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USW members at Follett Corporation ratify new labor pact

10.11.15

JULY 2015, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

USW members at Follett Corporation ratify new labor pact

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 26th- The United Steelworkers Union (USW) Local 2599 members employed at Follett Corporation in Easton recently ratified a new four-year Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the company.

Local 2599, East Lehigh Street in Bethlehem, has approximately fourteen units of workers employed throughout the Lehigh Valley and has around 2,000 members. Local 2599 is one the largest labor organizations in the Lehigh Valley and once represented workers employed at Bethlehem Steel. The stacks of the steel mill can be seen from the union office building just several blocks away in Bethlehem.

The union once represented thousands of workers at the mill along with several other USW local unions that were merged into Local 2599 after the mill was closed in 2000.

The previous CBA between the company and the USW expired on May 3rd, 2015. The workers and the company agreed to work under the terms and conditions of the expired agreement while the parties continued to negotiate for a successor labor contract agreement.

According to Jerry Green, President of Local 2599, the parties agreed to work under the old CBA after the membership rejected managements “final contract offer”. Mr. Green stated the membership requested working under the terms and conditions of the expired CBA rather than striking and the company agreed to continue to met for contract negotiations.

After negotiation meetings continued Mr. Green stated contract proposals were slightly changed by Follett Corporation negotiating team and the USW membership ratified the new four-year pact.Highlights of the new CBA include a 2.25 percent wage increase each year for the first three years. The membership will receive a 2.50 percent increase in the fourth and final year of the new pact.

Also, workers will receive a $750.00 lump sum bonus in the first and fourth years of the agreement and a $500.00 lump sum bonus in the second and third years of the pact.

Prescription safety glasses and shoe allowances have been increased. Also retiree life insurance was increased to $10,000.00.

Mr. Green told the newspaper all raises are retro-active and the new CBA was overwhelmingly approved by the membership.

Trade deal passes Congress and signed into law despite labor’s opposition

10.11.15

JULY 2015, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Trade deal passes Congress and signed into law despite labor’s opposition

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 25th- Despite intense lobbying by the labor community against the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement (TPPTA), a measure meant to ease trade restrictions with Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Singapore, and Canada, the United States Senate passed the legislation that will allow Democratic President Barack Obama to negotiate global trade deals that the United States Congress can only approve or reject but not change. The legislation had already passed the House of Representatives with the support of most Republicans and twenty-eight Democrats.

The legislation was opposed fiercely by the labor community which is being called “fast track” but was passed by the full Senate on June 25th 60 to 38. Most of the Senate Democrats voted against the measure including Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey Jr. Pennsylvania’s other Senator Republican Pat Toomey voted in favor of the legislation that President Obama supported and signed into law.

Mr. Casey, a member of the Committee on Finance, stated he was active in reviewing TPP, and had serious concerns about the deal. He had concerns about the potential impact the trade agreement would have on American workers, producers and innovators.

President Barack Obama made the passage of TPPTA a major part of his agenda during his final two years in office.

Senator Toomey stated he spoke with Secretaries of Treasury, Agriculture, and Commerce as well as the U.S. Trade Ambassador and all believe approving the deal will benefit Pennsylvania and the nation.

He said the opening of markets to Pennsylvania-made products will create more high-paying export-oriented jobs in the state and it will be a big help for Pennsylvania farmers.

The pact needed the approval by both chambers of Congress because it is considered to be a treaty.

The labor community has made it clear it opposed the trade agreement and implemented a new tactic is fighting against it.

Many of the labor organizations that are affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) had froze campaign contributions to members of Congress to pressure them from supporting the trade deal. The legislation passed anyway with the help of some Democrats and shows how organized labor can no longer can by itself stop anti-union legislation from passing or getting pro-union legislation through Washington.

One the most vocal labor leaders against the pact was United Steelworkers Union (USW) International President Leo Gerard. The USW represent rubber workers that manufacturer American made tires that have been hurt by cheap Pacific countries manufactured tires.

