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Tobyhanna Army Depot Task Force formed and meeting

05.26.14

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

Tobyhanna Army Depot Task Force formed and meeting

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 19th- Recently the campaign to keep the Tobyhanna Army Depot operating by the federal government in Northeastern Pennsylvania was kicked-off with the formation of a Blue Ribbon Task Force.

Approximately 65 people attended the first meeting of the task force that was held recently at the Tobyhanna Army Depot.

It is expected the federal government will review their facilities nationally in 2017, and like several decades ago, Tobyhanna could be placed in harms way by facing possible closure. The review, Base Retention and Closure (BRAC), could result in thousands of joblosses for a region that already has the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania.

The Tobyhanna Army Depot workforce has gotten a lot smaller because of the United States Department of Defense cutbacks in spending, changing plans on upgrading facilities and equipment, and the cutback on purchasing, with the withdraw of military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, the depot is still the largest employer in Northeastern Pennsylvania with workers from Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties making-up the majority of the workforce.

The task force made plans to meet regularly to discuss how they can gain support from local residents, elected officials and businesses, that does business with Tobyhanna Army Depot workers, to hopefully influence the U.S. Department of Defense to keep the facility operating. Many businesses in the region would be hurt if the facility is closed because workers spend money to purchase their goods and services.

The Tobyhanna Army Depot has cut approximately one-third of its workforce during the past several years which resulted in the two labor organizations that represents many of the workers having a decline in membership at the military facility.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Union Local 1647 represents around 2,000 employees at the depot and has lost many members because of the downsizing.

In late 2012 the depot employed around 5,100 workers counting the employees of subcontractors including those of URS Federal Support Services Inc., a contractor that provides industrial trade and electronics workers.

Currently, there are approximately 3,570 employed at the depot.

Some building trade unions critical of pipeline postponement

05.26.14

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

Some building trade unions critical of pipeline postponement

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 24th- President Obama has extended the decision of whether to construct the Keystone XL pipeline project, that would carry oil from Canada throughout the heart of the United States midwest to refineries in Texas indefinitely, that would likely postpone the building of it until after the November mid-term elections.

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 a President Obama adminstration 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.

But, on April 18th the Obama Administration announced its review of the Keystone XL pipeline would be entended saying as the main reason that the court decision on February 19th by Nebraska judge must first be litigated. An Nebraska judge ruled 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.

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 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 environmentral group the Sierra Club are now involved with the AFL-CIO. However, in the case of the pipeline, environmental group opposes the pipeline that the building trade labor unions support.

Meanwhile, Terry O’Sullivan, President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) in Washington, DC, called the Obama Admistration announement “gutless”.

Lackawanna County Prison arbitration meeting scheduled

05.26.14

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

Lackawanna County Prison arbitration meeting scheduled

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 25th- The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union and officials representing Lackawanna County will meet before a arbitrator on May 7th for the second time to gain a new labor agreement between the two parties.

AFSCME and Lackawanna County failed to reach an successor contract agreement and the arbitrator will determine the pact between the parties. The Correction Officers (CO’s) under law are forbidden to strike when their union fails to reach a successor contract agreement and the two parties must meet before an arbitrator. The first arbitration meeting was held on March 12th.

AFSCME Local 2736 represents the CO’s of the Lackawanna County prison, and have been without a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) since December 31st, 2012 when the previous pact expired. The parties have been working under the terms and conditions of the expired contract.

AFSCME’s other bargaining unit that represents workers of Lackawanna County also is currently working under the terms and conditions of the previous CBA that expired on December 31st 2013.

That agreement covers workers employed within the Children and Youth Department of Lackawanna County.

Eric Schubert, Business Representative of AFSCME District Council 87, which Local 2736 is affiliated, told the newspaper the membership was disappointed with Lackawanna County’s final contract offer.

The proposal included a huge increase in monthly health insurance costs and other concessionary contract demands.

Mr. Schubert stated the arbitrators’ awarded CBA will likely be better for the membership that what the County was demanding.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA’s unemployment rate still highest in state at 7.7 percent

05.26.14

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

MSA’s unemployment rate still highest in state at 7.7 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 30th- The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) continues to have the highest unemployment rate among the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania. The MSA has had the highest unemployment rate within Pennsylvania for more than five consecutive years.

