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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.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA’s unemployment rate at 9.1 percent, highest in state

02.08.14

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

MSA’s unemployment rate at 9.1 percent, highest in state

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 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 9.1 percent, decreasing by one-tenth 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.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 7.3 percent, dropping by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,458,000 with 470,000 not working and 5,988,000 with employment. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate decreased by eight-tenths of a percentage point over the past twelve months. Meanwhile the nation unemployment rate was reported to be at 7.0 percent, dropping by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report.

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 8.5 percent, the Philadelphia MSA has the third highest at 7.7 percent with the Williamsport MSA and the Allenotwn/Bethlehem/Easton MSA tied for fourth at 7.5 percent.

The State College MSA and the Lebanon MSA are tied with has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.8 percent. The Lancaster MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate at 5.9 percent while the Harrisburg MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.5 percent. The Altoona MSA has the fourth lowest unemployment rate at 6.7 percent.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fifth largest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 280,500 civilians and 25,500 of them are without employment. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor-force in Pennsylvania at 2,991,500 with 229,500 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor-force at 1,255,400 with 83,400 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor-force at 434,300 with 32,700 not working.

The Williamsport MSA has the smallest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 64,500 civilians and 4,900 of them have no jobs. The Altoona MSA has the second smallest labor-force with 64,800 civilians with 4,300 without employment and the Johnstown MSA is third with a labor-force of 67,500 and 5,800 of them are not working.

Wyoming County has the highest unemployment rate within the MSA at 9.3 percent, unchanged from the previous report and decreasing by five-tenths of a percentage point from one year ago. Wyoming County has a civilian labor-force of 14,300, with 1,300 unemployed.

Lackawanna County has the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 8.6 percent, decreasing by five-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and fours-tenths of a percentage point from one year ago. Lackawanna County has a civilian labor force of 106,100, with 9,200 jobless.

Luzerne County has a unemployment rate of 9.2 percent, unchanged from the previous report. Luzerne County’s unemployment rate decreased by six-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before. Luzerne County has a civilian labor force of 159,200, the largest within the MSA, with 14,600 civilians not employed. Luzerne County’s labor force decreased by 2,900 during the past year and 1,500 less civilians are unemployed.

The main reason the MSA’s civilian labor force has decreased from twelve months before is because of long-term workers unemployment benefits expiring and no longer being counted as unemployed.

Legislation would create insurance fund for women workers

02.08.14

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

Legislation would create insurance fund for women workers

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 4th- Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (Democrat-New York), and United States House of Representative Rosa DeLauro (Democrat-Connecticut) introduced legislation within their legislative body “the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act)”.

The legislation would create an independent insurance fund to provide critical income to workers when taking family and medical leave.

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), which according to their mission statement conducts rigorous research on findings that address the needs of women and their families and works in affiliation with the women’s studies and public policy programs at George Washington University, the costs of workers of not having unpaid medical leave for childbirth, personal health needs, or family caregiving is causing economic hardship on women.

The organization analyzed the costs and impact to workers of not having unpaid leave and published their findings. The IWPR also worked on passage and provided information leading-up to the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLAct).

Dr. Heidi Hartman, Ph.D., and President of the IWPR, and co-author of “Unnecessary Losses: Costs to Americans of Lack of Family and Medical Leave,” has recently been interviewed by national news outlets, about the importance of the passage of the legislation.

However, with the Republicans having the majority within the House of Representatives, the legislation will likely not receive enough support to become law.

In 1993 when the FMLAct was passed and signed into law, the Democratic party controlled both the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House and also the White House.

Labor community getting ready for 2014 gubernatorial political campaign

02.08.14

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

Labor community getting ready for 2014 gubernatorial political campaign

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 5th- 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.

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.

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 put in harms way. Pennsylvania Attorney Kathleen Kane rejected his plan in February 2013 and the system remains operated by the state. Mr. Corbett recently scraped the proposed bid with the company to manage the lottery system.

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. Democrats are hopeful of pick-ups in states like Pennsylvania, Maine, and Florida. In all, thirty-six states will conduct governor elections in 2014.

Some of the Republican governors facing re-election next 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.

According to latest Quinnipac University poll, Mr. Corbett trails several Democrats in a head-to-head match-up for the governor seat. Also, 53 percent of the poll participants disapproved of Mr. Corbett as governor with 52 percent saying he should not seek another term.

Hospital jobs suffer big decreases within Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA during 2013

02.08.14

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

Hospital jobs suffer big decreases within MSA during 2013

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 2nd- During 2013 the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) has seen a decrease in government, hospital, education and manufacturing jobs, according to data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Center for Workforce Information and Analysis in Harrisburg.

