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02.28.14

We cover developments in Delaware, Maryland, DC, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York and West Virginia along with national labor stories.

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In Solidarity,

Stephen S. Crockett

Editor & Founder, Mid-Atlantic Labor.com

Labor community united against anti-union dues banning check-off legislation

02.26.14

MARCH 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Labor community united against anti-union dues banning check-off legislation

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, February 13th- The labor community in Pennsylvania is united against a proposal in Harrisburg that if passed would ban payroll deduction clauses in labor agreements in all levels of governments.

On January 13th the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg President Richard Bloomingdale held a conference call with national AFL-CIO President Rick Trumka participating, to announce the pending dues deduction legislation being considered in the state capitol.

House Bill (HB 1507) eliminates the payroll deduction of union members and fair-share fees of government workers. Should it pass, the bill will force unions to represent non-members without any meaningful way to collect fees for the service of representation.

House Bill 1507 is being called by anti-union forces the “Payroll Protection” bill. The groups have been claiming, without facts, that taxpayers are paying for union dues collection for public employees and that teachers and state workers are being forced to contribute to political and legislative activism.

However, automatic payroll deduction of union dues is not mandated by any law rather it is bargained for during labor contract negotiations, the same as any other provision within a collective bargaining agreement.

The companion Senate Bill (SB 1034), would also ban the dues check-off from government contracts in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Bloomingdale stated during the conference call that big money, and corporate interests are now working in Harrisburg to get commitments from legislators on the legislation. He added they appear to have a duel objective, to pass legislation that will significantly hamper public employee unions; and to use this as a litmus test for anti-union legislation they wish to target in the future.

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO held a press conference/rally at the Capitol Building rotunda on January 28th, in which more than 1,400 union members and their leaders attended. In fact, many more bus loads of supporters from across the state were not able to participate in the rotunda event because it reached full capacity.

According to Mr. Bloomingdale, six Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives have indicated they currently will not support the anti-union legislation. He wants the labor community throughout the state to contact and meet with their representatives and senators to request they support the labor community and not sign on to the legislation.

During the conference call Mr. Trumka stated the AFL-CIO in Washington stands with the Pennsylvania labor community and will do everything they can to help defeat the legislation.

Mr. Bloomingdale added that the labor movement in Pennsylvania has had a good track record in defeating anti-union legislation in the past which includes privatization, protecting good pensions, expanding healthcare for all, and advocating for good jobs and decent wages.

Mike Carroll, Pennsylvania House of Representative (Democrat-118th Legislative District), and Chairman of the Northeast Pennsylvania Democratic Caucus, told the newspaper the issue of dues deduction legislation is “non-negotiable”.

“I will not support 1507 or any other bill that would make it harder to be a union member in Pennsylvania. This legislation is nothing but an attempt to hurt organize labor,” said Mr. Carroll.

The AFL-CIO stated the payroll deduction legislation is similar to that of which was introduced in Wisconsin and union members throughout the state must understand it is a strategic attack against all union members.

Joe Rowe, Acting Director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council 87, stated if such legislation as the dues deduction be passed in Pennsylavnia, is right-to-work legislation far behind. “Union members better wake-up and understand, their union is under attack. The huge turn-out in Harrisburg was encouraging that they are beginning to understand,” said Mr. Rowe.

If the legislation became law all other paycheck deductions, such as donations to the United Way, the purchasing of U.S. Savings Bonds, pension contributions, and all others, would still be allowed. Therefore, the legislation would only ban the automatic paycheck deduction of a workers’ union dues.

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate decreases to 7.2 percent

02.26.14

MARCH 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate decreases to 7.2 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, February 11th- 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 7.2 percent, decreasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. 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 8.6 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 8.7 percent. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has had the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania for more than three and a half years. The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 8.1 percent, and the Philadelphia MSA and the Williamsport MSA is tied for third at 7.3 percent.

The main reason the MSA’s unemployment rate dropped was because of the decline of the workforce after long-term out-of-work civilians lost their unemployment benefits at the end of 2013 when Washington did not pass legislation to extend the benefit.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.3 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.4 percent, and the Lancaster MSA is third at 5.5 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 6.9 percent, dropping by four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report, and decreasing by one full percentage point from twelve months before.

There are 443,000 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 6,443,000 and 6,000,000 of them have employment.

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 6.7 percent, dropping by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report, also mainly because of workers that have exhausted their unemployment benefits because Washington did not pass legislation that would have extend benefits for the long-termed jobless. The national unemployment rate was down one and two-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before.

There are 10,351,000 civilians nationwide without employment but that number also does not include workers that have exhausted their unemployment benefits and stopped looking for work.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 431,400 civilians and 31,100 have no employment. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest seasonally adjusted labor force at 2,974,700 with 215,700 not working; and the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,250,800 with 78,600 without jobs. The Harrisburg-Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest civilian labor force at 283,300 with 17,200 without jobs.

Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 7.8 percent, decreasing by four-tenths of a percentage point from the month before.

Northampton County has the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 6.8 percent, dropping by eight-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Lehigh County’s unemployment rate decreased by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report to 7.1 percent.

Building Trade Unions supporting Keystone XL pipeline

02.26.14

MARCH 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Building Trade Unions supporting Keystone XL pipeline

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, February 19th- The building of the Keystone XL pipeline project, that would carry oil from Canada throughout the heart of the United States Midwest to refineries in Texas, ran into yet another problem after a Nebraska judge ruled on February 19th to overturn a state law that will leave the state Public Service Commission, a board the regulates natural gas lines, with the decision to construct the pipeline through Nebraska.

The Building and Construction Trades unions support the construction of the pipeline because most of the work will be done with their members. The pipeline will mostly be built with federal money which would put the project under the Davis-Bacon law, meaning union wages would be paid to the construction workers.

On January 31st an President Obama administration analysis of the Keystone XL pipeline stated it wouldn’t likely alter the amount of oil removed from the Canadian oil sands, suggesting it would have little impact on any future climate change.

The report was considered to be one of the last steps before a up-or-down decision by President Obama on the pipeline construction.

However, while construction unions and business leaders support the development of the pipeline, most environmental groups and ranchers in the region oppose it.

The proposed pipeline would be 1,179 miles long, 329 miles in Canada, and 850 miles in the United States. The pipeline would cross the United States border in Montana and travel through the Midwest to Texas. It will be 36 inches in diameter, with a total daily capacity of 830,000 barrels of oil.

The majority of the labor organizations that represent workers employed within the building trades are affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC.

The report states that the oil now being shipped from Canada is being moved by railroads and the pipeline would mostly carry oil that the railroads now haul. However, tank car safety has been an issue recently with several accidents occurring containing crude oil including a derailment in Canada that killed 47 people in July 2013 and a December 2013 derailment in North Dakota. The railroad industry is mostly unionized.

The support of the building trades unions of the pipeline creates a problem for the AFL-CIO because federation President Richard Trumka was successful in getting the affiliated member unions approval to let non-union groups to join the consortium. Groups like the NAACP and the environmental group the Sierra Club are now involved with the AFL-CIO. Mr. Trumka believes labor influence with politicians and the community at-large will grow under the consortium.

However, in the case of the pipeline, environmental groups oppose the pipeline that the building trade labor unions support.

NLRB moves to speed-up representation elections

02.25.14

FEBRUARY 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

NLRB moves to speed-up representation elections

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 6th- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, DC will again attempt to speed-up the time after the agency receives a representation petition and when the election is held.

On February 5th the NLRB released a new proposal that would “streamline” union organizing elections by reducing unnecessary litigation and delaying by employers after the NLRB receives a petition.

Currently, after a petition has been filed by a labor organization or an employee the employer could delay the election for months by filing challenges including whether some workers are eligible to participate in the election. The tactic often is used to stall NLRB elections, especially when it appears the union would likely win. A labor organization must receive 50 percent plus one of the voting employees to win the right to bargain for the purpose of collective bargaining.

The rule proposal has been criticized by several business groups, including the anti-union Associated Building and Contractors (ABC) group, a nonunion contractors trade association. According to the ABC statement, shortening elections denies employers their rights to free speech and employees the opportunity to make a fully informed decision. However, the organization did not state why having a election several weeks after a petition was filed would be anti-free speech.

Under the proposal, a election would be held approximately within four-weeks after the NLRB receives a petition. Currently, should the employer contest the election for any reason, it took on average 59 days before the NLRB conducted the election.

The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC President Richard Trumka, in a statement applauded the NLRB for proposing the rules. “When workers petition for an NLRB election, they should receive a timely opportuntity to vote,” said Mr. Trumka.

Observers believe the new rules are likely to be odopted because the NLRB for the first time in years has a full five-members. All three Democrats supports the new rule while the two Republicans oppose it.

Regional medical center operator hit with injunction in Ohio

02.25.14

FEBRUARY 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Regional medical center operator hit with injunction in Ohio

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 3rd- The nation’s largest hospital chain, the Tennessee-based Community Health Systems (CHS), which operates as many as eight medical facilities in Northeastern Pennsylvania, has been hit by a United States District Court Judge in Ohio with a sweeping cease and desist injunction to end its behavior in refusing to bargain with its registered nurses (RN’s) union and engaging in repeated illegal discipline and harassment.

On January 22nd, United States District Court Judge John Adams of Northern Ohio District, issued the ruling and is the third injunction within a year against CHS for violations of federal labor law.

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, Pennsylvania have been unsuccessful in gaining a successor Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with CHS, which operates the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital in Wilkes-Barre.

