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Allentown Mayor Pawlowski also enters the growing field of candidates for governor

11.30.13

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

Allentown Mayor Pawlowski also enters the growing field of candidates for governor

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 28th- Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski announced he will seek the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania Governor in 2014. He kicked-off the campaign by conducting a introductory tour, including making a stop in Scranton.

Mr. Pawlowski joins a growing field of candidates that want the Democratic nomination that will attempt to deny current Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett a second four-year term.

Mayor Pawlowski is currently serving the last of a second four-year term as the leader of the third most populated Pennsylvania city. Mr. Pawlowski is almost assured another term as Allentown mayor because he is running unopposed in the November election. He joins at least seven other Democrats that have put there names in for consideration for the Democratic 2014 gubernatorial nomination.

Meanwhile, the labor community will be active in the 2014 election season hoping to deny Mr. Corbett a second four-year term as Pennsylvania governor. Many believe Tom Corbett is the most anti-union Governor in the state’s history. The labor community has put a high priority on defeating Mr. Corbett in 2014.

Nearly all of his legislative initiatives involve union represented workers being eliminated. The Corbett agenda has hurt all three groups of the labor community, the building and construction trades, the public sector unions, and the industrial trade unions.

Mr. Corbett supports the privitization of Pennsylvania State Liquor Stores, which would put more than 5,000 family sustaining jobs at risk, supports charter schools, supports legislation that would make Pennsylvania a right-to-work state, supports the elimination or making changes to the state prevailing wage law, and awarded a contract to let a British company manage the Pennsylvania Lottery System, a nearly totally unionized system, that would have resulted in those jobs put in harms way. Pennsylvania Attorney Kathleen Kane rejected his plan in February and the system remains operated by the state.

The labor community will most likely split their support for several of the candidates during the primary election season including current Democratic Pennsylvania Treasurer Robert McCord, U. S. House of Representative (13th Legislative District) Allyson Schwartz, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and not yet officially entered into the race former Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner.

Mr. Pawlowski has already contacted many within the labor organizations of building and construction trades seeking support.

Mayor Pawlowski signed a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with the building trades council that was challenged by the American Building Contractors (ABC) group, a anti-union building contractors organization. The new downtown arena currently under construction is being built under a PLA, which Mr. Pawlowski supported.

Meanwhile, Mr. Pawlowski is not likely to gain the support of at least one the labor organizations that represent Allentown employees.

John Stribula, President of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Union Local 302, which represents the Allentown fire department, told the newspaper Mr. Pawlowski during his tenue as mayor has not been good for union members employed by Allentown.

Mr. Pawlowski failed to be able to bargain for a labor agreement with Local 302 despite the union agreeing to concessions. Mr. Stribula said his union made concession after concession during contract negotiations but Mr. Pawlowski kept wanting more. “Finally, we said enough is a enough.”

Local 302 is currently working under a labor contract decided by an arbitrator that the union is challenging.

Patrick Connors, Secretary-Treasurer/Business Representative and Principal Officer of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 401 in Wilkes-Barre, stated at the September meeting of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council labor federation in Pittston, in his opinion Mr. McCord is the most likely candidate that can defeat Mr. Corbett. The Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters is already supporting Mr. McCord.

Steelworkers members ratify new agreement with Victaulic

11.30.13

OCTOBER 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Steelworkers members ratify new agreement with Victaulic

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, September 16th- Workers represented by the United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union Local 2599, East Lehigh Street in Bethlehem, employed at the Victaulic Company facility in Alburtis has voted to ratify a new five year Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the company.

A tentative agreement was reached between the bargaining committee of Local 2599-27 and company representatives on September 6th and has since been voted to be accepted by the membership. The USW represents approximately 120 workers employed at the Victaulic Company facility in Alburtis.

Local 2599 has two labor contracts with Victaulic. The company also operates a pipe couplings manufacturing facility in Forks Township. The union represents approximately 225 workers at that facility.

The Victaulic facility in Alburtis is a warehouse.

According to Jerry Green, President of Local 2599, one of the largest labor organizations in the Lehigh Valley, which represents manufacturing workers, public sector employees, warehouse workers and other employees throughout the Lehigh Valley, the new contract took effect on September 9th, 2013 and will expire on September 9th, 2018.

