Author Archives: Joe Doc

DNC committee visits Philadelphia again as convention decision looms

By Jared Shelly, Philadelphia Business Journal and HOPE YEN, The Associated Press

- The Democratic National Committee once again visited Philadelphia. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other arrived Wednesday morning.

Here’s more:

A person familiar with the convention bid says the DNC group was greeted by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, two of the city’s biggest boosters.

Mayor Nutter lead a tour of the city’s convention venues and historical highlights, such as the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, to remind DNC officials why Philadelphia is the best choice in terms of logistics, hotel rooms, security and convention space, according to the person familiar with the plans.

Philadelphia boosters have emphasized their convention experience and space with the Wells Fargo Center and the recently expanded Philadelphia Convention Center. The city hosted the Republican National Convention in 2000. Officials say they’ll be able to handle the $55 million to $60 million price tag.

Late last week, Wasserman Schultz announced that the convention will take place the week of July 25, 2016.

Philadelphia, New York and Columbus, Ohio are the final three contenders to host the DNC convention.


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1/28 – Today In PhillyLabor Radio Features Councilman Bill Greenlee and Co and The Fight For Paid Sick Leave In Philadelphia

1/28 – Today’s Featured Guests on Today In PhillyLabor Radio are City Councilman Bill Greenlee, Laura Wentz, President Philly CLUW,
Marianne Bellesorte, PathWays PA and the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces, Kathy Black, AFSCME DC 47 & Treasurer Philly CLUW and Diane Mohney, PFT 3, Retired.

Featured Topics – Paid Sick Days and Pregnant Workers Act.

Tune in to WWDB 860 AM (or listen online at from Noon to 2pm and See What All The Talk Is About!

Answering President Obama’s Call, House Introduces Paid Sick Leave Bill for Workers

BY Kevin Solari

- In his State of the Union address last week, President Obama outlined a plan to bring America in line with the rest of the industrialized world and provide paid sick and family leave for workers. Before the address, he had issued a memorandum granting federal employees six weeks of paid sick leave for the birth of a child and asked Congress to legislate another six weeks.

Although Obama’s measure only applies to employees of the federal government, he challenged Congress to address the issue on a national level.

“Today, we are the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers,” the President said in his address. “And since paid sick leave won where it was on the ballot last November, let’s put it to a vote right here in Washington. Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave. It’s the right thing to do.”

The President was referring to the Healthy Families Act, originally proposed by Senator Ted Kennedy in 2009, which would allow American citizens the chance to earn seven sick days a year. As of now, workers can use the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 to take off 12 weeks for the birth of a child, to care for a family member or other medical issues. But this time is unpaid and, as the President said during his address, “that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home.”

On Monday, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D–New York) took the first step to expanding paid sick time by reintroducing the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act. The bill gives federal employees access to six weeks of paid parental leave. Mahoney has consistently introduce paid parental leave legislation since 2000.
Benefitting workers is not the only reason the Congress would want to pass the legislation. Government is competing with the private sector for top talent, and work life balance is consistently a top concern for younger workers.

“More and more private employers around the world are offering parents paid time off so they can take care of their newborns,” Richard G. Thissen, president of the National Active and Retirees Federal Employees Association, said. “As a result, federal agencies can’t compete with the private sector for talented younger workers who, if electing federal employment, would have to use accrued vacation or sick time, which may be only a few days, or forgo pay in order to take time off after the birth of a child.”

According to Thissen, more than 30 percent of federal employees will be eligible for retirement in the next three years, creating the need to make these positions as attractive as possible to those the agencies would want to hire.

The Office of Management and Budget has said the extra weeks of paid leave would cost $250 million and would fit within the current budget.

Currently Papua New Guinea, Oman and the U.S. are the only countries in the world that don’t guarantee paid sick leave for workers.


Councilman ready for override if Nutter vetoes Philly sick leave bill

By Tom MacDonald

- Philadelphia City Council will again take up the issue of paid sick leave for workers at a hearing Tuesday. And, after several go-rounds, the bill’s sponsor isn’t willing the water the legislation down any further.

Mayor Michael Nutter wants any law to apply only to employers with 15 or more workers. Councilman Bill Greenlee’s bill, however, calls for a 10-employee standard, and he’s not budging.

“We’ve already modified it, we’ve gone from five to 10, and we aren’t going any further,” Greenlee said. “Ten has been sort of the max in the bills that have been established around the country over the last couple of years.”

Should the mayor again veto the legislation, Greenlee said he’s ready with reinforcements.

“I will go for the override, and we will override if we have to,” he said, adding that he has at least 12 votes for an override. He said support is building for the bill.

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Important Judicial Decision Upholds The Rights Of School Teachers And Employees

- Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Rules That School Reform Commission (SRC) Cannot Cancel Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) Contract


- In a significant judicial victory for organized labor, the Commonwealth Court, on Thursday, January 23, affirmed a lower court ruling which had rejected the unilateral cancellation of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers’ collective bargaining agreement by the School Reform Commission.

PFT President Jerry Jordan stated that the decision by Commonwealth Court affirms what we have been saying for months: The School Reform Commission’s move last October to unilaterally cancel the PFT contract was unjust and a blatant violation.

“The decision is a victory for collective bargaining and the notion that contracts between parties should be negotiated not imposed,” Jordan said in a statement released by the union.

The PFT is calling on the school district to immediately resume negotiations. “It’s time to redirect the energy and resources wasted on litigation to negotiating a contract that will ensure our schoolchildren and educators are given the best possible tools for teaching and learning,” Jordan stated.

PA AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale congratulated President Jordan and the PFT on “this important judicial victory for working people. This is a fair and just decision that defends and recognizes our collective bargaining rights. It maintains a level field of play between both sides,” Bloomingdale said.

PA AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder stated that this decision is “important to school teachers and workers in school districts throughout Pennsylvania who are having to deal with the failed policies and underfunding and of public education by the previous administration. We are joining with all of our unions in pushing for restoration of the cuts and support for policies that support our students and improve educational opportunities,” Snyder said.


Medical marijuana workers hitting roadblocks trying to unionize in South Jersey

By Bobby Allyn

- Workers at a medical marijuana dispensary in South Jersey are fighting their employer to unionize.

The employees’ complaint to the National Labor Relations Board states that Compassionate Care Foundation in Egg Harbor Twp. is blocking its workers efforts to form a union.

The 11 workers at New Jersey’s second medicinal pot dispensary say when they tried to unionize, their employer used “tricks from the usual anti-union playbook” to deny them.

According to the employees’ attorney Mark Belland, the company changed workers’ classification from “growers” to “agricultural workers” amid the unionization push.

The workers are pushing to join United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 152, which is based in Mays Landing.

Under federal law, agricultural workers are exempted fro some labor protections. The labor board has not yet ruled on how pot growers in New Jersey’s burgeoning medicinal marijuana industry should be classified. The decision will determine whether the workers are backed by union law protections.

In California, the Teamsters have strengthened their ranks by successfully unionizing dozens of pot workers, coming just as the union’s numbers have dropped in traditional industries.

Attorney Belland said as the pot industry blossoms, the union issue will become more central.

“Particularly when you have conditions like the employees are experiencing with Compassionate Care,” Belland said. The workers’ complaint accuses Compassionate Care of retaliating against pro-union workers by cutting back their hours and withholding pay.

More pot workers in New Jersey are “going to be reaching out to labor organizations to help them achieve job security and better their working conditions,” Balland said.

Compassionate Care representatives were not available to respond to requests for comment.

Late last year, New Jersey opened its third medical marijuana clinic, initiated by a 2010 state law legalizing medical marijuana.

Workers at the state’s other two dispensaries have not yet sought union representation.

The NLRB has scheduled a Feb. 4 hearing on the dispute.

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Take Action: National Call-In Week Against Fast Track

Via The Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO

The new Republican-controlled Congress isn’t wasting any time in pushing policies that will harm working families. How long will it be until they start pushing for Fast Track trade authority, potentially one of the most devastating ideas that has serious traction in Washington, D.C., right now? The good news is that you don’t have to sit around waiting for it to happen, you can take action now.

Starting today, working families are standing up and fighting back against Fast Track by participating in a national call-in week, telling members of Congress to “say no to Fast Track.” Call your member of Congress today at 1-855-712-8441. If you can’t call today, please call later in the week. Working families are depending on you to help prevent this extreme policy.

As we’ve mentioned before, Fast Track is a policy that sets up the process for bad trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement. Fast Track undermines democracy and will lead to more trade deals that harm working families. Previous agreements approved under Fast Track have cost the United States hundreds of thousands of jobs and contributed to the closing of more than 60,000 factories. Fast Track shifts power and profits even further up the ladder, making the richest corporations and individuals even richer at the cost of working families.

Read more about why Fast Track is bad for the United States and call your member of Congress at 1-855-712-8441. Tell her or him to “just say no to Fast Track!”


Meet Pa.’s New Governor: Tom Wolf

By The Philly Public Record

- Thomas Westerman “Tom” Wolf is an American businessman and politician who Tuesday will become Pennsylvania’s 47th Governor. He did so by defeating Republican incumbent Tom Corbett in the 2014 gubernatorial election.

This was his return to government responsibility after serving as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Dept. of Revenue from April 2007 until November 2008.

Wolf was chairman of his family-owned business, the Wolf Organization Inc., a building-product company specializing in kitchen cabinets. He stepped down as CEO at the end of December 2013 to focus on his gubernatorial campaign. Following his election as Governor, Wolf stepped down from the board altogether on Dec. 31, 2014.

He is a born and bred Pennsylvanian. Born on Nov. 17, 1948, in York, Pa., the son of Cornelia Rohlman (née Westerman) and William Trout “Bill” Wolf, a business executive, he was raised in Mount Wolf, Pa., which was named after his ancestor, the town’s postmaster and reared as a Methodist.

Gov. Wolf received an AB magna cum laude from Dartmouth College in 1972, an MPhil from the University of London in 1978 and a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981. While a student, Wolf joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in India. He met his wife Frances at school and married her in 1975. They have two adult daughters.

After graduating, Wolf began working for the Wolf Organization as a forklift operator, until purchasing the company in 1985 with two business partners. During the administration of Gov. Robert P. Casey, Wolf served on an economic-development board and on the Pennsylvania Legislative Commission on Urban Schools.

After selling his company to a private equity firm in 2006, Wolf was nominated in January 2007 by then-Gov. Ed Rendell to be the Secretary of Revenue of Pennsylvania. He served in that position on Rendell’s cabinet from his April 2007 confirmation by the Pennsylvania State Senate until resigning in November 2008. He had planned to run for Governor of Pennsylvania in the 2010 election, but ultimately did not in order to repurchase the Wolf Organization, which was facing bankruptcy.

Wolf serves as chair of the York County United Way, the York County Community Foundation, the York College Board of Trustees, and as chairman of the York County Chamber of Commerce. He has also been active in the York Jewish Community Center, the Memorial Hospital of York, and a regional public-television system.

On Apr. 2, 2013, Wolf announced his candidacy for Governor of Pennsylvania in the 2014 election. He pledged $10 million of his personal wealth toward the primary election, with an intent to raise at least $5 million from supporters throughout the state. He was the third person to announce candidacy, following John Hanger, former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection, and Max Myers, a minister from Cumberland County; but he knew at least four others were expected to join the race.

He was hardly considered a frontrunner when he appeared at the first forum for Democratic gubernatorial candidates held by progressives at Temple University.

But by early March 2014, several polls suggested Wolf was the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination, following an extensive television and radio advertising campaign. A Franklin & Marshall College poll conducted in late February 2014 showed Wolf with a 27-point lead over his nearest competitor, Allyson Schwartz, and a Harper poll showed him leading Schwartz by 26 percentage points, as did an additional Franklin & Marshall poll in late March 2014.

In late April and early May, Wolf faced attacks from fellow candidate Rob McCord over his relationship with controversial former York, Pa. Mayor Charlie Robertson. Allyson Schwartz also accused Wolf’s campaign of plagiarizing his “Fresh Start” plan from an energy-equipment company. Despite the attacks, a Muhlenberg College/Morning Call poll suggested Wolf continued to lead with 38% to Allyson Schwartz’s and Rob McCord’s respective 13% and 11%.

In the May 20 primary, Wolf defeated Schwartz, McCord, and Katie McGinty to win the Democratic nomination for Governor. As such, he faced incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett in the November general election. Heading into the final two months of the campaign, a number of polls indicated a varying but consistent advantage for Wolf over Corbett. Although Corbett slightly narrowed the deficit as the election approached, Wolf maintained a persistent lead in the race.

On Nov. 4, 2014, Wolf was elected Governor with 54.9% of the vote. As of next Tuesday he will be our 47th Governor.


Celebrating The Legacy Of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


- This Monday we celebrate the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who fought for civil rights, dignity, and equal opportunity for all Americans.

While Monday is the official Martin Luther King Holiday, celebrations and remembrances of Dr. King and his work are kicking off this weekend, and will continue throughout the remainder of the month. All across Pennsylvania, we encourage you to take advantage by participating in these events and celebrations.

When Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, he was there in support of sanitation workers and their struggle to form a union. Throughout his life, Dr. King worked at building closer relationships and cementing partnerships between organized labor and the civil rights movement. He understood that unions were critical to achieving social and economic justice for all people. We need to keep building these partnerships if we are to build union density and expand economic opportunity for those who are too often marginalized in our economy and in our society.

On Saturday, January 17 and Sunday, January 18, Labor and Community leaders and Clergy will join to honor the vision of Dr. King, and what he called a glorious partnership between labor and the civil rights movement.

