Author Archives: Joe Doc

SEPTA union to hold strike authorization vote Sunday

By Jared Shelly

- SEPTA’s largest union puts its labor situation succinctly: “The day of reckoning is fast approaching.”

That was the opening line of a letter to the workers that control the city’s buses and subways. It’s alerting them of a strike authorization vote on Sunday. If a strike passes, the union could walk off the job at any time, halting a majority of the public transportation in the city. (Regional rail trains would continue to run, since its union recently signed a new contract.)

The TWU Local 234 union has been negotiating with SEPTA on and off for months. It’s been without a contract since the spring. At the moment, the main sticking point is pensions, said President Willie Brown in an interview earlier this month. He says that union workers realize significantly less monthly income from pensions than SEPTA management workers.

“With us, it’s not a question of if we strike it’s a question of when we strike,” Brown told me in early October.

As time passes, that threat seems to look more and more like it could become a reality. The letter to union members said the following:

“SEPTA’s latest proposal would freeze our pension benefits at current levels for five years, require all TWU members to contribute 10 percent of the premium for health insurance, which is approximately $2636/year for family coverage, and force us to eat substantially higher co-payments for office visits, hospital services and prescription benefits,” the letter states.

It goes on to say: “We have to fight to secure wage increases that will enable us to maintain a decent standard of living… We have to squash the naysayers, put aside petty differences, join together on the picket lines and in the streets and be determined to fight for what is rightfully ours.”


10/22 – Today In PhillyLabor Radio Podcast Featuring Frank Snyder, Secretary – Treasurer of the PA. AFL-CIO, Jim Farally, Pres. Phila. AFL-CIO Retirees Council

(PODCAST) 10/22 – Today In PhillyLabor Radio Podcast Featuring Frank Snyder, Secretary – Treasurer of the PA. AFL-CIO, Jim Farally, Pres. Phila. AFL-CIO Retirees Council and Bret Elam, Thrive Financial

FEATURED TOPICS – PA. AFL-CIO Get Out The Vote Campaign and Retirees Benefits and Resources Discussion

To Listen to the Podcast, Go To: rebuts Corbett ads targeting Wolf

By Holly Otterbein

- The website has issued a blistering report on two campaign ads by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett.

The TV advertisements say Democratic gubernatorial nominee Tom Wolf wants to raise income taxes on the middle class.

In fact, Wolf is proposing to cut income taxes for the middle class and poor, while making wealthy Pennsylvanians pay more. He has said he considers a middle-class salary to fall somewhere between $70,000 and $90,000 annually.

“The people who would benefit from Wolf’s plan are people who are in the middle-income area,” said Eugene Kiely, director of “So for Corbett to say that Wolf is promising to raise middle-class taxes is inaccurate because those are the very people who would benefit from Wolf’s plan.”

Chris Pack, a spokesman for Corbett’s campaign, said the article by is “biased” and “wildly inaccurate,” and that Wolf has failed to release important details about his tax plan. Recent polls show Corbett is trailing Wolf by double digits.


Fifty Philadelphia Labor Leaders Sign Letter Condemning SRC’s Unionbusting

Chairman Bill Green
School Reform Commission
School District of Philadelphia
440 N. Broad St, Suite 101
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Dear Chairman Green,

We are the leaders of Philadelphia’s labor unions, representing an incredible diversity of the region’s workers. We stand unified in our commitment to Philadelphia’s public school system, which is part of the bedrock of our community and our economy. We are dedicated to the principle that justice and social progress are impossible without a seat at the table for working people.

On Monday October 6th, you held a hastily organized and barely publicized meeting at which you voted unanimously to cancel your collective bargaining agreement with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. Imposing terms unilaterally on over 12,000 teachers, counsellors, librarians, nurses, and assistants in your school system constitutes a direct attack on those who teach and care for our children. It also constitutes your abandonment of any pretense of bargaining in good faith with the PFT. In fact, it represents the effective destruction of collective bargaining.