Under the agreement, USW members wages will increase by 65 cents an hour immediately, 55 cents an hour on September 8th, 2014, and 55 cents an hour on September 7th, 2015.

Also, all active employees and recalled eligible employees shall receive a $1,000.00 lump sum payment effective September 4th, 2017.

Workers pension plans will increase $1.00 the first year of the CBA to $40.00 per year.

Weekly contributions by employees to health insurance was increase modestly under the term of the successor contract agreement.

Mr. Green presviously told the newspaper he fears the Victaulic Company will eventually close their Lehigh Valley facilities and move production to plants they operate in Mexico.

Local 2599 also conducted their annual Labor Day Parade in Bethlehem which was held on September 2nd, and was intended to bring continued awareness to the labor movement in the Lehigh Valley.

“Several other Unions participated along with family and friends to make the event a success. Also, many political incumbents and candidates participated,” stated Mr. Green.

Local 2599 onced represented workers employed at Bethlehem Steel Corporation steel in Bethlehem mill currently the site of the Sands Casino.

Mr. Green has been the longest serving president in the history of Local 2599, currently in his fifth term.

Yuengling Brewery could be added to national boycott list

11.30.13

OCTOBER 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Yuengling Brewery could be added to national boycott list

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, September 14th- Billionaire Dick Yuengling Jr., the leader of the brewery of the D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc. which is Pottsville based, stated Pennsylvania would attrack more businesses if it was the twenty-fifth state that had a “right-to-work” law on the books and Republican Pennsylvania anti-union Governor Tom Corbett is a great man.

Michigan became the twenty-fourth state in the nation to pass the anti-union legislation in early December 2012.

Approximately 20 states had introduced “no-rights-at-work” bills in 2012 but most were bogged down in committees. However, banning of union security clauses in Michigan have given backers, mostly profiteers and their supporters in the legislature, renewed hope that similar legislation could be passed in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Yuengling is a nonunion brewer but their employees were once represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union but Mr. Yuengling spent thousands of dollars on anti-union consultants and the employees several years ago voted to decertify the union.

Mr. Yuengling said at a recent Pennsylvania Press Club appearance that Pennsylvania should adopt a “right-to-work” or “no-rights-at-work” policy that would make it more difficult for labor unions to organize and keep their membership.

The “right-to-work” or “no-rights-at-work” measure would ban union security clauses in labor bargaining agreements.

Before Indiana passed the anti-union legislation in 2011 and Michigan in 2012 the last state to successfully pass right-to-work laws was Oklahoma in 2001.

The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg, sent ballots to the 49 Executive Council members of the labor organization requesting they vote on whether Yuengling Products should be placed on the boycott list. The Executive Council gave unanimous support of requesting the National AFL-CIO in Washington, DC to add Yuengling to their boycott list.

Gary Martin, Business Manager of the Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers Union Local 420 in Reading and Allentown, and a Vice-President of the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council in Harrisburg, stated he does not understand why the billionair nonunion brewer Dick Yuengling would get involve in the anti-union issue of right-to-work.

“This guy with all of his billions, wants workers in Pennsylvania to earn less. What the hell is wrong with him,” stated Mr. Martin.

Mr. Martin supports adding Yuengling and Son Inc. to the national AFL-CIO boycott list that would request union members and their families not purchase their products. “I’m all for it. This billionaire has no business in pushing a measure that would hurt working people,” added Mr. Martin.

State store system again to face privatization legislation

11.30.13

OCTOBER 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

State store system again to face privatization legislation

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, September 24th- The Pennsylvania General Assembly returned for the fall legislative session and House of Representative Majority Leader Mike Turzai (Republican-28th Legislative District), has made it clear he will continue the agenda of the privatization of the states liquor stores.

The labor organizations that represent workers employed by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), which currently operates the 600-plus state stores, have been reaching-out to their members and supporters requesting they get involved in contacting their legislators and the public about not privatizing the liquor system because their jobs would be put in harms way.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly recessed for the summer in July without passing any anti-union bills regarding the liquor store system.

The United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union represents the majority of the workers which are employed as clerks and shelve stockers. UFCW Local 1776 represents the workers in the eastern part of Pennsylvania while UFCW Local 23 represents the western part.

