Author Archives: Joe Doc

Poll: Is raising the minimum wage in Philadelphia to $15 an hour a good idea?

- City Council passed a resolution sponsored by Councilman Kenyatta Johnson to hold hearings that would discuss raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. There are questions as to whether Council has such authority. If it does, would you support the higher wage?

Is raising the minimum wage in Philadelphia to $15 an hour a good idea?

To Vote, Go To: http://www.bizjournals.com/philadelphia/pulse/poll/is-raising-the-minimum-wage-in-philadelphia-to-15-an-hour-a-good-idea/16172101

Brief PhillyLabor Editorial: Yes, providing low income workers the opportunity at a living wage will not only provide them with a better life, it will help give those people working in poverty the chance to get off of public assistance and thus will also help all tax payers.

Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/philadelphia/pulse/poll/is-raising-the-minimum-wage-in-philadelphia-to-15-an-hour-a-good-idea/16172101

Philadelphia AFL-CIO passes resolutions supporting “labor peace” bills before City Council

By The Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO

- On December 10, 2014 the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO unanimously passed resolutions supporting 2 labor peace bills before City Council. One bill pertains to subcontractors at Philadelphia International Airport; the other to hotels in which the city has a direct financial interest. City Council passed both bills the following day.

Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO Resolution
In Support of City Council Bill #140860 on Labor Peace

WHEREAS Philadelphia is a world class city in a convenient location, with a unique place in our national history, great restaurants and an expanded convention center; and

WHEREAS our national AFL-CIO and its affiliated 57 national and international unions spend millions on conventions and meetings each year; and

WHEREAS labor unions strive to hold their events at unionized hotels with a labor peace guarantee, rather than run the risk that a labor dispute might mar their event; and

WHEREAS Philadelphia is losing out on an additional $30 million in union convention business, according to the Convention and Visitors Bureau as reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer (9/7/10); and

WHEREAS AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka AFL-CIO wrote to the City Council last year, urging a labor peace agreement at the W/Element hotel, adding “Labor peace enhances the marketability of Philadelphia as a meetings destination, especially for progressive groups such as ours;”

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the AFL-CIO urges the Philadelphia City Council to pass Bill #140860 to require labor peace agreements at hotels where the City retains a proprietary interest.

Approved unanimously, December 10 2014

Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO Resolution
In Support of City Council Bill #140829 on Labor Peace

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia City Council recently introduced an ordinance, marked Bill No. 140829, Amending Section 18-201 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled “Leases of Airport Facilities,” by requiring Ground Handling Service providers under service contracts with air carriers, including subcontractors providing such services, who are operating at Philadelphia International Airport to secure labor peace agreements to minimize the risk of service disruptions and lost revenue to the City generated from enplanements.

WHEREAS, The City of Philadelphia has a strong proprietary interest in protecting the substantial revenues it receives from the efficient operations of air carrier transportation at the Philadelphia International Airport (“the Airport”) and the volume of passenger enplanements at the Airport; and

WHEREAS, The poor working conditions of contractor employees who perform Ground Handling Services at the Airport has elevated the risk of strikes, boycotts and other forms of service disruptions due to labor disputes among these employees which directly threatens the critical volume-based revenues the City receives from efficient operations at the Airport; and

WHEREAS, A requirement that air carriers who lease Airport terminal space from the City retain only those Ground Handling Service contractors who have a proper Labor Peace Agreement in effect to ensure the continuity of such services at the Airport effectively protects the City against any loss of volume-based revenues the City receives from Airport operations by preventing labor disputes among these employees; now, therefore

RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO supports airport workers in their ongoing efforts to improve working conditions at the Philadelphia International Airport; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO urges all Philadelphia City Council members to support and vote for passage of Bill No. 140829 as introduced by City Council on October 23, 2014 ; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO will support any effort on the part of city officials to encourage a fair resolution to current labor disputes at the Philadelphia International Airport and to grant airport workers long-term job security; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO shall transmit this resolution to all relevant elected officials in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, including the Governor, members of the State Legislature, the Mayor of Philadelphia, and members of the Philadelphia City Council
Approved unanimously, December 10 2014

