Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

UAW Local 1183 Flea Market this weekend (698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware)

06.27.14

Set up along the edge of the parking lot. Bring your own tables. Only costs $10 and money goes to the UAW Local 1183 food bank that helps feed struggling hungry people in surrounding communities.

Saturday & Sunday if weather permits.

You can start setting up as early as 7am.

Thousands of CD’s Used & New (2 Day Sale) at UAW 1183 flea market in Newark, Delaware

06.27.14

http://delaware.craigslist.org/emd/4542650786.html

Thousands of used CD’s. You pick $3 each or 2 for $5. New ones (never opened) for $5. Been buying these for years and now ready to sell. Rock, Country, R&B, Gospel, Hip-Hop, Blues, Bluegrass, Reggae and more.

Used ones are in great shape.

Some multiple CD sets. Either $5 or $8. Used & New in both price ranges.

One of the biggest selection you will find in the tri-state area. You can build a collection really fast with high quality music. I bought dozens of personal collections and thousands of individual CD’s while building this huge collection. More than a thousand artists represented.

I have a number of movie DVD’s at $3 each. Perfect shape or brand new.

Setting up Saturday (June 28th) and Sunday (June 29th) at the UAW 1183 union hall flea market located around the edge of the main parking lot at 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702. Should be selling by 9am both days if weather permits.

Steve (443-907-2367)

Philadelphia CLUW Celebrates Women Labor Activists By John Mason

06.27.14

The Philadelphia chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) celebrated Working Women’s Awareness Week with an awards reception, held at the board room of Workers United, 22 South 22nd Street, Philadelphia, on Thursday, June 19, 2014.

Children’s books were collected for Messages From Mom and Dad, a program where people in prison are videotaped reading to their children.

Laura Wentz, President of Philadelphia CLUW and member of IATSE Local 8 (Stagehands), greeted everyone and introduced chapter officers and board members. Wentz explained CLUW as “a permanent coalition, we cannot accomplish any of our goals unless we all work together. We fight for women’s rights, we fight for union rights, we fight for all workers’ rights, and we fight for basic human rights.” Among the campaigns that CLUW is involved in, said Wentz, is one for a bill for paid sick leave in the Philadelphia City Council; she warned of a bill in the Pennsylvania state legislature that would prohibit municipalities from passing laws on paid sick leave.

CLUW, added Wentz, also campaigns to protect women’s reproductive rights, pay equity, fighting gender-based discrimination; “We also support raising the minimum wage,” she added, “As we know, $7.25 an hour” is unsustainable, “and no one should work a forty-hour week and still live in poverty, that’s just unacceptable.” CLUW, Wentz added, is also active in the campaign for fair funding for public schools, and in organizing teachers in charter schools, and against the privatization of liquor stores; she urged participants to sign up for information about these campaigns. Wentz thanked everyone for “Coming to this reception, to honor six amazing female activists in our community.”

The honorees were:

Billie Goldstein, PhD, a member of Temple Association of University Professionals, AFT Local 4531, who has taught at Temple University for twenty years, and who has sued the university for wage discrimination. Goldstein found that men of the same or lower rank in faculty, and with less education, made $10,000 more in salary than she did. She sued, but her attorneys failed to prove “intentional” discrimination; but she had the support of her family and the union.

Kati Sipp, Director of Pennsylvania Working Families. Sipp was previously Executive Vice President and Political Director of SEIU Healthcare PA, where she was in charge of engaging members in legislative activities, political education, and community organizing. She was previously employed at the Philadelphia Unemployment Project (PUP) and Philadelphia Jobs With Justice, where she worked with Labor groups, faith communities, and neighborhood activists.

Helen Gym, of Asian American United and activist for public schools. Gym serves of the board of AAU, which serves the various Asian communities in the Philadelphia area, and is a co-founder of Parents United for Public Education, which campaigns for financial and other resources for Philadelphia public schools. Gym also writes for local media outlets, and is a founder of the independent education newspaper Philadelphia Public School Notebook .

Maisha Brown, AFSCME Local 2187, an Analytical chemist for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, responsible for testing the air quality of the City of Philadelpha. She became active in the union in 2006 when she and her co-workers stood up to mistreatment by a city contractor, and in 2008 she organized a health and safety committee for her agency, and later chaired the Department’s City-wide committee on health and safety. She is a founding member of AFSCME District Council 47’s Next Wave Committee, which urges younger workers to become active in the union. Brown joined CLUW in 2010, becoming a member of the Philadelphia chapter’s Executive Board, and the Young Women’s committee, later serving as Recording Secretary, and then Chapter Vice President. Brown has attended union leadership programs; she also has a BS from Arcadia University and an MPH from Drexel University.