Mr. Gerard after Prime Minister Shinzo of Japan spoke to a joint session of Congress several weeks ago about why the United States should pass the trade deal, stated Japan supports the deal because of the continued lopsided trade benefits it enjoys.

To get the trade-authority legislation through, Senate Republicans said they would advance a bill that would continue the worker-aid program called the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).

The Trade Adjustment Assistance program has been used to help workers that lost their jobs because by foreign trade. TAA helps re-train workers for other jobs that have suffered from production being shift overseas to competition from imports. In the past many garment workers, electronic manufacturer workers, and steel makers received TAA. The worker-aid program must first be requested by an employer or union before any worker can receive help in re-training which includes federal funded higher education programs.

The federal government then investigates the requests and determines if workers jobs were lost because of foreign trade or imports. The program was to expire in September 2015.

As promised, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf vetoes Liquor Stores privatization

10.11.15

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

As promised, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf vetoes Liquor Stores privatization

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 5th- Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Tom Wolf rejected the pro-business anti-union Republican plan in the General Assembly to privatize the state liquor stores by vetoing their plan. Mr. Wolf days earlier vetoed the Republicans state budget with no Democrats voting in favor of the legislation. The budget passed both sides of the Republican controlled legislature leaving the state currently without a spending plan to begin the fiscal year.

Mr. Wolf last year while campaigning for governor made it clear he would not support the privatization of the State Wine and Spirits Stores, which are unionized. Also, the Republican legislature wants to privatize the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) which oversees the selling of the wine and liquor in Pennsylvania.

The Republican members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly have been pushing for the selling-off of the system, which provides millions of dollars of profits for Pennsylvania, for several terms of the legislature. However, this is the first time a privatization proposal has reached any governors desk. When the Republican’s controlled both the House of Representatives and the Senate and fellow Republican Tom Corbett was Pennsylvania Governor last year no privatization legislation passed both sides of the General Assembly.

Meanwhile, 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.

Mr. 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, and they have not taken any action on his proposal.

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. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union represents mainly the office employees of the system including the PLCB auditors. UFCW Local 1776 represents the workers within the eastern part of Pennsylvania while UFCW Local 23 represents the western part.

On July 2nd Mr. Wolf vetoed the privatization plan that would have allowed private retailers to sell wine and liquor, and lease the PLCB’s wholesale operations which will result in the closing of the State Stores. As more licenses are purchased to sell booze any state store in that area would be closed and the employees would be fired.

Northeastern Pennsylvania CLUW Chapter to hold yard sale

10.11.15

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

Northeastern Pennsylvania CLUW Chapter to hold yard sale

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 1st- The Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the Coalition of Union Women (CLUW) will hold a yard sale on Saturday July 18th at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87, O’Neill Highway in Dunmore, building. The event will be held between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm.

People can donated items for the yard sale at the AFSCME building on July 15th and July 17th.

Melissa Matoushek, a Staff Representative for District Council 87, which represents AFSCME members throughout nine counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania, and who worked on getting enough people to commit of joining the organization, stated that the first priority of the organization is to find a way to raise funds to operate and the yard sale is the first opportunity for the organization to raise funds.

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 approximately 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.

The organization met on Wednesday May 27th at the AFSCME building to select officers which included a President, Vice President, Treasurer and three Trustees.

The group at the meeting also decided how much affiliation dues will need to be paid for any person wanting to be a CLUW member.

At the meeting no challenges were made to any of the nominated people selected therefore, those nominated were elected and have began serving.

Ms. Matoushek request that people look around their homes for items that could be donated.

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.

Former striking AFSCME members thankful for support

10.11.15

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

Former striking AFSCME members thankful for support

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, July 1st- The union that was recently on strike against Lackawanna County is very grateful to the labor community that supported them during the work-stoppage.

On Friday May 15th members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union Local 524, who work for Lackawanna County’s Children and Family Services went of strike because of the failure of gaining a successor collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the county government.

