Author Archives: Joe Doc

UFCW urges support for Rep. DiGirolamo’s modernization plan

BY The UFCW (PA) Wine and Spirits Council

- HARRISBURG, PA – UFCW Local 1776 President Wendell W. Young, IV urged House members to support Representative Gene DiGirolamo’s legislation to modernize the state’s Wine and Spirits Stores to increase customer convenience and generate significant new revenues for the Commonwealth.

- “The legislature has the opportunity and the responsibility to make a very valuable asset even stronger and generate up to $185 million a year in badly-needed revenue that could be used to help fund our public schools,” said Young.

“Rep. DiGirolamo’s proposal strikes a common sense balance
between customer convenience and responsible sales and distribution of wine and spirits,” Young added. “Given the looming budget deficit, now is the time to pass this legislation and send it to the governor’s desk.”

Among other provisions, Rep. DiGirolamo’s bill, introduced on Tuesday 4/14, would eliminate the 25 percent cap on amount of stores that can be open on Sunday and eliminate restrictions on hours of operation for these stores. The bill also would ease and encourage development of more stores either inside of or adjacent to grocery stores.

In addition, the bill provides for direct shipment of wine to PA consumers as well as to out-of-state consumers, and allows for consortium product buying that would enable the PLCB to secure the very best price for Pennsylvania consumers.

Young noted the legislation has bipartisan support and mirrors similar proposals that have attracted support from both parties in the Senate. The bill stands in stark contrast to risky ‘privatization lite’ plans that would ultimately destroy the PLCB.

“Privatization would put 5,000 Pennsylvanians out of work, jeopardize more than $550 million in tax revenues and profits, and create increased public health and safety risks in every community in PA,” Young said. “It makes no sense to outsource these jobs and this valuable asset to Walmart.”

Source: http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Save-the-PA-Wine—Spirits-Stores–The-fight-continues.html?soid=1112575112488&aid=n9LCJGNApOA

PhillyLabor.com Talk Radio Show Kicks off Today 4/16 with Phila AFL-CIO President Pat Eiding and City Councilman Bobby Henon On WWDB 860-AM

By PhillyLabor.com

- “Today in Philly Labor” is a weekly talk radio show hosted by Joe Doc Jr. of PhillyLabor.com and Philadelphia Radio Personality Joe “Krausey” Krause that airs every Wednesday from 6pm-8pm on Philadelphia’s legendary talk radio station WWDB/860-AM starting Wednesday, April 16, 2014 with featured Guests Philadelphia AFL-CIO President Pat Eiding and City Councilman Bobby Henon

The 2 hour drive time show presents a positive and dynamic look at EVERYTHING LABOR throughout Philadelphia and vicinity and tackles a plethora of topics ranging from labor news, information, and current events to politics, legislation and jobs as well as special segments on injured workers advocacy and retired workers and much more….

The show will feature weekly appearances and interviews with the area’s top union and pro-labor, business, professional and political leaders all for the purpose of bringing listeners a unique insider’s look at today’s labor movement.

Upcoming Show Guests Include: (Additional Political, Business and Professional Leader Guests Added weekly)

4/23 – Pat Gillespie – Pres Phila Building Trades

4/30 – John Kane – Plumbers Local #690 Business Manager

5/7 – George Ricchezza/Dennis Biondo – (SEIU Local 32BJ)

5/14 – Mike Barnes – IATSE 8 President

5/21 – Anthony Gallagher – Steamfitters Local 420 Business Manager

5/28 – Sam Staten Jr. – Laborers Local 332 Business Manager

June 2014 Dates TBA

Hurting Americans Who Worked Hard, Played by the Rules

- Since December 28, 2.3 million Americans have lost their unemployment insurance, with the expiration of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program. Every week, on average, an additional 72,000 Americans are cut off — the equivalent of one person every eight seconds. This vital economic lifeline helps struggling Americans feed, clothe, and keep a roof over the heads of their families while they look for new employment.

Despite these facts, Congress has been unable to come to an agreement to restore this essential lifeline. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that extending the current EUC program until the end of 2014 could increase GDP by 0.3 percent and create upwards of 300,000 jobs.

Congress should simply extend unemployment insurance, and help those in need. There is hope with the Senate passing a bipartisan compromise last week. However, Speaker John Boehner has dismissed the idea of taking up this compromise in the House of Representatives. How can one person stand in the way of allowing a vote to help over 2 million Americans and the will of the American people?

