Author Archives: Joe Doc

President Obama in Philadelphia this Sunday, Nov. 2nd at the Liacouras Center For “Get Out The Vote” Rally w/Tom Wolf

- President Obama will join our endorsed gubernatorial candidate, Tom Wolf, for a Get Out The Vote rally at 4:00 on Sunday, November 2nd at Temple University’s Liacouras Center on North Broad Street. This event starts at 4:00. Tickets are free but must be reserved ahead of time.

For details, go to:

10/29 PODCAST – Tom Wolf On Today In PhillyLabor Radio

- Today In PhillyLabor Radio Podcast Featuring Tom Wolf, Democratic Candidate for Governor in PA w/Lynn Fox, Bus. Mgr of Workers Unite, Erin Young, Political Director, Worker’s United and Joe Scullin, Director, Tools For Meeting Life’s Challenges

Featured Topic: Enjoy a captivating an conversation with Tom Wolf about his plan to bring good jobs, improved education and hope back to Pennsylvania for working men and women!

To LISTEN to the podcast, go to:

BREAKING: Tom Wolf on Today In PhillyLabor Radio, Today, Wednesday 10/29 at Noon

- Today In PhillyLabor Radio Is Excited to Welcome PA. Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate, Tom Wolf to Today’s Broadcast Joining Our Featured Labor Guest, Lynn Fox, President of Workers United Along with Joe Scullin, Director of Tools For Meeting Life’s Challenges and Erin Young, Workers United/Cohen, Placitella & Roth.

Tune in to WWDB 860 AM (or Online at on Today/Wednesday at Noon To See What All The Talk Is About!

After Disapproving Sale, City Council Issues Recommendations On PGW

- Hearings to Be Held to Explore Opportunities to Enhance PGW’s Performance & Make Philadelphia a Regional Energy Hub

– Following an exhaustive review of the Nutter Administration’s effort to privatize the Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW), City Council on Monday informed Mayor Michael A. Nutter that the financial and public policy risks associated with the sale proposal outweighed the stated benefits to the City of Philadelphia and PGW customers.

Council’s conclusion was based on analysis provided by independent consultant Concentric Energy Advisors, which on Council’s behalf conducted two separate but related studies: 1) a financial and business review of the sale to Connecticut-based UIL Holdings Corporation as proposed by the Administration, or the Asset Purchase Agreement (APA), and 2) an assessment of higher and better uses of PGW as a municipal entity.

In reviewing the Administration’s proposed sale to UIL, City Council found that the permanent loss of PGW’s annual $18 million payment to the City substantially drops the net benefit of the proposed transaction down to the $200-400 million range, rather than $400-600 million as stated by the Administration.

In addition, Concentric found a number of considerations and objectives important to City Council and the public it represents were not addressed by the APA, including but not limited to:

No commitment to keep rate and bill increases at reasonably affordable levels beyond three years of corporate ownership
No contractual commitments on income-based assistance programs after the initial tariff filing for programs other than the Senior Citizen Discount
No commitment to or details of potential acceleration of the cast iron main replacement program
No commitment to a minimum number of PGW employees beyond three years of corporate ownership
No commitments on employee wages and benefits beyond the expiration date of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) on May 15, 2015
No commitment to ensure or prioritize the hiring of Philadelphia residents
No commitment by UIL to retain ownership of all or some of PGW’s assets for any period of time after the sale
No Economic Opportunity Plan to ensure equal employment opportunities for women, minorities and the disabled or to include Disadvantaged Business Enterprises in UIL’s procurement of goods and services
No commitment by UIL to maintain a local presence beyond its guarantee to keep PGW headquarters in Philadelphia for three years

Moreover, Concentric’s review of the APA revealed the potential for negative impacts on the citizens of Philadelphia, including:

The possibility that household and business bills could increase despite UIL’s commitment to a three-year base rate freeze. Because the base rate accounts for approximately 50 percent of the total consumer bill, UIL could raise consumer payments through mechanisms such as automatic rate adjustment riders, charges and surcharges.
Under corporate ownership, UIL could depart from PGW policy and foreclose on liens or sell liens to a third party for collection, setting the stage for crisis among residents or businesses who cannot afford to pay due to hardship or other circumstances.
City government would no longer have input into base rate hikes linked to PGW budgetary and spending priorities because of the removal of municipal oversight.

“I would like to thank all of the parties invested in this sale as proposed – including the Administration, UIL and PGW – for their patience as Council performed its due diligence on what would have been the largest municipal privatization in Philadelphia’s history. I also thank the team from Concentric Energy Advisors for its expertise and assistance throughout Council’s review,” Council President Darrell L. Clarke said.

“While Council concludes that the terms of this sale proposal are insufficiently favorable for Philadelphians and pose an unacceptable degree of risk to consumers, we readily acknowledge opportunities for the enhancement and possible expansion of PGW’s operations,” Council President Clarke added. “To that end, City Council has submitted to Mayor Nutter recommendations for PGW moving forward, and will hold public hearings on how Philadelphia can leverage its considerable assets, including PGW, toward a future as a regional energy hub.”