The two parties reached an agreement of a new three-year CBA on May 27th and the workers returned to their jobs on Thursday May 28th. AFSCME represents approximately 90 workers employed by Lackawanna County’s Children and Youth agency. There are seven bargaining units of unionized workers under contract with Lackawanna County.

The workers had been working under the terms and conditions of the previous CBA since it expired in December 2014. The new pact will expire in December 2016. The new CBA included a wage increase of 2 percent the first and final year of the agreement but the workers received a 3 percent increase in year two, this year.

The main issue for the workers was wages. Lackawanna County’s final offer included wage increases of 2 percent for 2014; 2 1/2 percent increase for 2015; and an 2 percent increase for 2016. However, the workers believed they were being “disrespected” with the offer and choose to strike for a better economic package.

Local 524 is affiliated with AFSCME District Council 87 in Dunmore, which represents AFSCME members throughout nine counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Mary Rose Moran, President of Local 524, stated she and her fellow union members are extremely grateful for the support the members of the labor community showed them during the strike.

She said, fellow union members from many other labor organizations walked the picket line with them, provided coffee, and used their car horns to show support as they drove by.

The AFSCME members picket daily in front of the Lackawanna County Administration building on Adams Avenue in downtown Scranton. During the strike the three-member County Commissioners did not enter the building through the front and side door entrances. Instead, they entered the building through the back entrance.

Ms. Moran stated the membership has began to resolve any bad feelings toward the few members that cross their own picket line during the strike.

Most sectors of local economy gained jobs from one year ago

10.11.15

JULY 2015, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Most sectors of local economy gained jobs from one year ago

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, June 22nd- According to data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (DOL), Center for Workforce Information and Analysis in Harrisburg, the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) largest job gainers are in the private service providing sector of the economy. The sector gained 2,900 jobs during the past twelve months the data indicated.

The majority of the increase of jobs in the sector were in trade, transportation and utilities, which rose of 2,300 jobs during the period.

There are 36,600 manufacturing jobs within the MSA, rising by 500 from this time last year. Within the sector there are 21,700 durable goods and 13,900 non-durable jobs.

DOL reported that there are 355,300 non-farm jobs within the MSA increasing by 3,100 during the past twelve months, a strong employment growth for the region.

Most sectors within the MSA gained jobs during the past twelve months. The Leisure and Hospitality sector gained 2,100 jobs, the Retail Trade sector gained 800 jobs during the period, and Transportation and Warehousing jobs increased by 1,100.

Professional and Business Services lost 1,100 jobs during the past year with Management of Companies and Enterprises being the biggest loser within the sector with a loss of 900 jobs.

Local Government jobs decreased by 800 during the past twelve months while Federal Government jobs were unchanged from one year ago.

According to the data, there are 72,600 Education and Health Services jobs within the MSA with the majority of them, 59,800, being in the Health Care and Social Assistance sector.

Overall, there are 402,300 MSA civilians with employment and 24,100 of them are currently unemploy the DOL reported.

Labor community grateful for President Obama’s support

10.11.15

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

Labor community grateful for President Obama’s support

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 31st- While most within the labor community in the nation disagree with President Barack Obama’s support for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement (TPPTA), a measure meant to ease trade restrictions Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Brunie, Singapore, and Canada, they are grateful for support of the new National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rules regarding representation election that took effect on April 14th.

Businesses throughout the nation have made it clear they are worried about the new National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rule that will expedite representation elections through the agency.In the previous edition of the newspaper it was reported that the labor community applauded President Barack Obama’s veto of a Republican led resolution that would have overturned the NLRB rule that will expedite representation elections.

Mr. Obama’s veto was seen as a victory for the labor community, and the Democrats in the United States Congress. The resolution to overturn the new rules was passed by both the House of Representatives and the United States Senate in March. The anti-union legislation was supported and passed by mainly members of the Republican party.

The new rules, which was created by the five-member NLRB in Washington DC in December, is intended to streamline NLRB conducted Representation Elections. The labor community has complained for years that the current process favors companies, mainly larger employers, that have used the procedures of the old system to often delay, sometimes for months or years, of having the election conducted by the NLRB, which oversees the election. The tactic often is used to stall NLRB elections, especially when it appears the union would likely win.

