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Labor continues to lobby legislators for the defeat of anti-union legislation

03.28.14

APRIL 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Labor continues to lobby legislators for the defeat of anti-union legislation

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, March 20th- The labor community continues to lobby legislators against a proposal that if passed would ban payroll deduction clauses in labor agreements in all levels of governments. The attempt includes contacting union members at their homes by phone and requesting they call their state representatives requesting they not support the legislation.

Anti-union groups have spent thousands of dollars on mailings and lobbying to attempt to get House Bill (HB 1507) and Senate Bill (SB 1034) passed by the legislature that would prohibit the payroll deduction of union members and fair-share fees of government workers. Should the legislation 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.

Corporate interests are now working in Harrisburg to get commitments from legislators on the legislation.

The anti-union group, the Commonwealth Foundation, has falsely stated in newspaper editorials publiched across the state, that union households agree that taxpayer resources should not be used to collect political campaign contributions.

However, under the terms and conditions of the collective bargaining agreements between labor organizations and governments in Pennsylvania, any financial cost occured by any government for the collection of political contributions by union members is eimbursed by the union. The Commonwealth Foundation is stating union households agree with them that the paycheck protection legislation would empower individual public workers to have greater control over how their money is spent on politics.

But, before money contributions are deducted for political purposes by any labor organization in Pennsylvania, the individual public employee must first sign a authorization card requesting the contribution be taken from their paycheck. Meaning, the claim made by the Commonwealth Foundation is inaccurate.

The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg is optimistic that the anti-union groups that are financing the campaign the pass the anti-union legislation will not be successful as many state legislators have indicated they do not support HB 1507 and SB 1034.

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Richard Bloomingdale stated the bills are designed to destroy negotiated payroll deductions, and are a part of a national right-wing, anti-union campaign brought to Pennsylvania by out-of-state corporate interests, to weaken unions by denying workers their voice on the job.

Mr. Bloomingdale added that the big money anti-union groups 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.

President Bloomingdale is a member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union, which represents thousands of workers employed in local, state, and county governments in Pennsylvania.

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.

Iron Workers representative confused by union hatred

03.28.14

APRIL 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Iron Workers representative confused by union hatred

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, March 13th- Gary Martin, Business Manager of the Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union Local 420, which represents Iron Workers members in the Lehigh Valley, “sounded-off” on why any worker would support anti-union legislation in Harrisburg that would help decrease their standard of living. Mr. Martin is also a Vice-President on the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council in Harrisburg.

“I do have a hard time understanding, especially with the record disparity between the wealthy and the poor in our country, how any average worker can be against an opportunity to belong to an organization of other workers who together bargain for a better wage and benefit plan from the employer without fear of repercutions,” said Mr. Martin.

Mr. Martin believes one of the main reasons union membership today is down is because jobs have left the nation including those within related industries like tire manufacturers, appliances, plastics, and chemicals.

Mr. Martin stated people who hate labor unions would have people believe that its the fault of the labor community that manufacturing jobs have left the country. He said they would like you to think that unions got too greedy and the jobs left.

“I’d say the more realistic reason is that while we were busy rebuilding Europe and Japan under the Marshall Plan after World War II, corporate America didn’t invest in our industry at home. So, when the rest of the world was rebuilt and modernized, America was 20 years behind. Along with our lopsided trade deals and outdated industrial base, corporate America left America,” Mr. Martin stated.

Local 420 is affiliated with the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Lehigh Valley. Jim Reilley, the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Union Local 542 Business Representative, is president of the labor federation.

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate decreases to 6.8 percent

03.28.14

APRIL 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate decreases to 6.8 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, March 20th- 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 6.8 percent, decreasing by four-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 8.7 percent.

There are fourteen MSA’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 8.1 percent. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has had the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania for nearly four consecutive years. The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 7.6 percent, and the Philadelphia MSA and the Williamsport MSA are tied for third at 6.9 percent.

The main reason the MSA’s unemployment rate dropped was because of the decline of the workforce when long-term out-of-work civilians lost their unemployment benefits after Washington failed to extend the benefit. Therefore, the civilian labor-force has dropped because long-termed unemployed workers are no longer counted.

The Lebanon MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.0 percent. The State College MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.1 percent, and the Lancaster MSA is third at 5.2 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 6.4 percent, dropping by four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report, and decreasing by one and four-tenths percentage points from twelve months before.

There are 411,000 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 6,416,000 and 6,005,000 of them have employment.

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 6.6 percent, dropping by one-tenth 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 extended benefits for the long-termed jobless. The national unemployment rate was down one and three-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before.

There are 10,236,000 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 429,000 civilians, decreasing by 9,000 during the past twelve months. There are 29,100 recorded civilians without employment. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest seasonally adjusted labor force at 2,968,400 with 204,700 not working; and the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,243,900 with 74,100 without jobs.

Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 7.1 percent, decreasing by seven-tenths of a percentage point from the month before.

Lehigh County has the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 6.3 percent, dropping by eight-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report.

Northampton County has a unemployment rate of 6.5 percent, decreasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report.

IBT/UPS contract still not yet ratified by membership

03.28.14

APRIL 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

IBT/UPS contract still not yet ratified by membership

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, March 19th- More than eight months after the national bargaining committee of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union and officials of the United Parcel Services (UPS) Inc., a national package delivery company, reached agreement on a new five-year Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) some members of the union have yet to ratified the successor pact, delaying its implementation.

The IBT represents approximately 249,000 of the 323,000 UPS employees, including full and part-time workers. Around 245,000 of those are covered by the master contract agreement between the company and the union.

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

However, after the national master agreement was ratified, sixteen regional supplements must then be approved by the rank-and-file membership throughout the nation. The supplement agreements cover mostly the regional healthcare benefit packages between the IBT members and UPS. Therefore, the supplements must be negotiated separately and approved by the rank-and-file before the CBA can take effect.

According to Patrick Connors, a member of the IBT/UPS National Negotiating Committee, which negotiated the new pact, there are several regional supplements that have not yet been ratified by the rank-and-file which is causing the delay in the implementation of the terms and conditions of the new contract.

A UPS driver told the newspaper, who requested his name not be published, that many of his co-workers are disappointed that the new pact is taking so long to be ratified, but the good news is they will receive a big retro-active back-pay check after everything gets “ironed-out”.

IBT Local 773 in Allentown represents UPS/IBT workers throughout the Lehigh Valley. The Central Region supplement covers the Lehigh Valley UPS workers and was ratified by the membership last year.