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 PLCB auditors.

The UFCW have requested that their members write letters to their local newspapers to not let Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett sell the publicly owned wine and spirit stores and let privateers steal the system away.

The current PLCB state store system creates approximately $500 million annually in profits and taxes a year for Pennsylvania, but this year created $660,000 million.

Should the system be sold-off around 5,000 good paying family sustaining jobs would likely be replaced with lower paying jobs.

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate decreases to 7.7 percent

11.30.13

OCTOBER 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate decreases to 7.7 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, September 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 7.7 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 8.7 percent.

There are fourteen Metropolitan Statistical Area’s in Pennsylvania and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the fifth highest unemployment rate.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 9.1 percent. The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 8.7 percent, the Philadelphia MSA is third at 8.0 percent and the Williamsport MSA is fourth at 7.8 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.9 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.2 percent, the Lancaster MSA is third at 6.3 percent, while the Harrisburg MSA and the Pittsburgh MSA are tied for the fourth lowest at 6.7 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 7.5 percent, unchanged over the previous report, and dropping by six-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before.

There are 492,000 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 6,529,000 and 6,037,000 of them have employment.

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 7.4 percent, dropping by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. The national unemployment rate was down eight-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before.

There are 11,514,000 civilians nationwide without employment but that number also does not include workers that have exhausted their unemployment and stopped looking for work.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 442,700 civilians and 34,100 have no employment. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest seasonally adjusted labor force at 3,035,700 with 241,700 not working; and the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,269,000 with 85,400 without jobs. The Harrisburg-Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest civilian labor force at 288,400.

Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 8.8 percent, decreasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the month before. Carbon County has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 33,100, the smallest within the MSA, with 2,900 unemployed, decreasing by 100 from the previous report.

Northampton County has the lowest unemployment rate in within the MSA at 7.4 percent, dropping by five-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and decreasing by one and two-tenths percentage points from twelve months ago.

Northampton County has a civilian labor force of 159,000, decreasing by 900 from the previous month. There are 11,800 civilians unemployed within the county, rising by 200 from the previous report.

Lehigh County has a unemployment rate of 7.5 percent, decreasing by four-tenths of a percentage point form the previous report and dropping by one and two-tenths percentage points from one year before. Lehigh County has the largest civilian labor force in the MSA with 189,500, decreasing by 1,200 from the month before. Lehigh County has 14,200 civilians unemployed, unchanged from the previous report.

Allentown Democratic Mayor Ed Pawlowski seeking to become Governor

11.30.13

OCTOBER 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Allentown Democratic Mayor Ed Pawlowski seeking to become Governor

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, September 18th- Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski announced he will seek the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania Governor in 2014. His announcement came as no surprise to most and he kicked-off the campaign by conducting a introductory tour.

Mr. Pawlowski joins a growing field of candidates that want the Democratic nomination that will attempt to deny current Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett a second four-year term.

Mayor Pawlowski is currently serving the last of a second four-year term as the leader of the third most populated Pennsylvania city. Mr. Pawlowski is almost assured another term as Allentown mayor because he is running unopposed in the November election. He joins at least seven other Democrats that have put there names in for consideration for the Democratic 2014 gubernatorial nomination.

Meanwhile, the labor community will be active in the 2014 election season hoping to deny Mr. Corbett a second four-year term as Pennsylvania governor. Many believe Tom Corbett is the most anti-union Governor in the state’s history. The labor community has put a high priority on defeating Mr. Corbett in 2014.

Nearly all of his legislative initiatives involve union represented workers being eliminated. The Corbett agenda has hurt all three groups of the labor community, the building and construction trades, the public sector unions, and the industrial trade unions.

Mr. Corbett supports the privitization of Pennsylvania State Liquor Stores, which would put more than 5,000 family sustaining jobs at risk, supports charter schools, supports legislation that would make Pennsylvania a right-to-work state, supports the elimination or making changes to the state prevailing wage law, and awarded a contract to let a British company manage the Pennsylvania Lottery System, a nearly totally unionized system, that would have resulted in those jobs put in harms way. Pennsylvania Attorney Kathleen Kane rejected his plan in February and the system remains operated by the state.

