, the AFL-CIO United Way Community Services Liaison, the go-between the labor community and the community based organization, the virgil is held each year by the labor federation to memorialize Luzerne County residents who died in work related accidents or incidents.

In addition to honoring the hundreds of local individuals who died over the years, many in coal mines, special honor was paid to those who lost their lives since last year’s program.

Those individuals include: Charles Kratz of Plymouth, died in September 2012 as a result of a fork lift accident at Core Mark in Hanover Township; Shailskumar Patel of Duryea, died September 2012, when struck by a piece of equipment at Letica Corporation of Pittston; Michael Martin of Hazleton, died in November 2012, while participating in a fire brigade training exercise at Luzerne County Community College (LCCC); and Eric Williams of Wapwallopen, died in February 2013, a federal Corrections Officer (CO) after being killed by an inmate at the Federal Penintentiary at Canaan.

Ed Harry, President of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council, Wayne Namey, a UFCW Local 1776 member, and Joe Padavan, President of the United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union Local 15253, were principal speakers and called on elected officials to strengthen job safety laws. They stated that although workplace safety has improved since congress enacted the OSHAct still too many workers remain at serious risk of injury, illness or death.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,690 workers were killed on the job, an average of 13 workers each day, and an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases, in 2010, the latest data available.