The problems in our School District will be solved only with adequate, stable funding from Harrisburg and productive collaboration between District leaders and your staff. Collective bargaining is essential to that kind of collaboration. By abandoning the negotiating table, you’ve turned your back on the input of thousands of dedicated, experienced professionals.

Philadelphia’s children deserve well-staffed, well-funded schools with a full complement of professional staff who are treated with respect by their employer. Working people deserve a voice in the decisions that affect our work, our schools, and our communities. We oppose your canceling your contract with PFT in the strongest possible terms, and will continue to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers as they fight to reverse your decision.


AFGE Local 2006, President Beverly Wilmer
AFGE Local 2058, President David Fitzpatrick
AFSCME District Council 33, President Pete Matthews
AFSCME District Council 47, President Fred Wright
AFT Pennsylvania, President Ted Kirsch
American Maritime Officers, National Executive VP Robert J Keifer
American Postal Workers Union Local 89, President Nick Casselli
American Postal Workers Union Local 7048, President Vince Tarducci
Association of Catholic Teachers Local 1776, NACST President Rita Schwartz
Boilermakers Local Lodge 13, Business Manager John Clark Jr
Bricklayers Local 1, Business Manager Dennis Pagliotti
CWA Local 13000, President Jim Gardler
District 1199C NUHHCE AFSCME, President Henry Nicholas
Elevator Constructors Local 5, Business Manager Ed Loomis
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, President John McNesby
Gas Workers Union Local 686, President Keith Holmes
Heat & Frost Insulator & Allied Workers Local 14, Business Manager Steve Pettit
HPAE, President Ann Twomey
IAFF Local 22, President Joe Schulle
IAM Local 1776, Recording Secretary C.A. O’Brien
IATSE Local 8, Business Manager Michael Barnes
IBEW Local 98, Business Manager John J. Dougherty
Ironworkers Local 401, Business Representative Charles Roberts
IUPAT District Council 21, Business Manager Joseph Ashdale
Laborers’ District Council of Philadelphia and Vicinity, Government Affairs Representative Ken Washington
Laborers’ Local 332, Business Manager Sam Staten, Jr.
National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 157, President Randy Zebin
Operating Engineers Local 542, Business Manager Robert Heenan
PA Conference of Teamsters, Joint Council 53 and IBT Local 157, President William Hamilton
PASNAP, President Patricia Eakin
Pennsylvania Federation BMWED – Teamsters, General Chairman Jed Dodd
Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee, Director Michael Hersch
Philadelphia Joint Board Workers United, Manager Lynne Fox
Philadelphia Building Trades Council, Business Manager Patrick Gillespie
Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO, President Patrick Eiding
Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Local 3, President Jerry Jordan
PhilaPOSH, Director Barbara Rahke
Plumbers Local 690, Business Mgr./Financial Secretary Treasurer John Kane
SAG – AFTRA Philadelphia, Vice President Catherine Brown
Seafarers International Union, Business Manager Joe Baselice
SEIU 32BJ Mid-Atlantic, Director Daisy Cruz
SEIU 32BJ District 1201, President George Ricchezza
Sheet Metal Workers Local 19, President Gary Masino
Sprinkler Fitters Local 692, Business Manager Wayne Miller
Steamfitters Local 420, Business Manager Anthony Gallagher
Teamsters Local 107, Trustee Ed Shaw
Teamsters Local 830, Secretary-Treasurer Daniel Grace
TNG-CWA Local 38010, Executive Director Bill Ross
TWU Local 234, President Willie Brown
UAW Region 9, Area Director Terrence Dittes
UFCW Local 1776, President Wendell Young, IV
UNITE HERE Local 274, President Rosslyn Wuchinich
UNITE HERE Local 54, President Bob McDevitt
USW Local 10-1, President Jim Savage

Pat Eiding, President
Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO

Cc: Feather Houstoun, Member, SRC
Farah Jimenez, Member, SRC
Marjorie Neff, Member, SRC
Sylvia P Simms, Member, SRC
Governor Tom Corbett
Mayor Michael Nutter


Court battle brewing between Philly schools, teachers union

By Kevin McCorry

- In response to having its contract unilaterally terminated, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers filed several legal actions Friday.