The labor community will most likely split their support for several of the candidates during the primary election season including current Democratic Pennsylvania Treasurer Robert McCord, U. S. House of Representative (13th Legislative District) Allyson Schwartz, Ed Pawlowski and former Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner.

Mr. Pawlowski has already contacted many within the labor organizations of building and construction trades seeking support. Many of the unions affiliated with the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Lehigh Valley will support Mr. Pawlowski in his attempt to become governor. However, some of the labor organizations affiliated with the local building trades council are headquatered in Philadelphia and will likely support Ms. Schwartz.

Mayor Pawlowski signed a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with the building trades council that was challenged by the American Building Contractors (ABC) group, a anti-union building contractors organization. The new downtown arena currently under construction is being built under a PLA, which Mr. Pawlowski supported.

Meanwhile, Mr. Pawlowski is not likely to gain the support of the labor organizations that represent Allentown employees.

John Stribula, President of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Union Local 302, which represents the Allentown fire department, told the newspaper Mr. Pawlowski during his tenue as mayor has not been good for union members employed by Allentown.

There are currently 126 members of the fire department, a decrease of 22 since Mr. Pawlowski has been mayor and the cuts have resulted in injuries within the department to double during that time, Mr. Stribula stated.

Also, Mr. Pawlowski failed to be able to bargain for a labor agreement with Local 302 despite the union agreeing to concessions. Mr. Stribula said his union made concession after concession during contract negotiations but Mr. Pawlowski kept wanting more. “Finally, we said enough is a enough.”

Local 302 is currently working under a labor contract decided by an arbitrator that the union is challenging.

Teamsters Local 401 members ratify new contract agreement

11.30.13

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

Teamsters Local 401 members ratify new contract agreement

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 1st- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 401 members employed at Northeast Distributors in Pittston recently voted to ratify a new five year Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the company.

Local 401, South Washington Street in Wilkes-Barre, represents IBT members throughout Luzerne County and the surrounding area while Local 229 in Scranton represents IBT members throughout Lackawanna County and the surrounding area.

The membership voted fourteen to approve the new pact to six opposed, a seventy percent ratification percentage.

“Negotiations took approximately 1 month. Both sides were very professional,” stated Pat Connors, Secretary-Treasurer and Principal Officer of Local 401.

“It is a very good contract, good job security, able to support families with one of the highest if not the highest wage packages in the beer delivery industry in this area,” continued Mr. Connors.

Under the new CBA, employees traded two holidays, (Presidents and Election Days), for two personal days, also:

• two additional employees can be off between January thru April with a
increase of employees off each week;
• wage increases by four percent with the base pay increasing by $15 to
$25 each year of the contract;
• short term disability increases under the pact;
• pension contribution increases by $10 each year of the CBA;
• 1/2’s increases to 3 1/2 units-commission on kegs increases; and
• health and welfare is maintained.

AFSCME and Lackawanna County fail in contract negotiation

11.30.13

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

AFSCME and Lackawanna County fail in contract negotiation

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 1st- The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87 and Lackawanna County have failed to be able to negotiate for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for the employees of the county prison in Scranton.

AFSCME Local 2736 represents the Correction Officers (CO’s) of the county prison. The bargaining unit previously voted in early 2013 not to accept the Lackawanna County’s one year contract proposal of a 2 percent pay increase with no contract language changes for 2013.

AFSCME’s other bargaining unit, which includes employees of the Children and Youth Department of Lackawanna County and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Pennsylvania Social Services Union (PSSU) Local 668, Dickson City, which represents mostly clerical, maintenance, and 911 center workers, voted in the spring to extend the previous pact with Lackawanna County. The previous contract agreements expired on December 31st, 2012.

The two AFSCME bargaining units were previously in one local union, however, in 2012 were split into two separate units, one for the CO’s and one for the employees of children and youth.

Following the CO’s unit voting not to accept the one-year extension of the CBA, officials of Lackawanna County and the union contract negotiating committee, which includes Eric Schubert, AFSCME Representative, entered into successor contract negotiating meetings. At least six meetings have been held since the unit declined the extension proposal.

