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Northeast Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation continuing Staff Representative search

02.21.15

FEBRUARY 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Northeast Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation continuing Staff Representative search

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 5th - The Northeast Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation (NEPA-ALF), O’Neill Highway in Dunmore, a labor federation with approximately seventy-five labor organizations from throughout Northeast Pennsylvania are affiliated, have not yet replaced their previous Staff Representative who resigned in August 2014.

There are six Central Labor Council’s (CLC’s) and one Labor Chapter affiliated with the NEPA-ALF including: the Five-County CLC; the Northern Tied CLC; the Lehigh Valley CLC; the Schuylkill CLC; the Greater Wilkes-Barre CLC; and the Scranton Central Labor Union. The Carbon County Labor Chapter is also affiliated with the NEPA-ALF. The organization is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

The labor federations are made-up of unions that represent workers employed in Lehigh, Northampton, Schuylkill, Union, Snyder, Montour, Clinton, Bradford, Lycoming, Columbia, Northumberland, Luzerne, Lackawanna, Carbon, Monroe, Pike, Wyoming, Wayne, Sullivan, and Susquehanna Counties of Pennsylvania.

According to Corey Lockard, Chairperson of the NEPA-ALF, the search to replace the former Staff Representative has been on-going for more than three months with several rounds of applicate interviews taking place. However, according to Mr. Lockard, as of press time Febuary 8th, the position has not yet been filled.

The NEPA-ALF Staff Representative is a full-time paid position that is the go-between the labor federation and their affiliated labor organizations. The person meets with elected political officials to better communicate on issues that are important with the labor community. Also, the Staff Representative is there to assist the labor community in organizing campaigns, protests, public at-large events, community projects and overall helps mobilize the labor community.

Mr. Lockard told the newspaper that during the current anti-union political agenda in which the labor community seems to be “under attack” from multiple anti-worker sources, it is in their best self-interest to make sure they are affiliated with the NEPA-ALF and participates at their CLC meetings in their region.

For more information on how a labor organization can join the NEPA-ALF, call area code (570) 343-4958.

Former Machinists Union member seeks funds for park

02.21.15

FEBRUARY 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Former Machinists Union member seeks funds for park

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 4th- A former member of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) Union Local Lodge 2200 is involved in raising funds to place a flagpole surrounded by bricks that will honor Veterans in Scranton.

Mr. Robert Gattens, an Scranton resident, has been selling commemorative bricks that will be placed in the pathway leading to the memorial at Connors Park in South Scranton. The park is named after former three-term Mayor of Scranton Jimmy Connors. The Veterans Memorial will be financed by the selling of the bricks, which cost $65.00 each or two for $100.00.

Mr. Gattens was a IAM member for twelve years while employed at Air Products, Sans Sounci Parkway in Luzerne County.

He told the newspaper while not being a former Veteran, he along with several other volunteers wanted to respect the men and women who have served the nation by joining our military forces.

“We need to sell 100 bricks to circle the memorial, that will pay for the cost of the walkway, flag pole and other items needed,” stated Mr. Gattens.

Jack Figured, Field Representative of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) Union Local 5, told the newspaper Mr. Gattens contacted him about installing the bricks and was told he would seek BAC union volunteers to complete the brick installation later this year.

“We have other community projects we are working on, but we will help him out anyway we can,” said Mr. Figured.

Any labor organization that wants to purchase a brick(s), which will be engraved with their name of their union, can contact Mr. Gattens at (570) 561-7584.

Annual NALC National Food Drive to be held on May 9th

02.21.15

FEBRUARY 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Annual NALC National Food Drive to be held on May 9th

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 2nd- The annual National Association of Letters Carriers (NALC) Union Food Drive will be held this May.

The NALC represents mail carriers, excluding rural delivery, of the United States Postal Service (USPS) throughout the nation.

The 2015 ‘Letters Carriers Stamp out Hunger Food Drive’ will be held on Saturday May 9th in which postal service customers are requested to place non-perishable food items near their mail boxes to be pick-up by the NALC members.

Each year since 1991 the NALC members, with the support of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC, conducts the food drive that helps feed the neady throughout the nation.

The food drive is held in more than 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam. Last year almost 73 million pounds of food was collected in the one day event for people in need throughout the United States.

Regionally, union members affiliated with the Scranton Central Labor Union and the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council labor federation, which are affiliated with the AFL-CIO, will again participate in the annual event.

Trucking companies who employees are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) often volunteer their equipment to haul the collected food to area food banks, pantries and shelters.

The NALC has approximately 200,000 active members. They began the drive in 1991 and while it was not held in 1992 the NALC members have collected food items every year since. Around 1500 NALC Branches participate nationwide.

