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07.02.14

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Unions begin endorsing Tom Wolf for governor while several support Mr. Corbett

07.02.14

JULY 2013, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Unions begin endorsing Tom Wolf for governor while several support Mr. Corbett

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 19th- Labor community members, including those that supported other Democratic candidates seeking the chance to face anti-union Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett in November, have begun endorsing businessman Tom Wolf.

Mr. Wolf defeated three other Democrats that were seeking their party’s nomination for Pennsylvania Governor in the May primary election. Mr. Wolf will likely gain most of the support of organized labor and has already gained the support of the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg for the November election.

The labor community has put a high priority on defeating Mr. Corbett in 2014.

Mr. Wolf is receiving the endorsements of the labor community despite that most of the unions that did endorse a candidate for the primary election supported Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord. However, most of the labor community did not make a endorsement of any of the candidates.

The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) District Council of Western Pennsylvania and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 154 have endorsed Mr. Corbett despite being considered to be one of or the most anti-union governors in Pennsylvania history.

The two largest public sector labor organizations that endorsed Mr. McCord for the spring election have since announced they will support Mr. Wolf for the November election.

The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union Council 13 voted to endorse Mr. Wolf only days after the primary election.

Mr. Wolf has made it clear 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.

PASNAP Union wants GMO labeling in United States

07.02.14

JULY 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

PASNAP Union wants GMO labeling in United States

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 14th- The Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP) Union, in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, which is affiliated with the California Nurses Association (CNA), have joined the campaign to recognize the health affects of the presence in food of Genetically Engineered Organisms (GMO’s).

GMO’s are currently present in the American food supply and PASNAP, which represents nurses in hospitals in the Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Philadelphia areas, and other health groups want to bring attention to the use of GMO’s in the American food supply.

The leadership of PASNAP unanimously passed a resolution in April at their annual delegate meeting in Harrisburg that request that food containing GMO ingredients be labeled.

The labor organization has requested that other members of the labor community join them in passing resolutions that would demand that GMO ingredients be labeled.

The PASNAP resolution stated that GMO food have been associated with significant health risks, including autoimmune diseases. Also, the GMO foods have been released into the food supply with no independent scientific analysis of the potential harm to human health.

GMO crops have been banned for human consumption in more than sixty countries including Japan, the European Union and Australia.

The AFL-CIO working with Postal Workers Union regarding Staples boycott

07.02.14

JULY 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

The AFL-CIO working with Postal Workers Union regarding Staples boycott

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 21st- Under the endorsement of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, has announced a boycott of all Staples Inc. stores throughout the nation.

The APWU is boycotting all Staples office supply stores in the United States, Staples.com and Staples Advantage. The boycott also covers all Staples branded proprietary products.

In 2013 the United States Postal Service (USPS) entered into an agreement with Staples to establish a ‘pilot program’ that placed knock-off ‘post offices’ in 82 Staples stores nationwide. The APWU stated the office supplier chain was utilizing nonunion, low-paid Staples employees instead of unionized, and well-trained USPS employees.

The APWU has filed labor complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) because the USPS will not provide information about the contract with Staples.

The APWU, which represents mail processing employees of the USPS throughout the nation, began a campaign against Staples Inc. stores and held a ‘national day of action’ in May by protesting at the retailers stores throughout the nation and in the Lehigh Valley because some of the Staples stores of the chain now provides the postal services. The action was conducted in 27 states including a store in Easton, which was protested by members of Local 268, which represents APWU members throughout the Lehigh Valley. The Easton location is the only local Staples store that the newspaper is aware of that currently provides postal service work.

According to Local 268 President Bernie Ogozalek, the pilot program with the USPS will hurt his members by providing postal services that are now done by APWU members.

Mr. Ogozalek voiced his disappointment with the USPS for agreeing to the new pilot program that surely is intended to begin the privatization 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 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 job losses for their members, therefore the reason for the boycott.

The AFL-CIO stated the labor federation along with the APWU will now work together in developing methods to convince Staples to withdraw from the partnership with the USPS .

The AFL-CIO Campaigns Department spokesperson David Keicher stated that Staples needs to realize that it is not in their interest to help the USPS turn decent, middle class jobs into low wage work.

Mr. Ogozalek stated the union is requesting 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.

