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Report states increasing minimum wage would help economy

09.01.14

SEPTEMBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Report states increasing minimum wage would help economy

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, August 20th- The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, requested in May that all affiliated labor councils throughout the nation conduct events in their community this summer to push for the raising of the federation minimum wage. The federation announced in the spring that it supported increasing the bench-mark to $10.10 an hour, which President Obama had proposed in his “state-of-the-union” address earlier this year.

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 federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009.

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).

Many states have increased their minimum wage above the federal bench-mark including New Jersey, Maryland and New York. However, anti-worker Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett has made it clear he does not support increasing the wage. He has been lobbying fellow Republicans to not support the increase of the hourly wage, stating the higher wage would harm Pennsylvania’s economy.

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.

Meanwhile, according to data released by the Department of Labor on July 18th, job growth in the 13 states that have increased their minimum wage has been more robust than states that have not. Average job growth in states that have increased the benchmark was 0.85 percent this year while in states that have not increase their wage was 0.61 percent.

The anti-increasing of the minimum wage supporters in Washington, mostly made-up of Republicans and business groups, have stated that according to a new study the American economy would be hurt by increasing the bench-mark and as many as 500,000 jobs could be lost should the wage be increased to $10.10 an hour.

However, the same report suggest that more than 16.5 million American workers wages would be increased, producing an overwhelmingly positive impact for the economy by giving those workers more money to spend on their families and themselves, increasing their purchasing ability which would benefit local and the national economies.

Consolidation of mail sorting centers facing opposition

09.01.14

SEPTEMBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Consolidation of mail sorting centers facing opposition

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, August 17th- The labor organizations that represent workers employed at the United States Postal Service (USPS) 82 mail-sorting processing centers throughout the nation that the agency plans to close in 2015, hope that an effort in Washington DC by Congress will at least delay the action for one year.

The USPS announced in 2012 it would consolidate 48 mail processing center throughout the nation including their Scranton, Lackawanna County facility, which the operation would be moved to the Lehigh Valley facility. The plan according to the agency would save nearly $1.2 billion a year.

The USPS first announced it would close around 250 processing centers with around 5,000 workers being affected by the consolidation. The plan was to consolidate 92 mail processing centers in February 2013, and 89 more in 2014, including the Scranton facility. However, in November 2013 the agency suspended closing any more centers that were slated for closure or merging including the moving of the Lackawanna County facility to the Lehigh Valley.

But, on August 1st, the USPS changed their minds yet again and filed notice that it would change delivery standards effective January 5th, 2015, and it would consolidate the facility with the Lehigh Valley operation.

After the USPS announced their latest plan to go forward with the consolidation of the mail processing centers, fifty United States Senators from both political parties joined forces to try to stop the agency for one year from closing the 82 mail sorting facilities. There were fourty-four Democrats, seven Republicans and one Independent senators that requested the Senate Appropriations Committee to ban the cuts for one year. The senators then recessed for the summer break.

The American Postal Workers Union (APWU), which along with the National Association of Letter Carriers Union (NALC), represents the majority of the USPS employees. APWU members would be the most effected by the consolidation of the mail sorting centers.

Local 268 represents the APWU workers in the Lehigh Valley while the workers in Scranton are represented by Local 101.

Should the Scranton facility be consolidated the APWU members will need to travel to the region to continue to be employed by the USPS.

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO joins national federation and APWU on boycott of Staples stores

09.01.14

SEPTEMBER 2014, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO joins national federation and APWU on boycott of Staples stores

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, August 1st- The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Harrisburg announced the labor federation has endorsed the boycott of Staples office supply stores.

In June the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), and the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, 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 Pennsylvania 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 nearest 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.

On July 21st, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, which approximately 800,000 union members from throughout the state are affiliated through their local labor organizations, endorsed the Staples boycott.

“We are asking our members, friends, family members and colleagues to take their business elsewhere,” stated Richard Bloomingdale, President of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO.

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, the APWU is finding 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 work together in developing methods to convince Staples to withdraw from the partnership with the USPS.

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO stated that since the deal with Staples was announced, the USPS has reduced the hours of service in more than two dozen San Francisco area post offices, all of which are near a Staples store with a postal counter.

“It is apparent that more cuts in postal services are planned, along with the eventual closing of U.S. Post Offices,” added Mr. Bloomingdale.

Meanwhile, the APWU wonders why the USPS would enter into an agreement with a company like Staples that announced in March it would close fifteen percent fo their stores this year, putting the health of the retailer in question.

“Staples itself is experiencing a decline in sales and has plans to close at least 225 stores by the end of 2015. we are concerned that in pursuing its arrangement with Staples, the USPS will leave many customers without access to any nearby Post Office,” added Mr. Bloomingdale.

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.