The United Way of America and Feeding America will again sporsor the food drive with other organizations providing volunteers or financial support for the event. Those organizations provide flyers, bags, and postcards.

While the NALC members collect the food items from their customer residents, many other union member volunteers sort and deliver the collected food to area shelters and food banks.

The food drive in 2014 was the tenth consecutive year in which at least 70 million pounds of food was collected.

Thomas Gavin, President of NALC Branch 17 in Scranton, request that postal costumers not put food items with expired dates by their boxes because those will only be discarded.

Government oversight of Teamsters Union to be phased-out

02.21.15

FEBRUARY 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Government oversight of Teamsters Union to be phased-out

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 18th- The federal government and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union in Washington DC have reached an agreement that will allow the IBT to be able to manage their union without the strict oversite of federal officials.

The federal government has overseen the IBT for more than twenty-five years after it was discovered that there were some Teamsters officials allowing unlawful corruption into their labor organization.

The deal between the IBT and the federal government was reached with United States Attorney Preet Bharara’s Manhattan, New York office, it was announced in mid-January.

“The Teamsters Union and the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York filed an application with Chief Judge Loretta Preska requesting that she approve an agreement to end decades of government oversite over the Teamsters Union. We anticipate that she will approve the agreement,” stated James Hoffa, General President of the 1.4 million member IBT. Mr. Hoffa is the son of the legendary IBT General President James R. Hoffa, who disappeared in 1975 and was never found. He served as the IBT General President from 1957 to 1971.

Under the agreement, the United States of America represented by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, will enter into consideration of its terms and conditions to dismiss its action against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters sounding in the provisions of the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act Section of 1964 and will thereby extinguish the consent order that was applied against the IBT in 1989.

The agreement calls for the federal government oversight to be phased-out over the next five years and the IBT agreed to appoint independent office holders to probe into corruption allegations. Currently, there is a three-member independent board that includes a federal government appointee that oversees any allegation of corruption. The IBT members pay for the oversight board and all expenses occurred during any investigation or allege corruption through their union dues.

“This is a historic day for our Teamsters. After decades of hard work and millions of dollars spent, we can finally say that corrupt elements have been driven from the Teamsters and that government oversight can come to an end.

When I took office in 1999, I pledged that we would run a clean union, that organized crime would never have a place in the Teamsters Union. I also promised that we would ensure that every rank-and-file Teamster have a direct voice in electing the Union’s International officers. After 15 years, we have accomplished these goals,” added Mr. Hoffa.

The IBT believes by the agreeing to end the RICO complaint against the union, the government is acknowledging that there has been significant success in eliminating corruption from the Teamsters.

“Today is a new day for our great union. My administration is first and foremost committed to representing the membership. The members are the heart and soul of our great union,” Mr. Hoffa stated.

Local 229 in Dunmore represents IBT members in and around Lackawanna County while Local 401 in Wilkes-Barre represents IBT members in and around Luzerne County.

Labor supported Rob McCord resigns State Treasurer post

02.21.15

FEBRUARY 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Labor supported Rob McCord resigns State Treasurer post

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 2nd- The labor community likely dodged what could have been a very bad political situation in Harrisburg after Pennsylvania two-term Democratic Treasurer Rob McCord resigned after being charged with extortion. Mr. McCord received the majority of the labor organizations endorsements during last year’s gubernatorial Democratic primary race. The election has held on May 20th, 2014 and resulted in current Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf defeating Mr. McCord and two other Democratic candidates.

Mr. Wolf easily defeated his opponents and went on to become Pennsylvania Governor after defeating anti-union Republican Incumbent Governor Tom Corbett, who has seeking a second four-year term.

Some of the largest labor organizations in Pennsylvania endorsed Mr. McCord including: the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District 13; the Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters (IBT); and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives turned to the right after Republicans gained seats and now control the chamber, 119 to 84. Also, they gained three seats in the Senate and hold a 30 to 20 advantage.

Without Governor Tom Wolf to act as a “fire-wall” for anti-union legislation during at least the next two-years, many anti-union legislative issues important to the labor community would likely be made into law.

Should Mr. McCord have been successful in winning the nomination and faced-off against Mr. Corbett and the Republican party became aware of him being investigated, Mr. Corbett might have been re-elected.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA’s unemployment rate decreases to 5.9 percent

02.21.15

FEBRUARY 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

MSA’s unemployment rate decreases to 5.9 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 4th- The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) decreased by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month to 5.9 percent. The MSA continues to have the highest unemployment rate among the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania but the current unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since May 2008 when it was at 5.8 percent. The MSA has had the highest unemployment rate within Pennsylvania consecutively for more than six and half years.

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 8.4 percent.

