Author Archives: Joe Doc

Non-health care workers at 2 Philly area hospitals vote to join union

By John George

– Non-professional hospital workers at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and Delaware County Memorial Hospital have voted to be represented by District 1199C.

The Philadelphia-based union already represents employees such as cafeteria workers, laundry workers, maintenance staff and other service employees at eight area hospitals.

District 1199C officials said Saturday that among the 236 eligible workers at St. Christopher’s in Philadelphia, 161 voted in favor of joining the union and seven voted against. Among the 203 eligible workers at Delaware County Memorial Hospital in Drexel Hill, Pa., part of Crozer-Keystone Health System, 95 voted in favor of joining the union and 60 voted against.

Officials at the two hospitals were not immediately available to comment on the union votes.

Both hospitals had other union votes earlier this year when the nursing staffs at each medical center voted to join Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals.

John George covers health care, biotech/pharmaceuticals and sports business.


Union: Strike likely soon at 1 or more Atlantic City casinos

By WAYNE PARRY, The Associated Press

– ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) – The head of Atlantic City’s main casino workers union said Tuesday that a strike is likely against at least one of five casinos this week.

Bob McDevitt, president of Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union, said the union remains in talks with Bally’s, Caesars, Harrah’s, Tropicana and the Trump Taj Mahal. All five could be hit by walkouts if contracts are not reached by Friday, ahead of the July Fourth holiday weekend.

He said the union’s concern is to ensure casinos continue to provide a decent middle-class living for workers. The union is trying to recoup concessions it made in past years when casinos were in worse financial shape. The casinos say they are committed to a deal that is fair to both sides.

“We want back what we gave up voluntarily to help our employers,” McDevitt said. “They have the memory of a goldfish: Every 10 seconds they forget what you’ve done for them.”

McDevitt said talks are progressing at different rates with Caesars Entertainment, which owns Bally’s, Caesars and Harrah’s, and billionaire Carl Icahn, who owns Tropicana and the Taj Mahal.

“We’re closer in some cases with Trop and closer in some instances with Caesars,” he said.

As expected, the Taj Mahal has been a particular sticking point. Its former owners, Trump Entertainment Resorts, got a bankruptcy court judge to terminate union members’ health care and pension benefits in 2014 before Icahn took the casino over. McDevitt said those cuts cannot be allowed to stand, particularly because of a “most favored employer” clause that gives casinos the right to adopt the terms of a more favorable deal reached with others.

“If the Taj Mahal contract ends up not having health care or pensions or a wage increase, that would quickly become the standard for the rest of the industry,” he said.

A Caesars Entertainment official said the company’s goal is to keep workers on the job under a fair contract. A Tropicana official declined to comment Tuesday.

About 6,500 of the union’s nearly 10,000 workers who serve drinks, cook food and clean hotel rooms would strike if a deal is not reached. Borgata, Resorts and the Golden Nugget would not be affected by a strike because the union is not targeting them, saying they have adopted better stances toward their workers.

Elaine Malloy has served drinks at Bally’s for nearly 26 years, at a base salary before tips of $8.99 an hour.

“It’s a disgrace to work for $8.99 an hour, to pay for a mortgage, utility bills, food, clothing,” she said. “Everything is going up, and my wage hasn’t.”

The union agreed to givebacks or went without increases in benefits and salary in past negotiations to help the casinos as their bottom lines were increasingly threatened by the oversaturated Northeastern U.S. casino market. In 2014, four of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos went out of business. Now, with less competition, their finances are starting to stabilize.

“People are not going to work for 10 years without a wage increase,” McDevitt said. “We’re not in a Stalinist state where you can force workers to work for whatever you say.”

Additional talks with the three Caesars Entertainment casinos and the Tropicana are scheduled for Wednesday and with the Taj Mahal on Thursday.

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Faculty union to mull strike authorization in August

By Associated Press

– The union representing faculty members at Pennsylvania’s 14 state universities has set an Aug. 25 date for a decision on whether members will take a strike authorization vote.

The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties said an emergency legislative assembly was scheduled after no progress was made in talks Friday with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

Delegates from all 14 campuses are to convene via conference on Aug. 25 to decide whether members will take a strike authorization vote. If a majority of delegates approve, the union will set a date for a vote.