Republicans were unable to override President Obama’s veto because there were not enough Senate Republicans in the chamber. There are 54 Republican seats in the Senate and under the chamber rules 67 is needed to override a presidential veto.

Under NLRB rules, at least 30 percent of a unit of workers must request the agency conduct an election. In the election at least 50 percent plus one of the eligible to participate employees must vote to be represented by a labor organization to become their bargaining representative for the purpose of collective bargaining.

Mr. Obama has made it clear he will sign TPPTA into law should if reach his desk. The legislation successful passed the Senate however, it is not yet known if the trade agreement will get enough votes for passage in the House of Representatives. There are 435 members of the House and the legislation will need to gain a majority of the representatives votes to successfully pass the chamber. It is expected the House will vote on TPPTA later in June, likely just before congress recesses for the summer.

Under the new NLRB election rules, employers will be required to post an “NLRB Notice of Election,” which contains information about the representation petition that was filed, and advises the two parties their rights and obligations. A “Statement of Position” form will need to be submitted by the employer to the NLRB within seven days after the petition receipt.

The document must include a list of eligible voters, their job classifications, their shift schedules, and work locations. However, the employer can not present any opinion or evidence on the issue of the representation election or request a delay in the vote. Employers can no longer challenge voter eligibility before the election, often used to delay elections, and must wait for the post-election hearing. Also, pre-election hearings will be limited to ‘Statement of Position’ the employer submitted not questioning the election merit.

Labor Day Festival committee meeting about 2015’s event

10.11.15

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

Labor Day Festival committee meeting about 2015’s event

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 25th- The Northeastern Pennsylvania Labor Day Festival Committee in Wilkes-Barre have been meeting to discuss this years’ event which will be held in Kirby Park in Wilkes-Barre on Labor Day September 7th . Admission is free with everyone invited.

According to Joe Padavan, a member of the committee that met throughout the year to discuss the event and make plans to conduct the Labor Day Festival and Celebration, 2015 will the third consecutive year the event will be held. Festivities will begin at Kirby Park at 10.00 am.

The event will include lots of food, refreshments, music, vendors and fun for the entire family, Mr. Padavan stated.

However, unlike past events, one of the planners is no longer involved with the labor community and is not helping with its planning and co-ordination of the bands that will play at this years event.Roxanna Pauline, who was the Co-ordinator for the Northeastern Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation (NEPA-ALF), a labor federation throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania, left the organization last fall, was very involved with the Labor Day Festival and Celebration, Mr. Padavan stated.

However, the group believes this years event will again be fun for the labor community, the community and large, and their families.

The committee is made-up of mostly delegates of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council (GWBLC) labor federation, Route 315 in Pittston. The committee that oversees the event meets all year to discuss what changes and improvements can be made to expand the festival.

Edward Harry, President of the GWBLC, stated he is hopeful the labor community from the region will plan to attend this year and economically support the event.

Lackawanna County’s Children and Family Services workers went on strike

10.11.15

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

Lackawanna County’s Children and Family Services workers went on strike

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, June 2nd- On Friday May 15th members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union Local 524 who work for Lackawanna County’s Children and Family Services went of strike because of the failure of gaining a successor collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the county government. The two parties reached an agreement of a new three-year CBA on May 27th and the workers returned to their jobs on Thursday May 28th. AFSCME represents approximately 90 workers employed by Lackawanna County’s Children and Youth agency. There are seven bargaining units of unionized workers under contract with Lackawanna County.

The workers had been working under the terms and conditions of the previous CBA since it expired in December 2014. The new pact will expire in December 2016.

The main issue for the workers was wages. Lackawanna County’s final offer included wage increases of 2 percent for 2014; 2 1/2 percent increase for 2015; and an 2 percent increase for 2016. However, the workers believed they were being “disrespected” with the offer and choose to strike for a better economic package.

