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“Right-to-work” legislation becomes law in Wisconsin

03.31.15

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

“Right-to-work” legislation becomes law in Wisconsin

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 3rd- The State of Wisconsin legislature passed and the Republican Governor Scott Walker signed into law legislation that will make the badger state the twenty-fifth in the nation to ban employers and labor organizations from agreeing to union security language within their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the two parties. The legislation is commonly known as “right-to-work”.

A new wave of legislative bills that are intended to weaken the numbers of members of labor unions is expected this year after the pro-business Republican party gaining seats in legislatures across the United States.

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.

Recently union workers held a “right-to-work” legislation protest at the Wisconsin Capitol in Madison. Media reports indicated that only several thousand union members participated in the event because it is believed legislation banning the mandatory payment of union dues in Wisconsin will likely pass and be signed into law by the anti-union Walker, a possible Republican candidate for President of the United States in 2016.

In Pennsylvania the issue of banning union security clauses in labor agreements, 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 should become a right-to-work state.

Before Wisconsin legislation was signed into law, there were 24 states that banned union security clauses, which makes workers join the union after working a probationary period. 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.

IBEW Local 81 bowling tournament raises funds

03.31.15

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

IBEW Local 81 bowling tournament raises funds

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 4th- The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 81 in Scranton conducted their annual Toby Joyce Memorial Bowling Tournament on Saturday February 21st at the South Side Bowling lanes in South Scranton. It was the 13th consecutive year the event has been held.

The event benefits the Friendship House, the region’s only provider of care and mental health treatment for boys and girls with emotional difficulties from toddlers to adolescents.

The Friendship House serves 750 children daily through a full range of programs including, day, evening, and weekend partial hospitalization programs, residential care and tratment, foster care and adoption, outpatient program and services in the home and community.

The organization is also home to the Northeast Regional Canter for Autism Spectrum Disorders.

According to Geno Arcurie Jr., Local 81 Membership Development Representative, this years event was the largest ever with 145 bowlers participating and 50 sponsors of bowling lanes, which he said provides the most funds.

The event raised around $5,500.00 that was donated to the Friendship House. This years amount was the also the most ever, and $1,000.00 more than last years event.

“We hired Jaworski Sign Company to make all of the lane sponsor signs, a unionized company,” said Mr. Arcurie.

Mr. Arcurie stated several lane sponsors have indicated they want to sign-up for next year already.

NLRB in Washington, DC rules against area nursing home

03.31.15

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

NLRB in Washington, DC rules against area nursing home

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 1st- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, DC ruled against an operator of a area nursing home in Hazleton and ordered them to begin contract negotiations for a first time Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which involves Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN’s) employed at the facility. However, the employer has refused to begin contract negotiations and promised to appeal the NLRB decision.

Twenty months ago a unit of approximately fourty LPN’s employed at the Manor and Pavilion at St. Luke’s Village Nursing Home on Stacie Drive in Hazleton, voted overwhelmingly to be represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87.

AFSCME District Council 87, which represents AFSCME members throughout 9 Counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania, won a representation election conducted by the NLRB Region Four Office in Philadelphia in June 2013, 26 to 12 that involved the LPN’s.

There were fourty-three workers eligible to participate in the election. AFSCME already represented a unit of workers at St. Luke’s which included dietary aids and other food service workers.

The Union won the right to represent the LPN’s despite the operators of the nursing home hiring a lawfirm that specializes in attempting to delay representation elections and the spending of thousands of dollars on anti-union attorney’s and consulting firms.

The employer challenged the right of whether the LPN’s had the right to become union members claiming they are supervisors and under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct) are ineligible from joining unions. However, Region Four ruled they were and conducted the election.

However, according to Matt Balas, Business Representative of AFSCME District Council 87, the nursing home operators will not meet with the union to discuss the CBA.

AFSCME filed a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) against the St. Luke’s operators with the NLRB in which the agency ruled in favor of the union. St. Luke’s appealed the Region Four decision to the NLRB Washington office and the five member agency the parties are still waiting for their decision of whether the LPN’s are management or can be represented by AFSCME.

Mr. Balas stated that the existing CBA with St. Luke’s has been re-negotiated since the LPN’s voted for unionization.

USPS employees told their jobs will be eliminated in July

03.31.15

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

USPS employees told their jobs will be eliminated in July

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 4th- According to Kevin Gallagher, President of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 101 In Scranton, the union has been told by the United States Postal Service (USPS) that most of the mail processing being done at the South Scranton facility will be moved to the Lehigh Valley on July 25th.