Lois Miller, AFSCME District Council 47, She was hired in 2001 by District Council 47 as a clerk-typist, serving several local, the staff representative, and the Health and Safety Director, along with providing clerical help for Philadelphia CLUW.

Barbara Russella, of Unite Here, who has worked as a waitress in various restaurants in Philadelphia and Atlantic City, becoming a steward when she worked at a restaurant in Veterans Stadium. After much volunteer work, the union appointed Russella as a paid organizer and booking agent, and she has also been a community activist and committee person.

Relationship improves between Scranton Unions and City with new mayor

06.20.14

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

Relationship improves between Scranton Unions and City with new mayor

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, June 1st- The working relationship between the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Union Local 60 in Scranton and the current Mayor of Scranton Bill Courtright has greatly improved, stated Grievance Chairman David Gervasi. Mr. Gervasi served for many years as the President of Local 60. John Judge is curently the President of the labor organization, that represents Scranton’s fire department.

For twelve years the relationship between Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty and the firefighters union was poor with disputes between the parties often ending-up in arbitration or the court system. Taxpayers money was often spent to settle the disputes with the union often stating things could have been worked-out if Mr. Doherty would only agree to sit and talk.

Mr. Doherty would often have the editorial support of the anti-union daily newspaper the Scranton Times-Tribune, while confronting labor unions that represent city employees.

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge Number 2 Union represents the non-management members of the Scranton Police Department.

Both the IAFF and the FOP during Mr. Doherty’s three four-year terms would often be working under the terms and conditions of the previous labor contract because the unions and the city could not reach an agreement on a successor Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with Mr. Doherty. Currently both are working under a CBA that was not negotiated between the city and the unions but given through the court system.

According to Mr. Gervasi, while the Doherty administration would be spending so much time and effort fighting with the unions, equipment needed by the firefighters would often go without being purchased.

Mr. Gervasi stated the department is currently being manned by the fewest amount of firefighters, likely in it’s history of being represented by the IAFF.

The International Association of Machinists (IAM) Union Local Lodge 2462 represents the clerical employees of Scranton while IAM Local Lodge 2305 represents the workers of the Department of Public Works (DPW). Local Lodge 2305 had the best relationship with Mr. Doherty and endorsed him while he was seeking a second and third term of mayor.

Mr. Gervasi told the newspaper since Mr. Courtright began being mayor in January approximately 18 union grievances have been settled without going to arbitration. However, there were two grivances filed by Local 60 against the city.

“We don’t agree on everything, but it is great to have a mayor that will sit down with us and try to work things out. Because of communication, we will save taxpayers’ money,” said Mr. Gervasi.

Unions waiting to see what happens with dues-deduction bills

06.20.14

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

Unions waiting to see what happens with dues-deduction bills

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, June 2nd- The labor community is quietly optimistic that the anti-union legislation that would ban payroll deduction clauses in labor agreements in all levels of governments will not be passed, at least before the Pennsylvania General Assembly recesses for the summer at the end of June.

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, such as insurance companies, banks, and financial companies, would still be allowed.

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, have stated inaccuately that public employees are charged for political lobbying expenses. However, the employee is not even charged when the lobbying helps them too.

Washington Republicans block increase of minimum wage

06.20.14

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

Washington Republicans block increase of minimum wage

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 29th- The Senate Republicans in Washington DC did what they promised to do, block an increase of the federal minimum wage. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009.

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 American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, has been lobbying Washington legislators and organizing rallies supporting the raising of the federal minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSAct).

Some states have tired of waiting for the Republicans in Washington to support an increase and have began raising their bench-mark wage above the federal wage.

Maryland, New Jersey and New York have increased their minimum wage above the federal level, while Republicans in Harrisburg have also blocked raising the minimum wage in Pennsylvania, currently the same as the federal level of $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 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 hourly wage, stating the higher wage would harm the economy. The legislators begin their summer recess at the end of June.

On April 30th, the Minimum Wage Fairness Act was unsuccessful in gaining the 60 Senate votes needed to proceed that would have raised the wage to $10.25 an hour. The vote was 54 for to 42 against allowing debate on the measure.

There was only one Republican that voted in favor of the legislation. Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey voted against proceeding with the measure while Democratic Senator Robert Casey voted in favor.