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 MSA, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 7.7 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 9.3 percent. The unemployment rate is the lowest for the MSA since January 2009.

The MSA’s unemployment is lower 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 6.0 percent, dropping by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,442,000 with 390,000 not working and 6,052,000 with employment. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate decreased by one and seven-tenths of a percentage point over the past twelve months, also because of the decrease of the labor-force due to workers having exhausted their unemployment benefits. Meanwhile, the nation unemployment rate was reported to be at 6.7 percent, unchanged from the previous report.

The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 7.2 percent, the Williamsport MSA and the Philadelphia MSA area tied with the third highest unemployment rate at 6.6 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.6 percent. The Lebanon MSA and the Lebanon MSA are tied for the second lowest unemployment rate at 4.8 percent while the Harrisburg MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.2 percent.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fifth largest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 278,900 civilians, dropping by 5,500 from twelve months before. There are 21,400 civilians without employment. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor-force in Pennsylvania at 2,983,800 with 195,600 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor-force at 1,244,100 with 72,300 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor-force at 428,800 with 27,600 not working. The Harrisburg MSA has the fourth largest labor-force with 289,600 civilians with 15,200 jobless.

The Williamsport MSA has the smallest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 63,500 civilians and 4,200 of them have no jobs. The Altoona MSA has the second smallest labor-force with 64,600 civilians with 3,700 without employment and the Johnstown MSA is third with a labor-force of 66,200 and 4,800 of them are not working.

Lackawanna County has the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 7.3 percent, decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. Lackawanna County has a civilian labor force of 106,200, with 7,800 jobless.

Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate at 8.0 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point. Luzerne County has a civilian labor force of 159,500, the largest within the MSA, with 12,700 civilians not employed.

The unemployment rate in Wyoming County is 7.9 percent, increasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Wyoming County has a civilian labor-force of 14,100, with 1,100 jobless.

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate decreases to 6.5 percent

05.26.14

MAY 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate decreases to 6.5 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, April 7th- 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 6.5 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 MSA’s in Pennsylvania and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the fifth highest unemployment rate.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA continues to have the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 7.7 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 7.2 percent, and the Philadelphia MSA has the third highest at 6.6 percent. The Williamsport MSA rate of 6.7 percent is the fourth highest within Pennsylvania.

The Lebanon MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.7 percent. The State College MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.8 percent, and the Lancaster MSA is third at 4.9 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 6.2 percent, dropping by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report, and decreasing by one and five-tenths percentage points from twelve months before.

There are 397,000 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 6,430,000 and 6,032,000 of them have employment.

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 6.7 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. The national unemployment rate was down one full percentage point from twelve months before, mainly because of workers that have exhausted their unemployment benefits due to Washington not passing legislation extending benefits for the long-termed jobless.

There are 10,459,000 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 428,200 civilians, decreasing by 10,200 during the past twelve months. There are 27,700 recorded civilians without employment. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest seasonally adjusted labor force at 2,974,900 with 196,900 not working; and the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,244,400 with 71,600 without jobs.

Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 7.0 percent, decreasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the month before. Carbon County has a civilian labor force of 31,800 with 2,200 without employment.

Lehigh County has the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 6.2 percent, dropping by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. Lehigh County has a civilian labor force of 184,100 with 11,300 without jobs.

Northampton County has a unemployment rate of 6.5 percent, unchanged from the previous report. Northampton County has a civilian labor force of 154,800 with 10,100 jobless.

NLRB hearing regarding CHS and PASNAP delayed

05.26.14

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

NLRB hearing regarding CHS and PASNAP delayed

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 30th- The nurses at the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital in Wilkes-Barre that are represented by the Wyoming Valley Nurses Association (WVNA), which is affiliated with the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professional (PASNAP) Union in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, are still without a new labor agreement.

PASNAP has been unsuccessful in gaining a successor Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the Community Health Systems (CHS), which operates the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital and at least seven other medical facilities in Northeastern Pennsylvania. CHS operates the Scranton Regional Hospital in Scranton. The medical center was previously known as Mercy Hospital.