These Americans lost their jobs — and now their last lifeline, unemployment insurance — through no fault of their own. They don’t deserve to lose their homes as well. Unfortunately, this is exactly what we are hearing from our constituents.

Therefore, we have introduced the Stop Foreclosures Due to Congressional Dysfunction Act (HR 4255), which requires Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to impose a six-month forbearance on mortgage payments for people who have lost their unemployment insurance and sent a letter with 74 of our colleagues to FHFA Director Mel Watt asking his administration to do the same. Borrowers must have been current on their payments and in good standing before losing their unemployment insurance in order to qualify for the program. Not only would this be helpful to struggling Americans, but it’s a policy that is beneficial to taxpayers.

While it’s true that the housing market is bouncing back nationally, that’s not true everywhere, and housing markets are extremely local by nature. While the national foreclosure rate is 1.97 percent, that is much lower than the averages in both Pennsylvania (2.35 percent) and Nevada (2.8 percent).

If Speaker Boehner won’t bring up a bill to extend unemployment insurance in the House of Representatives, the least he can do is help people at risk of losing their homes. Speaker Boehner should do the right thing and allow a vote to extend unemployment insurance. If he won’t do that, he should at least show some compassion for those struggling to keep a roof over their heads because of his unending obstructionism.

By Rep. Matt Cartwright and Rep. Steven Horsford

Congressman Matt Cartwright represents Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District, which includes Schuylkill County and portions of Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Northampton and Carbon Counties. Cartwright serves on the House Natural Resources and Oversight and Government Reform Committees.

Congressman Steven Horsford represents Nevada’s 4th Congressional District, which includes Clark, Esmeralda, Lincoln, Lyon, Mineral, Nye, White Pine Counties. Horsford serves on the House Financial Services Committee.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-cartwright/hurting-americans-who-wor_b_5148787.html

Philly teachers create website to document district’s budget crisis

By Kevin McCorry

- Criticize your boss publicly … and your job security may be at risk.

That’s the mantra many Philadelphia School District teachers follow in keeping their criticisms of the current funding crisis confined to anonymous message boards.

But a new website designed by a recently formed faction of the teachers union, The Caucus of Working Educators, is turning that philosophy on its head with “Philly Teachers Sound the Alarm.”

A student sets off a home-made “works bomb” outside of Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences.

Locked hallway bathrooms at Lincoln High School force students to constantly invade the nurse’s office.

The lack of access to a library at Science Leadership Academy pushes teachers to buy their own stockpiles of books.

These are just a few of the anecdotes related in the website’s first week.

“People don’t know how bad it really is,” said Larissa Pahomov, the English teacher at SLA who built the site. “We’ve been dealing with this sort of high intensity crisis for a year, and schools weren’t in the best shape financially before then either.”

Pahomov hopes more people recognize how much more difficult the job of educating students has become because of the district’s recent string of draconian budget cuts, “and hopefully when they see that they understand just how dire and how necessary it is that we take action, and that the finances of the district be righted by the state.”

Grievances, she stressed, aren’t being directed at individual school administrators, but the underfunded nature of the system as a whole.

The Caucus of Working Educators, now 100 members strong, formed last month.

In its official release upon conception, CWE said it was “fighting for fair working conditions because that translates into the best learning conditions for Philadelphia’s students.”

The district has been asking teachers to take a 5 to 13 percent pay cut, while at the same time asking them to lengthen their contractual work hours.

Contract negotiations have plodded along since the teachers union’s old pact expired in August.

In the meantime, Pahomov, a member of CWE’s steering committee, said teachers have been making the sacrifices necessary to keep the city’s students afloat.

“It’s become this absurd new normal where teachers are just expected to bend over backwards to make their classrooms work,” said Pahomov. “We do it because we’re good people … but we need the public to know that we’re doing it, because it’s become invisible to a large degree in Philadelphia.”

As for the site’s lack of anonymity: “This comes back to a classic union idea, which is that there is strength in solidarity,” she said. “There’s strength just in making those connections across the district.”

Source: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/homepage-feature/item/66841-philly-teachers-create-website-to-document-the-districts-budget-crisis?linktype=hp_impact

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO 41st Constitutional Convention Adjourns

By The PA. AFL-CIO

- On the final day of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO convention, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka energized the delegates with a characteristically fiery speech that focused heavily on raising wages for America’s workers. President Trumka said that raising wages cannot take a back seat to any political party or candidate, saying “Our issues come first now, and they come second.”