Local 524 is affiliated with AFSCME District Council 87 in Dunmore, which represents AFSCME members throughout nine counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The workers voted by more than 50 votes to accept the agreement. The new CBA included a wage increase of 2 percent the first and final year of the agreement but the workers received a 3 percent increase in year two, this year. The deal included retro-active wages meaning the members will receive back-payments for the first seventeen months of the new pact.

Matt Balas, Business Representative for District Council 87, told the newspaper the membership was upset with Democratic Majority Commissioner Jim Wansacz’s attitude toward them. Mr. Wansacz basically said “take-it-or-leave-it”, Mr. Balas said.

Also, Mr. Wansacz believed they would not vote against the pact, which they did, they would not vote to strike, which they did, and the membership would not actually go on strike, which they did, Mr. Balas stated.

The workers suffered financial hard-ship during the walk-out because AFSCME has no strike benefit and they did not qualify for unemployment benefits.

Northeastern Pennsylvania CLUW Chapter holds meeting

10.11.15

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

Northeastern Pennsylvania CLUW Chapter holds meeting

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, June 1st- On Wednesday May 27th the Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the Coalition of Union Women (CLUW) held their organizational meeting at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 87, O’Neill Highway in Dunmore, building.

Approximately fourteen members of the organization attended which included active and retired union members of AFSCME and other labor organizations that represent workers in the region.

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 approximately 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.

At the May 27th meeting, the members that attended selected officers which included a President, Vice President, Treasurer and three Trustees.

Melissa Matoushek, a Staff Representative for District Council 87, which represents AFSCME members throughout nine counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania, and who worked on getting enough people to commit of joining the organization, stated that the first priority of the organization is to find a way to raise funds to operate. The group at the meeting decided how much affiliation dues will need to be paid for any person wanting to be a CLUW member.

Mrs. Matoushek told the newspaper that the Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter was recognized by the International Board. Therefore, the members met to elect officers. No challenges were made to any of the nominated people selected therefore, those nominated have been elected and will begin serving.

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.

IBEW Union Local 81 proud of their new training center

10.11.15

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

IBEW Union Local 81 proud of their new training center

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 16th- Richard Schraeder, Chairman of the Scranton Electricians Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee, the group that oversees the training and upgrading of union members affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 81, Wyoming Avenue in Scranton, is proud of the training center that opened in 2014.

The building is located on a three-acre site along Skyline Drive in Clarks Summit just next to Acker Drill Company, a unionized company.

Mr. Schraeder recently gave this reporter a tour of the facility that contains five classrooms, computer rooms, instruction area’s, meeting space, a multi-purpose room, a loading dock, and a snack area. The building has 16,000 square feet and replaced the space Local 81 used for training in their downtown Scranton building on Wyoming Avenue. Local 81 stills owns and maintains that building which houses their main office and meeting hall. The IBEW has tenants in the building which includes several other labor organizations in the area.

The training facility was envisioned by former and current members of the Scranton Electricians Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee to train and educate their apprentices and journeyman in a modern environment with all the resources available to them to become the best, most productive, and safest electricians in the industry and to produce quality, on-time, and on budget projects for customers, Mr. Schraeder told the newspaper.

The Committee is made-up of three IBEW Local 81 members and three members of signatory contractors with the Union for a total of six. There are currently approximately 30 signatory contractors of Local 81.

The IBEW apprentice training program is for five years and includes two days a week of classroom studies. Also, the apprentice members must conduct 2,000 hours per-year of working on the job in the industry for the five years before they can earn journeyman status.

“The program is tough. But after graduation the contractors and customers know he or she have been trained properly and are ready to be a qualified electrician,” said Mr. Schraeder.

Mr. Schraeder is also the Business Manager and Principal Officer of Local 81, which has more than 500 members. He joined Local 81 in 1969 and has held several officer positions with the Union before becoming Business Manager. He is currently serving his first full term in that position.

