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IBT Local 773 attempting to organize area workers

07.10.13

JULY 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

IBT Local 773 attempting to organize area workers

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 15th- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 773, Hamilton Street in Allentown, continues to attempt to organize workers throughout the Lehigh Valley.

According to a review by the newspaper of representation petitions filed by labor organizations in the Lehigh Valley at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia, IBT Local 773 has filed twice as many petitions requesting the NLRB conduct an election than all other unions in the region over the past year and a half.

However, Local 773 attempt to represent employees of KeHE Distributors, Nestle Way, Breinigsville was unsuccessful.

In the previous edition of the Union News it was exclusively reported that Local 773 President Dennis Hower filed a Certification Petition with the NLRB requesting the agency conduct a election to determine if employees of KeHE Distributors wanted the union to represent them for the purpose of collective bargaining.

The newspaper discovered the petition while reviewing labor complaints and/or petitions filed at the NLRB office.

The Union News is the only member of the media in the Lehigh Valley that reviews and publishes articles regarding the information.

The IBT requested that all full-time and regular part-time truck drivers employed at the company’s Breinigsville facility and its domicile in Parsippany, New Jersey, be allowed to participate in the representation election.

According to the NLRB there were 30 eligible to vote employees and on May 31st voted not to be represented by IBT Local 773, 17 against to 12 for union representation.

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate decreases to 8.1 percent

07.10.13

JULY 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate decreases to 8.1 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 12th- 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 8.1 percent, decreasing by two-tenths 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 8.4 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 9.4 percent. The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 9.1 percent with the Philadelphia MSA third at 8.2 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.8 percent. The Lebanon MSA and the Lancaster MSA are tied for the second lowest rate at 6.4 percent with the Harrisburg MSA third at 6.9 percent. The Altoona MSA has the fourth lowest unemployment rate 7.0 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 7.6 percent, dropping by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and decreasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before.

There are 496,000 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 6,505,000 and 6,008,000 of them have employment.

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 7.5 percent, decreasing by one-tenth from the previous report. The national unemployment rate was down six-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 437,800 civilians and 35,300 have no employment. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor force at 3,022,100 with 249,700 not working; and the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,259,400 with 89,100 without jobs.

Northampton County has the lowest unemployment rate in the MSA at 7.8 percent, dropping by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report.

Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 9.5 percent, decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the month before.

Plenty of labor activity involving PPL Utility Corporation

07.10.13

JULY 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Plenty of labor activity involving PPL Utility Corporation

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 18th- There is plenty of activity involving labor organizations and PPL electric utility company.

The newspaper has discovered there will be a election involving security officers who perform guard duties at PPL’s power plant in Berwick and also the employer filed multiple labor complaints against the union that represent most of their employees.

The International Union, Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA) of Roseville, Michigan 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 PPL security employees at the Berwick Pennsylvania nuclear energy power plan want to be represented by the union for the purpose of collective bargaining.

SPFPA first filed the petition on May 10th, 2013 but, later withdrew it. However, the union refiled the petition and the NLRB has scheduled an election for June 27th.

According to the petition there are approximately 140 security employees that will participate in the election. Under NLRB rules, a labor organization must receive 50 percent plus one of the eligible to participate employees to become their bargaining representative for the purpose of collective bargaining.

The newspaper also has learned that several PPL employees and members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 1600 in Wescosville filed Unfair Labor Practices (ULP’s) with the NLRB against both PPL and the Union.

There were at least two ULP’s filed against PPL and two against IBEW Local 1600 involving the termination of two workers who were “wrongfully induced union employees to leave secure Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) positions: wrongfully moved these employees to non-probationary status in new positions; and immediately terminated these employees without cause, which would have been in violation of their CBA’s cause provision,” states one of the ULP’s filed on June 14th.

The two are Jill Lafaw of Northampton and Rosanne Saylor of Palmertown and both filed ULP’s on that date.

Meanwhile, Allentown Attorney Deirdre Kamber filed on behalf of the employees two ULP’s alleging IBEW Local 1600 failed to file a grievance on the terminations despite the new positions with PPL required they not be members of the bargaining unit.

“Specifically, the Employer offered a group of highly paid employees a highly attractive change in jobs in order to induce them to become probationary employees. Immediately thereafter, Employer terminated the employees without cause. upon receiving a request for a grievance from the Complainant, the Local 1600 failed to pursue the grievance,” states the ULP.

State Senate Democrats do not support selling the liquor system

07.10.13

JULY 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

State Senate Democrats do not support selling the liquor system

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 19th- Pennsylvania Minority Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa led it be known if Republican Governor Tom Corbett gets his wish of the privatization of the state’s very profitable liquor store system it will be without the support of his party.

The Republicans outnumber Democrats in the Pennsylvania Senate, 27 to 23. However, at least four Republican Senators have supported the labor community in the past and may not vote for privatization.

The State Senate is 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 Governor Corbett’s push for privatization.

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 in May. The legislation would allow some grocery stores and beer distributors to sell liquor.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) currently operates the wine and spirits shops and employ more than 5,000 workers.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union represents the majority of the workers which are employed as clerks and shelve stockers.

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 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. Under the plan Pennsylvania public education would be financed by booze sales. The plan of privatization included using the revenue from the selling of the system to fund public education and programs that Mr. Corbett cut in previous budgets.

The PLRB state store system creates approximately $500 million in profits and taxes a year for Pennsylvania, which benefits all taxpayers.

The pressure being applied to Republican State Senators by Mr. Corbett, their party leaders, and those in business that want a piece of the profits of the selling of liquor is high. However, the labor organizations that represent the states stores employees are hoping the Republican Senators that have express reservations of selling the state-stores will not weaken from the pressure. Supporters of selling the system have not yet given a good reason why increasing liquor sales to citizens would be a good thing for Pennsylvanians other than it would create more revenue for profiteers and businesses.

Mr. Costa stated the 23 members of his party are united in supporting a plan to modernize the liquor system not privatizing it. He added that the Democratic votes are for keeping the 600-plus state stores and improving them by expanding hours and improved flexibility in pricing.

Wendell Young, President of UFCW Local 1776, Plymouth Meeting, stated clearly selling the system would replace many good paying family sustaining jobs with lower paying jobs.

Supporters of selling the state store are led by pro-business groups, profiteers and the corporate owned main-stream media members which are unfriendly to labor unions.