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Nursing home operators finally responds to NLRB complaint

12.10.13

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

Nursing home operators finally responds to NLRB complaint

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, November 30th- The operators of a Luzerne County nursing home has finally responded to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia claim that they violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

In the previous edition of the newspaper it was reported the National Labor Relations Board found merit in a labor complaint filed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87 against the Manor and Pavilion at St. Luke’s Village Nursing Home on Stacie Drive in Hazleton.

AFSCME filed the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) complaint against the nursing home operators because management clearly stated they have no intention of negotiating for a first-time labor agreement for the newly created bargaining unit.

The newspaper in previous articles reported that AFSCME was successful in winning a representation election conducted by the NLRB at the Manor and Pavilion at St. Luke’s Village Nursing Home and the union was not able to get a meeting with management representatives to begin bargaining for a first-time labor contract.

Matt Balas, Business Representative of AFSCME District Council 87 in Dunmore, which represents AFSCME members throughout nine counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania, stated management believes the employees are excluded from being represented by a labor organization because the workers are “management”.

AFSCME won the right to represent all full-time and regular part-time Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN’s) and other professional employees of the nursing home after easily winning a NLRB conducted election despite the objections of the nursing home operators. The NLRB disagreed with their opinion that the workers are “management” and excluded under the NLRAct from participating in unionization. Mr. Balas told the newspaper the NLRB has scheduled a hearing on the ULP for February 2014 on the matter.

Also, the employer delayed responding to the alleged NLRAct violation for several months but has recently told the NLRB that they are under the opinion of legal counsel they have no intention of negotiating with AFSCME because the workers are management, and excluded from joining a labor organization.

District Council 87 represents other St. Luke’s employees including aids and food service workers.

Treasurer McCord calling for Tom Corbett to stop lottery sell

12.10.13

DECEMBER 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Treasurer McCord calling for Tom Corbett to stop lottery sell

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 14th- The Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord and 2014 Democratic party candidate for Governor called on anti-union Republican Governor Tom Corbett to stop his bid to privatize management of the Pennsylvania Lottery System.

The Corbett Administration on January 11th awarded the British lottery company, Camelot Global Services, a 20-year contract to privately manage the Pennsylvania Lottery System before the Pennsylvania Senate Finance Committee even held a hearing on the privitization plan.

However, Pennsylvania Democratic Attorney General Kathleen Kane on February 14th rejected the contract.

Mrs. Kane stated the Camelot deal violated the state constitution and other parts are not authorized by state law, including the expansion of gambling that the agreement would permit. Under the contract Camelot would have been allowed the expansion of gambling with the inclusion of keno and online games. Her power as Attorney General halted the completion of the deal because of the office to review the legality of state contracts.

Mr. Corbett attempted to sell the Pensylvania Lottery System without any checks and balances or involvement with the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Mr. Corbett promised to attempt to continue to sell the Lottery System.

In 2012 the Pennsylvania Lottery System had approximately $3.5 billion in sales with the profits funding many programs for the elderly.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union represents around 170 of the 230 state workers employed by the lottery system and the privitization would have put those jobs in harms way.

David Fillman, Executive Director of AFSCME Council 13 in Harrisburg, questions why the Corbett Administration continues to want to fix something that is not broken for a so-called guarantee from a foreign-run company.

Mr. McCord called upon Governor Corbett to “scrap” his bid to privatize the system stating the attempt was “misguided.”

He stated almost $3.5 million has already been spent on legal fees and consultants during the attempt.

Mr. McCord is currently one of at least seven Democrats that are seeking their party’s nomination in May 2014 for a chance to attempt to deny Mr. Corbett of a second four-year term as Pennsylvania Governor which would begin in January 2015.

Treasurer McCord has been endorsed by AFSCME for the 2014 primary election. The Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters has also endorsed Mr. McCord.

Food stamp recipients receive cuts in federal program

12.10.13

DECEMBER 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Food stamp recipients receive cuts in federal program

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 12th- While the Republican controlled United States House of Representatives agenda includes cutting taxes for what they call the “job creators” more than 48 million Americans, around 1.8 million Pennsylvanians, took a cut in federal food-stamp benefit beginning November 1st.

Enrollment in the food-stamp program surged since more Americans have qualified for the benefits because of the recession and the pro-business political agenda which has seen workers wages not keep up with inflation due to economic policies that included the elimination of union represented workers.

The federal goverment stimulus program increased the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in 2009, however, the temporary increase expired on November 1st, dropping the amount allotment by around 5.4 percent.

SNAP benefits were increased under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRAct) of 2009, which was a federal stimulus package passed in response to the 2007- 2009 recession.

The program is funded through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and is administered by Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare.

According to Department of Agriculture, the cuts will result in taking a estimated $16 billion out of grocery spending over the next three years.

With democratic party opposition the Republican controlled Congress passed a bill in September curtailing spending on the federal food-stamp program by 5 percent, or approximately $40 billion over the next decade. The Democratic controlled United States Senate passed legislation calling for a cut of about $4 billion.

Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress appear ready to implement even more cuts in the food-stamp program as lawmakers have resumed talks over a new farm bill.

Republicans can’t blame fraud as a reason to cut the food stamp program in Pennsylvania according to data released by the Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General.

The office, which investigates fraud in the food stamp program and public programs, through the Department of Public Welfare, showed from 2010 to 2012 the annual average food stamp violation was $1.9 million, a fraction of the nation’s 1.3 percent fraud rate. Total state food stamp benefits during 2010 to 2012 averaged approximately $2.57 billion each year.

According to data from the United States Department of Agriculture, which provides the funding for the food stamp program, the fraud amount throughout the nation averaged around $858 million each year.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania denied applications of more than 111,200 households between August 2011 and February 2013 because the applicants failed to submit the proper paperwork

Lehigh Valley MSA’s unemployment data cancelled because of shutdown

12.10.13

DECEMBER 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

MSA’s unemployment data cancelled because of shutdown

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 9th- Because of the federal shutdown from October 1st to the 16th, the Department of Labor and Industry, Center for Workforce Information and Analysis, the monthly Pennsylvania labor data was cancelled. However, the newspaper will print the lastest Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) information available.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA includes Lehigh, Northampton, and Carbon Counties of Pennsylvania and Warren County, New Jersey.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 7.8 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report.

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 is tied with the Williamsport MSA for the fourth highest unemployment rate.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 9.2 percent. The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 8.7 percent, and the Philadelphia MSA is third at 8.0 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.0 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.2 percent, the Lancaster MSA is third at 6.4 percent, while the Harrisburg MSA and the Pittsburgh MSA are tied for the fourth lowest at 6.8 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 7.7 percent, rising by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report, but dropping by four-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before.

There are 501,000 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 6,512,000 and 6,011,000 of them have employment.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 441,800 civilians and 34,300 have no employment. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest seasonally adjusted labor force at 3,036,300 with 243,100 not working; and the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,265,400 with 86,200 without jobs. The Harrisburg-Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest civilian labor force at 287,600.

Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 8.9 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the month before. Carbon County has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 32,800, the smallest within the MSA, with 2,900 unemployed.

Northampton County and Lehigh County have the same unemployment rate at 7.7 percent. Lehigh County’s unemployment rate increased by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. Lehigh County has the largest civilian labor force in the MSA with 188,200. Lehigh County has 14,600 civilians unemployed.

Northampton County’s unemployment rate rose by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and decreased by nine-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago. Northampton County has a civilian labor force of 158,000. There are 12,200 civilians unemployed within the county.

Retail trade jobs was the biggest loser during the past year, decreasing by 400 to 39,500. Leisure and Hospitally jobs grew the most during the period, increasing by 5,500 to 41,900.

Overall there are 353,700 nonfarm jobs within the MSA, rising by 10,900 during the past tweleve months. The data indicated there are 49,900 goods-producing jobs within the MSA.

AFL-CIO wants affiliates to protest Wal-Mart on black Friday

12.10.13

DECEMBER 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

AFL-CIO wants affiliates to protest Wal-Mart on black Friday

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 12th- The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington, DC has encourage their affiliated central labor councils throughout the nation to conduct a “Walmart Black Friday” protest on November 29th in front of the retailers stores. Protest are expected in the Lehigh Valley.

Many current and former Wal-Mart employees have spoken against the retailers poor treatment of workers throughout the United States in recent years.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is a notoriously lousy employer which makes billions of dollars each year but pays their workers poorly. The company is the largest retailer in the world and has been found in the past of not paying their workers proper overtime payments and of violating other employment regulations.

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, made his request on November 6th, stating with the holiday season upon us, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union is leading a growing coalition in an escalation to ensure the Wal-Mart workers see justice.

“As many of you know, thousands of Wal-Mart workers from across the country have joined together through Organization United for Respect to offer strength and support in addressing the challenges that arise in Walmart stores every day,” stated Mr. Trumka.

Wal-Mart has resisted labor union organizing for their stores. The retailer has went as far as to close a store that workers voted for unionization and reopened at another site several miles away avoiding bargaining for a collective bargaining agreement with a union.

Also, employees, which Wal-Mart call associates, are required to view anti-union videos at work.

Two IBT/UPS regional contract supplements still out-standing

12.10.13

DECEMBER 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Two IBT/UPS regional contract supplements still out-standing

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 12th- Several regional supplemental agreements between the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union and the United Parcel Service (UPS) have not yet been ratified by the membership. The newspaper first reported the delay in the ratification of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the parties in the previous edition.

The IBT represents approximately 249,000 of the 323,000 UPS employees, including full and part-time workers. Around 235,000 of those are covered by the master contract agreement between the company and the IBT. Local 773 in Allentown represents workers employed by UPS in the Lehigh Valley.

In June 2013 the two parties agreed to a new five-year national master CBA that included wage increases as well as health and pension benefits.

That part of the CBA has since been agreed to however, what has yet to be settled is the sixteen supplement agreements throughout the nation.

The supplement agreements cover mostly the regional healthcare benefit packages between the IBT members and UPS. The company wanted the IBT to handle the provisions of the healthcare insurance benefits. Therefore, the supplements must be negotiated separately and approved by the rank-and-file before the CBA can take effect.

As of November 11th, two supplements were still not ratified. The Central Region supplement, which covers Local 773 members as well as IBT members throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania, has been approved by the membership. Also, the Metro Philadelphia supplement has also been ratifed by the IBT/UPS members.

The two parties must yet bargain for a seperate CBA for workers employed by UPS/Freight, a national trucking company that was once known as Overnite Trucking. Overnite was once the largest nonunion trucking company in the country.

Meanwhile, the IBT represented YRC Inc. stock dropped because of problems with the company’s freight division due to the consolidatation of terminals and reducing distribution centers. Delays in shipments have occur resulting in the trucking company losing some business.

YRC has almost $1.4 billion in debt, and the company’s creditors will not allow it to refinance until the labor agreement with the Teamsters is renegotiated. The IBT represents approximately 26,000 YRC employees.

Anti-right-to-work Rally and Protest held November 9th in Pottsville

12.10.13

DECEMBER 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Anti-right-to-work Rally and Protest held November 9th in Pottsville

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, November 12th- The labor community came together on November 9th to participate in a anti-right-to-work rally in Pottsville, the headquarters of Yuengling Brewery Inc.

Several months ago Dick Yuengling Jr., the leader of the brewery of the D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc., stated Pennsylvania would attrack more businesses if it was the twenty-fifth state in the nation that had a “right-to-work” law on the books and Republican Pennsylvania anti-union Governor Tom Corbett is a great man.

Forbes Magazine has reported Mr. Yuengling’s worth is more than $1.3 billion and he supports legislation if passed would result in a decrease of wages for workers in Pennsylvania.

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 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.

His remarks have angered some within the labor community regarding adding Pennsylvania to the list of states with a “right-to-work” law on the books.

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.

Gary Martin, Business Manager of the Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, & Reinforcing Iron Workers Union Local 420 in Reading, which represents workers in the Lehigh Valley, a Vice President of the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council, and a Executive Council member of the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg, requested Yuengling products be added to the federation’s boycott list.

The AFL-CIO sent ballots in early September to the fourty-nine Executive Council members of the labor federation requesting they vote on whether Yuengling Products should be placed on the National AFL-CIO Boycott list. The group voted unanimously to support the Yuengling boycott.

Approximately 400 participated in the march and rally in Pottsville, which included union officials, pro-labor radio host Rick Smith, and Allentown Democratic Mayor Edward Pawlowski, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania Governor in 2014.

Regional nursing unions having difficult time gaining labor agreements with medical centers

12.10.13

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

Regional nursing unions having difficult time gaining labor agreements with medical centers

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, November 1st- Registered Nurses (RN’s) affiliated with the Wyoming Valley Nurses Association (WVNA), which is an affiliate of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professional union (PASNAP), Conshohocken, held a informational event at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital on North River Street in Wilkes-Barre on Friday October 25th.

The union held the event to accuse the operators of the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, Community Health Systems (CHS), headquatered in Franklin Tennessee, of bargaining in bad faith and denouncing the dangerous and numerous violations of a Pennsylvania law that makes it illegal to mandate a nurse to work overtime, as well as consistently insufficient staffing levels in the hospital.

Pennsylvania House of Representative Eddie Day Pashinski (Democrat-121st Legislative District) along with several other memebrs of the labor community attended the event and press conference.

PASNAP and CHS have been unsuccessful in obtaining a successor Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the two parties for the nurses. The previous labor agreement expired on April 30th, 2013.

During negotiations according to Terry Marcavage, Staff Representative of PASNAP, management has proposed a wage freeze while demanding other contract concessions including the removal of the union security clause from the CBA. Under the clause it is mandated that new nursing hires would join the union.

Ms. Marcavage stated the contract expired almost six months ago and the lack of progress during negotiations has left the nurses questioning the hospital’s commitment to recruiting and retaining a dedicated staff and providing safe patient care to the community.

“It is our responsibility to make our nurses have the tools they need to take care of us. If their hospital isn’t putting enough nurses at the bedside, if nurses are being forced to work overtime, which is against the law in Pennsylvania, and if they are not treated professionally, patient care will suffer,” stated Mr. Pashinski, a union member himself.

CHS has had many other labor issue problems with labor organizations that represent workers of facilities they own and operated including in California and in Scranton.

Community Health Systems is one of the largest for-profit medical center operators in the United States. They also operate the Regional Hospital of Scranton in the city’s hill section.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Healthcare Pennsylvania Union, represents nearly 80 percent of the Regional Hospital workforce. Before CHS purchased the medical center several year ago it was called Mercy Hospital.

The SEIU labor agreement with CHS expired on February 28th, 2013. The two parties also have been unsuccessful gaining a new CBA. The membership voted on October 29th to conduct a one-day strike on November 13th unless the parties can reach an agreement.

“The corporate culture of CHS is one of contempt for the law, on every level,” stated Bill Cruice, PASNAP Executive Director.

Luzerne County labor unions fearing for members jobs

12.10.13

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

Luzerne County labor unions fearing for members jobs

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, November 3rd- The labor organizations that represent employees of Luzerne County have been meeting to discuss what employee sacrifices they would be able to offer to save money to help cut into the county’s debt. It is estimated that Luzerne County is more than $400 million in debt and massive layoffs could occur unless unions agree to concessions, including higher contributions toward employee healthcare.

Several weeks ago Luzerne County Manager Robert Lawton met with union officials for two hours to begin the discussion regarding the concessions. However, all parties involved agreed to not discuss publicly what was talked about.

Under the Luzerne County Home Rule Charter, the county manager is appointed by the eleven member county council. Therefore Mr. Lawton could be removed for not doing what the part-time council members instruct him to do. Seven votes are needed to terminate the county manager.

Currently, Luzerne County employs approximately 1,400 full-time workers but at least 200 could be cut if changes are not made.

Joe Rowe, Director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87, would only for the record tell the newspaper about the meeting between the labor organizations and the county manager, that Mr. Lawton wants to make every attempt to work things out with the unions and try to minimize any lay-offs. AFSCME Local 1398 represents several hundred workers of Luzerne County.

Under the lastest budget plan around 55 workers will be laid-off unless union worker concessions are given and at least 150 more could occur if the county council does not approve an 8 percent tax increase on Luzerne County residents.

The known to be anti-union council members Stephen A. Urban and Stephen J. Urban have stated they will not consider a tax increase.

NLRB finds merit in complaint against area nursing home

12.10.13

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

NLRB finds merit in complaint against area nursing home

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 30th- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia found merit in a labor complaint filed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87 against an Luzerne County nursing home operator.

AFSCME filed the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) complaint against the Manor and Pavilion at St. Luke’s Village Nursing Home on Stacie Drive in Hazleton because management clearly stated they have no intention of negotiating for a first-time labor agreement for the newly created bargaing unit.

The newspaper in previous articles reported that AFSCME was successful in winning a representation election conducted by the NLRB at the Manor and Pavilion at St. Luke’s Village Nursing Home and the union was not able to get a meeting with management representatives to begin bargaining for a first-time labor contract.

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.

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.

Matt Balas, Business Representative of AFSCME District Council 87 in Dunmore, which represents AFSCME members throughout nine counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania, stated management believes the employees are excluded from being represented by a labor organization because the workers are “management”.

The NLRB disagreed and conducted an representation election which AFSCME won.

Because of the federal government shutdown employees of the NLRB was not working and all ULP’s and Representation Petitions filed were not processed during that time.

Mr. Balas told the newspaper the NLRB has scheduled a hearing on the ULP for February 2014.

United Parcel Service and IBT agreement not yet ratified

12.10.13

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

United Parcel Service and IBT agreement not yet ratified

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 29th- Not all of the members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union employed by the United Parcel Service (UPS) Inc., a nationally package delivery company, have totally voted to ratify the successor Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that was negotiated between the two parties in early summer.

The IBT represents approximately 249,000 of the 323,000 UPS employees, including full and part-time workers. Around 235,000 of those are covered by the master contract agreement between the company and the IBT.

Local 401, represents IBT members in and around Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton, while Local 229 represents IBT members in and around Scranton.

In June 2013 the two parties agreed to a new five-year national master CBA that included wage increases as well as health and pension benefits.

That part of the CBA has since been agreed to however, what has yet to be settled is the sixteen supplement agreements throughout the nation.

The supplement agreements cover mostly the regional healthcare benefit packages between the IBT members and UPS. The company wanted the IBT to handle the provisions of the healthcare insurance benefits. Therefore, the supplements must be negotiated separately and approved by the rank-and-file before the CBA can take effect.

As of October 29th, only two supplements throughout the nation have not been ratified by the membership. The Central Region supplement, which covers Local 773 members as well as IBT members throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania, has been approved by the membership. Also, the Metro Philadelphia supplement has also been ratifed by the IBT/UPS members.

UPS package delivery competitor Federal Express (Fed/Ex), a mostly nonunion shipping company, has suggested that customers may need to worry about their package delivery for the upcoming holiday season.

However, according to Patrick Connors, a member of the IBT/UPS National Negotiating Committee who represents the Central Region Teamsters, the talk about any disruption of service this holiday season in nonsense. Mr. Connors told the newspaper it is unlikely the two supplements that have yet to be settled would result in any kind of workstoppage or job action by IBT members.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA’s unemployment data cancelled because of shutdown

12.10.13

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

MSA’s unemployment data cancelled because of shutdown

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 29th- Because of the federal shutdown from October 1st to the 16th, the Department of Labor and Industry, Center for Workforce Information and Analysis, the monthly Pennsylvania labor data have been cancelled. However, the newspaper will print the lastest Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) information available. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wyoming Counties of Pennsylvania. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was 9.6 percent.

The region’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 9.2 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 7.7 percent, rising by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,512,000 with 501,000 not working and 6,011,000 with employment. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate decreased by four-tenths of a percentage point over the past year.

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 and the Allenotwn/Bethlehem/Easton MSA tied for fourth at 7.8 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.0 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 6.4 percent. The Harrisburg MSA has the fourth lowest unemployment rate at 6.8 percent, followed by the Altoona MSA at 6.9 percent.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fifth largest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 285,200 civilians and 26,200 of them are without employment. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor-force in Pennsylvania at 3,036,300 with 243,100 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor-force at 1,265,400 with 86,200 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor-force at 441,800 with 34,300 not working.

The Williamsport MSA has the smallest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 64,600 civilians and 5,000 of them have no jobs. The Altoona MSA has the second smallest labor-force with 64,700 civilians with 4,400 without employment and the Johnstown MSA is third with a labor-force of 68,600 and 6,000 of them are not working.

Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate within the MSA at 9.4 percent, increasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by six-tenths of a percentage point from twleve months before. Luzerne County has a civilian labor force of 161,000, the largest within the MSA, with 15,100 civilians not employed.

Lackawanna County has the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 9.1 percent, rising by five-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and four-tenths of a percentage point from one year ago. Lackawanna County has a civilian labor force of 107,700, with 9,800 jobless.

Wyoming County has a unemployment rate of 9.3 percent, increasing by four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Wyoming County has a civilian labor-force of 14,400, with 1,300 unemployed.

Leisure and Hospitality regained the record high level of jobs within the MSA, mostly because of the gambling industry, of 24,900, increasing by 1,300 from twelve months before.

Educational services and local government educational services both increased slighly over the month with local government educational services were up slightly over the year.

Hospital sector jobs have dropped by 700 over-the-year to 8,700, a record low for the sector. Also, grocery store jobs was a big loser over-the-year dropping by 200 jobs to 6,300.

Wyoming Valley labor community to conduct holiday events

12.10.13

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

Wyoming Valley labor community to conduct holiday events

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 29th- The labor community in the Wyoming Valley has volunteered to ring holiday bells for the Salvation Army on Wednesday, November 27th in Wilkes-Barre.

At the October meeting of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council (GWLC) labor federation held at the United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776 building on route 315 in Pittston, federation President Edward Harry stated while several union members have signed-up to participate in the event more volunteers are still needed.

The labor union members will stand in front of the Scheils Market on George Avenue in the Parson Section of Wilkes-Barre on November 27th between 10am and 9pm ringing holiday bells with coin drop containers.

The union member volunteers will work one hour shifts and they would like to have enough participates to have two individuals working each hour during the eleven hours of the event.

The Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federations in Washington DC and Harrisburg.

Mr. Harry also announced the labor federation’s annual Christmas stocking stuffing event will be held on December 10th at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 401 building, 401 South Washington Street in Wilkes-Barre.

Each holiday season union member volunteers along with their families gather to help pack 500 candy-filled stockings for special needs children in the Wyoming Valley.

The candy for the stockings is donated by labor organizations affiliated with the labor federatrion.

State store system likely to remain under taxpayers ownership

12.10.13

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

State store system likely to remain under taxpayers ownership

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 29th- It appears the Pennsylvania General Assembly will run out of time during the fall legislative session to privatize the states liquor stores.

When the legislators returned for the fall legislative session in Harrisburg, House of Representative Majority Leader Mike Turzai (Republican-28th Legislative District), made it clear he will continue the agenda of the privatization of the states liquor stores. Mr. Turzai is also the Chairman of the Pennsylvania House Rules Committee.

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

One of the issues the UFCW wants their members to speak-out about is the growing problem of underage and binge drinking that privatization would likely increase. Around 90 percent of alcohol consumed by minors, is done in a binge-drinking fashion.

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

Pennsylvania Republican anti-union Governor Tom Corbett made it a agenda priority to privatize to state store system.