The Committee makes all decisions regarding the training center with four of the six votes needed before the implementation of any change can take place.

In 2014 the first class of apprentices graduated from the new center with fourteen becoming journeyman electricians. This year seven are expected to complete the training and become journeyman with the graduation taking place in November.

“Our members should be proud of their building and the commitment that has been made to them,” added Mr. Schraeder.

Mr. Schraeder wanted everyone to know the cost of the center is shared between Local 81 and the signatory contractors and it cost the public nothing.

General Dynamics plants have many workers on lay-off

10.11.15

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

General Dynamics plants have many workers on lay-off

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION- June 2nd- The two General Dynamics operated plants in Northeastern Pennsylvania are operating with a unprecedented low number of employees.

The company operates the General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems plant on Cedar Avenue in South Scranton employs only a handful of workers, approximately 35 unionized, after the company laid-off twenty-nine additional workers in February. That followed the fifty-six workers that were laid-off in December 2014.

The International Association of Machinists (IAM) Union Local Lodge 847 represents the non-management hourly employees of the company. The plant, which mostly produced military projectiles for the United States Department of Defense including the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy, for a short time had no active Department of Defense work and survived by commercial contracts.

In 2012 the IAM represented approximately 236 workers at the plant.

The company several years ago began bidding on other work out-side of projectiles and was able to also begin the production of elbows for the natural gas industry. The current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the IAM and the company expires on October 17th, 2015.

During the Vietnam War in the 1960’s the plant employed more than 600 workers, with the plant operating three shifts a day to keep-up with demand.

The U.S. Department of Defense awarded the plant to produce new projectiles shells for the Navy earlier this year. The plant is expected to produce between 4,800 to 5,000 shells a month, which will result in some workers being recalled.

Meanwhile, the General Dynamics Land System plant on East Street in Eynon has only a hand-full of workers currently employed.

The United Auto Workers of America (UAW) Union Local 1193 represents the hourly workers at the plant. The plant refurbishes, rebuilds and heat treats parts for military ground combat vehicles, mainly the Army’s main battle tank.

Ken Klinkel, President of Local 1193, stated that around 70 workers are employed at the plant, with around 156 workers on lay-off. In 2010 the plant employed around 300 workers. Mr. Klinkel stated that General Dynamics wants to do everything they can to keep the plant opened, while waiting for more work to return to the facility.

Under the CBA between the parties, union members could be recalled from being laid-off for more than a decade.

Labor haters continue pushing for right-to-work laws

10.11.15

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

Labor haters continue pushing for right-to-work laws

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, May 24th- Anti-union forces have continued their attack on labor organizations by pushing for more states in the nation to pass legislation that would ban union security clauses in collective bargaining agreements (CBA’s). Banning union security language in CBA’s is commonly known as “right-to-work” legislation.

Wisconsin became the twenty-fifth state in the nation to ban employers and labor organizations from agreeing to union security clauses this past winter.

Without “right-to-work” law, or what the labor community often refer to as “no-rights-at-work”, CBA’s could include contract language that makes employees become an union member after working a probationary period. The clause is a term of collective bargaining and must first be negotiated between the union and the employer and ratified by the membership.

A new wave of legislative bills has been introduced in some states including Maine and Pennsylvania that would ban union security clauses. Clearly, the legislation in intended to weaken the numbers of union members. Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Tom Wolf has made it clear he would veto any right-to-work bill if it should reach his desk.

Labor haters throughout the nation believe the banning of union security clauses will come more easily because of last years pro-business Republican party gaining seats in legislatures throughout the United States.

Wiscomsin Republican Governor Scot Walker, wasted little time in signing into law the legislation that made the badger state the twenty-fifth state in the nation to ban employer and labor organizations from agreeing to union security clauses within their CBA’s. Mr. Walker is a possible candidate for his party’s nomination in next years presidential campaign.

Pro-right-to-work supporters, including the America Chamber of Commerce, and many business groups, have stated that the removing of union security clauses from labor agreements would bring economic prosperity. However, no independent data has shown that states that have passed right-to-work legislation has seen a significant increase in job creation.