The union has petitioned the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas to prevent the district from implementing health care concessions until a legal ruling is made.

PFT president Jerry Jordan said the law is on the union’s side.

“We believe they don’t have the right to do that,” he said in a telephone interview. “Health care benefits are a subject of mandatory bargaining.”

The union filings come in response to the SRC asking the state Commonwealth Court to make a judgment on whether terminating the contract was legal. The district jointly filed the motion with state Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq.

The union believes the education secretary isn’t a party to the matter and, therefore, the case belongs in the city Court of Common Pleas, the Pennsylvania Labor Relations board or another labor arbitrator.

“The Pa. Department of Education should not be a part of this dispute,” said Jordan in the PFT’s official release. “Our position is that they were added as a plaintiff simply so the SRC could plead their case before the Commonwealth Court.”

The district intends to proceed as planned. Teachers are set to begin seeing reductions in take-home pay in December, but the district is using cash flow to pump $15 million into schools immediately. Another $30 million is planned for disbursement throughout the year.

SRC Chairman Bill Green defended the district’s decision to start spending the money before a ruling is made.

“We believe our position will be upheld, and we’re taking the risk that it will be upheld, because we need to get resources into schools to support the teachers in their classrooms,” Green told reporters after Thursday’s SRC meeting.

The union also filed several complaints with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board.

“The PFT never wants to settle a contract this way, but the SRC is giving us no choice,” Jordan said in the release. “They abandoned negotiation in favor of litigation; we are responding forcefully that the courts are no place for this dispute. We’re hoping for a quick resolution that brings this matter where it belongs — back to the bargaining table.”


Plant Gates And Debates: Day 11 Of Get Out The Vote Campaign


- The RV was on the road before the sunshine today with a stop at Northampton Gracedale Nursing Home at 6 a.m. to distribute election material to educate the union members that work there on the issues we all face in this election.

Northeast ALF Director Dave Carey was there along with Ellen and John Weiss, Jim Irwin and Jim Schlener of AFSCME to pass out flyers. Thank you to everyone who helped and thank you to the workers at Northampton Gracedale for being so receptive to our efforts.

Fast forward to 6 p.m. when the RV was at University of Pittsburgh Johnstown for a rally before the debate between PA AFL-CIO endorsed candidate for Congressional District 12 Erin McClelland and anti-worker Keith Rothfus.

McClelland, her team (#TeamErin), her family (including her father who is a 39-year member of IBEW Local 29), union members, veterans and taxpaying voters gathered around the RV and Rosie The Riveter to get pumped up for the upcoming debate.

During the debate, the two candidates took questions from the audience about topics including healthcare, education, medical marijuana, Ebola, veteran care, news consumption, minimum wage and more.

Ultimately, McClelland came off as a regular working Pennsylvanian speaking from her heart while Rothfus seemed like just another politician reading scripted talking points to try and say what he thinks people want to hear.

McClelland is truly a pro-labor candidate who will fight for working Pennsylvanians. Rothfus’ voting record speaks for itself as he has voted against providing aid to the people of the East Coast of the U.S. following Super Storm Sandy (one has to wonder if he would have voted against aid for the people of Johnstown after the flood of 1889), voted for the 2014 Paul Ryan budget that stomped on the middle class while providing tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations, and voted multiple times against the Affordable Care Act along with a litany of other votes against the interests of children, veterans, retirees and middle class taxpayers.

We need more people like Erin McClelland in Washington D.C., and less like Keith Rothfus. We look forward to seeing her succeed, but that can only happen if we get out the vote on November 4.

We are done with Burgers And Ballots for the week, but will get the grill (and voters) fired back up next week.

Burgers And Ballots comes to Clarion University on Monday, October 20 at 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. between Gimmel Student Center and Tippin Gymnasium. We will be at Slippery Rock University on Tuesday, October 21 at 12:30 until 1:30 p.m. in The Quad’s SGA Pavilion. We will be at Edinboro University on Wednesday, October 22 at 12 until 2 p.m. in front of the Pogue Student Center. We will be at California University on Thursday, October 23 at 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. outside of the Student Union Buiding.

Make sure to ‘Like’ us on Facebook ( and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter @PaAFL_CIO ( to keep up with all the GOTV events. Also, follow us on Instagram @PaAFL_CIO.

And don’t forget to vote on November 4!


Labor, Schools, Faith And Community Unite To Protest SRC’s Decision To Cancel Teacher Union’s Contract


- Last week, Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission (SRC) abruptly canceled the American Federation of Teachers/Philadelphia Federation of Teachers’ (AFT/PFT) contract.

On Thursday, well over 1,000 protesters consisting of Philadelphia students and teachers, labor, faith-based organizations and various community groups gathered in front of the Philadelphia School District building to make their voices heard – and that it was as many speakers rallied an intense crowd from the stage of PA AFL-CIO’s RV stage.

The rally included a long list of speakers including AFT President Randi Weingarten, PA AFT President Ted Kirsch, PFT President Jerry Jordan and PA AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale.

“People ask me, ‘Why are you in Philly so much?’ Philly is ground zero for injustice!” AFT President Randi Weingarten exclaimed.

If the action by the SRC holds up in court, 15,000 teachers and other union members will be forced to contribute to health benefits up to 13 percent of their medical premiums starting on December 15.

This would put an undue burden on these hard working educators who are already forced to spend their own money on school supplies in a fiscally strained school district.

Following the protest, SRC held a meeting where many labor, faith and community leaders met face-to-face with those making these kinds of disastrous decisions.

As we approach the November 4 election, let us remember the struggle in Philadelphia’s school district, and how important it is we elect officials who will defend educators and students.


Turn Up For Truth Rally: Today at 4pm, Send A Message of Support For Philadelphia Teachers and a Show of Solidarity Against The Actions of the SRC!

- Attention all members of the Philadelphia area labor community and members of the general public, you are cordially invited and encouraged to attend a rally to protest the cowardly actions of the school reform commission (SRC) who canceled the contracts of PFT members in a little publicized meeting thus destroying the collective bargaining process while at the same time cutting the healthcare for thousands of Philadelphia teachers and PFT retirees.

The Details:

What – Turn Up For Truth Rally

Who – The PFT, Labor Community, students, faith and Community Groups

When – Thursday 10/16 – Gather at 4pm, Rally at 4:30pm

Where – 440 N. Broad Street

Please attend and send a message of SOLIDARITY to our teachers that we will not stand for the way they have been treated!

We Look forward to seeing you there!

As engineers reach tentative deal, talks continue with largest SEPTA union

By Tom MacDonald

- After five years of talks, the engineers who operate SEPTA’s regional rail trains have a tentative deal with the transit agency. Meanwhile, further talks are scheduled with 5,000 other workers who drive SEPTA buses, trolleys and subways.

Representing 200 members, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen said Monday that SEPTA has agreed to recommendations made by an emergency board appointed by President Barack Obama.

“There was a recommendation for an additional payment to the locomotive engineers to maintain the historical wage relationship that the locomotive engineers have with the conductors,” said union vice president Steven Bruno.

In a statement late Monday, SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams said the proposed five-year agreement covers July 15, 2010, to July 14, 2015.

The BLET members will receive a $1,250 lump sum signing bonus and compensation that includes an 11.5 percent wage increase — 8.5 percent immediately upon contract ratification and an additional 3 percent in April 2015.

According to the union, all raises in the five-year contract add up to 13.3 percent.

As it’s reached a tentative agreement with the engineers, SEPTA has set more talks this week in hopes of averting a walkout by members of the Transport Workers Union.

Union officials say the key sticking points are pensions, health care concessions and the handling of grievances.

The union, which represents about 5,000 SEPTA employees, has been without a contract since March.

A strike is possible unless SEPTA agrees to a short-term contract, said union president Willie Brown. He said his side is doing its best to prevent a walkout.