However, Ken Karasek, Field Service Representative of Local 1776, stated the system would likely stay the way it is this legislative session because there are only a few days left before the General Assembly recesses for the holiday season.

“It looks like we will be OK, because they will likely run out of time,” said Mr. Karasek.

Food-stamp recipients receive cuts in federal program

12.10.13

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

Food-stamp recipients receive cuts in federal program

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, November 1st- While the Republican controlled United States House of Representatives agenda includes cutting taxes for what they call the “job creators” more than 48 million Americans, around 1.8 million Pennsylvanians, took a cut in federal food-stamp benefit beginning November 1st.

Enrollment in the food-stamp program surged since more Americans have qualified for the benefits because of the recession and the pro-business political agenda which has seen workers wages not keep up with inflation due to economic policies that included the elimination of union represented workers.

The federal goverment stimulus program increased the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in 2009, however, the temporary increase expired on November 1st, dropping the amount allotment by around 5.4 percent.

SNAP benefits were increased under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRAct) of 2009, which was a federal stimulus package passed in response to the 2007- 2009 recession.

The program is funded through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and is administered by Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare.

According to Department of Agriculture, the cuts will result in taking a estimated $16 billion out of grocery spending over the next three years.

With democratic party opposition the Republican controlled Congress passed a bill in September curtailing spending on the federal food-stamp program by 5 percent, or approximately $40 billion over the next decade. The Democratic controlled United States Senate passed legislation calling for a cut of about $4 billion.

Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress appear ready to implement even more cuts in the food-stamp program as lawmakers have resumed talks over a new farm bill.

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO calling for boycott of Yuengling

12.10.13

NOVEMBER 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO calling for boycott of Yuengling

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, September 29th- The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg has forwarded to the Secretary-Treasurer of the National AFL-CIO in Washington, DC, which the Pennsylvania based labor federation is affiliated, the results of the balloting of their Executive Council that supports the boycott of Yuengling beer products.

Recently, Dick Yuengling Jr., the leader of the brewery of the D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc. which is Pottsville based, stated Pennsylvania would attract 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.

Forbes Magazine has reported Mr. Yuengling’s worth is more than $1.3 billion and he supports legislation if passed would result in a decrease of wages for workers in Pennsylvania.

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.

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 AFL-CIO sent ballots in early September to the forty-nine Executive Council members of the labor federation requesting they vote on whether Yuengling Products should be placed on the National AFL-CIO Boycott list.

According to Richard Bloomingdale, President of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, the group voted unanimously to support the Yuengling boycott, which would ask union members and their families to not purchase Yuengling products.

“We are pleased to have unanimous support from our Executive Council regarding requesting a Boycott from the National AFL-CIO for Yuengling products,” stated Mr. Bloomingdale. The National AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler has received Mr. Bloomingdale’s letter regarding the unanimous vote result.

Not all Allentown labor union’s dislike Mayor Pawlowski

12.10.13

NOVEMBER 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Not all Allentown labor union’s dislike Mayor Pawlowski

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, October 14th- Mike Fleck, a consultant for the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Lehigh Valley, and a political adviser with the Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski’s 2014 Pennsylvania Governor campaign, told the newspaper that Mr. Pawlowski does have a positive relationship with most of the labor organizations that represent Allentown workers.

In the previous edition of the newspaper, it was reported that the President of the union that represents the fire fighters of Allentown stated Mr. Pawlowski has not been good for union members employed in Allentown.

Mr. Pawlowski recently joined a growing field of candidates that want the Democratic nomination so they can 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.

The labor community will be active in the 2014 election season hoping to deny Mr. Corbett a second four-year term. 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 Mr. Corbett’s 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. Pawlowski has contacted labor organizations of building and construction trades outside the Lehigh Valley seeking support.

John Stribula, President of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Union Local 302, told the newspaper 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.

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

Mr. Fleck stated the union the represents the majority of workers employed by Allentown, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 395 has a good relationship with Mayor Pawlowski.

“It is just not true that unions do not get along with the mayor,” said Mr. Fleck.