In Pennsylvania, success of right-to-work legislation is unlikely because of Mr. Wolf’s threat of a veto and despite the Republicans controlling both the House of Representatives and the Senate, there are not enough votes to overturn it. Two-thirds of both chambers are needed to over-ride Governor Wolf’s veto.

USW Local 2599 conducts annual ‘Ed O’Brien’ legislative dinner-dance

05.29.15

JUNE 2015, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

USW Local 2599 conducts annual ‘Ed O’Brien’ legislative dinner-dance

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, May 16th- The United Steelworkers Union (USW) Local 2599, held their annual ‘Ed O’Brien Legislative Dinner/Dance’ on Friday evening, May 8th at the USW building on East Lehigh Street in Bethlehem. More than 110 attended the event which included USW officers and members, elected political officials, candidates for the May primary election and other union officials. The scheduled featured speaker was Pennsylvania Lt. Governor Mike Stack, however Mr. Stack cancelled the event just hours before because of a death in his family.

Local 2599 is one the largest labor organizations in the Lehigh Valley and once represented workers employed at Bethlehem Steel, just several blocks away from the union hall. The site of the former steel mill is now the location of the Sands Casino. The steel mill closed in 2000.

This years event was held on a Friday, normally it is held on a Saturday evening and the attendance increased from last year by more than 30 people.

Jerry Green, President of Local 2599, which was recently elected by the membership for a sixth consecutive three-year term as leader of the union, welcomed the guest of the dinner/dance. Mr. Green broke the record by winning a sixth term as President of Local 2599. The previous record was held by Louis Schrenko who served for five consecutive terms from 1964 to 1979 when the union represented thousands of workers at Bethlehem Steel. Following the steel mill closure several USW local unions’ were merged into Local 2599.

Mr. Green serves on the Pennsylvania State Workers Compensation Advisory Board, being appointed by former House of Representatives Speaker Keith McCall.

Retired USW official and former Democratic party candidate for the House of Representatives 15th Legislative District Ed O’Brien, for which the legislative dinner/dance is named, attended the event. Mr. O’Brien ran and received the Democratic nomination in 2001 and 2003 but was defeated by current Republican United States Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey, also from the Lehigh Valley.

Mr. O’Brien first joined the USW in 1964 and serve in many positions within the USW, both in the Lehigh Valley and with the USW International Union. He resides in Coaldale with his wife Shirley.

Also attending the event was Allentown Democratic Mayor Edward Pawlowski, an candidate for Mr. Toomey’s Senate seat in 2016. Mr. Toomey will be seeking a second six-year term next year.

Mr. Pawlowski will likely receive the support of many of the affiliated unions of the building and construction trades. His relationship with the unions has been excellent because of his support for the hiring of the workers for building projects in the City of Allentown.

Also attending was Corey Lockard, Director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council 86, and the Chairperson of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation (NEPA-ALF). Mr. Lockard attended the event for the first-time and stated he was “impressed” with the USW building and found the event to be “old-school” and very enjoyable.

Nonfarm jobs increase by 4,800 in MSA from one year ago

05.29.15

JUNE 2015, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

Nonfarm jobs increase by 4,800 in MSA from one year ago

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, May 15th- According to data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Center for Workforce Information and Analysis in Harrisburg, the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) has gained 4,800 nonfarm jobs during the past twelve months to 351,100.

The data indicates that total private jobs increased within the MSA, which includes Carbon, Lehigh and Northampton Counties of Pennsylvania and Warren County, New Jersey, by 5,800 during the period.

There are 35,600 manufacturing jobs within the MSA, unchanged from one year before. Within the nonfarm sector, The data states there are 12,600, rising by 300 during the past twelve months, mining, logging and construction, jobs within the MSA.

According to the data, there are 39,900 government jobs in the MSA. Local government employs the most in the sector with 35,000 jobs, decreasing by 900 over the past twelve months. State government jobs have dropped by 100 from twelve months ago to 2,700. The Federal government employs 2,200, unchanged from twelve months before.