The biggest reason the MSA’s unemployment has decreased during the past year is because of the decline of the workforce, not because the job market has improved much. The MSA’s civilian labor-force was 278,800 twelve months ago but currently the labor-force is at 274,200. One year ago there were 255,400 civilians employed within the MSA while currently there are 258,000 employed within the civilian workforce.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 4.8 percent, decreasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,367,000 with 309,000 not working. Pennsylvania has 6,058,000 civilians with employment. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate decreased by two full percentage points over the past twelve month.

Meanwhile, the nation’s unemployment rate was reported to be at 5.6 percent, dropping by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and decreasing by one and one-tenth of a percentage point from twelve months ago.

The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 5.7 percent, the Philadelphia MSA has the third highest unemployment rate at 5.5 percent while the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the fourth highest unemployment rate in the state at 5.2 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 3.8 percent. The Lancaster MSA and the Lebanon MSA are tied for the second lowest at 3.9 percent while the Harrisburg MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.2 percent.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fifth largest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 274,200 civilians. There are 16,100 civilians without employment, decreasing by 400 from the previous report. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor-force in Pennsylvania at 2,974,900 with 163,400 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor-force at 1,241,700 with 57,500 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor-force at 426,300 with 22,300 not working.

The Williamsport MSA has the smallest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 63,100 civilians and 3,200 of them have no jobs. The Altoona MSA has the second smallest labor-force with 64,100 civilians with 2,900 without employment and the Johnstown MSA is third with a labor-force of 65,200 and 3,700 of them are not working.

Wyoming County has the lowest unemployment in the MSA at 5.7 percent, increasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by two and four-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before. Wyoming County has 800 civilians of their work-force without jobs.

Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate within the MSA at 6.2 percent, unchanged from the previous report and dropping by two and seven-tenths of a percentage point from one year before. Luzerne County has 9,800 civilians without employment.

Lackawanna County’s unemployment rate is 5.9 percent, rising by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. There are 6,200 Lackawanna County residents reported to be unemployed.

“Right-to-work” legislation likely across the nation in 2015

02.18.15

FEBRUARY 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

“Right-to-work” legislation likely across the nation in 2015

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

February 3rd- The labor community throughout the nation will likely have a active next two years combating anti-union legislation with the pro-business Republican party gaining seats in legislatures across the United States.

A new wave of legislative bills that are intended to weaken the numbers of members of labor unions is expected this year.

New right-to-work legislation is expected to be proposed by anti-union pro-business Republican statehouses across the nation including the pro-union state of Maine and Pennsylvania.

Democratic Pennsylvania first-term Governor Tom Wolf made it clear during last years political campaign that he would veto any right-to-work legislation that passes the Republican controlled General Assembly. Mr. Wolf has been called the “fire-wall” between the anti-union members of the Republican party and the labor community. Should have Republican Tom Corbett regained the governors seat, most if not all anti-union legislation would have become the law of Pennsylvania.

The issue of banning union security clauses in labor agreements, also called “right-to-work” or what the labor community often calls “no-rights-at-work,” was front and center during 2013 after billionair Dick Yuengling Jr., leader of the D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc. brewery, said Pennsylvania and Mr. Corbett should push for the right-to-work legislation because the state would attrack more businesses.

Several bills of legislation was proposed by several of the anti-union Republican legislators however, they were unsuccessful in getting them to the floor of the legislature.

Currently, 24 states ban union security clauses, which makes workers join the union after working a probationary period often 30 to 60 days. The clause is a term of collective bargaining and must first be agreed to by the union and the employer and ratified by the membership.

Meanwhile, the rate of union membership decreased slightly last year falling from 11.3 percent of all workers in 2013 to 11.1 percent. Overall membership within the private sector of the workforce fell to 6.6 percent from 6.7 percent the United States Department of Labor reported.

Labor organizations actually gained membership in 2014 increasing their numbers by 41,000, but it was not enough to keep-up with the rise in total employment.

USPS again delays moving mail processing to Lehigh Valley

02.18.15

FEBRUARY 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

USPS again delays moving mail processing to Lehigh Valley

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 1st- The United States Postal Service (USPS) has delayed moving all out-going and in-coming mail processing from the South Scranton facility to the Lehigh Valley.

In the previous edition of the newspaper it was exclusively reported that the USPS was still going ahead with moving the mail processing work currently being done at their facility in Scranton to the Lehigh Valley.

Kevin Gallagher, President of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 101 in Scranton, which represents the majority of the USPS most effected by the distribution center’s closing, failed to return the newspapers phone message requesting the status of the situation. However, the newspaper has learned from another union official that represents USPS employees that the agency postponed the processing centers closure, at least temporarily.

The agency did however changed their mail delivery standards that will effect how soon customers mail is received at its designation.

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 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.