It was the beginning of a rousing final day of the 2014 convention. Resolutions were passed which support increasing the minimum wage, fighting income inequality, and fighting for paid sick leave legislation and comprehensive immigration reform. Following the organizing roundtable with President Trumka that began the day, a resolution was passed to recognize and support and UPMC workers organizing with SEIU and the “Make It Our UPMC” campaign.

Representative Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks) spoke to the convention, serving since 1995, he has a record of standing with workers and opposing privatization schemes and legislative attacks on workers’ rights. As the Republican Chairman of the House Human Services Committee, has has fought for expanding Medicaid, restoring cuts to county human services programs, and increasing the minimum wage. Following his speech, the delegation approved a motion to endorse the Representative in his reelection this year.

The final guest speaker of the day was House Minority Leader Frank Dermody. He added his voice to the chorus to raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania, while acknowledging the difficulty in moving such legislation while Republicans control the Governor’s office and both chambers of the State Legislature. Speaking to the Tribune after the Convention, Dermody said “It’s going to be difficult, but what we have to do is get a groundswell of support outside of Harrisburg. The other side is saying that this will cost jobs, and the facts just don’t bear that out.”

The newly reelected officers of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, President Rick Bloomingdale and Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder, would like to thank all of the delegates, guests, volunteers and staff who made this such a successful convention, and another thank you to the fantastic UNION staff at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown for all of their tireless efforts over the past week.

Source: http://www.paaflcio.org/?p=3897

Bloomingdale, Snyder Unanimously Re-Elected To Second Terms as Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President and Secretary Treasurer.

By The PA. AFL-CIO

- Rick Bloomingdale and Frank Snyder were fortified by a full chorus of support Wednesday morning as both were re-elected by unanimous acclamation and will begin their second terms as Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President and Secretary Treasurer, respectively.

Bloomingdale was nominated by David R. Fillman, Director of AFSCME Council 13. Fillman said, “I am proud to put into nomination one of my AFSCME brothers,” adding, “we need Rick Bloomingdale to steer us through these troubled waters.” Fillman’s nomination was seconded by Don Siegel (IBEW), Michele Kessler (UFCW) and John Zanetti (USW).

Bloomingdale thanked the delegation for standing with him in the fight, paid an emotional tribute to his wife Karen, and thanked his predecessor Billy George for helping pave the road forward. “We have to fight every day to rebuild the middle class,” Bloomingdale said. “But we can’t lead if the people aren’t with us. This is not something Frank and I can do alone. Thank you for building the labor movement and for fighting with us.”

United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard stood to nominate Snyder, calling him a third-generation steelworker who worked his way up through the rank and file and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. Gerard’s nomination was seconded by Ken Washington (LIUNA), Marge Krueger (CWA) and Fillman.

“I’m proud of what Rick and I have been able to accomplish over the last four years, I think we make a great team,” Snyder said. “But, we have a lot of work to do and I’m excited about all the opportunities ahead of us. Your fight is our fight.”

Source: http://www.paaflcio.org/?p=3883

Reading between the lines of the latest Philly jobs report

By Randy LoBasso

- Yesterday, we were all delighted to read a Bureau of Labor Statistics report which showed that Philadelphia’s unemployment rate had dropped to its lowest point since December 2008, prompting City Hall to issue a press release patting itself on the back.

“Today’s news is yet more evidence that Philadelphia is recovering from the effects of the Great Recession, that companies are investing, confidence in our city is strong, and that Philadelphians are getting back to work,” said Mayor Nutter in the release.

More good news: The number of employed Philadelphians is at its highest point “for a February” since 2009. The number of unemployed Philadelphians is at its lowest point since December 2008. And, to top things off, “the drop in the unemployment rate can be attributed to employment gains and not a drop in the labor force, since both the number of employed and the actual labor force grew between January 2014 and February 2014.”

What they’re saying is true. Philadelphia’s unemployment rate is going down, and over the last two months, the labor force has gone up. This is nothing at which to shake a fist! But it’s far from the whole story. Philly’s labor force and number of employed people is up now, but has been on the downturn in general for a while now.