Most sectors within the MSA gained jobs during the past twelve months. The Leisure and Hospitally sector gained the most rising by 2,400 jobs, with Accommodation and Food Service jobs gaining by 1,100 within the sector.

There are 71,800 Education and Health Services jobs in the MSA with 18,900 of them being hospital jobs. There are 58,900 Healthcare and Social Assistance jobs in the MSA, dropping by 600 from twelve months ago.

According to the data there are 12,600 mining, logging and construction jobs, with the majority being in the construction industry, in the MSA. The sector gained 900 jobs during the past year.

LEHIGH VALLEY MSA’s unemployment rate increases to 5.7 percent

05.29.15

JUNE 2015, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

MSA’s unemployment rate increases to 5.7 percent

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, May 20th- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Center for Workforce Information and Analysis in Harrisburg, the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report at 5.7 percent. There are eight-teen MSA’s within the state and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the fourth highest unemployment rate.

The MSA includes Lehigh, Northampton, and Carbon Counties of Pennsylvania and Warren County, New Jersey. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was at 6.8 percent.

The East Stroudsburg MSA and the Johnstown MSA are tied for the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.6 percent. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the second highest unemployment in the state at 6.2 percent, the Williamsport MSA has the third highest unemployment rate at 5.8 percent, while the Philadelphia MSA has the fifth highest rate at 5.6 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3.7 percent. The State College MSA traditionally has the lowest unemployment within the state, however, the MSA also has one of the smallest workforces with 77,600 civilians. The Lancaster MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate at 4.2 percent, the Gettysburg MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate at 4.3 percent while the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth lowest at 4.5 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the fifth lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.7 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania was reported to be at 5.3 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report, while decreasing by eight-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before.

There are 336,000 Pennsylvania residents without jobs, but that number does not include residents that have exhausted their unemployment benefits and stopped looking for work. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted workforce of 6,375,000 and 6,030,000 of them have employment.

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 5.5 percent, unchanged from the previous report. The national unemployment rate was down one and one-tenth of a percentage point from twelve months before, partly because of workers that have exhausted their unemployment benefits. After workers exhaust their unemployment benefits they are no longer counted within the civilian labor-force.

The data indicates that there are 8,575,000 civilians nationwide without employment, but that number also does not include workers that have exhausted their unemployment benefits and stopped looking for work.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 425,700 civilians, increasing by 1,200 from the previous report but decreasing by 1,600 during the past twelve months. There are 24,200 civilians without employment within the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA, increasing by 800 from the month before and dropping by 5,800 from one year ago.

The Philadelphia MSA has the largest seasonally adjusted labor force in Pennsylvania at 3,033,900 with 171,300 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,205,600 with 64,100 without jobs. The Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest labor-force in Pennsylvania at 288,900 and 12,900 are jobless while the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA is fifth at 283,100 civilians and 17,600 are unemployment.

Within the MSA, Northampton County has the lowest unemployment at 5.6 percent, rising by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by one and one-tenth of a percentage point from twelve months before. Northampton County has a civilian labor force of 155,100, increasing by 500 from the previous report and also rising by 500 during the past twelve months. There are 8,700 without jobs, increasing by 400 from the month before and dropping by 1,700 during the past twelve months in Northampton County.

Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate within the MSA at 6.0 percent, increasing by six-tenths of a percentage point from the month before and dropping by two full percentage points from twelve months before. Carbon County has a civilian labor force of 31,500, the smallest within the MSA, with 1,900 without employment, decreasing by 600 from twelve months ago.

Lehigh County has the largest civilian labor-force within the MSA at 181,600, increasing by 700 from the previous report and dropping by 900 from one year before.

Lehigh County’s unemployment rate rose by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report but dropped by nine-tenths of a percentage point from one year before. There are 10,300 civilians in Lehigh County without jobs, increasing by 500 from the previous report and dropping by 2,100 during the past twelve months.

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.