Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Keystone XL pipeline construction to be a issue in 2015

12.19.14

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

Keystone XL pipeline construction to be a issue in 2015

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, December 4th- The United States Senate recently narrowly defeated legislation that would have approved the building trades supported Keystone XL pipeline. The legislation needed 60 votes for approval and it received only 59. Most Democrats voted against the bill while all 45 Republicans voted in favor.

However, Senate Republicans plan to bring the pipeline construction legislation up for another vote in January, 2015 after they take over control of the chamber. In November the party won enough seats in the November election to gain control.

President Obama has not supported the XL Keystone pipeline construction, which the administration has reviewed for six years. The majority of the pipeline construction will be built with American taxpayers money.

On January 31st, a President Obama Administration 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 at the time was considered to be one of the last steps before a up-or-down decision by Mr. Obama on the pipeline construction.

However, President Obama in April extended his decision of whether to construct the pipeline project until at least after the mid-term November elections. He has since not pushed for the construction of the pipeline.

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 oil capacity of 830,000 barrels of oil. The lower portion of the pipeline has already been built and transports oil from Oklahoma to Texas.

The Building and Construction Trades unions support the pipeline construction because with federal money being used for its construction, the project would be built under the provisions of the David-Bacon Act, meaning better paying wages would be earned and most likely union members would be hired.

While construction unions and pro-oil business leaders support the development of the pipeline, most environmental groups and reachers in the region oppose it.

Not all building trade workers excluded in building project

12.19.14

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

Not all building trade workers excluded in building project

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, December 4th- While it appears painters that are members of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 21 in Drums, which represents painters, glazing/glass workers, and drywall finishers of the building trades industry, will not be hired for the new University of Scranton building under construction on Jefferson Avenue in Scranton, some of the labor organizations that represent construction workers are working or will be working in the new building construction.

John Gatto, Assistant Business Manager of District Council 21, previously told the newspaper that a IUPAT signatory contractor was not hired for the painting contracting for the new University of Scranton $47 million eight-story rehabiliation building on Jefferson Avenue. The rehabilitation center under construction is where the former Scranton YWCA building was located.

Affiliated members of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union Local 489 erected the steel for the building. Other union building tradespeople have also worked at the construction site.

Ray Sajone, Business Manager of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Local 524, Corey Avenue in the Minooka section of Scranton, stated signatory contractors of Local 524 were hired for all aspects of the construction work his members perform, which includes plumbing and piping installation.

Mr. Gatto told the newspaper a ten-foot high inflatable rat will be used when his members protest next year for not being hired for the project.

Fast-food workers hold protest requesting better wages

12.19.14

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

Fast-food workers hold protest requesting better wages

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, December 4th- The national campaign by fast-food workers, mostly at McDonald’s Restaurants, to push for higher wages has yet to reach Northeastern Pennsylvania. Recent worker protests throughout the nation including in Philadelphia marked the one-year anniversary of the fast-food workers effort to raise their wages. Organizers stated that the recent protests were held in more than 150 cities throughout the nation.

In the spring, a new labor organization was formed to attempt to organize fast-food workers throughout the United States.

The New York City based “Fast Food Workers Committee” Union filed with the United States Department of Labor (DOL), in Washington DC to be recognized as a labor organization that wants to represent workers employed within the fast-food industry including those working for McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and Dunkin’ Donuts.

The Union comes into existence after reports indicated that some McDonald’s franchise owners violated the Federal Fair 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 Cheubg Enterprises LLC, based in Middletown, Pennsylvania, agreed to pay more than $205,900 in back wages and liquidated damages to 291 employees.

A 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 DOL’s Wage and Hour Division in Wilkes-Barre investigated the complaint and found the violations of the FLSAct.

In Philadelphia, several hundred union members of labor organizations from the region joined the fast-food workers protest.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is supporting a national campaign called “Fast Food Forward” which includes calling for McDonald’s and other fast-food restaurants to pay their workers a “living wage.”

The newspaper is not aware of any participation of any fast-food worker in the protests in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Several other unions, including the United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union is also supporting the unionization of the workers and their attempt to earn a higher living wage.

APWU defends postal service calling for mail standard delay

12.19.14

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

APWU defends postal service calling for mail standard delay

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, December 2nd- Kevin Gallagher, President of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 101 in Scranton, is defending the United States Postal Service (USPS) calling the agency the “least costly mail service in the industrial world” and stated the newest plan by the USPS would further degrade and reduce the mail service nationwide.

The labor organizations that represent workers of the USPS distribution center in Scranton have been meeting with federal elected representatives hoping they will support not changing mail delivery standards and moving their processing work to the Lehigh Valley that is currently scheduled for early 2015.

The USPS announced in 2012 it would consolidate 48 mail processing centers throughout the nation including their operations in Scranton to the Lehigh Valley. The USPS stated the plan would save the agency nearly $1.2 billion a year.

The agency first announced it would close about 250 processing centers after their plan is fully implemented.

The USPS and stated around 5,000 workers would be affected by the consolidation. However, no lay-off would occur instead jobs would be “re-bid” under the labor agreements with the USPS and workers is some cases would need to either relocate or travel to other postal service facilities to continue to be employed by the USPS.

The change of delivery standards means that any overnite mail delivery will be done away with and a two-day delivery time will take effect. Under the current plan the Scranton, Lancaster and Erie facilities will be consolidated around January 10th.

The APWU Local 101 represents the majority of the workers that will be effected by the USPS action at the Scranton processing center. However, because of the job bidding requirement under the collective bargaining agreement’s (CBA’s) with the APWU and the other postal unions, including the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Union, some of the APWU members could end-up delivering mail.

The APWU held a “public meeting” on November 14th at the Greenwood Hose Company facility in Moosic in Lackawanna County to inform the public about how changing the delivery standards would effect postal customers.

Mr. Gallagher stated bill payment remittances will take much longer creating cash flow problems, and other payments and invoices will be delayed resulting in extra costs if the delivery standards are implemented.