Unemployment numbers, in their most media-quoted form, exist as a rate. The rate of unemployment is the number of people employed compared to the number of people who consider themselves part of the labor market — as in, people actively looking for work, or working.

Part of the happiness surrounding this report is regarding the fact that both the number of employed people and the number of people in the labor market jumped from the previous month. That said, while we went from 646,200 in January to 646,940 in February, that force is still smaller than it has been through much of the recovery.

February’s labor force of 646,940 is smaller than every other month going back to February 2012—with one exception: February 2013, which was 646,725.

One highlight that’s pretty weird is how the city is excited about the number of employed Philadelphians is at its highest point “for a February” since 2009.

For a February we’re doing well, but there were more Philadelphians employed in, say, June and July 2013 than there are today. The labor force was also a lot bigger.

While the number of Philadelphians living in the city has steadily increased over the last ten years (we’ve gained 63,718 people since 2004), the labor force has only grown by about half that—33,613 people.

And while Philly’s rate of 8.3 percent is low-ish, that rate is still lagging behind three of the four other largest cities in the U.S.

Source: http://blogs.philadelphiaweekly.com/phillynow/2014/04/10/philly-recession-is-complicated/

Delegates And Guests Welcomed at 41st Constitutional Convention of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO

By The PA. AFL-CIO

- President Rick Bloomingdale and Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder welcomed attendees to the 41st Constitutional Convention of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Stating – We hope that you have an enjoyable and productive convention as we set the course for our State Federation for the next two years.

The theme of our convention is “Strength In Unity.” There is no greater force in this state, nor on this planet, than us standing together in strength and in unity for the common good.

Over the past two years we have stood together and have stopped some of the worst attacks on our unions and on working families that we have ever faced. Good jobs, decent pensions, educational opportunities for our children, our right to vote, and our collective bargaining rights have all been under attack by anti-worker groups and their political supporters.

We have learned that by standing together we can meet the challenges and turn these attacks into opportunities to build more strength for workers. It is our responsibility to continue leading the charge towards good jobs, decent wages, and prosperity for all workers.

This convention provides us with the opportunity to establish an agenda that puts Pennsylvania back to work, restores the middle class, and fulfills America’s promise of greatness for all citizens.

This can be a historic election year for all of us. By joining together we can end the attacks on workers, end the distractive and divisive politics, and begin focusing on the real issues that need to be addressed: investing in workers, investing in our communities and in our schools – rebuilding the strength of our economy and our state. By joining together we can put our state back on solid ground toward sustained economic recovery and growth for all, and not just the wealthy. This is an opportunity of a lifetime we can’t afford to miss and it begins today!

This will be a very busy convention for all of us, but it won’t be all work. We are holding several activities and events for the enjoyment of our delegates and guests. The proceeds from the Work and Family Breakfast and the Silent Auction will help support the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank. The COPE Entertainment Night and the COPE Honorees Dinner will help support our COPE activities and programs.

Source: http://www.paaflcio.org/?p=3843

Casey Pushes Key Senate Committee to Maintain Investment in Phila. Energy Project that Has Created Jobs In Region

- Consortium for Building Energy Innovation, Formally Known As Energy Efficiency Hub, Has Helped Nation’s Businesses Become Energy Efficient / Program Has Made Reforms to Increase Effectiveness, Expand Impact in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Country

Washington, DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging that funding for a leading Philadelphia energy efficiency project, the Consortium for Building Energy Innovation, be continued in the fiscal year 2015 (FY2015) budget. The Consortium for Building Energy Innovation, formally known as the Energy Efficiency Hub (EEB), has created jobs in Southeastern Pennsylvania and become a national model for energy efficiency while undergoing reforms to increase the program’s effectiveness. In FY14 the program received $10 million.

“I’m urging the Appropriations Committee to continue investment in this program that has promoted job growth in Southeastern Pennsylvania while serving as a national model for energy efficiency,” Senator Casey said. “Investing in this initiative will help businesses across the country reduce their costs by becoming more energy efficient. I’m hopeful that the Appropriations Committee will continue to support this effort so the Consortium for Building Energy Innovation can continue to innovate and make a nationwide impact.”

The full text of Senator Casey’s letter can be seen below:

The Honorable Barbara Mikulski
ChairwomanRanking Member
Senate Committee on Appropriations

The Honorable Richard Shelby
Vice Chairman
Senate Committee on Appropriations

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
Chairwoman
Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development

The Honorable Lamar Alexander
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development

Dear Chairwomen, Vice Chairman, and Ranking Member:

As the Subcommittee begins its work on the fiscal year 2015 Energy and Water and Appropriations bill, I would like to express my strong support for the Consortium for Building Energy Innovation.