CHS Inc., the Tennessee-based company, is the largest for-profit hospital chain in the nation, and recently got even bigger after it was announced on February 6th the conglomerate will purchase a western Pennsylvania health system. CHS purchased Sharon Regional Health System which has 1,800 workers making it the largest employer in Mercer County of Pennsylvania.

CHS owns or operates at least 200 hospitals in 29 states.

The two parties have been conducting bargaining sessions but have failed to reach an agreement for a new CBA.

According to the Union, during negotiations management has proposed a wage freeze while demanding other contract concessions. Because of the failure to reach a agreement, PASNAP filed several labor complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office alleging the employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct) on how they have conducted themselves at the negotiating table. The NLRB had scheduled a hearing on the complaints for April 1st but have since postponed the hearing until at least the third week of May.

PASNAP members at the Wilkes-Barre Hospital 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 believes another strike may be neccessary to get CHS and the public’s attention regarding the lack of progress at the bargaining table. No date for a possible work-stoppage has been announced.

The previous CBA between the two parties expired on April 30th, 2013.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA’s unemployment rate still highest in state at 7.7 percent

05.26.14

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

MSA’s unemployment rate still highest in state at 7.7 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 1st- The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA continues to have the highest unemployment rate among the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania. The MSA has had the highest unemployment rate within Pennsylvania for more than five consecutive years.

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 7.7 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 9.9 percent. 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 6.2 percent, dropping by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,430,000 with 397,000 not working and 6,032,000 with employment. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate decreased by one and five-tenths of a percentage point over the past twelve months, also because of the decrease of the labor-force due to workers having exhausted their unemployment benefits. Meanwhile, the nation unemployment rate was reported to be at 6.7 percent, decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report.

The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 7.2 percent, the Williamsport MSA has the third highest and the Philadelphia MSA has the fourth highest unemployment rate at 6.6 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.8 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate at 4.7 percent while the Lancaster MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.9 percent.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fifth largest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 256,800 civilians, dropping by 10,200 from twelve months before. There are 21,500 civilians without employment. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor-force in Pennsylvania at 2,974,900 with 196,900 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor-force at 1,244,400 with 71,600 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor-force at 428,200 with 27,700 not working. The Harrisburg MSA has the fourth largest labor-force with 287,700 civilians with 9,100 jobless.

The Williamsport MSA has the smallest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 63,800 civilians and 4,300 of them have no jobs. The Altoona MSA has the second smallest labor-force with 64,200 civilians with 3,700 without employment and the Johnstown MSA is third with a labor-force of 66,600 and 4,800 of them are not working.

Lackawanna County has the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 7.2 percent, decreasing by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Lackawanna County has a civilian labor force of 106,500, with 7,700 jobless. Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate at 7.9 percent, decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. Luzerne County has a civilian labor force of 159,800, the largest within the MSA, with 12,600 civilians not employed.

The unemployment rate in Wyoming County is 7.6 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. Wyoming County has a civilian labor-force of 14,200, with 1,100 jobless.

USWU members participate in workplace safety hearing

05.26.14

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

USWU members participate in workplace safety hearing

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 31st- The United Steelworkers (USW) Union provided testimony at the public hearing held in Washington DC by the United States Department of Labor (DOL) regarding the proposed standard to protect workers from silica exposure. The hearing was conducted by the DOL’s, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) during March 18th to April 4th.

The proposed rule would cut permitted dust exposure in half from current levels; require exposure monitoring; and have medical exams for implementation of dust control methods. The new standard would effect more than two million workers exposed to the deadly silica dust.

According to the USW, silica dust is a killer. It causes silicosis, a disabling lung disease that literally suffocates workers to death. It also causes lung cancer, respiratory and kidney diseases.

The USW members that testified included Mike Wright, the Unions Director of Health, Safety and Environment Department in Pittsburgh.

Also, Tim Tuttle, USW Glass Industry Council of Pittsburgh; John Scardella, Program Administrator; and Tom Mazzocchi, Center for Worker Health and Safety Education, in Pittsburgh provided testimony and the DOL hearing.

Silica exposure occurs daily while employees work where respirable crystalline occurs. USW and other workers are exposed to silica in foundries, glass making, refractory manufacturing and in shipyards.