According to the latest data, education and health services jobs were the biggest lower 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 1,400 jobs during the year.

Education Services providers cut approximately 800 jobs during 2013 which includes public education and higher education jobs.

The data indicates government jobs dropped by 300 during 2013 with federal government jobs leading the decrease with 200 jobs being cut. Local government jobs were unchanged from the previous year but 2014 promises to be different with jobs losses already being experienced in Luzerne County. According to the data there are 20,200 local government jobs in the MSA.

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, but food services and drinking places jobs were unchanged from 2012 at 17,800.

Manufacturing jobs dropped by 300 from 2012 to 26,600. There are 12,100 durable goods manufacturing jobs within the MSA and 14,500 non-durable manufacturing jobs.

Overall there are 256,300 nonfarm jobs in the local economy and 225,900 jobs in the private sector.

PASNAP and Wilkes-Barre General Hospital still without pact

02.08.14

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

PASNAP and Wilkes-Barre General Hospital still without pact

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, December 30th- The union that represents nurses at the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital and management officials have again began to meet attempting to gain a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the parties. The two parties were scheduled to conduct a negotiating meeting on December 23rd.

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, went on strike for one day on December 3rd to protest the lack of progress at the bargaining table for a successor CBA with the operators of Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. However, the Community Health Systems (CHS), headquatered in Franklin, Tennessee, responded by hiring scab nurses and locking-out PASNAP members 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.

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

Since the strike, the union filed a labor complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia alleging CHS has acted in “bad faith” during negotiations. PASNAP alleges CHS has violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct) by refusing to provide information needed such as staffing needs and details of its benefit plan. The NLRB scheduled a hearing on the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) complaint for February 2nd. However, should the two parties reach an accord the ULP could be withdrawn by the union.

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.

Ms. Marcavage stated 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.

Organized labor beginning to pick sides in governor race

02.08.14

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

Organized labor beginning to pick sides in governor race

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 4th- The labor community has begun to take sides in the May 2014 Democratic party race that will determine who will get the chance to run against the current anti-union Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett in November 2014. There are at least seven candidates that have put there names in for consideration for the Democratic party gubernatorial nomination, including Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski.

Mr. Pawlowski along with Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord and United States House of Representative Allyson Schwartz (13th Legislative District) in a recently released statewide poll had higher numbers head-to-head than Mr. Corbett.

Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,061 registered voters throughout Pennsylvania and Mr. Pawlowski, Mr. McCord and Ms. Schwartz lead Mr. Corbett leading into the 2014 gubernatorial campaign. Meanwhile, the labor community have begun to endorse for the 2014 primary election.Treasurer 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 Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776 in Plymouth Meeting for the May 20th, 2014 primary election.

Ms. Schwartz has been endorsed by the Sheet Metal Workers International Union (SMWIU) Local 19 in Philadelphia.

Several labor organizations that are affiliated with the unions that represent workers employed within the building and construction trade industry have endorsed Mr. Pawlowski.

Mr. Pawlowski was endorsed by 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.

New report shows shift to non-sustaining wage jobs

02.08.14

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

New report shows shift to non-sustaining wage jobs

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 4th- A new report indicates the current American economy and economic recovery has been tough on the average worker. The recession decimated wage and living standards with impacts so profound that the economy must now be analyzed as pre- and-post recession, the study found.

The new 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.

“The increase in share of low-wage jobs took place in the time that the Great Recession was declared to be over. In 2012 alone, nearly 18 million workers did not have access to living wage jobs, jobs paying over $15 per hour,” said Ben Henry, senior Policy Associate at the Alliance For A Just Society and author of the report.

Findiings of the report include:
• For every projected low-wage job opening, there were seven job-seekers (including the unemployed, discourage workers and the underemployed) in 2012. Because the job market is so crowded, workers are forced to accept non-sustaining jobs.
• There were 20.8 million job-seekers and 2.9 million projected jobs that pay better than $15 per hour. That means there are 17.9 million, or six of seven more job-seekers than decent-paying jobs. These job-seekers are left to find either low-wage, non-sustaining jobs or no work at all.
• The share of jobs that are low-wage has increased from 36.55 percent of the American economy in 2009 to 39.44 percent in 2012.

Nursing home tells AFSCME, we will never negotiate contract

02.08.14

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

Nursing home tells AFSCME, we will never negotiate contract

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 2nd- According to Matt Balas, Business Representative of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87 in Dunmore, which represents AFSCME members throughout nine counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the operators of a Luzerne County nursing home has appealed the decision of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia which resulted in a hearing that was scheduled for February being cancelled.

