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Labor union leaders believe some Democrats unsupportive


September 2008 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Labor union leaders believe some Democrats unsupportive


REGION, September 4th- Rosmary Boland, President of the Scranton Federation of Teachers (SFT) Union Local 1147, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) International Union, stated on August 17th, she is tired of supporting Democratic Party members running for local political office to only have them not support her members and organized labor.

On September 2nd it was announced Local 1147 had reached a agreement for a new contract with the Scranton School District. The agreement was reached just before mid-night on September 2nd, avoiding a possible strike on September 3rd, the first day fall classes began in Scranton.

Local 1147 represents 880 teachers and para-professionals of the Scranton School District. There are approximately 10,000 students enrolled in the Scranton School District.

Mrs. Boland is also the Recording/Secretary of the Scranton Central Labor Union (SCLU) labor federation in Dunmore. The labor organizrion is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Washington DC. The labor organization meets every third Wednesday of the month.

The SFT contract with the Scranton School District expired on August 31st. The union members voted to give the unions bargaining committee the authorization to call for a strike if negotiations failed.

Under the previous contract, not negotiated by the current Local 1147 leadership, teachers paid as much as $8,100 out-of-pocket annually for family health care coverage. On September 7th, the membership ratified the three year agreement that will provide wage increases each year of the pact and will reduce the teachers health insurance costs considerably.

On August 17th, Mrs. Boland stated of the 501 school districts in Pennsylvania, Scranton teachers paid the highest health care premiums, around $312.00 per pay period, which is every two-weeks.

Mrs. Boland stated all nine members of the Scranton School Board are members of the Democratic party, but she believes many of them only talk of supporting labor around election time. “I’m personally sick and tired of working and asking my members to work for Democrats that won’t support us when we need them,” said Mrs. Boland.

She pointed out the Scranton School District Solicitor and Chief Negotiator is Attorney Harry McGrath, who is also the Chairman of the Lackawanna County Democratic Committee. “We have to sit across from a man that is also the party chairman,” stated Mrs. Boland. “I’ve often wonder, who’s side is Mr. McGrath on. The working people or management.”

Nancy Krake, President of the SCLU and President of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) Union Local Lodge 2462, agrees with Mrs. Boland’s opinion that Democrats often receive labor support during elections and then they won’t help union people when they are in need.

“All to often Democrats play us for idiots. We work for them to get elected and then they forget about us,” said Mrs. Krake.

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