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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.