PASNAP members went on strike for one day on December 3rd to protest the lack of progress at the bargaining table for a CBA. CHS responded by hiring scab nurses and locking-out unionized RN’s for a additional two days.

The union went on strike accusing the operators of the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, 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.

During negotiations management has proposed a wage freeze while demanding other contract concessions including the removal of the union security clause from the CBA.

CHS also operates the Regional Hospital of Scranton. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Healthcare Pennsylvania Union, represents nearly 80 percent of the medical center employees including the nurses.

CHS has been hit with similar injunctions in 2013 in California.

The injunction requires CHS to immediately cease and desist its refusal to recognize and bargain with the National Nurses United, the union which represents the RN’s at the Affinity Medical Center of Massillon, Ohio. Also, telling the RN’s they would “enjoy disciplining known union supporters,” and “imposing more onerous working conditions” on union supporters.

Labor united against anti-union dues check-off legislation

02.25.14

FEBRUARY 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Labor united against anti-union dues check-off legislation

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 3rd-The labor community in Pennsylvania appears to be united against a proposal in Harrisburg that if passed would ban payroll deduction clauses in labor agreements in all levels of governments.

On January 13th the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg President Richard Bloomingdale held a conference call with national AFL-CIO President Rick Trumka participating, to announce the pending dues deduction legislation being considered in the state capitol.

House Bill (HB 1507) eliminates the payroll deduction of union members and fair-share fees of government workers. Should it pass, the bill will force unions to represent non-members without any meaningful way to collect fees for the service of representation.

House Bill 1507 is being called by anti-union forces the “Payroll Protection” bill. The groups have been claiming, without facts, that taxpayers are paying for union dues collection for public employees and that teachers and state workers are being forced to contribute to political and legislative activism.

However, automatic payroll deduction of union dues is not mandated by any law rather it is bargained for during labor contract negotiations, the same as any other provision within a collective bargaining agreement.

The companion Senate Bill (SB 1034), would also ban the dues check-off from government contracts in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Bloomingdale stated during the conference call that big money, and corporate interests are now working in Harrisburg to get commitments from legislators on the legislation. He added they appear to have a duel objective, to pass legislation that will significantly hamper public employee unions; and to use this as a litmus test for anti-union legislation they wish to target in the future.

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO held a press conference/rally at the Capitol Building rotunda on January 28th, in which more than 1,400 union members and their leaders attended. In fact, many more bus loads of supporters from across the state were not able to participate in the rotunda event because it reach full capacity. Northeastern Pennsylvania was well represented at the rally with the building and construction trades unions and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council 87 sponsoring a bus load to Harrisburg.

According to Mr. Bloomingdale, six Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives have indicated they currently will not support the anti-union legislation. He wants the labor community throughout the state to contact and meet with their representatives and senators to request they support the labor community and not sign on to the legislation.

During the conference call Mr. Trumka stated the AFL-CIO in Washington stands with the Pennsylvania labor community and will do everything they can to help defeat the legislation.

Mr. Bloomingdale added that the labor movement in Pennsylvania has had a good track record in defeating anti-union legislation in the past which includes privatization, protecting good pensions, expanding healthcare for all, and advocating for good jobs and decent wages.

Mike Carroll, Pennsylvania House of Representative (Democrat-118th Legislative District), and Chairman of the Northeast Pennsylvania Democratic Caucus, told the newspaper the issue of dues deduction legislation is “non-negotiable”. “I will not support 1507 or any other bill that would make it harder to be a union member in Pennsylvania. This legislation is nothing but an attempt to hurt organize labor,” said Mr. Carroll.

The AFL-CIO stated the payroll deduction legislation is similar to that of which was introduced in Wisconsin and union members throughout the state must understand it is a strategic attack against all union members.

Joe Rowe, Acting Director of AFSCME District Council 87, stated if such legislation as the dues deduction be passed in Pennsylavnia, is right-to-work legislation far behind. “Union members better wake-up and understand, their union is under attack. The huge turn-out in Harrisburg was encouraging that they are beginning to understand,” said Mr. Rowe.

IBEW Local 81 to conduct annual Bowling Tournament

02.25.14

FEBRUARY 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

IBEW Local 81 to conduct annual Bowling Tournament

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 4th- The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 81 in Scranton will conduct their annual Toby Joyce Memorial Bowling Tournament on Saturday February 22nd at the South Side Bowling lanes in South Scranton. The event is slated to begin at 11:30 am and will benefit the Friendship House, the rgion’s only provider of care and mental health treatment for boys and girls with emotional difficulties from toddlers to adolescents.

The Friendship House serves 750 children daily through a full range of programs including, day, evening, and weekend partial hospitalization programs, residential care and tratment, foster care and adoption, outpatient program and services in the home and community.

The organization is also home to the Northeast Regional Canter for Autism Spectrum Disorders.