Source: http://www.pa.aflcio.org/philaflcio/index.cfm?action=article&articleID=847921df-9080-4d97-ba0d-b2eef1b11e5b

Philadelphia AFL-CIO passes resolution supporting USW members on strike against Crown Metal Packaging

- RESOLUTION: On Stopping Attacks on Workers by Crown Metal Packaging

WHEREAS over 120 workers, members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 9176 in Toronto, Canada, have been on strike since September 6, 2013, against Crown Metal Packaging Canada LP (Crown), a subsidiary of the giant multinational Crown Holdings, Inc., one of the world’s largest manufacturers of aluminum and steel cans with 149 plants worldwide;

WHEREAS Crown Holdings is headquartered in Philadelphia and has a significant union presence nationwide: including sister locals of affiliates of the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO such as IAM, SMART; IUE-CWA and the Teamsters;

WHEREAS after over fourteen months on strike, the strikers and their families are suffering and there is still no end in sight to the dispute despite the strikers’ willingness to compromise and return to work;

WHEREAS Crown is now proposing that even if the strikers agreed to settle the strike by taking huge concessions, the company would keep the scabs hired during the strike and prevent over 75% of the strikers from returning to work; and

WHEREAS Crown is now facing an unfair labor practice complaint from the USW on the basis that, among other things, it is avoiding reaching a collective agreement by making unjustified demands that are designed for rejection by the USW;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO stands in solidarity with the USW strikers from Toronto by bringing their struggle to the attention of our membership; in particular on the occasions when USW road warriors come to Philadelphia to publicize their labor dispute;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO supports the USW’s demand of action by the Crown Holdings Board of Directors and is CEO and Executive Officers to end the dispute and reach a fair deal allowing all of the strikers to return to work.

Approved unanimously, December 10 2014

Source: http://www.pa.aflcio.org/philaflcio/index.cfm?action=article&articleID=f8f7427a-a01b-40cd-9d5c-4dc035061f91

U.S. Labor Secretary in Philly to tout apprenticeships as “the other college” without the debt

By Jared Shelly

- Go to college. Get an internship. Get a job.

That’s been the pathway to success for many young adults for years. But these days, student loan bills are crippling, and many employers are looking for candidates with specific kinds of experience.

Enter apprenticeships, something that U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez calls “the other college” but without the debt. On Thursday, he was in town to announce the creation of a $100 million apprenticeship grant competition to promote the expansion of the Registered Apprenticeships program meant to bring recent high school graduates into high-demand, high-tech careers. ( Apply for apprenticeships here.)

No, apprenticeships aren’t just for electricians and construction workers anymore. They’re a great way towards careers in technical fields like IT and health care, said Perez. And the ability to earn while you learn is a big draw.

“Today I met people who are excited about their work, following their passions and making real money,” said Perez in an interview after he left Philadelphia. He held a press conference at the School District of Philadelphia and met with Computer Support Specialists from the Registered IT Apprenticeship program run by the Urban Technology Project. A few months ago he visited the Finishing Trades Institute.

“There are multiple pathways to prosperity” said Perez, who hailed apprenticeships for their ability to give young people real-world experience, upward mobility and because “some people work better by doing as opposed to simply sitting in the classroom.”

For example, Perez pointed to Germany, where apprenticeships are “a major explanation why youth unemployment is half of what it is in United States.”

Perez said that Philadelphia is a natural fit to promote the apprenticeship grant program because of its budding startup scene in a wide array of sectors. Plus, employers in Philadelphia are excited to have the opportunity to train somebody in the specific competencies they need – rather than rolling the dice with a candidate just because they majored in a certain subject.

While in Philadelphia, Perez said he met a woman who had already gone to college but dropped out to become an IT apprentice.