The hearings were conducted in the Cesar Chavez Auditorium at the United States Department of Labor building on Constitution Avenue in Washington DC.

The USW is the largest private-sector labor union in North America representing 850,000 workers employed in many industries.

New formed union wants to represent fast food workers

05.26.14

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

New formed union wants to represent fast food workers

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 2nd- The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is supporting a national campaign, “Fast Food Forward,” which includes protesting at McDonalds Restaurants across the nation, including in Pennsylvania, and requesting the company pay their workers a living-wage. Also in Pennsylvania the event is being used to push for a minimum wage increase.

Currently, the Pennsylvania minimum wage is the same as the federal wage at $7.25 an hour, despite New York and New Jersey having a higher wage than the federal bench-mark.

The newspaper is not aware of any event that has taken place in Northeastern Pennsylvania regarding the McDonalds rally. However, the labor community in and around Philadelphia have particiapted in several McDonald Restraurants rally’s.

A new union has emerged that wants to represent fast food workers employed at McDonalds, that historically pays their workers the minimum wage or slightly more. The New York based union is called the “Fast Food Workers Committee.” The labor organization filed with the United States Department of Labor (DOL) in February.

The Fast Food Workers Committee comes to existence after several media reports indicated that McDonalds franchise owners have violated provisions of the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSAct) or have paid their workers through debit cards, which required the employees pay bank penalties for transactions.

In February, the DOL announced that former McDonald’s franchisee Cheung Enterprises LLC, based in Middletown, Pennsylvania, agreed to pay more than $205,900 in back wages and liquidated damages to 291 employees. An investigation by the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division found that the company violated the minimum wage and overtime provisions of FLSAct at the company’s six locations in central Pennsylvania.

Investigators from the Wilkes-Barre Office found Cheung Enterprises made improper deductions from employee paychecks, bringing the rate of pay for some employees below the federal minimum wage. Also the company was found to have failed to pay student workers properly.

In addition to paying back wages and liquidated damages, the company will pay a $5,000 civil money penalty for the willful nature of the FLSAct violations.

AFSCME and Lackawanna County meets before arbitrator

05.26.14

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

AFSCME and Lackawanna County meets before arbitrator

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 31st- The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union and officials representing Lackawanna County have begun conducting hearings before an arbitrator in the attempt to gain a new labor agreement between the two parties.

AFSCME and Lackawanna County failed to reach an successor contract agreement and the arbitrator will determine the pact between the parties. A arbitration meeting between the parties and the arbitrator was held on March 12th.

AFSCME Local 2736 represents the Correction Officers (CO’s) of the Lackawanna County prison, and they have been without a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) since December 31st, 2012 when the previous pact expired. However, the two parties have been working under the terms and conditions of the expired contract.

AFSCME’s other bargaining unit that represents workers of Lackawanna County voted in the spring of 2013 to extend their agreement for one year which also was slated to expire on December 31st 2012. That unit also is currently working under the terms and conditions of the previous CBA. That agreement covers workers employed within the Children and Youth Department of Lackawanna County.

Eric Schubert, Business Representative of AFSCME District Council 87, which Local 2736 is affiliated, told the newspaper Lackawanna County’s final contract offer included a huge increase in monthly health insurance costs and other concessionary contract demands.

The CO’s under law are forbidden to strike when their union fails to reach a successor contract agreement and the two parties must meet before an arbitrator. The next meeting is scheduled for May.

Organized labor supporting raising federal minimum wage

05.26.14

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

Organized labor supporting raising federal minimum wage

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 30th- The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, have began to rally support for the raising of the federal minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSAct).

The current minimum wage, which covers most workers employed within many industries excluding some retail and service establishments and farms and also employ students at wages of no more than 15 percent below the minimum with proper certification from the Department of Labor, is $7.25.

AFL-CIO President recently attended a pro-minimum wage increase rally in New Jersey, stating that increasing the federal minimum wage would be good for workers and the community where they work.

Meanwhile, while both New Jersey and New York have increased their minimum wage above the federal level, in Pennsylvania the wage remains at $7.25 an hour. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009.

Currently, 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 increased in January to $8.25 an hour.

