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Wilkes-Barre Labor Council donates books for children

05.26.15

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

Wilkes-Barre Labor Council donates books for children

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 3rd - The Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council (GWBLC) Community Services Committee along with the United Way of the Wyoming Valley recently held their annual ‘book drive’ to help celebrate the “Week of the Young Child”, a program intended to bring focus of the value of reading among young children of the Wyoming Valley.

The event is sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The organization wants to bring public attention on the needsof young children and recognize early childhood programs that meet those needs.

According to Sandra Moosic, the United Way of the Wyoming Valley American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) Community Services Labor Liaison, the go-between the labor community and the community based organization, union members of the Crestwood Education Association Union, the Wyoming Valley West Education Association Union, and the Hanover Area Education Association Union, which are all affiliated with the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) in Harrisburg and the National Education Association (NEA) Union in Washington DC; the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 401; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 1944; the Wyoming Valley Nurses Association (WVNA/PASNAP) Union; the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 1776; and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Union Local 2809, collected over 5,000 books for distribution to area preschool and school age children.

Pennsylvania liquor store union’s watching for privatization

05.26.15

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

Pennsylvania liquor store union’s watching for privatization

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 5th- The labor organization’s the represent employees of the State Wine and Spirits Stores are quietly optimistic that the selling-off of the system will not happen before the legislative session ends for the summer this June. However, they are still talking to legislators to ensure they don’t change their position regarding the privatization of the liquor system.

The pro-business anti-union Republican members of Pennsylvania General Assembly have been pushing for the selling-off of the system, which provides millions of dollars of profits for Pennsylvania. Net profits of the latest reporting period under the current system was $123.68 million on gross revenue of $2.27 billion, amounting to a net profit margin of 5.44 percent.

First-term Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Tom Wolf campaigned during his attempt to unseat Incumbent anti-union Republican Governor Tom Corbett in 2014 against the privatization of the 600-plus wine and spirit store system. Mr. Wolf made it clear he would veto any legislation that would sell-off the stores should it reach his desk wanting instead to modernized the system.

He has proposed a plan for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), which operates the system, to “modernized” the system by extending Sunday hours and Holiday sales, improve store locations, having more flexible pricing, create a system of competitive pricing, and more customer engagement. Under Mr. Wolf’s proposal he estimates the system would be even more profitable creating an additional annual profit of $185 million by fiscal 2018.

However, as expected Mr. Wolf’s plan was greeted was skepticism by Republicans, business-people that want to purchase a license, and some within the media, including Times-Shamrock Communications, the parent publishers ofthe Scranton Times-Tribune, the Citizens’ Voice, and the Hazleton Standard-Speaker.

The newspaper’s would benefit financially should the stores be privatized by creating advertising competition between license owners and perhaps even the publishers plan to purchase one of the licenses and go into the booze business. Recently, several family members of the publishers of Times-Shamrock became part owners of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Railriders baseball team, breaking away from the media business.

The selling of the system will put more than 5,000 family sustaining jobs in harms way. The United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union represents the majority of the stores employees, including clerks and shelve stockers. UFCW Local 1776 represents the workers within the eastern part of Pennsylvania while UFCW Local 23 represents the western part. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union represents mainly the office employees of the system including the PLCB auditors.

Pro-privatization groups and individuals have stated selling more liquor would be good for Pennsylvania and even suggested that school funding could be increased by the selling of more booze.

The UFCW is concerned that allowing wine sales in grocery stores and other outlets, the largest volume of sales at the liquor stores, could be attached to other legislation before the summer recess, attempting a “back-door” privatization attempt.

U.S. Senator Robert Casey supports legislation to increase federal minimum wage

05.26.15

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

U.S. Senator Robert Casey supports legislation to increase federal minimum wage

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 6th- On April 30th Democratic Pennsylvania United States Senator Robert Casey Jr., joined by 33 fellow Senators, introduced a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020. Mr. Casey stated the wage increase would help more American families make ends meet, expand economic opportunity, and help build an economy that works for all families, not just the wealthiest few.

The legislation, “the Raise the Wage Act”, would also phase out the $2.13 tipped wage and would index the minimum wage to median wages.

The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour. In January of this year twenty states in the nation increased their bench-mark however minimum wage workers in Pennsylvania are still earning the federal level. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009, with more than 1.2 million Pennsylvania workers estimated earning the $7.25 an hour wage. The minimum wage in Pennsylvania is now lower than every neighboring state. Overall, more than 26 states now have a higher bench-mark wage than Pennsylvania.

It is estimated that raising the bench-mark wage to $10.10 an hour would boost spending in the state by $1.8 billion, and create 6,000 jobs, a new study released by the Keystone Research Center, a economic research group in Harrisburg indicated.

The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg supports the increasing of the minimum wage, whether through federal legislation or through the Pennsylvania legislators.

“By passing legislation to raise the minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour, not only will over one million working families get a much needed raise in their wages, it will help boost the local economies of communities across Pennsylvania. Raising the minimum wage will not only fight poverty, it will increase profits for local businesses because every dollar goes right back into the local economy,” stated Rick Bloomingdale, President of the Pennsylavnia AFL-CIO.

“It has been nearly eight years since Congress last passed a minimum wage increase. It’s time to deliver for working families and raise the wage. It’s important to remember that many of those paid the minimum wage are single mothers who are the sole providers for their household. Raising the wage and indexing it will have a substantial impact for these workers and their children,” Mr. Casey stated.

Mr. Casey estimates that the annual pay raise for the eligible workers would be $3,100 by 2020. Republican Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey was not one of the Senators that co-sponsored the legislation to increase the minimum wage and likley would vote against it.

Passage of the bill is unlikely with Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress. Republicans and their bussiness supporters claim that raising the bench-mark would kill nearly one million jobs. However, the United States Labor Department data shows average job growth in states that increased their bench-mark was higher than those that have not.

Northeastern Pennsylvania receives CLUW Chapter

05.26.15

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

Northeastern Pennsylvania receives CLUW Chapter

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 3rd- Northeastern Pennsylvania officially has received their charter to become affiliated with the Coalition of Union Women (CLUW).

CLUW is a organization within the labor movement that is sanctioned by the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC.

The organization was formed in 1974 and currently has more than 75 chapters throughout the nation and a membership of approxiamtely 20,000 women and men.

CLUW’s primary goal is to be a resource to all union represented women to develop action programs within the framework of the labor community to deal with women objectives in the workplace.

The basic objective of CLUW is to promote affirmative action in the workplace, increase participation of women in their labor unions, organize the unrepresented, and engage women in the political and legislative process.

Melissa Matoushek, a Staff Representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87, O’Neill Highway in Dunmore, which represents AFSCME members throughout nine counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania, and who worked on getting enough people to commit of joining the organization, previously told the newspaper that the application to form a Chapter would be sent before the end of 2014.

She stated the application was received and a Chapter of CLUW has been isssued to the region with their first meeting being held on May 27th at 7:00 pm at the District Council 87’s building. At the meeting officers will be elected and the constitution and by-laws will be discussed.

The newspaper has published several news articles in previous editions on Ms. Matoushek attempt to form a local chapter of CLUW.

Ms. Matoushek told the newspaper that approximately 27 people have become members of CLUW, including several men. At least 24 of the people that have signed-up to join the organization are women, mostly members of labor organizations throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania. Before a chapter could be awarded at least 25 people must become members of the organization.

Anyone wanting to join the organization or needs more information can contact Ms. Matoushek at (570) 352-8006. Her e-mail address is: nepacluw@gmail.com.