“She said she was spending too much money,” said Perez. “Now she’s thrilled that she’s on a path to an IT career.”

Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/philadelphia/morning_roundup/2014/12/thomas-perez-apprentice-philadelphia.html?page=all

Labor board OKs personal use of company e-mail

By TOM RAUM

- WASHINGTON (AP) — In a victory for unions, the National Labor Relations Board ruled Thursday that employees can use their company email accounts for union organizing and other workplace-related purposes, if they do it on their own time.

Once an employer gives an employee access to the company email system, then the business cannot restrict what the employee emails, so long as it is generally workplace-related and isn’t during working hours, the NLRB ruled. The NLRB is a government agency that investigates unfair labor practices.

The ruling said that “the use of email as a common form of workplace communications has expanded dramatically in recent years.” The ruling could give unions a powerful organizing weapon.

The three Democrats on the five member board voted “yes,” while the two Republicans abstained.

The ruling reverses a 2007 board decision that employees don’t have a legal right to use their employers’ email for union activity or discussing wages or other workplace issues.

It also upholds an opinion by the NLRB’s general counsel, who suggested that workers had a presumed statutory right to use company email to discuss a range of workplace issues — so long as they did it on their own time and unless an employer could demonstrate that doing so would hurt productivity of office discipline.

The decision was a victory for the Communications Workers of America, which brought the case in 2012 after it was unable to use company email to organize employees of Purple Communications in Rocklin, California, a company that provides interpreting services for the deaf and hard of hearing. The union contended that prohibiting Purple workers from using company email for to organize interfered with its efforts.

Bernie Lunzer, president of the Newspaper Guild-CWA and a vice president of the Communications Workers of America, called the ruling “a big victory for workers in general. Basically the board is saying that there is a wide berth for that kind of discussion, that it can’t be prohibited. There are limitations. This is something where people are supposed to be doing this not on the work time. And they can’t be obstructive to the productivity of the company. But the flat-out prohibition of any discussion of forming a union or acting collectively, basically to board has said that’s fair.”

Joel Barras, a lawyer who represents employers in collective bargaining and labor arbitration matters, said that the NLRB in its ruling “once again elevated employee protected activity over employer property rights. Not only will employees now have the ability to use their work emails in their efforts to unionize or discuss terms and conditions of employment with co-workers, an employer’s communication system may also become an incredibly effective tool used to recruit members to form or join class-action cases.”

In Thursday’s ruling, the board majority said the earlier decision “was clearly incorrect. The consequences of that error are too serious to permit it to stand.”

“By focusing too much on employers’ property rights and too little on the importance of email as a means of workplace communication, the Board (in its earlier ruling) failed to adequately protect employees’ rights … and abdicated its responsibility ‘to adapt the Act to the changing patterns of industrial life.”

A number of weighty issues have yet to be decided by the board, and it seems likely to tackle some of them before the Dec. 16 departure of one of its Democratic members, Nancy Schiffer, when her term expires.

There will still be a 3-2 majority on the board with the GOP takeover of Senate control next year after the Senate voted 54-40 earlier this month to confirm Lauren McGarity McFerran, a Democrat, to fill the vacancy.

Pending decisions include whether college athletes on scholarships have the right to unionize. The case stems from an effort by Northwestern University scholarship football players to organize.

Online: NLRB Case 21-CA-095151

Source: https://news.yahoo.com/labor-board-oks-personal-company-e-mail-190927158–finance.html

Carpenters Union Helps Pink Nuns Mark Their 100th Anniversary

By The Philly Public Record

- They are best known as the Pink Nuns and that they live, work, and prayer behind a grated iron fence that keeps them from mingling with the public. Most Philadelphians are unaware of their existence.