Several legislative bills have emerged that would increase the Pennsylvania minimum wage in 2014 but the bills will likely not see any action because Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett does not support increasing the wage and has been lobbying fellow Republicans to not support the increase of the wage.

President Obama wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Most of the lowest paid American workers are employed by large companies, many that have given huge raises to their executives after they recovered from the great recession. However, most have been reluctant to share their good fortune and increase their workers wages.

The United States economy has lost almost 6 million manufacturing jobs since 2000 while the American worker productivity increased during the time.

Pennsylvania Senator Christine Tartaglione (Democrat-2nd Legislative District) and Minority Caucus Secretary, has introduced a bill that would increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to what Mr. Obama requested, $10.10 an hour.

Anti-union dues deduction legislation still not passed

05.26.14

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

Anti-union dues deduction legislation still not passed

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 1st- The labor community seems to have slowed the momentum of the well financed anti-union out-of-state corporate special interest groups that seem to be determined to hurt labor organizations that represent government employees in Pennsylvania.

The labor community has been lobbying 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.

The anti-union group, the Commonwealth Foundation, has falsely stated that taxpayer resources are being used to collect political campaign contributions.

However, any financial cost occured by any government for the collection of political contributions by union members is reimbursed by the union. Meaning, the claim made by the Commonwealth Foundation is inaccurate.

Also, before any contribution is deducted for political purposes by a union, the individual public employee must first sign a card requesting the contribution be taken from their paycheck.

If the legislation became law, organized labor would be singled-out because all other paycheck deductions, would still be allowed.

Local state representative election involves two labor community supporters

05.19.14

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

Local state representative election involves two labor community supporters

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 31st- Because of the 2010 census, two legislative districts of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in Lackawanna County that are currently represented by Democrats and have voted in the past to support the labor community in Harrisburg, are forced to run against each other.

Currently, the 112th Legislative District is represented by first-term Democrat Kevin Haggerty of Dunmore while 115th legislative District is represented by Frank Farina of Jessup.

Because of the new drawn 112th Legislative District, which will now include more of the mid-valley area of Lackawanna County, which is currently part of the 115th Legislative District, they must face each other on May 20th for their party’s nomination. There are three Democrats seeking their party’s nomination; Mr. Haggerty, Mr. Farina; and former Valley View School Director Bob Munley.

According to Mr. Haggerty, a 1991 Dunmore High School graduate, and a former United States Marine, who defeated incumbent fellow Democrat Ken Smith in 2012, he has the advanged in the May 20th Primary Election because most of the voters within the new 112th Legislative District he already represents and they know how hard he has worked for them during his time in Harrisburg.Mr. Farina as of press time April 6th, had not contacted the newspaper about his campaign or labor support.

“I think labor knows how hard I worked for them. I have supported legislation that helps them and voted against legislation that harms them,” said Mr. Haggerty.

In the fifteen months Mr. Haggerty has been in Harrisburg, many anti-union bills have been before the General Assembly including attempts to privatize the Pennsylvania Wine and Spirits stores, and weaken the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage law.

Mr. Haggerty’s wife is a member of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) Union. She is a teacher in the Riverside School District in Lackawanna County.

The labor community appears to be reluctant to voice public support for either Mr. Haggerty or Mr. Farina because they both have supported legislation important to the labor community while in Harrisburg.

Several labor leaders when contacted would not discuss on the record who they support in the May 20th election. Most of the labor community have not endorsed a candidate for the 112th district.

The winner of the May 20th election will likely be successful in November because no Republicans filed to challenged for the seat.

Gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf promises to support labor community if elected

05.19.14

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

Gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf promises to support labor community if elected

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 2nd- According to a recently released poll of likely voters Pennsylvania Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf is far ahead of the four remaining contenders for their party nomination in the May 20th Primary election.

Besides Mr. Wolf, the other candidates still seeking the Democratic nomination are: U.S. House of Representative Allyson Schwartz (13th Legislative District); Katie McGinty; and current Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord. All four candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination to attempt to deny anti-union Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett a second four-year term.

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

Some of the largest unions in Pennsylvania have 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.

Congresswomen Schwartz, which represents the 13th Legislative District, in Washington, has also been endorsed by several labor organizations. The 13th Legislative District includes the City of Philadelphia.

