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“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.