The format for bowling is no-tap doubles. Nine pins knocked down on the first shot scores the same as a strike ball. Each team will have two bowlers. The cost is $35.00 per bowler and $25.00 for those not bowling but wanting to participate to show support for the event.

According to Geno Arcurie Jr., Local 81 Membership Development Representative, last year 149 bowlers participated in the event, which was the most ever and there were also 36 lane sponsors. The tournament raised $4,600 for the Friendship House.

The tournament is named after the late member of Local 81, Toby Joyce, who participated in the event right-up to the time he passed away from cancer, Mr. Arcurie stated.

Mr. Arcurie can be reached at: (570)262-6785.

Annual NALC Food Drive to be held on this year on May 10th

02.25.14

FEBRUARY 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Annual NALC Food Drive to be held on this year on May 10th

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 29th- The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Union, which represents the letter carriers of the United States Postal Service (USPS), excluding rural delivery, and their participating partners have begun to get ready for the one-day annual food drive throughout the United States.

Each year since 1991, when the NALC with the support of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and the USPS, conducted the first food drive in a 10-city pilot program, has collected non-perishable food for the needy.

In 2013, the drive collected more than 74.5 million pounds of food, which was the tenth consecutive year above the 70 million. The food is donated to local community food banks, pantries, and shelters throughout the United States and the jurisdictions. The event is the world’s largest one-day food drive and is held on the second Saturday in May each year.

In 1991 over 290 tons of food was collected in those 10 cities and the drive was not held in 1992 as plans were being developed to expand the effort nationwide. Since 1993, the food drive has been held annually.

The food drive is held in over 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam.

“Six days a week, as we deliver mail to every address in America, letter carriers see first hand the needs in the communities we work in, and we’re privileged to lead an effort that brings out the best in so many Americans,” Fredric Rolando stated, President of the NALC.

The results of the food drive enable the food pantries to help feed more than 50 million Americans, one-third of them children, who live in families that lack sufficient food.

The 200,000 members of the NALC pick-up non-perishable food that residents leave near their mailboxes throughou the nation. This years event will be held on May 10th.

The United Way of America and Feeding America will be primed co-sponsors of the drive with over 1,500 NALC local branches participating.

Pam Donato, Community Services and membership Outreach Coordinator for the NALC, stated the simplicity and efficiency of the drive are what makes it work, along with the promated flyers, press conferences, and various media.

Memo sent to AFL-CIO affiliates regarding commercial entities

02.25.14

FEBRUARY 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Memo sent to AFL-CIO affiliates regarding commercial entities

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 29th- The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, has sent a memo to all AFL-CIO State Federations and Central Labor Councils (CLC), reminding their officers under rules governing the AFL-CIO sponsored organizations they should not “endorse” for-profit commericial enterprises or permit the use of their mailing lists for commercial purposes regarding homeowners help.

According to the AFL-CIO, in recent months a number of AFL-CIO state affiliates have been approached by commercial groups that promises help for homeowners who have mortgages that exceed the value of their homes. Within the real estate trade the homeowners problem is called “underwater.”

Under AFL-CIO rules governing their affiliates, the policy on involvement of them regarding for-profit enterprises states that no central body may endorse or engage in, or be involved with a commercial enterprise or non-profit organization, unless such participation has been approved by the President of the AFL-CIO in Washington.

The memo was sent to all affiliates by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

In addition Mr. Trumka reminds the affiliates that the AFL-CIO established Union Privilege in 1986 that negotiates discounts with commercial enterprises for union members.

The Union Privilege program complements the rules governing the AFL-CIO State Central Bodies. The program takes on the responsibility of vetting commercial enterprises that seek goods or services of union members. Therefore, the AFL-CIO takes away from their affiliates any potential legal complications due to endorsing a for-profit venture.

Hazleton nursing home previously treated union workers fair

02.25.14

FEBRUARY 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Hazleton nursing home previously treated union workers fair

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 2nd- Matt Balas, Business Representative of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87 in Dunmore, stated the operators of a Luzerne County nursing home have always been a “good employer”, and have treated his members “fair” but has appealed the decision of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia to conduct a hearing regarding the unionization of another unit of their employees.

In the previous editions of the newspaper it was reported that the NLRB found merit in a labor complaint filed by AFSCME against the Manor and Pavilion at St. Luke’s Village Nursing Home on Stacie Drive in Hazleton and scheduled a hearing to determine if the employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct) by not negotiating with the union for a first-time labor agreement. Because of the appeal the hearing was cancelled by the NLRB indefinitely.

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 in 2013 despite the objections of the nursing home operators.

The nursing home operators have continued to argue that the employees are excluded from being represented by a 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.

Mr. Balas told the newspaper the bargaining unit with the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the nursing home have very little problems with management. He said there has been almost no grivances filed against management because of CBA violations.