But to Catholics and Christians of all faiths, many believe Philadelphians believe this city would have long gone the way of Detroit and other cities which have borne the brunt of economic and social failure if it were not for the prayers emanating around the clock from their home at 22nd & Green.
To those who know, “the Pink Nuns” is the pseudonym for Cloistered Contemplative Sisters, whose primary mission is to honor Jesus Christ in his presence in the Holy Eucharist during Masses and at all hours with their prayers. Joining them are hundreds of people who by the scores take part at any time of the day and night by visiting them in the chapel on Green Street.

Fully appreciative of what they contribute to the welfare of this city is Ed Coryell, Sr., executive secretary-treasurer/business manager of the Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters, whose headquarters is located just a short walk away from their chapel and convent. His carpenters this week lent a hand to the sisters by donating their services in hanging two huge banners announcing the 100th-anniversary celebration of what is now an international order consisting of 22 houses in 10 countries staffed by a total of over 450 nuns.

Founded by a German diocesan priest, Arnold Janssen, who saw the need for more prayer, his first volunteers came from active missionary sisters. It took root and in 1915, Mother Mary Michaele found its first convent in Philadelphia. Soon thereafter, Cornelius A. Lane bequeathed a generous sum for the establishment of an adoration convent for the sisters. Nine sisters were sent from Steyl, Germany, and American woman soon applied and were admitted.

The carpenters, led by Ed Coryell, Jr., made quick work of hanging the huge banners, despite heavy winds.

Coryell, Sr., whose union contributes many man hours to helping charities, said, “I strongly believe, if it weren’t for the prayers emanating from these sisters, 24-7, Philadelphia would not be the positive city it is right now.”

Source: http://www.phillyrecord.com/2014/12/carpenters-union-helps-pink-nuns-mark-their-100th-anniversary/

Spreading The Holiday Cheer To Those Who Are Less Fortunate

By The PA. AFL-CIO

- Tis more rewarding to give than to receive; and during this Holiday Season our unions and our members across Pennsylvania are generously responding to the calls for help from their United Way Labor Liaisons and Labor Agencies to make these Holidays more joyous and cheerful for families, children, parents and people who are less fortunate and need help.

“Not only do we encourage you to buy union and buy American during the holidays, and throughout the year, we also encourage you to give union and give American during this season of joy. We want to make sure that no one is left out or left behind and everyone enjoys the holidays. It should be a season of celebration and good will for all. There is still plenty of need in our communities all over Pennsylvania and it is up to us to come together to meet those needs,” President Bloomingdale said.

“It is the season not only to enjoy spending time with family and friends, it is an important opportunity for all of us to come together to help make the lights and the candles of hope and joy of the season shine brighter for every man, woman and child. By joining together we can help fulfill the needs and make our communities better places for all of our families,” Secretary-Treasurer Snyder said.

Our thanks and appreciation go out to all of our United Way Labor Liaisons and all of the unions across Pennsylvania and the nation who help make this holiday season more cheerful and joyous for so many families and people.

Below are a few of the activities and projects supported by our unions and our United Way Labor Partnerships:

Greater Johnstown Regional CLC and United Way of the Laurel Highlands
Labor Liaison: Sue Stevens
Project: Sponsored and decorated a little house in Johnstown Central Park for Christmas 2014

Harrisburg Regional CLC and United Way of the Capital Region
Labor Liaison: Karen Overly Smith
Project: Red Cross Holiday Cards for Veterans – CLUW led the team in creating 350 cards.

Allegheny County CLC and United Way of Allegheny County
Labor Liaisons: Joe Delale and Jim Blatnick
Project: Labor of Love/Stuff the Bus Toy Drive

Erie-Crawford CLC and United Way of Erie County
Labor Liaison: Ron Oliver
Project: Collected Clothing, Shoes and Winter Coats to give out before Christmas for families in need.

Greater Wilkes-Barre CLC and United Way of Wyoming Valley
Labor Liaison: Sandy Moosic
Project: Filled 500 Christmas stockings for area special needs children and provided food order vouchers for union families in need.