Over the last several months, the energy efficient buildings systems research project at the Philadelphia Navy Yard has undergone significant changes in management and scope. The Consortium for Building Energy Innovation has new leadership and has worked in tandem with the Department’s Energy’s Building Technology Office to develop mutually agreed upon goals and objectives, narrowing the focus of work to demonstrating technical solutions to retrofit small and medium-sized commercial buildings and transitioning those solutions to market. In addition, the Consortium management team has incorporated many suggestions from internal and external peer reviews to strengthen operations.

The new streamlined Consortium is comprised of 14 organizations including major research universities and global industrial firms from across the nation includes 80 researchers and graduate students actively working to develop and demonstrate energy efficient strategies for retrofit. Funding in FY 2015 funding will facilitate:

Demonstration of high efficiency technologies and design tools at real-world retrofit sites owned by private and public entities with national scalability.
Collaborations with DOE Laboratories to develop and demonstrate strategies for deployment of the DOE technology portfolio in small and medium scale buildings.
Development and refinement of retrofit tools built on DOE supported open source models and tailored to small and medium size buildings.
Utilization of expertise and new building space at Consortium headquarters to provide building operator training and certification programs, building energy benchmarking, and technical advising including energy auditing tools and evaluation of alternative integrated technologies.
Expansion upon the more than 400 building industry professionals currently using Consortium research results.

As you know, this program received $10 million in FY 2014. I have been in direct contact with Secretary Moniz about continuation of funding for this initiative and the Department included $10 million for the Consortium for Building Energy Innovation in its FY 2015 budget request. I strongly urge the subcommittee to include the full $10 million for this important program in FY 2015.

Thank you for consideration of my views.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator

Press Contact John Rizzo 202-228-6367

Source: http://www.casey.senate.gov/newsroom/releases/casey-pushes-key-senate-committee-to-maintain-investment-in-philadelphia-energy-project-that-has-created-jobs-in-region-become-national-model-for-energy-efficiency

Obama taking executive action to expand equal pay protections

By Laura Clawson

- President Barack Obama is marking Equal Pay Day by announcing two executive orders strengthening equal pay protections at federal contractors. One of the orders will prohibit employer retaliation against workers who inquire about or share pay information, making it easier for women to find out if they are being discriminated against, and the other will call for the Labor Department to collect pay information from federal contractors, with the data including race and gender to make it easier to identify employers who discriminate.

Like Obama’s executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers, these measures extend to federal contractors some of the protections in bills congressional Republicans have blocked. In this case, these orders are provisions from the Paycheck Fairness Act; it would be much better if Congress would pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and apply them to all American businesses, but some is better than none, and none is what we’ll get from John Boehner’s House. (This is also a logic it would be nice to see the president apply to an executive order extending protections for LGBT workers to federal contractors.)

People who don’t want to see equal pay predictably sneered at these measures, though since they don’t typically want to admit that they oppose equal pay, they like to pretend that their opposition is about something else. For instance:

“Even while the government just collects data, employers will be encouraged to see their compensation decisions through he eyes of a government bureaucrat,” said Sabrina Schaeffer, the executive director of the Independent Women’s Forum, which opposes the executive orders. The orders, she said, “will do nothing to promote fairness and certainly wont help more women to get a paycheck.”

Yes, employers will be encouraged to see their compensation decisions through the eyes of a government bureaucrat who’s trying to ensure equal compensation. If they look at their data and see glaring discrepancies, maybe they’ll try to fix it before the government steps in to push them to do so. The objection “ooh, scary, the government will try to push your boss to not discriminate against you” may have less resonance for the average American worker than Schaeffer hopes. But it’s totally par for the Republican course of caring much more about the employer’s right to discriminate than about the worker’s right not to be discriminated against.

The Senate also plans a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act to mark Equal Pay Day, but again, Republicans will prevent it from getting a House vote even if they don’t filibuster it in the Senate. Equal Pay Day marks the date in 2014 when the average woman catches up with the average man’s 2013 income.

Source: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/04/08/1290476/-Obama-taking-executive-action-to-expand-equal-pay-protections