Councilwoman Marian Tasco (9th District), chair of the Philadelphia Gas Commission, said, “I would like to add my thanks to our hard-working staff for the long hours and great energy they put into Council’s thorough review of the Administration’s proposal. It is Council’s duty to advocate for and protect our citizens by gathering the information that would enable us to arrive at an informed decision. In the end, the terms of this particular proposal do not adequately address the many risks privatization would pose to the public.

“City government has little authority over how major corporations treat consumers,” Councilwoman Tasco continued, “and this proposal simply does not include to our satisfaction adequate safeguards against negative short- and long-term impacts on households and businesses in Philadelphia that a transition to corporate ownership might bring.”

A resolution authorizing hearings to explore opportunities to establish the Philadelphia region as an energy hub will be introduced on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. City Council’s recommendations on PGW’s next steps; Concentric’s reports on the financial terms of the sale as proposed by the Administration as well as higher and better uses of PGW; and comparative information on high risk main in Pennsylvania and elsewhere is below.


plb_logo Pond, Lehocky, Stern, Giordano 1.866.465.8795 30 South 17th Street, 17th Floor Philadelphia, PA 19103

Premier Philadelphia Law firm specializing in Worker’s Compensation and Social Security Compensation. Long time advocates of injured worker’s and the Philadelphia union community, the firm of Pond Lehocky, Stern and Giordano is committed to representing the rights of union members and working families injured on the job and seeking social security compensation benefits.


Larry Pitt & Associates (Workers Comp/Personal Injury/SSD Law Firm)
Toll Free: 1.888.PITT.LAW (1.888.748.8529)
1918 Pine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

For Additional locations go to

Larry Pitt & Associates is a group of dedicated lawyers providing its clients with excellent service and protection, dealing with tragedy and personal injury. We have over 25 years experience and have handled thousands of cases in the area of Workers Compensation, Personal Injury and Social Security Disability.
The Law Firm of Larry Pitt & Associates is one of the leading Workers Compensation/Personal Injury/Social Security Disability Law Firms in the Philadelphia. Larry Pitt has been recognized by the Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group as one of the nation’s top injured workers’ attorneys of 2014.

Union Members Vote Unanimously To Authorize SEPTA Strike If Necessary

- Members of TWU Local 234 turned out in large numbers for a union meeting in Philadelphia on Sunday.

Members voted unanimously to authorize union leadership to call a strike at SEPTA if necessary.

Members of TWU Local 234, include 4,700 bus drivers, subway and trolley operators, and maintenance workers at SEPTA. They have been working under an expired contract at the transit agency since March of 2014.


The city of Philadelphia has new health coverage rules for workers who don’t belong to a union

By Taunya English

- Starting Jan. 1, nonunion workers will pay an extra $15 if they fill a prescription at a pharmacy that also sells cigarettes. That new fee will be tacked on to the usual co-payment for prescription drugs.

The change will affect several hundred retirees and about 5,400 city workers — just a portion of Philadelphia’s 22,000 employees.

The change was the idea of James Startare, the city’s deputy director of human resources, who is leading a push to keep health costs down and city health benefit strong.

“The fact of creating a narrow exclusive network is not a novel idea, the idea of wrapping a public health good around it is innovative and a first of its kind,” Startare said.

“It promotes shopping at businesses that do not sell tobacco products, primarily independent pharmacies. And it allows the city to manage health care costs and forgo larger more widespread benefit changes,” he said.

In addition to all the chain CVS stores, which ceased selling tobacco products last month, 77 percent of the city’s independent pharmacies don’t sell cigarettes. Startare said there are plenty of options and the tobacco-free pharmacy network won’t keep employees from getting the medicine they need.

CVS Caremark gave Philadelphia a price-break on premiums in exchange steering business to drug stores that don’t sell cigarettes.

“That’s been going on since there’s been managed care,” said Andrew Sfekas a professor in the Department of Risk, Insurance and Healthcare Management at Temple University’s Fox School of Business.

“Managed care really started in the ’70s. And it really hit its stride in the ’90s when limited networks were sort of a key to controlling health care cost. And people did, in fact, rebel against them,” he said. “People don’t like to have their choices curtailed.”

A word to drugstore chains that do sell tobacco: Philadelphia says those stores can get back on the city’s preferred list as soon as they give up the tobacco-selling habit.

The city also plans to charge an additional $500 each year to provide health benefits for any nonunion worker who smokes or uses tobacco products.

“Are our health care costs going to drop in one month, two months, three months because of this initiative?” said Startare. “No.”

But he’s taking the long view. Philadelphia’s new policies may improve health and help people kick the tobacco habit, he said. For now, the city will use the honor system to police that policy.

Sfekas said the extra fee for smokers has become common, and might push people to quit. He’s less convinced that the pharmacy-benefit change will be a good deterrent.

“That could really only be effective if you think that people are picking up cigarettes when they go for their medication. I’m not sure that part of it is going to be closely linked to a drop in smoking,” he said.


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: