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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.”