However, according to Mr. Schubert, the bargaining committee is frustrated by the Majority Democratic Lackawanna County Commissioners Jim Wansacz and Corey O’Brien contract proposals that request a huge increase in monthly health insurance costs for the CO’s and other concessionary demands in their economic proposal. “It looks like we will be going to arbitration. What the county wants is ridiculous,” stated Mr. Schubert.

Mr. Schubert said the union is willing to continue to negotiate, but clearly the County is not interested in reaching a fair CBA.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA’s unemployment rate remains the highest in state

11.30.13

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

MSA’s unemployment rate remains the highest in state

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 1st- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, the region’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 9.1 percent, decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report, which was released approximately four weeks before. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) includes Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wyoming Counties of Pennsylvania. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was 9.6 percent.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 7.5 percent, unchanged from the previous report. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,529,000 with 490,000 not working and 6,037,000 with employment. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate decreased by six-tenths of a percentage points over the past year.

The national unemployment rate is 7.4 percent, dropping by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. The national unemployment rate fell by eight-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago. The unemployment rate does not include civilians that unemployment benefits have expired and stopped looking for work and the main reason for the decrease in the national unemployment rate was because thousands of workers have expired their unemployment benefits and are no longer counted as jobless.

There are 11,514,000 civilians in the nation reported to be unemployed. That number also does not include civilians that have exhausted their unemployment benefits and have stopped looking for work.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA continues to have the highest unemployment rate among the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania.

The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate in the commonwealth at 8.7 percent, the Philadelphia MSA has the third highest at 8.0 percent with the Williamsport MSA fourth at 7.8 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.9 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate at 6.2 percent while the Lancaster MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.3 percent. The Harrisburg MSA has the fourth lowest unemployment rate at 6.7 percent, followed by the Altoona MSA at 6.8 percent. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fifth largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 286,100 civilians and 25,900 of them are without employment. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor-force in Pennsylvania at 3,036,700 with 241,700 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor-force at 1,269,000 with 85,400 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force at 442,000 with 34,100 not working.

The Williamsport MSA has the smallest labor force in Pennsylvania with 64,400 civilians and 5,000 of them have no jobs. The Altoona MSA has the second smallest labor-force with 64,900 civilians with 4,400 without employment and the Johnstown MSA is third with a labor-force of 68,700 and 6,000 of them are not working.

Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate within the MSA at 9.1 percent, decreasing by four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by nine-tenths of a percentage point from twleve months before. Luzerne County has a civilian labor force of 162,900, the largest within the MSA, with 14,900 civilians not employed.

Wyoming County has a unemployment rate of 8.9 percent, decreasing by five-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Wyoming County has a civilian labor-force of 14,600, with 1,300 unemployed.

Lackawanna County has the lowest unemployment rate within at 8.7 percent, dropping by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and five-tenths of a percentage point from one year ago. Lackawanna County has a civilian labor force of 108,700, and 9,400 civilians are jobless.

General Dynamics plants recall some laid-off workers

11.30.13

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

General Dynamics plants recall some laid-off workers

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 1st- The two manufacturing plants in the region that are operated by General Dynamics have recently recalled some of their laid-off union workers.

The United Auto Workers of America (UAW) Union Local 1193 represent workers employed at the General Dynamics Land Systems plant in Eynon and has approximately 180 members on lay-off. The company recalled around 15 workers recently.

With the recalled workers the UAW represents approximately 100 workers at the Eynon plant. The General Dynamics Land System plant recondition parts for the United States Army M1M1 battle tank.

The International Association of Machinists (IAM) Union Local Lodge 847 represents the other General Dynamics plant located on Cedar Avenue in Scranton. The Scranton plant mostly produces military projectiles for the United States Army.

Both plants have seen lay-offs during the past several years because of cutbacks in defense spending. General Dynamics has been the most effected of the big military contractors with the army withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Scranton plant has recalled approximately 30 Local Lodge 847 members since June but still has around 70 laid-off. The union represents around 160 workers employed at the General Dynamics plant in Scranton.

Bill Murrin, Vice President of Local 1193, stated while he does not encourage war, should the United States enter into a ground battle in Syria, more members of his union would likely be recalled.

“I’m not suggesting this would be a good thing for America, but more of our members would likely be recalled should it happen,” stated Mr. Murrin.