York-Adams CLC and United Way of York County
Labor Liaison: Alan Vandersloot
Project: Holiday “Bell ringing” to benefit the Salvation Army – Raised $851.18 in 2013.

Lancaster CLC and Lancaster Community Services/Organized Labor
Labor Liaison: Jean Martin
Project: Bought 185 ARC Angels gifts for Christmas 2014

Additional projects and activities are being undertaken by both local unions, Central Labor Councils and United Way Labor Partnerships and our good friends. If you wish for us to list your activity or project please forward a brief summary by e-mail to Jimmy Deegan at: editor@paaflcio.org. Thank you and make this a happy and pleasant holiday season and a New Year.

Source: http://www.paaflcio.org/?p=5685

Wall Street to Workers: Give Us Your Retirement Savings and Stop Asking Questions BY David Sirota

BY David Sirota

- If you are a public school teacher in Kentucky, the state has a message for you: You have no right to know the details of the investments being made with your retirement savings.

That was the crux of the declaration issued by state officials to a high school history teacher when he asked to see the terms of the agreements between the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System and the Wall Street firms that are managing the system’s money on behalf of him, his colleagues and thousands of retirees.

The denial was the latest case of public officials blocking the release of information about how billions of dollars of public employees’ retirement nest eggs are being invested. Though some of the fine print of the investments has occasionally leaked, the agreements are tightly held in most states and cities. Critics say such secrecy prevents lawmakers and the public from evaluating the propriety of the increasing fees being paid to private financial firms for pension management services.

The secrecy trend is spreading throughout the country. Last month, for instance, Illinois officials denied an open records request for information identifying which financial firms are managing that state’s pension money. Like their Kentucky counterparts, Illinois officials asserted that the firms’ identities “constitute trade secrets.” Illinois’ Freedom of Information Act includes special exemptions for information about private equity firms.

The denial from Illinois pension officials followed a decision earlier this year by Rhode Island General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, to reject a newspaper’s open-records request for information about state pension investments. The treasurer’s office argued that financial firms have the right to “minimize attention” around their compensation. Last week Raimondo, who is now Rhode Island’s governor-elect, held a closed-door meeting of the state investment commission to review the state’s $61 million investment in a controversial hedge fund.

In a recent essay, Steve Judge, president of the Private Equity Growth Capital Council, wrote that secrecy is necessary and appropriate to protect the financial industry’s commercial interests.

“The argument that [agreements] should be accessible to the public is akin to demanding that Coca-Cola publish its famous and secret soda recipe,” he wrote. “Like Coke’s secret recipe, [agreements] contain proprietary and commercially sensitive trade secret information that, if disclosed, could undermine a private equity fund’s ability to invest and generate high returns for its limited partners.”

In Kentucky, that defense of secrecy is being challenged in both the state legislature and the courts.

Rep. Jim Wayne, a Democrat, is planning to reintroduce his legislation to subject pension investment agreements to procurement statutes that mandate public release of all government contracts. Meanwhile, Randolph Wieck, the Kentucky high school teacher, has filed a class-action lawsuit charging KTRS officials with, among other thing, violating their fiduciary duty to retirees by moving pension money into opaque alternative investments.

Even if legislators and courts in Kentucky and elsewhere press for transparency, events in Iowa suggest the secrecy may continue. There, the private equity firm KKR in October warned state pension officials that if they release information about the fees that Iowa taxpayers are shelling out to Wall Street, the financial industry may respond by effectively prohibiting the state from future private equity investments.

Of course, maybe that threat isn’t so terrifying. After all, with many high-fee Wall Street firms failing to deliver returns that beat low-fee stock index funds, investors like Warren Buffett are saying public pension systems shouldn’t be plowing retirement savings into hedge funds, private equity and other so-called “alternative investments.” That is an especially powerful argument when such investments keep allowing the financial industry to charge ever-higher fees in near-total secrecy.