The American Postal Workers Union 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.

Increasing the minimum wage debate continues across nation

07.02.14

Increasing the minimum wage debate continues across nation

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 20th- Raising the federal minimum wage debate continues with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC supporting increasing the bench-mark to $10.10 an hour, which President Obama has proposed. However, some cities, such as New York, Seattle, Chicago and Sans Francisco, have pushed for a higher wage in the cities than their state’s minimum wage.

In late April, 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, is $7.25.

The AFL-CIO 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.

Meanwhile, some Republican controlled states have passed laws that prohibit state minimum wages from being higher than the federal bench-mark. In 2014, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 14 states have either passed or introduced bills that bans raising their minimum wage above the federal level, all controlled by the Republican party.

State Construction Trades Council leadership re-elected

07.02.14

JULY 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

State Construction Trades Council leadership re-elected

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 20th- The current leadership of the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council (PABCTC) labor federation in Harrisburg was recently re-elected to new four-year terms. The labor group represents more than 135,000 union construction workers throughout Pennsylvania. There are more than 3,500 signatory construction contractors affiliated with the labor organizations that are part of the federation.

Frank Sirianni was unanimously elected by the delegates of the 2014 Pennsylvania State Building Trades Convention that was held in Harrisburg on June 9th. Mr. Sirianni is a member of the International Association of Painters and Allied Trades (IAPAT) Union which represents painters, drywall workers, and glazing workers of the construction industry. Mr. Sirianni previously worked as an glazier.

Also, Walter Friedrich was elected as Secretary-Treasurer as well as all 19 Vice Presidents and Trustees.

“The PABCTC has been working to maintain the highest standards of safety, training, and quality in construction in the Commonwealth for decades. It is my honor to serve this great organization, and I look forward to continuing our work to preserve and expand good, high quality construction trades jobs in Pennsylvania with family sustaining pay and benefits,” Mr. Sirianni said. Mr. Sirianni was first elected in 2002.

Mr. Friedrich was first elected as the PABCTC Secretary/Treasurer in 2006 and re-elected in 2010.

“Our Council and our members have been deeply involved in promoting the use of cost saving Project Labor Agreements and Responsible Contractors in Pennsylvania for construction projects like schools, state prisons and other large publicly and privately funded projects,” stated Mr. Friedrich.

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate decreases to 6.2 percent

07.02.14

JULY 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Lehigh Valley’s unemployment rate decreases to 6.2 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 9th- 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 6.2 percent, decreasing by two-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 8.0 percent.

There are fourteen MSA’s in Pennsylvania and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA is tied with the Williamsport MSA for the fourth highest unemployment rate.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA continues to have the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 7.3 percent. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has had the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania for four consecutive years. The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 6.9 percent, and the Philadelphia MSA has the third highest at 6.3 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 4.2 percent. The Lancaster MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.6 percent, the Lebanon MSA is third at 4.7 percent, while the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA is fourth at 5.0 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 5.7 percent, dropping by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report, and decreasing by one and nine-tenths percentage points from twelve months before.

There are 368,000 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 6,443,000 and 6,075,000 of them have employment.

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 6.3 percent, dropping by four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. The national unemployment rate was down one and two-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. After workers exhaust their unemployment benefits they are no longer counted within the civilian labor-force.

There are 9,753,000 civilians nationwide without employment but that number also does not include workers that have exhausted their unemployment benefits and stopped looking for work.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 429,000 civilians, decreasing by 5,800 during the past twelve months. There are 26,600 civilians without employment, dropping by 8,100 from one year ago.

The Philadelphia MSA has the largest seasonally adjusted labor force in Pennsylvania at 2,985,500 with 188,900 not working; and the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,247,700 with 69,500 without jobs.

Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 6.7 percent, decreasing by seven-tenths of a percentage point from the month before. Carbon County has a civilian labor force of 31,700, with 2,100 without employment, dropping by 1,000 during the past twelve months.

Lehigh County has the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 5.9 percent, dropping by six-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Lehigh County has a civilian labor force of 183,900 with 10,800 without jobs.

Northampton County has a unemployment rate of 6.1 percent, down six-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report. Northampton County has a civilian labor force of 154,300 with 9,400 jobless.