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 lays-off would occur instead jobs would be “re-bid” under the labor agreement’s 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 stated the merging of the Scranton mail processing center with the Lehigh Valley has been delayed several times in the past and it could be postponed again, but his members must be ready for the possiblity of the closure.

APWU members will be the most effected by the merger. Mr. Gallagher stated more than half of his 180 members will need to be re-located or be re-assigned to other postal duties, such as becoming mail delivery carriers.

Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the USPS an effected employee could be placed within 50 miles of their current workplace. APWU members are mail clerks, maintenance workers, and conduct clerical work.

Recently, the agency changed their mail delivery standards that will effect how soon customers mail is received at its designation.

Mr. Gallagher stated he has talked to mail customers that have noticed that it takes longer for mail to reach its designation because of the USPS changing the mail standard.

“What they are doing is lowering the mail standards to fit what they are doing by closing plants and making other changes to the agency,” stated Mr. Gallagher.

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 that region for delivery. The USPS plans to consolidated their Scranton, Lancaster and Erie facilities.

Former Navy Vice Admiral Joe Sestak running for Senate

03.31.15

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

Former Navy Vice Admiral Joe Sestak running for Senate

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION- March 5th- Former Navy Vice Admiral and two term United States House of Representative Joe Sestak made it official that he will attempt a rematch against Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania Pat Toomey in 2016. Mr. Sestak will seek to become the Democratic nominee in 2016 that will likely face Mr. Toomey, who has not yet stated he would seek a second six-year term.

Mr. Sestak formally announced on March 4th in Philadelphia that would attempt to gain his party nomination next year and attempt to win the seat in next November’s general election. So far, no other Democrat has announced they would challenge Mr. Sestak for the nomination however, former U.S. House of Representative from Northeastern Pennsylvania Chris Carney has suggested he might run. Mr. Carney represented the 10th legislative district in Washington DC for two terms.

Meanwhile, Mr. Sestak since losing to Senator Toomey has attended labor events and appeared to be a political candidate. He defeated Incumbent Senator Alen Specter for the Democratic nomination in the spring of 2010 and nearly lost to Mr. Toomey that November.

After the primary election that year Mr. Sestak received the endorsement of the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO labor federation in Harrisburg. Also, most labor organizations that endorsed a candidate for the senatorial election that year supported Mr. Sestak.

Voter turnout will likley be higher in the Democratic party rich areas of Pennsylvania including the Philadelphia region in 2016 over 2010 because it will be a Presidential and U.S. Congressional election year.

Anti-union Wal-Mart plans to raise employees minimum wage

03.31.15

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

Anti-union Wal-Mart plans to raise employees minimum wage

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 3rd- What appears to be a pro-worker move by the nation’s largest retailer by announcing they will increase their starting wage to around $10.00 an hour, well above the federal minimum wage, will not raise the top level wages of their current workforce.

Wal-Mart Inc., world’s largest retailer and known to be extremely anti-union, recently announced they will increase the starting wage of workers to $10.00 an hour while the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. However, current Wal-Mart workers wages “top-out” around $11.00 an hour no matter how long they are employed by the company. Meaning, while new and recent hires will receive a higher wage than previously, long-time employees wages will not increase and see new workers wages be close to theirs despite only recently being hired.

Wal-Mart stated the new wage package will cost them approximately $1 billion. The company plans to raise the minimum wage for workers to $9.00 an hour this April and continue to raise the wage until reaching $10.00 an hour by February 2016.

The increase will effect around 500,000 employees which work for Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores or around 1.4 million employees.

Wal-Mart makes their employees purchase the clothing they must wear while working in their stores and has faced protest by union activist and their own workers for poor treatment by management .

In January the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington DC filed numerous labor complaints against Wal-Mart alleging management unlawfully retaliated against their workers for protesting poor working conditions in front of stores throughout more than a dozen states during the holiday season. The newspaper was not aware of nay protest in the region.

Meanwhile, the Canadian government found Wal-Mart Inc. broke provincial labor laws in 2005 when the anti-union store chain closed a store in Quebec, Canada and fired 200 workers that were seeking to be represented by a labor organization for the purpose of collective bargaining.

The retailer claimed it closed the store for “business reasons” however, the decision by Canada’s top court ruled that Wal-Mart closed the store to avoid unionization by the United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union.