Eileen Cipriani easily defeats her Democratic challenger

06.20.14

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

Eileen Cipriani easily defeats her Democratic challenger

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 29th- Retiring Pennsylvania State Representative Phyllis Mundy (Democrat-120th Legislative District) former political staffer and Legislative Assistant for constituent services Eileen Cipriani easily defeated her Democratic party challenger in the May 20th primary election and will now face Republican Aaron Kaufer.

Mr. Kaufer challenged Ms. Mundy two years ago and received approximately 44 percent of the vote. Ms. Mundy is retiring after serving twelve two-year terms in Harrisburg and has “wholeheartedly” endorsed the candidacy of Mrs. Cipriani to replace her.

The labor community will be active in the 120th Legislative District wanting to be able to count on the seat to provide pro-labor legislation support and help defeat anti-union bills in Harrisburg. Ms. Mundy during her time is Harrisburg supported the labor community receiving a high rating by the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

The 120th District is made-up of a part of Luzerne County including the townships of Exeter, Jackson and Kingston. Also the boroughs of Forty-Fort, Kingston, Pringle, Swoyersville, West Wyoming, and Luzerne. In 2015 the district will also include the Borough of Edwardsville.

Mrs. Cipriani worked for more than twenty-four years as a Medical Technologist at Nesbitt Hospital and the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.

Mrs. Cipriani stated during a recent interview with the newspaper if elected in November she would support the labor community and is hopeful union members and their families will vote for her in the November election.

IBT members employed by UPS begin receiving back-pay

06.20.14

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

IBT members employed by UPS begin receiving back-pay

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 29th- Members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union throughout the nation that are employed by the United Parcel Service (UPS) Inc. have begun receiving their retro-active back-pay checks from the company under the terms of the new five-year Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

In the previous edition of the newspaper it was reported that the IBT/UPS workers have a new CBA despite some of the membership rejecting the new 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 labor agreement 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 were not ratified by the membership, including in Louisville, Kentucky. In April the membership in Louisville 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 to implement the new CBA.

Charlie Miller, Business Representative of Local 229 in Dunmore, told the newspaper IBT/UPS workers began receiving their back-pay checks on May 27th. The workers are receiving 70 cents per hour in back-pay for every hour worked from August 1st, 2013 and $1.05 an hour for every over-time hour worked during that period.

Final arbitration meeting held involving AFSCME members

06.20.14

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

Final arbitration meeting held involving AFSCME members

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 29th- The third and final arbitration meeting between the The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union and officials representating Lackawanna County was held on May 27th. Now the two sides will wait to find out from the arbitrator what the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) will be between Lackawanna County and the Correction Officers (CO’s) employed at the County’s prison in Scranton.

AFSCME and Lackawanna County failed to reach an successor contract agreement and the arbitrator will determine the pact between the parties. Under law the CO’s 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. The parties also met before the arbitrator on May 7th and according to the union, both sides closed-out their testimony before the arbitrator on May 27th.

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

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 labor agreement will likely be better for the membership that what Lackawanna County was demanding.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA’s unemployment rate still highest despite decrease

06.20.14

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

MSA’s unemployment rate still highest despite decrease

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 30th- The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) continues to have the highest unemployment rate among the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania, but the rate dropped by four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. 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 7.3 percent. The last report 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 9.2 percent. The unemployment rate is the lowest for the MSA since December 2008.

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 MSA’s civilian labor-force is 5,700 less than it was twelve month ago.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 5.7 percent, dropping by four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,443,000 with 368,000 not working and 6,075,000 with employment. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate decreased by one and nine-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 6.3 percent, dropping by four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report.

The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 6.9 percent, the Philadelphia MSA has the third highest unemployment rate at 6.3 percent and the Williamsport MSAis fourth at 6.2 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.2 percent. The Lancaster MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate at 4.6 percent while the Lebanon MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.7 percent.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fifth largest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 278,500 civilians. There are 20,400 civilians without employment. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor-force in Pennsylvania at 2,985,500 with 188,900 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor-force at 1,178,200 with 69,500 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor-force at 429,000 with 26,600 not working. The Harrisburg MSA has the fourth largest labor-force with 289,300 civilians with 14,500 jobless.

The Williamsport MSA has the smallest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 63,500 civilians and 3,900 of them have no jobs. The Altoona MSA has the second smallest labor-force with 64,600 civilians with 3,600 without employment and the Johnstown MSA is third with a labor-force of 66,200 and 4,600 of them are not working.

Lackawanna County has the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 6.7 percent, decreasing by six-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Lackawanna County has a civilian labor force of 105,400, with 7,000 jobless.

Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate at 7.2 percent, decreasing by eight-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Luzerne County has a civilian labor force of 158,000, the largest within the MSA, with 11,400 civilians not employed, the most within the MSA.

The unemployment rate in Wyoming County is 7.1 percent, dropping by seven-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Wyoming County has a civilian labor-force of 14,000, with 1,000 jobless.

Painters Union unhappy with University of Scranton

06.20.14

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

Painters Union unhappy with University of Scranton

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 29th- John Gatto, Assistant Business Manager of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 21 in Drums, told the newspaper remarks stated by some unknown source representing the University of Scranton regarding the hiring of nonunion workers at a construction project in the Scranton Times/Tribure newspaper was untrue.

The newspaper published a story about IUPAT members protesting the University of Scranton using nonunion construction workers in a building on Adams Avenue and Linden Street in Downtown Scranton.

The university hired nonunion workers for renovations being done on the upper floors of the Adlin Building, which houses several businesses on the ground floor. Also, the university is constructing a eight-story rehabilitation center building across the alley from the Adlin Building where the Scranton YWCA was located on Jefferson Avenue.

Mr. Gatto stated a signatory contractor of his union also has not yet been hired for that project.

According to the story, which does not identify the source only stating according to the university, unionized painters will be hired during the construction of the $47 million center.

“That’s news to me, and that’s news to my signed contractors. They told me they were not even contacted” said Mr. Gatto.

Mr. Gatto stated he has been in contact with District Council’s 21 signatory contractors and as of press time, June 5th, his members have not been hired.

IUPAT Local 218 members protested for several days because nonunion construction workers were hired instead of them.

The protest included a ten foot high inflatable rat. The rat is owned by the Scranton Building and Construction Trades Council and is maintained by Robert Griffiths, Business Representative of District Council 21.

APWU protests Staples Inc. stores for providing mail postal services

06.11.14

JUNE 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

APWU protests Staples Inc. stores for providing mail postal services

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, May 14th- The American Postal Workers Union (APWU), which represents mail processing employees of the United States Postal Service (USPS) throughout the nation, have begun a campaign against Staples Inc. stores and held a ‘national day of action’ by protesting at the retailers stores throughout the nation and in the Lehigh Valley.

Local 268 represents APWU members throughout the Lehigh Valley and conducted a protest in front of the Staples store in Easton.

According to Local 268 President Bernie Ogozalek, Staples signed a pilot program with the USPS that will hurt his members by providing postal services that are now done by APWU members. The sites where the services are provided are being staffed with Staples employees. The program is currently being conducted in 82 stores in Georgia, Massachusetts, California and Pennsylvania including Staples Easton store.

The union held protests in 27 states throughout the nation and have requested fellow union members not purchase office supplies at Staples unless the retailer negotiates with the APWU about manning the postal services department with their members.

Mr. Ogozalek voiced his disappointment with the USPS for agreeing to the new pilot program that surely is intended to begin the privitization of the postal service.

The USPS Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe suggested that the partnership between the postal service and Staples will not result in job losses at the USPS, but will grow the business. However, Mr. Ogozalek and his International Union find that hard to believe.

According the the APWU International Union office, the USPS and Staples are attempting to incorporate postal revenues into Staples Inc. stores, not expand the business.

The APWU and the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Union represents the majority of the USPS workers. The two labor organizations have a combined membership of around 390,000 workers. NALC members collect and deliver mail and packages of customers of the USPS.

The APWU fears that if the new pilot agreement between the USPS and Staples is considered successful it may be expanded to the retailers other 1,600 stores and other retailers may follow, resulting in massive job losses for their members.

The APWU members have already been effected by the USPS consolidation of mail processing centers throughout the nation.

USW Union conducts annual Ed O’Brien Dinner/Dance

06.11.14

JUNE 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

USW Union conducts annual Ed O’Brien Dinner/Dance

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, May 11th- The United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union Local 2599 held their annual Ed O’Brien Legislative Dinner on May 4th at the USW building on East Lehigh Street in Bethlehem.

Local 2599 is one of the largest labor organizations in the Lehigh Valley and once represented workers employed at Bethlehem Steel, just several blocks away from the union hall. The site of the steel mill is now the location of the Sands Casino.

Jerry Green, long-time President of Local 2599, welcomed the approximately 80 guest of the dinner which included local political officials, retired and current union members and former 3-star Admiral United States Navy and Democratic candidate for the United States Senate Joe Sestak. Sestak lost to Republican Pat Toomey who is the former 15th Legislative District U.S. Congressman in 2010.

Admiral Sestak was the events Keynote Speaker and is a likely candidate in 2016 for the U.S. Senate seat. The anti-union Pat Toomey has not yet announced whether he will seek another six-year term but it is expected he will.

Mr. O’Brien first joined the Union in 1964 and served in many positions within the USW both in the Lehigh Valley and with the International Union. He is now retired and lives in Coaldale.

He was twice the Democratic party nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives 15th Legislative District seat. The seat is currently held by Republican Charlie Dent.

Protest held at McDonalds’ supporting higher wages

06.11.14

JUNE 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Protest held at McDonalds’ supporting higher wages

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, May 18th- On May 16th workers employed at fast-food restaurants within 150 American cities participated in what was called as a global strike against the industry protesting in front of McDonald’s Restaurants.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Washington DC, supported the event and organized the protest.

Most workers of McDonald’s earn only the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Many of the surrounding states have raised their wage above the federal bench-mark but Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett does not support increasing the state’s wage.

The SEIU is supporting a national campaign, “Fast Food Forward,” which includes protesting at McDonalds Restraurants across the nation, including in Pennsylvania, and requesting the company pay their workers a living-wage.

In the previous edition of the newspaper it was reported that the SEIU supports a new union that was recently formed 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, 2014.

The fast-food industry associations have said that raising the wages of their workers would force them to cut positions or hours of work.

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.

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate decreases to 6.4 percent

06.11.14

JUNE 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate decreases to 6.4 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, May 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 6.4 percent, decreasing by one-tenth 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 8.1 percent.

There are fourteen MSA’s in Pennsylvania and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA is tied with the Erie MSA for the fourth 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 and the Williamsport MSA are tied for the third highest at 6.6 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 4.6 percent. The Lebanon MSA and the Lancaster MSA are tied for the second lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.8 percent, with the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA third at 5.2 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 6.0 percent, dropping by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report, and decreasing by one and seven-tenths percentage points from twelve months before.

There are 390,000 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 6,442,000 and 6,052,000 of them have employment.

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 6.7 percent, reported to be unchanged from the previous report. The national unemployment rate was down eight-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before, mainly because of workers that have exhausted their unemployment benefits due to the federal government not extending benefits for the long-termed jobless.

There are 10,489,000 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 428,800 civilians, decreasing by 6,300 during the past twelve months. There are 27,600 civilians without employment, dropping by 8,800 from one year ago.

The Philadelphia MSA has the largest seasonally adjusted labor force in Pennsylvania at 2,983,800 with 195,600 not working; and the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,244,100 with 72,300 without jobs.

Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 7.4 percent, increasing by five-tenths of a percentage point from the month before. Carbon County has a civilian labor force of 32,200 with 2,400 without employment.

Lehigh County has the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 6.5 percent, rising by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Lehigh County has a civilian labor force of 186,200 with 12,100 without jobs.

Northampton County has a unemployment rate of 6.7 percent, up one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. Northampton County has a civilian labor force of 156,200 with 10,500 jobless.

Gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf routs his opponents for Democratic nomination

06.11.14

JUNE 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf routs his opponents for Democratic nomination

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, May 21st- Businessman Tom Wolf cruised to the Democratic party nomination for Pennsylvania governor by defeating the three other candidates that also seeked the chance to face anti-union Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett in November.

Besides Mr. Wolf, the other candidates that were seeking the Democratic nomination were: U.S. House of Representative Allyson Schwartz (13th Legislative District); former Pennsylvania Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, Katie McGinty; and current Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord. All four candidates were seeking the Democratic nomination to attempt to deny Governor Tom Corbett a second four-year term.

Mr. Wolf received approximately 58 percent of the total vote with both Ms. Schwartz and Mr. McCord receiving around 17 percent each of the vote. Ms. McGinty got around 7 percent of the total vote of Democrats on May 20th.

The labor community has put a high priority on defeating Mr. Corbett in 2014 and will likely support Mr. Wolf in the fall election despite that most of the unions that did endorse a candidate for the primary election supported Mr. McCord. However, most of the labor community did not make a endorsement of any of the candidates.

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

Congresswomen Schwartz was also endorsed by several labor organizations.including: 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 19 is affiliated. Local 19 represents members of the Sheet Metal Workers International Union (SMWIU) throughout the Lehigh Valley.

During the campaign, Mr. Wolf stated if elected he 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.

Frank Sirianni, President of the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council in Harrisburg, told the newspaper prior to May 20th, that he believed all four Democratic gubernatorial candidates would support the labor community if elected in November over Mr. Corbett, and stated of the four he did not have a favorite.

“I know all four, and I have no doubt all would be good for labor,” said Mr. Sirianni. “The main objective is getting Corbett out.”