“It’s hard to understand why they seem to be willing to spend so much money in fighting unionization when we have such a good relationship with them otherwise,” Mr. Balas said.

Very little positive job growth within Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/ Hazleton MSA in 2013 data shows

02.25.14

FEBRUARY 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Very little positive job growth within MSA in 2013 data shows

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 2nd- The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/ Hazleton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) during 2013 seen very little positive results in most job sectors of the economy according to data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Center for Workforce Information and Analysis in Harrisburg.

However, the pro-business media of Northeastern Pennsylvania continues to fail to report on the lack of job creation.

According to the latest data, education and health services jobs were the biggest loser in 2013 dropping by 2,200 from twelve months before. Hospitals in the region cut more than 900 jobs during 2013 while healthcare and social assistance employers eliminated more than 1,500 jobs during the year. Hospitals alone cut a eliminated 1,000 jobs in the region in 2013.

Total nonfarm jobs were down by 2,300 in 2013 from 2012 while total private jobs were cut by 2,200 from the year before.

Nearly all sectors of the economy had a decrease in jobs in the MSA, data showed. Leisure and hospitality jobs were the biggest gainers within the MSA during 2013, mainly because of the increase in hiring at the casino in Wilkes-Barre Township. Leisure and hospitality jobs increased by 800 from the previous year to 23,900 jobs.

Food services and drinking places jobs increased by 100 from 2012 at 17,700 within the sector.

Manufacturing jobs dropped by 500 from 2012 in the MSA to 26,400. Manufacturing jobs continued to decrease within the MSA industry job data.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/ Hazleton MSA had the highest unemployment rate in the state every month in 2013.

Extension of unemployment benefits still an major issue

02.18.14

FEBRUARY 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Extension of unemployment benefits still an major issue

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 27th- Many Democrats in Washington are pushing for the federal government to extend unemployment benefits to the long-time jobless worker that saw their benefits cut on December 29th, 2013.

An estimated 1.3 million people were cut when the federally funded unemployment payments ended on December 28th, with thousands living in Pennsylvania. Workers in California, New York and New Jersey led the way with the most workers that have exhausted their unemployment benefits.

Another 1.9 million workers across the nation are expected to exhaust their benefits before July unless the Congress takes action on extending the unemployment benefit. President Barack Obama said he would sign a extension should it reach his desk.

Because of the elimination of the federal unemployment benefit funding the national, state, and regional unemployment rate decreased after workers within the civilian work force exhausted their benefits and are no longer counted as unemployed unless they continue to look for work.

Most Republicans in Washington are against the extension of the unemployment benefits stating that workers will not attempt to get work as long as they receive the payments.

However, according to a recently released study, workers are finding that replacing decent paying jobs that have been lost due to plant closings or lay-offs, is becoming more difficult in the modern American economy.

The report was conducted and released by the Alliance For A Just Society,a left-leaning economic think-tank from Seattle, Washington.

The findings of the report called; The New Low-Wage Economy: America’s Fundamental Shift to a Non-Sustaining Workforce,” indicated the new American economy and the Great Recession fundamentally shifted the definition of employment with low-wage job creation driving the recovery.

Under the most recent extension that was allowed to expire by the Republican controlled Congress, the most weeks a laid-off worker could receive benefits was 73.

Data indicates that not enough jobs are out there put the long-termed unemployed workers back to work. Currently the rate number of job-seekers is three times for every job vacancy.

Most pro-business groups do not support extending unemployment benefits to the long-time workers because many workers will be forced to take jobs that pay less than what they were receiving in unemployment benefits.

Employers will be able to depress wages because of over-crowding the labor market.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA’s unemployment rate decreases due to smaller workforce

02.18.14

FEBRUARY 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

MSA’s unemployment rate decreases due to smaller workforce

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 4th- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Center for Workforce Information and Analysis in Harrisburg, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 8.7 percent, decreasing by four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report, which was released approximately one month before. The Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties of Pennsylvania. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was 9.7 percent.

There are fourteen Metropolitan Statistical Area’s in Pennsylvania and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA continues to have the highest unemployment rate.

The main reason the MSA’s unemployment dropped was because of the decline of the workforce after long-term out-of-work civilians lost their unemployment benefits at the end of 2013 when Washington did not pass legislation to extend the benefit. After workers exhaust their unemployment benefits they are no longer counted as jobless, and taken from employment data.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 6.9 percent, dropping by four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,443,000 with 443,000 not working and 6,000,000 with employment. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate decreased by one full percentage point over the past twelve months, also because of the decrease of the labor-force because of workers that have exhausted unemployment benefits. Meanwhile the nation unemployment rate was reported to be at 6.9 percent, dropping by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report.