“It is very possible,” Brown said. “The ironic thing is … I think it’s more about egos than economics and that’s never good for negotiations.”

SEPTA is hoping for the best from this week’s negotiating sessions, Williams said.

“Face-to-face negotiations are the best way to talk about the issues and see where each side stands,” she said.

Despite their tentative deal, the engineers union still has some issues with SEPTA, but Bruno said those can be addressed outside contract negotiations.

“There are excessively long days at work; there’s interrupted work schedules. SEPTA has not been able to maintain adequate staffing to address these concerns,” he said. “They have been unable to address these matters in a substantive way … it has plagued them for years.”

The engineers went on a one-day strike this summer.

Source –

Five reasons Corbett seems headed to a historic loss (And a Brief PhillyLabor Editorial)

By Chris Satullo

- Since 1968, when Pennsylvania started allowing its governors to run for re-election, voters have returned every sitting governor for a second term.

This streak may be about to end.

Polls show Democrat Tom Wolf leading the incumbent, Republican Tom Corbett, by around 15 percentage points.

How did Corbett pull off this feat, persuading the state’s voters to ponder such an historic act of rejection?

Here’s a list of five factors:

1) The Sandusky Scandal

The horrific child abuse by the former Penn State assistant football coach has cut Corbett in two ways. People upset that Jerry Sandusky’s crimes took so long to be stopped blame Corbett’s performance as attorney general. But Penn State loyalists are furious at Corbett because they feel, in his role as university trustee, he threw the sainted Joe Paterno under the bus. Soon after the trustees fired Joe Pa, he died. Rare is the controversy that leads people on each side of the divide to be equally irked with the same person.

2) Flunking Business 101

Philosophically, Corbett belongs to the “let’s run government like a business” camp. Well, a first premise of business is that when you have leverage, you exploit it.

As recently as an interview in WHYY’s studio on Friday, the governor has kept on insisting that levying any more taxes on Marcellus Shale drillers would have chased them away. How, governor, how? The natural gas bonanza sits underneath your state, not Iowa. The drillers … were … not … going … anywhere.

When it came to the shale, Corbett had all the leverage a governor could want. But, in thrall to American Enterprise Institute boilerplate about the evils of corporate taxation, he squandered it.

3) Weaker schools

Corbett’s term has featured massive disinvestment in public education. Yes, as his supporters say, the basic state subsidy to schools has risen on his watch, but it has not kept pace with rising costs.

Meanwhile, other aid programs – including a charter reimbursement payment vital to Philadelphia – have been scrapped.

No doubt the man arrived in office in the midst of tough fiscal times, with the global recession blowing a hole in the state budget.

But Corbett was rare among governors in being blessed with a potentially healing windfall: shale revenues. Unwilling to seize it, he chose instead to let school budgets shrink. All across the state, unhappy school parents feel the effects and lament this missed opportunity.

4) Foxes in the henhouse

The governor filled many key cabinet and regulatory posts – including environmental protection – with emissaries from the business sectors. Since Day One, their brief seems to have been to serve as concierges for business interests, helping them navigate around pesky regulations. As former U.S House Majority Leader Eric Cantor learned in his recent congressional loss, even some very conservative voters are getting tired of seeing their interests take a back seat to Wall Street’s.

5) The indifferent leader

When you meet him, Corbett seems pleasant and personable. But he has little gift for political stagecraft and little taste for some core challenges of his office, like getting the four squabbling caucuses of the legislature to agree on anything. It’s hard to argue, in general terms, with his choice of two big agenda items to push – pension reform and getting rid of state liquor stores. But his pushing has not amounted to much action.

Before his interviews at WHYY Friday, the governor eagerly and winningly showed off photos of his young grandchildren.

He seemed like a man secretly looking forward to spending more time with those kids pretty soon.


Brief Editorial – Adding #6 – Anti – Worker – Corbett is Bad for working families. Desire to privatize industries that are already successful and lay off thousands of hard working men and women in the process….etc.