Several representatives of our State Labor Table will receive honorary recognition for contributions to Dr. King’s Beloved Community, including Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Richard Bloomingdale; PSEA President Mike Crossey; SEIU Local 668 President Tom Herman; AFSCME District Council 13 Director of Education Carla Insinga; and CBTU Chair Shirley Yates. These honors will be presented during the Sunday evening worship service on January 18th at the Goodwin Memorial Baptist Church in Harrisburg. The service begins at 6:00 PM and will be led by the Rev. Dr. Mark K. Tyler of Mother Bethel AME Church, Philadelphia. Bishop A.E. Sullivan and the Martin Luther King Leadership Development Institute are among other organizations and individuals who will be honored.

This event underscores the unity we continue to forge with partners across Pennsylvania to meet the challenges we face. These partnerships have played an important role in our recent legislative battles to stop attacks on workers’ rights, including paycheck protection, pension reform, and privatization; as well as on issues such as voting rights, when we fought together to overturn Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law. These relationships will continue to be critical as we fight for a proactive agenda of good jobs, better wages and benefits, and retirement security for everyone.

Also this weekend, hundreds of leaders and members of labor unions and civil rights organizations have come together in Atlanta, GA, the birthplace of Dr. King, to participate in the AFL-CIO’S 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference. The event runs from Thursday, January 15 through Sunday, January 19. AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere A. Gebre is helping to lead the conference, which is featuring workshops, actions, and general sessions. You can follow the conference on Twitter @aflcio with the hashtag #1uMLK.

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Yuengling canned from menu at Wolf’s swearing-in

By Jason Laughlin, Inquirer Staff Writer

- Is America’s oldest lager non grata to Pennsylvania’s newest governor?

Yuengling, from the Pottsville-based brewery, appears to have been left off the list of beverages to be served at next week’s inauguration for Gov.-elect Tom Wolf.

State Rep. Mike Vereb (R., Montgomery) said he learned from constituents and others that inauguration planners had specifically declared Yuengling not to be served. Vereb said Thursday he was not sure why, or if Wolf knew, but added that he didn’t think it was accidental.

Asked if Yuengling’s draft was getting the shaft, Wolf representative Beth Melena said: “We met our beverage needs, and we have a variety of choices for attendees from a number of breweries, including Pennsylvania-based breweries.” She would not elaborate.

One clue may be the company’s president, Richard Yuengling Jr.

As popular as his family’s beer may be – President Obama sent a case to his counterpart in Ottawa after Canada topped the United States in men’s hockey in the 2010 Olympics – Yuengling, a Republican, doesn’t have many fans among organized labor, one of the Democratic Party’s – and by extension Wolf’s – most reliable bases.

Two years ago, the now-74-year-old Yuengling became a target of union rallies after becoming a vocal proponent of “right-to-work” laws. At the time, he said the state would attract more business if it endorsed policies that ban mandatory dues and membership at unionized businesses.

Such laws are seen as union-busting by labor advocates. A year ago, the Teamsters voted to boycott Yuengling products.

Brewery officials did not return phone calls and e-mails seeking comment on Thursday.

Founded in 1829, D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. competes with the company that makes Sam Adams for the title of America’s largest domestically owned brewery. It produces more than 2.5 million barrels a year, according to its website. It has been owned by the Yuengling family for five generations. Business Insider calls it Pennsylvania’s favorite beer.

And, like others, the brewery planned to offer the beer free at the inauguration, according to Vereb, who is also the Montgomery County GOP chairman.

“Turning down beer from America’s oldest brewery here in Pennsylvania is unheard of,” he said.

Wolf’s inauguration party Tuesday night is being billed as a celebration of Pennsylvania’s people, products, and culture – and Pennsylvania’s brewers will be well represented, according to a list of publicly announced product sponsors.

Philadelphia-based Yards contributed $2,000 in beer. Troegs, out of Hershey, offered $1,064 of its brew. Roy-Pitz Brewing Co. of Chambersburg, which describes itself as a creator of “liquid art,” is kicking in $114 in beer.

On Thursday, Wolf released the list of donors – from lobbyists to law firms to unions – who contributed $1.5 million to pay for his inaugural festivities Tuesday. Among the top givers were some of the state’s largest state employee unions, Comcast Corp., and Wolf’s family-owned business. All gave the $50,000 maximum.

When Gov. Corbett celebrated his swearing-in four years ago, his inaugural team offered a wide variety of suds, said his spokesman, Jay Pagni.

Including Yuengling.

“All Pennsylvania brewers were proudly represented at Gov. Corbett’s inauguration,” he said.

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