Source: http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/17416/wall_street_to_workers_give_us_your_retirement_savings_and_stop_asking_ques

Register Now for the 2015 AFL-CIO Martin Luther King Civil and Human Rights Conference

- As we approach the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and the accomplishments of the civil rights movement, it will soon be time for the 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference, which will be held from Jan. 15–19 in Atlanta at the Westin Peachtree Plaza. A description of the event:

Established to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the accomplishments of the civil rights movement, this multi-ethnic, multi-gender and intergenerational conference reinforces the historic bond between the labor and civil rights movements and honors Dr. King’s vision that collective action—whether at the voting booth or in the workplace—will mobilize participants to continue their work in order to make his dream a reality.

While the root of this conference is set to uplift the struggle of African Americans and the civil rights movement, this conference is specifically inclusive of people of color, young people, LGBTQ people, women and immigrants.

Community service has been a constant focal point of this conference and again opportunities to volunteer will be offered, as well as sessions to teach participants how to infuse community service into the labor movement.

Through plenaries, workshops and panels, attendees will be able to build knowledge and skills on a range of issues, including race; intersectionalities of underrepresented groups; development of labor–community relationships, especially with other civil rights organizations and much more.

If you are a union member and are interested in attending the conference, register today at https://www.signup4.net/Public/ap.aspx?EID=201582E

The deadline to register online is Dec. 14. You can register for the conference on-site for a $25 surcharge.

Source – http://www.pa.aflcio.org/philaflcio/index.cfm?action=article&articleID=696f9d89-6ce0-4d36-85b2-0787ecb53895

UIL pulls the plug on PGW agreement – (Brief PhillyLabor Editorial Included)

By Tom MacDonald

- A plan to sell Philadelphia Gas Works to a private company is officially dead.

Because of a lack of action from City Council, UIL Holdings issued a statement saying it had “no choice” but to terminate its offer to buy PGW.

The Nutter administration selected the Connecticut-based company from a list of bidders for the city-owned utility, but after an extensive review, City Council decided against holding a hearing on the proposed deal. Instead, it held hearings about the city’s energy future.

Since the summer, an escape clause in the agreement allowed the UIL to exit without penalty. But it persevered for months, trying to salvage the $1.86 billion deal.

The agreement would have automatically terminated at the end of the year.

In addition to updating PGW’s infrastructure more quickly, Mayor Michael Nutter wanted to use the sale proceeds to replenish the city’s pension fund.

In the wake of the Thursday announcement, Mayor Michael Nutter and City Council President Darrell Clarke issued dueling statements.

“This decision by the Philadelphia City Council is a big mistake and represents a massive failure in leadership for our city and our citizens. It is unfortunate for Philadelphia that City Council could not make a public decision in this important matter following public hearings and an up or down vote,” Nutter said. “Instead, City Council held no hearings and chose a behind-the-scenes decision-making process and no action, thus shutting out the public and denying Philadelphians the opportunity to voice their views.”

Clarke, in turn, placed the blame directly on Nutter’s doorstep.

“Make no mistake, the failure of this deal is not the fault of UIL Holdings,” he said. “The lack of sufficient jobs, consumer and safety protections in this deal are a direct result of the Nutter Administration’s request for proposals, which was limited in scope and issued with no input from City Council.

“Such a shortsighted deal that did not address the concerns of the approving authority, in this case City Council, never had a chance of winning our endorsement. It is a shame that the administration did not make this clear to UIL earlier in the process,” Clarke continued. “This company and its shareholders could have been spared a significant amount of time, money and resources.”

Source: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/75950-uil-pulls-the-plug-on-pgw-deal?linktype=hp_topstory

Brief PhillyLabor Editorial – Amongst many other factors, it is our contention that Philadelphia City Council did justice to PGW workers whose livelihoods and pensions were on the line as part of the proposed privatization effort by Mayor Nutter and City Council refused to allow the injustice to happen! Kudos to Philadelphia City Council and Keith Holmes, President, Gas Workers Local Union 686 for standing up for the workers.