AFSCME likely to file charges against area nursing home

11.30.13

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

AFSCME likely to file charges against area nursing home

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, August 30th- According to Matt Balas, Business Representative of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87 in Dunmore, which represents AFSCME members throughout nine counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania, management of a regional nursing home indicated they have no intention of negotiating for a first-time labor agreement for a newly created bargaing unit.

In the previous editions of the newspaper, it was “exclusively” reported that AFSCME was successful in winning a representation election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia at the Manor and Pavilion at St. Luke’s Village Nursing Home on Stacie Drive in Hazleton and the union has not been able to get a meeting with management representatives to begin bargaining for a first-time labor contract.

In previous articles published in the newspaper it was reported that AFSCME Council 87 filed a representation petition with the NLRB 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 nursing home wanted to be represented by the union. District Council 87 represents other St. Luke’s employees including aids and food service workers.

The operators of the Hazleton nursing home hired a lawfirm to represented them that specializes in attempting to delay representation elections. Despite the spending of tens of thousands of dollars on anti-union attorney’s and employment consulting firms, the operators of a local nursing home were unsuccessful in convincing their employees from voting for AFSCME.

The employer challenged the right of whether the LPN’s had the right to become union members claiming they are supervisors and under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct) are ineligible from joining unions.

The NLRB ruled in favor of AFSCME and scheduled a election for June 13th, 2013. The fourty-three workers eligible to participate in the election voted in the NLRB conducted election to be represented by AFSCME, 26 to 12.

Mr. Balas told the newspaper that during a recent labor-management meeting between the parties he asked when contract negotiations would begin for the new unit. However, management indicated the union should “do what it has to do,” because they are not planning to negotiate with AFSCME for a contract for the LPN’s unit.

USPS changes proposed by Republican-controlled committee

11.30.13

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

USPS changes proposed by Republican-controlled committee

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 2nd- The United States Postal Service (USPS) announced in early August it has cut the financial losses to 2009 levels. However, the Republican controlled Congress are contemplating changes that could include ending Saturday mail delivery, likely to rural customers, increasing privatization and raising stamp prices.

If Saturday mail serice is cut to rural Americans, older people in those parts of the nation, which rely heavily on mail service, would be hurt.

The USPS wanted to eliminate six-day mail delivery in August 2013 but because of mandates passed by the United States House of Representatives the agency announced in April they would discontinue the plan. The USPS operates as an independent agency but is subjected to Congress oversight.

After Congress passed legislation to continue six-day a week delivery the anti-union, pro-business Republican members of the House of Representatives stated the USPS agreed to keep six-day mail delivery because of the “special-interest organizations,” (labor organizations) lobbying and intense political pressure.

Almost immediately after Congress voted to keep six-day mail delivery, a Republican-controlled House Committee approved a bill that would cut mail delivery to rural Americans and calls on the agency to look at hiring private contractors and seeks to cutback on door-to-door mail delivery in favor of mass customers curbside and community boxes.

Under the proposal, people would need to visit one site for their mail, like is currently used in many apartment buildings.

One of the biggest reasons Congress voted to continue Saturday mail service was because of businesses that operate six or seven-days a week complained the cutting of Saturday mail delivery would harm their business.

Lawmakers are expected to work on postal legislation this fall.

Yuengling Brewery could be added to national boycott list

11.30.13

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

Yuengling Brewery could be added to national boycott list

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 3rd- Billionair Dick Yuengling Jr., the leader of the brewery of the D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc. which is Pottsville based, stated Pennsylvania would attrack more businesses if it was the twenty-fifth state that had a “right-to-work” law on the books and Republican Pennsylvania anti-union Governor Tom Corbett is a great man.

Michigan became the twenty-fourth state in the nation to pass the anti-union legislation in early December 2012.

Approximately 20 states had introduced “no-rights-at-work” bills in 2012 but most were bogged down in committees. However, banning of union security clauses in Michigan have given backers, mostly profiteers and their supporters in the legislature, renewed hope that similar legislation could be passed in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Yuengling is a nonunion brewer but their employees were once represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union but Mr. Yuengling spent thousands of dollars on anti-union consultants and the employees several years ago voted to decertify the union.

Mr. Yuengling said at a recent Pennsylvania Press Club appearance that Pennsylvania should adopt a “right-to-work” or “no-rights-at-work” policy that would make it more difficult for labor unions to organize and keep their membership.