Representative Schwartz endorsements include: the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 98 in Philadelphia; the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 926 and Local 249; the United Mine Workers Union (UMW); the United Steelworkers (USW) Union Local 10-1; the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Union Local 13; the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP); the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers Union (AFT); and the Pennsylvania State Council of Sheet Metal Workers, which Sheet Metal Workers Local 44 in Wilkes-Barre is affiliated. Local 44 represents members of the Sheet Metal Workers International Union (SMWIU) throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The Franklin and Marshall College poll released on April 2rd indicated that York Businessman Tom Wolf leads his closest opponent Ms. Schwartz by sixteen points. Mr. McCord trailed by seventeen points and Ms. McGinty was nineteen points behind Mr. Wolf.

The newspaper is not aware of any labor organization that has endorsed Mr. Wolf but he has been meeting with labor representatives throughout the state including in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

According to his political campaign, Mr. Wolf if elected would support issues important to the labor community including: improving oversight of charter and cyber charter schools; protect the right of workers to unionize and collectively bargain; veto any legislation that restricts the rights of workers, including repealing the agency fee, doing away with union dues deduction, eliminating the right of school employees to strike, and any change to the prevailing wage law.

Mr. Wolf stated he has shared between 20 percent and 30 percent of his company’s profits with employees. Mr. Wolf operates a American made kitchen-cabinet design and distribution business in Indiana.

His campaign also stated he would push as governor to close the Delaware loophole and allows 70 percent of the companies that do business in the state to not pay corporate net income taxes. He feels the loophole shifts the tax burden unfairly to small business and individual citizens.

UFCW members facing new plan on Wine and Spirits sales

05.19.14

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

UFCW members facing new plan on Wine and Spirits sales

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 1st- The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776, which represents the majority of the workers of the Pennsylvania Wine and Spirits Stores, stated that some Republican lawmakers in Harrisburg and Republican anti-union Governor Tom Corbett are peddling a new privatization plan that was crafted in closed door negotiations with business privateers.

The UFCW Local 1776 represents employees of the liquor store system throughout the eastern part of Pennsylvania while Local 23 represents UFCW members throughout the western part of the state. UFCW represents workers that are employed as clerks and shelve stockers.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union represent mainly office employees including the Pennsylvania Labor Control Board (PLCB) auditors, which operates the stores.

The Independent State Store Union (ISSU) represent most lower supervisors of the system.

Since Mr. Corbett took office more than three years ago the Union’s have battle to keep the valuable money making system that has clearly been operating for the public good under ownership of the Pennsylvania taxpayers.

Privatizing the system would put more than 5,000 family-sustaining jobs in harms way.

The UFCW is calling the latest plan being peddled by the Corbett Administration as ‘privatization lite’, calling it a half-baked plan to let grocery stores sell wine including Wal-Mart stores.

Wine sales accounted for $821 million, or 41.83 percent of total state store sales, of all sales in the shops in 2013. The most popular wine brands, are those most likely to be sold by the big-chain grocers.

The Union believes the PLCB store operations would suffer on day one to lost of sales and revenues and family-sustaining jobs will be eliminated. Job losses will gradually increase year after year until the stores are completely gone, stated Local 1776.

Organized labor supporting raising federal minimum wage

05.19.14

MAY 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Organized labor supporting raising federal minimum wage

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, April 16th- The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, have began to rally support for the raising of the federal minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSAct).

The current minimum wage, which covers most workers employed within many industries excluding some retail and service establishments and farms and also employ students at wages of no more than 15 percent below the minimum with proper certification from the Department of Labor, is $7.25.

The AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka recently attended a pro-minimum wage increase rally in New Jersey, and Philadelphia stating that increasing the federal minimum wage would be good for workers and the community where they work. The AFL-CIO has participated in rallies with a bus with the slogan painted in blue with the words on its side “Give America a Raise.”

Meanwhile, New Jersey and New York have increased their minimum wage above the federal level, in Pennsylvania the wage remains at $7.25 an hour. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009. President Obama wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

On April 7th, Pennsylvania neighboring state Maryland voted to raise their minimum wage above the federal standard. Maryland lawmakers voted to gradually raise the wage to $10.10 an hour. The pro-business, anti-worker Maryland legislators were able to delay the full phase-in of the $10.10 minimum wage until 2018. Pennsylvania will have a lower minimum wage than three of it’s neighboring states, Maryland, New York and New Jersey. Maryland was the fourth state in the nation to approve wage increases above the federal standard in 2014.