In the previous edition 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.

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 stated management continues to state the employees are excluded from being represented by a labor organization because the workers are “management”, and file objections against the NLRB hearing and the matter will likely be moved to the Washington DC’s NLRB office. The management action will continue to delay the workers, that overwhelmingly voted for AFSCME representation, of gaining a first-time labor agreement.

We have not even been able to get a meeting with management to discuss the situation. They seem determine to take the union representation issue all the way to the United States Supreme Court”, stated Mr. Balas.

The employer delayed responding to the alleged NLRAct violation for several months but recently told the NLRB, thought their legal counsel, they have no intention of negotiating with AFSCME. Also, the nursing home operators are under the opinion, because the employees were not eligible to be unionized, they did not violate the NLRAct.

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO unions entitled to more CLC delegates

02.08.14

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

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO unions entitled to more CLC delegates

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 2nd- The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg has changed how many delegates affiliated labor organizations can have representing their unions at central labor councils throughout the state.

In Northeastern Pennsylvania there are two labor councils which have affiliated labor organizations that meet monthly.

The Scranton Central Labor Union (SCLU), O’Neill Highway in Dunmore, meets on the third Wednesday of the month.

The SCLU affiliated labor organizations represent workers in and around Lackawanna County. The individual affiliated unions elect delegates that represent their organization at the monthly meeting. Nancy Krake is President of the SCLU.

The Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council (GWBLC), Route 315 in Pittston, meets on the fourth Thursday of the month.

The GWBLC affiliated unions represent workers in and around Luzerne County. Edward Harry is President of the labor federation.

According to Mr. Harry, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO recently increased the number of delegates each affiliated labor organization can have to participate at central labor councils.

Previously, a union that affiliated 50 members or less was entitled to one delegate, however that increased by one. Also, unions that affiliate from 51 to 100 members increased from 2 to 3.

All affiliated unions will be entitled to one more delegate in each category of number of participation.

After reaching the total of 1,300 affiliated members, labor unions are entitled to one additional delegate for every 500 members, under the new plan.

Senate confirms Griffin as NLRB General Counsel

02.08.14

JANUARY 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Senate confirms Griffin as NLRB General Counsel

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, December 14th- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington DC has a new general counsel that the anti-union pro-business legislators and their supporters dislike.

The United States Senate confirmed Richard Griffin as the NLRB general counsel in a near party-line 55 for to 44 against vote with the only Republican vote being Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski.

The agency oversees workplace disputes in the private sector and decides which labor complaints to investigate and prosecute.

The United States Chamber of Commerence opposed Mr. Griffin’s appointment and express concerns about his past support for organized labor. Mr. Griffin was once a union attorney.

Mr. Griffin was first nominated by President Obama in August for the NLRB general counsel after being displaced from being a NLRB member because of his recess appointment by the president. The Republicans in the Senate blocked the appointment stating there was never really a recess of the Senate.

The NLRB for the first time in nearly ten years will have their full appointed positions.

Republicans had delayed Mr. Griffin’s nomination and his confirmation ended the contentious nomination. Democrats got enough Republicans to vote to put his nomination on the Senate floor with 62 votes. Sixty votes were needed to bring Mr. Griffin’s nomination to a confirmation vote.

Meanwhile, the new Labor Secretary Tom Perez also has voiced his support for collective bargaining, something again the pro-business leaders and some of the business community have raised concern.

Mr. Perez has made it clear his department would try to restore the middle class by defending collective bargaining rights and aggressively enforce wage laws.

NLRB tells Wal-Mart to settle with protesting workers

02.08.14

JANUARY 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

NLRB tells Wal-Mart to settle with protesting workers

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, December 6th- The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington, DC encouraged their affiliated central labor councils throughout the nation to conduct a “Walmart Black Friday” protest on November 29th in front of the retailers stores.

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.

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.

Last year similar protest was held on the day after Thanksgiving and Wal-Mart seeked a federal injuction to stop the worker protest by filing a labor complaint against the UFCW in Washington DC, alleging the labor organization was behind the action of employees and former workers that participated.

The UNI Global Alliance, a international network of labor unions headquartered in Switzerland, conducted a world drive to force Wal-Mart to change their business practices and respect workers’ rights.

Meanwhile, the NLRB recently announced it is prepared to file complaints against Wal-Mart alleging the company violated workers’ rights to protest, unless the parties settle first.

The NLRB alleges Wal-Mart has unlawfully threatened, surveilled, desciplined or terminated employees for conducting legally projected worker activities and have treated employees unlawfully for participating with 2012 black Friday protest. Wal-Mart denies the NLRB claims.