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USW conducting negotiations with Northampton County

01.25.09

February 2009, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

USW conducting negotiations with Northampton County

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

LEHIGH VALLEY, January 15th- The United Steelworkers of America USW) Union Local 2599 and Northampton County have both agreed to work under the terms and conditions of the previous contract agreement between the parties for the workers the union represents employed at the Northampton County’s Gracedale Nursing Home.

According to Jerry Green, President of Local 2599, East Lehigh Street in Bethlehem, which has approximately 1,600 ative members throughout the Lehigh Valley counting workers currently laid-off from employers the union represents. The union represents around 50 workers at Gracedale, including 5 social workers and approximately 45 registered nurses.

The previous three-year labor agreement between Northampton County and USW Local 2599 expired on December 31st, 2008. The parties agreed to continue negotiations for a new successor agreement while the workers work under the previous pact. “We have had around five meetings. Things are moving along slowly. The county has changed the people from the last time who conduct the negotiations, and they want contract language changes, which is slowing things down,” said Mr. Green.

Mr. Green stated the employees are working under the terms and conditions of the second contract between the parties. The union has represented the workers since 2003.

In the previous edition of the newspaper, it was reported the economic slowdown has affected workers represented by the Local 2599. Local 2599 represented approximately 520 workers at the Victaulic Company Forks Township facility going into 2008 but currently have 219 on lay-off.

Also, Horsehead manufacturing in Palmerton laid-off 140 USW members of the 152 they employ on December 23rd, 2008 and Prior Coated in Allentown have 12 of the 38 USW members currently laid-off. And Berenfield Containers in Easton have 4 of 23 Local 2599 members on lay-off.

The newspaper learned Local 2599 has filed a complaint against Hygrade Metal Moulding Manufacturing Company, Highland Avenue in Bethlehem, alleging the company violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

According to the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge, filed on December 23rd, 2008 with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia, and obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, the union alleges the window components manufacturer has failed and refused to provide information requested by Local 2599 that is “relevant and necessary for the Union to bargain on an informed basis and otherwise perform its function as the designated representative of the employees in the bargaining unit.”

According to the complaint, the union represents 20 Hygrade workers. The ULP states the bargaining agreement between the parties expired on January 1st, 2009.

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