Mr. Gallagher, along with other officials of other postal service labor organizations, have met with federal and state elected representatives hoping to get them to recommend to the USPS not to move the processing work to the Lehigh Valley. USPS mail processing currently being done at their Scranton facility was scheduled to be moved to the Lehigh Valley by mid-January.

Under the plan all processing of in-coming or out-coming mail and packages will be rerounted from Northeastern Pennsylvania to the Lehigh Valley and brought back to the area for delivery.

The USPS had planned to consolidated their Scranton, Lancaster and Erie facilities around January 14th.

United Auto Workers getting ready for negotiations

02.18.15

FEBRUARY 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

United Auto Workers getting ready for negotiations

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, February 1st- The International Union, of United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, commonly known as the United Auto Workers Union (UAW), which represents the workers of American automobile companies, is continuing to sign-up workers at the Volkswagen AG plant at their Chattanooga, Tennessee plant while the union gets ready for successor labor contract talks with the Detroit automakers.

UAW President Dennis Williams recently stated that one of the major negotiating issues the union will be making with General Motors, Ford and Chrysler later this year will be the current two-tier wage scale system that was established when the three American automakers were in financial trouble several years ago.

Mr. Williams made it clear that the current two-tier wage of around $19.30 an hour was “unacceptable”. He believes that workers doing the same job as fellow union members should be paid the same wage.

Long-term UAW members earn approximately $28 an hour while workers hired when and since the big three American automakers were having financial problems start at around $16 an hour and increases while they continue to work to the maximum of $19.30 an hour. Long-term members have not received a real wage increase in around ten years.

Mr. Williams stated the UAW needed to make the contract concession of the lower starting pay and the two-tier wage scale to save both GM and Chrysler in 2009 after they filed for bankruptcy. Mr. Williams added that the passage of the anti-union right-to work legislation in Michigan, which many of his workers are employed, has had little impact on the UAW. He stated that his members have continued to pay their affiliation dues. The legislation makes becoming a union member and union dues deduction voluntary.

Meanwhile, the UAW continues to sign-up more VW workers at the plant that voted to narrowly reject the union last February during a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) representation election. Approximately 1,500 hourly workers were eligible to participate in the election.

According to the UAW, more than 825 Volkswagen workers have voluntarily become Local 42 members, which the union created for the plant workers. The UAW requested that VW recognize UAW Local 42 and be allowed to let workers join the Union leading-up to another NLRB election this year.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA’s unemployment rate at 6.0 percent, remains highest

02.18.15

JANUARY 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

MSA’s unemployment rate at 6.0 percent, remains highest

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, January 4th- The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) decreased by three-tenths of a percentage point to 6.0 percent. The MSA continues to have the highest unemployment rate among the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania but according to the recently released data the current unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since June 2008 when it was also at 6.0 percent. The MSA has had the highest unemployment rate within Pennsylvania for more than six consecutive years.

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 8.5 percent.

The main reason the MSA’s unemployment has decreased during the past year is because of the decline of the workforce, not because the job market has improved much. The MSA’s civilian labor-force was 279,400 twelve months ago but currently the labor-force is at 273,600. One year ago there were 255,500 civilians employed within the MSA while currently there are 257,100 employed within the civilian workforce.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 5.1 percent, also decreasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,368,000 with 323,000 not working. Pennsylvania has 6,045,000 civilians with employment. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate decreased by one and eight-tenths of a percentage point over the past twelve month. Meanwhile, the nation’s unemployment rate was reported to be at 5.8 percent, unchanged from the previous report but dropping by one and two-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago.

The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 5.9 percent, the Philadelphia MSA has the third highest unemployment rate at 5.6 percent while the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the fourth highest unemployment rate in the state at 5.3 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 3.9 percent. The Lancaster MSA and the Lebanon MSA are tied for the second lowest at 4.1 percent while the Harrisburg MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.2 percent.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fifth largest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 273,600 civilians. There are 16,500 civilians without employment, decreasing by 800 from the previous report. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor-force in Pennsylvania at 2,973,600 with 167,800 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor-force at 1,242,000 with 59,200 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor-force at 427,000 with 22,800 not working.

The Williamsport MSA has the smallest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 63,000 civilians and 3,300 of them have no jobs. The Altoona MSA has the second smallest labor-force with 64,100 civilians with 3,000 without employment and the Johnstown MSA is third with a labor-force of 65,300 and 3,800 of them are not working.

Wyoming County has the lowest unemployment in the MSA at 5.4 percent, decreasing by five-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by two and two-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before. Wyoming County has 700 civilians of their work-force without jobs.

Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate within the MSA at 6.2 percent, rising by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by two and five-tenths of a percentage point from one year before. Luzerne County has 9,700 civilians without employment.

Lackawanna County’s unemployment rate is 5.8 percent, unchanged from the previous report. There are 6,000 Lackawanna County residents reported to be unemployed.