Currently, there are more than 20 state’s and the District of Columbia that have a higher minimum wage than the federal standard. New Jersey’s minimum wage increased in January to $8.25 an hour.

Several legislative bills have emerged that would increase the Pennsylvania minimum wage in 2014 but the bills will likely not see any action because Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett does not support increasing the wage. Pennsylvania Senator Christine Tartaglione (Democrat-2nd Legislative District) and Minority Caucus Secretary, has introduced a bill that would increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

The United States economy has lost almost 6 million manufacturing jobs since 2000 while the American worker productivity increased during the time and many of the lowest paid workers are employed by large companies that have given huge raises to their executives after they recovered from the great recession but most have been reluctant to increase their workers wages.

__________________

EDITOR’S NOTE: Delaware has increased the state minimum wage above the Federal rate this year with the strong support of organized labor.

Republican political candidates have received labor support

05.19.14

MAY 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Republican political candidates have received labor support

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, April 19th- While many of the mouth-pieces of the Republican party make claim that the labor community only support Democratic party elected officials and political candidates, actually many members of the GOP have received union endorsements and financial support.

Most recently, many of the labor unions affiliated with the building trades in Ohio are supporting or will likely endorsed the re-election of Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich in 2014.

Mr. Kasich is on the list of six Republican Governors the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, have targeted to attempt to defeat for supporting anti-public union legislation. Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett is also on the AFL-CIO list.

However, Mr. Kasich since being Ohio Governor has worked with the affiliated members of the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents approximately 90,000 union members within the construction trades industry, and many of the trade unions have already financially gave to Mr. Kasich campaign, some reaching the maximum contribution.

Mr. Kasich has supported the hiring of unionized contractors in Ohio for infrastructure projects. But, has gained the dislike of public sector unions when he signed into law a measure eliminating most collective bargaining rights for public employees. The citizens of Ohio overturned the law in 2011 in a voter referendum.

Frank Sirianni, President of the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council in Harrisburg, told the newspaper the building trades community never supports a political candidate based on party affiliation.

“We look at the candidate. If the candidate shows support for us, we support them,” stated Mr. Sirianni.

Mr. Sirianni said currently the financial political action committee records indicate that nearly 40 percent of labor contributions go to Republican candidates. Indicating that while the Republican mouth-pieces suggest organized labor only support Democrats the claim is untrue.

President Sirianni stated however, it is unlikely any union affiliated with the trades council will support Mr. Corbett for re-election in 2014, stating he has hurt all sectors of the labor community, building trades, industrial, and the public sector unions. There is little to no chance any labor union will support Mr. Corbett for another term in Harrisburg.

Also, the New Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council in 2013 supported the re-election of New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie over his Democratic party opponent.

One year anniversity without pact for Wilkes-Barre nurses

05.19.14

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

One year anniversity without pact for Wilkes-Barre nurses

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 24th- According to Terry Marcavage, Staff Representative of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professional (PASNAP) Union in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office in Philadelphia, has found merit in Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges filed by the Wyoming Valley Nurses Association (WVNA), and has issued a complaint against the operators of Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. The medical center is operated by the Community Health Systems (CHS) Inc. The WVNA is affiliated with PASNAP.

The WNVA represents the nurses at the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital on River Street in Wilkes-Barre and have been attempting to negotiate with CHS for a successor Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for more than fifteen months. The previous CBA between the two parties expired on April 30th, 2013.

CHS Inc., the Tennessee-based company, is the largest for-profit hospital chain in the nation, and recently got even bigger after it was announced on February 6th the conglomerate will purchase a western Pennsylvania health system. CHS purchased Sharon Regional Health System which has 1,800 workers making it the largest employer in Mercer County of Pennsylvania. CHS owns or operates at least 200 hospitals in 29 states.

On April 21st, PASNAP members of Wilkes-Barre General Hospital conducted a informational picket outside the medical facility, publicly protesting short staffing of nurses but the rally had more to do with the lack of gaining a new CBA.

According to the Union, during negotiations management has proposed a wage freeze while demanding other contract concessions. Because of the failure to reach a agreement, PASNAP filed several labor complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four office alleging the employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct) on how they have conducted themselves at the negotiating table.

However, the NLRB had scheduled a hearing on the complaints for April 1st but postponed the hearing. Now, the NLRB has issued additional complaint after their investigation found merit in PASNAP’s three other ULP’s.

Ms. Marcavage stated CHS has made the removal of the union security contract language and the dues deduction clause a priority. The next negotiating meeting between the parties is scheduled for May 7th.

Two labor supporters want to represent 112th Legislative District in Harrisburg

05.19.14

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

Two labor supporters want to represent 112th Legislative District in Harrisburg

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 1st- Current 115th Pennsylvania Legislative District House of Representative Frank Farina is running against two fellow Democrats hoping to become their party’s nominee for the 112th seat. Mr. Farina is running against current 112th Representative Kevin Haggerty and former Valley View School District Director Bob Munley.

Because of the new drawn 112th Legislative District, which will now include more of the mid-valley area of Lackawanna County, which is currently part of the 115th Legislative District, Mr. Haggerty and Mr. Farina must face each other on May 20th for their party’s nomination. Both have served in Harrisburg since 2012.

Because of the 2010 census, changes were made to the two legislative districts and the two Representatives, that have voted in the past to support the labor community, are forced to run against each other.

“I think labor knows how hard I worked for them. I have supported legislation that helps them and voted against legislation that harms them,” said Mr. Haggerty.

During a interview by the newspaper, Mr. Farina, 37 years old, said he knows first hand how difficult it is for the working people to survive. Before being elected to serve the 115th Legislative District Mr. Farina operated a small land-scaping business, which his wife has continued to operate while he has been in Harrisburg. He said the business has only several customers and his wife manages it with the help of several employees. Mrs. Farina is a stay-at-home mom. The couple have three children.

Mr. Farina’s mother Ann is a long-time member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87.

The race between the three Democrats have been heated at times while supporters involved with the campaigns have sometimes caused friction between the candidates. However, according to Mr. Farina he has spoken to Mr. Haggerty and requested they not let the situation get out of hand between themselves. “I told him, the situation was forced on us because of the re-appointment. We had nothing to do with it,” Mr. Farina stated.

He said if elected to the 112th seat he will never support the privitization of the states wine and spirits stores. Also, he opposes charter schools and any legislation that would make Pennsylvania a right-to-work state.

Mr. Farina supports having a severance tax put on the gas industry and noted that while supporters of liquor stores privitization cite the state is one of only two that continues to operate their own stores, they don’t support taxing the gas industry despite every other major gas producing state doing so. “They just keep changing their reasoning,” Mr. Farina said.

UPS/IBT members have new five-year contract agreement

05.19.14

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

UPS/IBT members have new five-year contract agreement

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 29th- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union members employed by United Parcel Service (UPS) have a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) despite some of the membership rejecting the labor contract.

More than nine months after the national bargaining committee of the IBT and officials of the UPS Inc., a national package delivery company, reached agreement on a new five-year CBA some rank-and-file of the union refused to ratified the successor pact, delaying the implementation of the terms and conditions of the new CBA.

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, seventeen regional supplements must then be negotiated and 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 approved by the rank-and-file before the CBA can take effect.

Three of the supplements have not been ratified by the membership, including in Louisville, Kentucky. Last month they voted 2804 to 185, again rejecting their supplement.

However, the IBT/UPS National Negotiating Committee, which includes Patrick Connors, Secretary/Treasurer/Business Representative and Principal Officer of IBT Local 401, in Wilkes-Barre, overwhelmingly voted several weeks ago to implement the new CBA.

The IBT stated the committee had the authority to “over-ride” the several IBT Local Unions that had rejected the passage of the agreement. Mr. Connors previously told the newspaper, with the understanding it would not publish the information before the action was taken, that the committee was considering implementing the UPS contract should some of the membership again reject the contract.

The UPS workers will now receive “back-pay” for wages earned during the more than nine months it took before the new contract was implemented.