The “right-to-work” or “no-rights-at-work” measure would ban union security clauses in labor bargaining agreements.

Before Indiana passed the anti-union legislation in 2011 and Michigan in 2012 the last state to successfully pass right-to-work laws was Oklahoma in 2001.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, census of Employment and Wages, on average workers in states with “right-to-work” laws earn $5,680 a year less than workers in states that have no such laws. Also, the rate of workplace deaths is 36 percent higher in states with “no-rights-at-work” laws.

The agency data also states some 92 percent of private-sector union workers have access to medical insurance through their jobs compared with 67 percent of nonunion workers. And 70 percent of private-sector union workers have access to guaranteed (defined-benefit) retirement plans through their jobs, compared with 14 percent of nonunion workers.

Gary Martin, Business Manager of the Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and reinforcing Ironworkers Union Local 420 in Reading and Allentown, and a Vice-President of the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council in Harrisburg, stated he does not understand why the billionaire nonunion brewer Dick Yuengling would get involve in the anti-union issue of right-to-work.

“This guy with all of his billions, wants workers in Pennsylvania to earn less. What the hell is wrong with him,” stated Mr. Martin.

The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg, has sent ballots to the 49 Executive Council members of the labor organization requesting they vote on whether Yuengling Products should be placed on the National Boycott list.

Mr. Martin supports adding Yuengling and Son Inc. to the national AFL-CIO boycott list that would request union members and their families not purchase their products. “I’m all for it. This billionair has no business in pushing a measure that would hurt working people,” added Mr. Martin.

Mr. Yuengling also stated that Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is a “great man” who is trying to do the right thing.

Mr. Corbett is currently serving the third year of a four-year term in Harrisburg and has supported many anti-union initiatives while being governor.

The labor community has put a high priority on defeating Mr. Corbett in 2014, when he seeks a second four-term term as Pennsylvania Governor.

Jack Wagner likely candidate for Pennsylvania governor

11.30.13

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

Jack Wagner likely candidate for Pennsylvania governor

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, September 6th- Former Democratic Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner recently stated he is considering entering the 2014 Pennsylvania’s governor race. Mr. Wagner resides in Pittsburgh and said he will announce whether he is running in September and if he enters the race he would be the only western Pennsylvanian currently in the field.

Mr. Wagner served two four-year terms as Pennsylvania Auditor General and unsuccessfully attempted to gain the 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nomination. He received the support of the labor community while being a candidate for the auditor general. Former Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato won the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania governor in 2010 and Republican candidate Tom Corbett defeated Mr. Onorato in the fall general election.

Meanwhile, the labor community will be active in the 2014 election season hoping to deny Mr. Corbett a second four-year term as Pennsylvania governor. Many believe Tom Corbett is the most anti-union Governor in the state’s history. The labor community has put a high priority on defeating Mr. Corbett in 2014.

Nearly all of his legislative initiatives involve union represented workers being eliminated. The Corbett agenda has hurt all three groups of the labor community, the building and construction trades, the public sector unions, and the industrial trade unions.

Mr. Corbett supports the privitization of Pennsylvania State Liquor Stores, which would put more than 5,000 family sustaining jobs at risk, supports charter schools, supports legislation that would make Pennsylvania a right-to-work state, supports the elimination or making changes to the state prevailing wage law, and awarded a contract to let a British company manage the Pennsylvania Lottery System, a nearly totally unionized system, that would have resulted in those jobs put in harms way. Pennsylvania Attorney Kathleen Kane rejected his plan in February and the system remains operated by the state.

Several statewide political pundits have calculated that at least six Democrats have put their names into the field of candidates vying for the chance to challenge Mr. Corbett.

However, the labor community will most likely split their support for several of those candidates during the primary election season including current Democratic Pennsylvania Treasurer Robert McCord, U. S. House of Representative (13th Legislative District) Allyson Schwartz, Allentown Mayor Eddie Pawlowski and likely candidate Jack Wagner. Mr. Pawlowski has already contacted many within the building and construction trade unions seeking support.

Most likely, the division will result in the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations not endorsing any candidate while attempting to unite the labor community to defeat Mr. Corbett .