The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate in the state at 8.1 percent, the Philadelphia MSA and the Williamsport MSA are tied for the third highest unemployment rate at 7.3 percent. The Allenotwn/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the fourth highest rate at 7.2 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.3 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate at 5.4 percent while the Lancaster MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.5 percent.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fifth largest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 279,200 civilians and 24,200 of them are without employment. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor-force in Pennsylvania at 2,974,700 with 215,700 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor-force at 1,250,800 with 78,600 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor-force at 431,400 with 31,100 not working.

State gubernatorial candidate McCord gains endorsement

02.18.14

FEBRUARY 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

State gubernatorial candidate McCord gains endorsement

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 5th- One of the Democratic candidates seeking the nomination of his party in the May 20th primary election and had several endorsements of the labor organizations affiliated with the building and construction trades unions, has dropped out of the gubernatorial race.

Ed Pawlowski, which began another four-year term in January as Allentown mayor, announced on February 3rd he would exit the primary election for governor and has asked his supporters to support current Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord, who along with six other candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination to attempt to deny anti-union Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett a second four-year term.

Mr. Corbett will likely not receive the endorsement of any labor organization during the 2014 campaign.

The labor community has put a high priority on defeating Mr. Corbett in 2014. Labor will be active in the 2014 election season.

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.

Unlike most elected political office holders, that deny being anti-union and for lower wages and less benefits, Mr. Corbett appears to enjoy being considered being the most anti-worker Governor in the state’s history.

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 being put in harms way. Pennsylvania Attorney Kathleen Kane rejected his plan in February 2013 and the system remains operated by the state.

Mr. Pawlowski was endorsed by several labor organizations that represented workers in the Lehigh Valley including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 375 in Allentown and the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union Local 420 in Reading, which also represents Iron Workers members in the Lehigh Valley.

Besides Mr. McCord, the other candidates still seeking the Democratic nomination are: U.S. House of Representative Allyson Schwartz (13th Legislative District); Tom Wolf; Katie McGinty; John Hanger; Jo Ellen Litz; and Max Myers.

Some of the largest unions in Pennsylvania has already endorsed Mr. McCord including; The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District 13 in Harrisburg; The Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters; and The United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776 in Plymouth Meeting.

The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Harrisburg, is fearful that a long open primary could result in wasting economic investment money and causing divisions.

Tennessee Republicans are Anti-Business and Anti-Union

02.17.14

Tennessee Republicans are Anti-Business and Anti-Union

The VW worker unionization vote was the dirtiest union election of the 21st Century and all the dirty tactics were coming from outside anti-union political forces. Without the intimidation and lies of elected Tennessee Republicans along with billionaire financed national Right Wing groups, the union would have won the union representation vote.
Outside groups financed by extremist Right Wing billionaires put up emotionally charged smear campaign billboards blaming the United Auto Workers (UAW) for the decline of the automobile industry in Detroit. These are false charges. Labor costs in total are a very tiny portion of the cost of cars and trucks.

The truth is that trade policy and poor management decisions concerning the types of vehicles built are mostly responsible for the long-term problems and the decline of Detroit.

The most recent crisis that required the bailout of General Motors and Chrysler was the direct result of the collapse of Wall Street and the biggest banks. Sales collapsed because the financing of new car purchases collapsed. Unions certainly played no role in the creation of this crisis. Unions did play a huge role in saving both companies. If either failed, it would have taken Ford down with it since the auto parts suppliers to all companies would have gone out of business. The entire American economy would have gone into another Great Depression. The Wall Street/banking crisis was caused by poor regulation of that industry and abuses by Wall Street/banking insiders. Who pushed thru the deregulation of Wall Street and the banking industry? The answer is mostly Republican politicians and Right Wing billionaire financed organizations like those putting up the anti-union, smear billboards in Chattanooga to defeat the VW unionization vote.

The same Right Wing billionaire groups and Republican politicians (along with some corporatist elected Democrats) largely pushed thru the bad trade policy that created the serious decline of Detroit and the relative decline of the Big Three American automakers.

The irony that those forces who ideas and actions who undermined the American auto industry were blaming the industry’s unionized workers was completely lost on the Tennessee and national media. Nobody seemed to be covering this situation at all. They still are not discussing it.

Another barely covered aspect of the situation is that Republican officeholders used the power of their offices to interfere in this election. The only parties who should have been involved were the workers and the company. VW actually seemed to want the workers to join the UAW. VW has very good relationships with their workers all over the world. They wanted to bring their Worker Council model to the United States to help all American companies and workers establish better cooperation in all workplaces. The UAW was very supportive. The Worker Council model is a huge success and has VW become the international success story that it is.

The Worker Council models, like traditional unions, bring an element of democracy into the workplace. Those forces opposing it are also behind voter suppression laws and actions all over America in our elections to government offices. Their efforts and tactics mirror their actions in these other arenas. They are not friends of democracy in America in government or the economy.

Elected Republicans in Tennessee wanted this model defeated because they profit in terms of campaign donations by the bad worker-employer labor relations situation in the United States. These Republican politicians saw that good labor relations might be good for the nation but would be very bad for them. They went to war with both VW and the UAW just to retain their political power in Tennessee and nationally.

They threatened to pull tax breaks to the manufacturing plant if the workers voted in the union. This was extremely anti-business! The Tennessee politicians and the state government had no business getting involved in this unionization vote. Their actions were completely corrupt and should have been illegal. Governor Haslam and Senator Corker would be facing jail time in a more just society. Their actions are certainly abuses of power not unlike those of the Governor Christie political machine in New Jersey in my opinion. Of course, we are not seeing the media make the same kind of comparison. Threatening tax breaks already granted for blatantly politically partisan reasons certainly seems to need federal investigation by the US Department of Justice.

Statements by Senator Corker about the future product lines from VW seem to be outright lies. They were directly denied by company spokespersons. He claimed that a vote for the union would result in new models going to other plants and seemingly that his information came from top VW management sources. He has not said who those sources are.

It appears those lies and the threats worked on just enough workers to defeat the unionization vote this time. If the media had fully explored the situation and explained the tactics, the outcome would have been very different in my opinion. I hope they will at least get it right after the fact but I believe their class based bias against unions makes that less than certain.

I do hope the federal governments does investigate and prosecute the Republican officeholders who abused their offices to thwart a free and fair unionization vote at the VW plant in Chattanooga.

________________________________________________________________________
Written by Stephen Crockett (Editor of Mid-Atlantic Labor.com)

He is a business owner (College Marketing.com, talk show host (Democratic Talk Radio) and union activist. He can be reached by cell phone at 443-907-2367 or email at demlabor@aol.com.

Organized labor picking sides in Pennsylvania governor race

02.08.14

FEBRUARY 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Organized labor picking sides in Pennsylvania governor race

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, January 15th- The labor community is getting ready for the 2014 Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign with several labor organizations making endorsements of candidates that are seeking the Democratic party nomination for the primary election on May 20th. There are at least seven candidates that have put there names in for consideration for the Democratic party gubernatorial nomination. Pennsylvania anti-union Republican Governor Tom Corbett will likely not receive the endorsement of any labor organization during the 2014 campaign.

The labor community has put a high priority on defeating Mr. Corbett in 2014. Labor will be active in the 2014 election season hoping to deny Mr. Corbett a second four-year term as Pennsylvania governor.

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.

In 2014 twenty-two of thirty Republican governors must face re-election including seven in states where President Obama won easily in 2012.

Also, many of the Republican elected governors of 2010 rode the tea-party wave to office bringing with them a host of conservative policies that included anti-union agendas. In all, thirty-six states will conduct governor elections in 2014.

Some of the Republican governors facing re-election this year have seen their voter approval numbers increase since they moved to expand the federal Medicaid spending under the new health-care law, however Mr. Corbett rejected the increase.

Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord has been endorsed by the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District 13 in Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776 in Plymouth Meeting for the May 20th, 2014 primary election.

House of Representative Allyson Schwartz (13th Legislative District) has been endorsed by the Sheet Metal Workers International Union (SMWIU) Local 19 in Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, several labor organizations that are affiliated with the unions that represent workers employed within the building and construction trade industry in the Lehigh Valley have endorsed Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski for the Democratic nomination for governor.

Mr. Pawlowski’s endorsements include the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 375 in Allentown and the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union Local 420 in Reading.

Extension of unemployment benefits still an issue

02.08.14

FEBRUARY 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Extension of unemployment benefits still an issue

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, January 19th- Many Democrats in Washington are pushing for the federal government to extend unemployment benefits to the long-time jobless worker that saw their benefits cut on December 29th, 2013.

An estimated 1.3 million people were cut when the federally funded unemployment payments ended on December 28th, with thousands living in Pennsylvania. Workers in California, New York and New Jersey led the way with the most workers that have exhausted their unemployment benefits. Another 1.9 million workers across the nation are expected to exhaust their benefits before July unless the Congress takes action on extending the unemployment benefit. President Barack Obama said he would sign a extension should it reach his desk.

Because of the elimination of the federal unemployment benefit funding the national, state, and regional unemployment rate decreased after workers within the civilian work force exhausted their benefits and are no longer counted as unemployed unless they continue to look for work.

Most Republicans in Washington are against the extension of the unemployment benefits stating that workers will not attempt to get work as long as they receive the payments.

However, according to a recently released study, workers are finding that replacing decent paying jobs that have been lost due to plant closings or lay-offs, is becoming more difficult in the modern American economy.

The report was conducted and released by the Alliance For A Just Society, a left-leaning economic think-tank from Seattle, Washington.

The findings of the report called; The New Low-Wage Economy: America’s Fundamental Shift to a Non-Sustaining Workforce,” indicated the new American economy and the Great Recession fundamentally shifted the definition of employment with low-wage job creation driving the recovery.

Under the most recent extension that was allowed to expire by the Republican controlled Congress, the most weeks a laid-off worker could receive benefits was 73.

Meanwhile, anti-worker Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett made it clear he will not support an increase in the state’s minimum wage saying he is “worried” about the impact on Pennsylvania’s economy. Most Democrats are calling for an increase.

Several state’s surrounding Pennsylvania have a higher wage with the state’s minimum wage being at the federal level which has not been increased since 2009. Currently the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. There are 19 state’s and the District of Columbia that have a higher minimum wage than the federal standard. New Jersey’s minimum wage was increased in January to $8.25 an hour.

Several legislative bills has emerged than would increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage in 2014 but neither bill is likely to see action in the Republican controlled Legislature.

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate decreases to 7.5 percent

02.08.14

FEBRUARY 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate decreases to 7.5 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, January 15th- 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 7.5 percent, decreasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. 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 8.6 percent.

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

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA continues to have the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 9.1 percent. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has had the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania for more than three and a half years. The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 8.5 percent, and the Philadelphia MSA is third at 7.7 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.8 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.8 percent, the Lancaster MSA is third at 5.9 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 7.3 percent, dropping by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report, and decreasing by eight-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before.

There are 470,000 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 6,458,000 and 5,988,000 of them have employment.

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 7.0 percent, dropping by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report, mainly because of workers that have exhausted their unemployment benefits due to Washington not passing legislation that would extend benefits for the long-termed jobless. The national unemployment rate was also down eight-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before.

There are 10,907,000 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 434,300 civilians and 32,700 have no employment. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest seasonally adjusted labor force at 2,991,500 with 229,500 not working; and the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,255,400 with 83,400 without jobs. The Harrisburg-Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest civilian labor force at 283,900. All MSA’s within Pennsylvania civilian labor-force decreased from the month before because of workers that have exhausted their unemployment benefits are no longer counted in the labor data.

Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 8.2 percent, decreasing by five-tenths of a percentage point from the month before. Carbon County has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 32,200, the smallest within the MSA, with 2,700 unemployed.

Northampton County has the highest unemployment rate within the MSA at 7.5 percent, dropping by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Northampton County has a civilian labor force of 155,800, with 11,700 civilians unemployed within the county.

Lehigh County’s unemployment rate decreased by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report to 7.4 percent.

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO wants labor united against legislation

02.08.14

FEBRUARY 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO wants labor united against legislation

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, January 19th-The labor community in Pennsylvania appears to be united against a proposal in Harrisburg that if passed would ban payroll deduction clauses in labor agreements in all levels of governments.

On January 13th the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg President Richard Bloomingdale held a conference call with national AFL-CIO President Rick Trumka participating to announce the pending dues deduction legislation being considered in the state capitol.

House Bill (HB 1507) eliminates the payroll deduction of union members and fair-share fees of government workers. Should it pass, the bill will force unions, to represent non-members without any meaningful way to collect fees for the service of representation.

House Bill 1507 is being called by anti-union forces the “Payroll Protection” bill. The groups have been claiming, without facts, that taxpayers are paying for union dues collection for public employees and that teachers and state workers are being forced to contribute to political and legislative activism.

However, automatic payroll deduction of union dues is not mandated by any law, rather it is bargained for during labor contract negotiations, the same as any other provision within a collective bargaining agreement.

The companion Senate Bill (SB 1034), would also ban the dues check-off from government contracts in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Bloomingdale stated during the conference call that big money, and corporate interests are now working in Harrisburg to get commitments from legislators on the legislation. He added they appear to have a duel objective, to pass legislation that will significantly hamper public employee unions; and to use this as a litmus test for anti-union legislation they wish to target in the future.

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO has scheduled at press conference/rally at the State Capitol Rotunda for January 28th to bring attention to the issue. Mr. Bloomingdale will host the event.

According to Mr. Bloomingdale, six Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives have indicated they currently will not support the anti-union legislation. He wants the labor community throughout the state to contact and meet with their representatives and senators to request they support the labor community and not sign on to the legislation.

During the conference call Mr. Trumka stated the AFL-CIO in Washington stands with the Pennsylvania labor community and will do everything they can to help defeat the legislation.

Mr. Bloomingdale added that the labor movement in Pennsylvania has had a good track record in defeating anti-union legislation in the past which includes privatization, protecting good pensions, expanding healthcare for all, and advocating for good jobs and decent wages.

David Saltzer, President of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Union Local 735, which represents the fire department of the City of Bethlehem, stated the payroll deduction legislation is similar to that of which was introduced in Wisconsin and IAFF members throughout the state must understand it is a strategic attack against all IAFF members. “Why now? The answer is the Koch Brothers who were heavily involved in the Wisconsin and Ohio changes,” stated Mr. Saltzer.