Other bargaining sessions are planned over the summer, the next one on July 19. Faculty members have been working without a contract since the last agreement expired in June of last year.

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Bill would extend coverage for Philly paramedics, EMTs

By Colt Shaw

– HARRISBURG – Philadelphia firefighters are looking to get their peers in the city’s Firefighters and Paramedics Union the same disability coverage they enjoy.

The Heart and Lung Act of 1935 compels employers of public-safety workers such as police and firefighters – but not EMTs and paramedics – to get their full pay and health coverage during time off for an on-the-job injury.

With help from Rep. Frank Farry, a Bucks County Republican and volunteer fireman, the union, Local 22, is pushing to extend those protections to emergency medical workers, making them “financially whole” while on disability leave.

Besides the make-up pay, the amended measure would let a firefighter unhappy with treatment directed under worker’s compensation to seek care from doctors specified under the Heart and Lung Act, according to the bill’s sponsor and union members. Farry says that option “actually allows for them to get back to work quicker.”

Philadelphia stands out in hiring EMTs and paramedics as city employees who are members of the local firefighters union.

The proposed change is not without critics. Most Pennsylvania municipalities have volunteers provide those services or contract with private medics.

Smaller townships and municipalities with third-party medics are concerned that the measure could be interpreted to cover their contracted forces as well, said Elam Herr, assistant executive director of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors.

Townships and small cities that rely on volunteers “are not overly flush with excess cash,” she said.

Farry said the bill could be altered to address those concerns. He is proposing changes to ensure the legislation would apply to city EMTs and paramedics with firefighting duties – but not volunteer paramedics or EMTs.

Rep. Stephen Barrar (R., Delaware), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee, said he supports the bill “in concept” but believes it can be strengthened. “We want to make sure the language is clear,” Barrar said.

Chuck McQuilkin, the sargeant-at-arms for Local 22, says the union is hoping to limit the proposal to Philadelphia, so other municipalities don’t feel threatened by its potential passage.

“We’re trying to gear it just toward Philadelphia,” McQuilkin said. “We’re trying to get what’s best for our people.”

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APWU: ‘Ruling Will Lift the Veil of Secrecy’ – NLRB Orders USPS to Release More Info on Staples Deal


– In a major ruling in favor of the APWU issued on June 15, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ordered the Postal Service to immediately provide the APWU uncensored copies of documents about the pilot program that established postal counters inside Staples stores – information the APWU first requested in 2013.

Noting that the Postal Service has a “rich history of responding to information requests with denials and delay,” the Board said that it would “not condone the [Postal Service’s] unlawful conduct by allowing it to delay any longer in producing the information.” The APWU first requested the information in 2013.

Under the order, the Postal Service must turn over information regarding its relationship with Staples, including copies of agreements and correspondence between the USPS and the office-supply company; records of any special deals and payments between them, and training material the Postal Service provided to Staples about how to perform the work.

Perhaps most importantly, the Board ordered the Postal Service to release records of its internal deliberations regarding the decision to subcontract APWU work to Staples.

Lifting the Veil of Secrecy

“This ruling will go a long way toward lifting the veil of secrecy that has shrouded the Postal Service’s deal with Staples,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. Although the Postal Service released thousands of pages of documents in response to earlier APWU requests and NLRB rulings, it withheld information it claimed was “proprietary.”

“Postal workers – and the people of the country – have a right to know about management’s attempts to privatize the Postal Service,” Dimondstein said. “This NLRB decision will advance that goal.”

The ruling affirmed and expanded on a 2014 decision by NLRB Administrative Judge Eric M. Fine, who found that the Postal Service violated the National Labor Relations Act when it refused to provide information to the APWU. Fine ordered the Postal Service to turn over most of the documents but he accepted management’s claim that some information was “proprietary” and permitted the USPS to obscure such information and/or restrict the union’s right to disclose it.

The APWU appealed the portion of the ruling that allowed the Postal Service to redact or restrict disclosure of the information. In the June 15 ruling, the Board ordered “immediate and unredacted production of all documents requested, without any confidentiality agreement.”

The decision could have a significant impact on a separate case pending before the Board regarding the Postal Service’s refusal to bargain with the union over the subcontracting of postal work to Staples.

“The APWU calls on Postmaster General Megan Brennan to comply with the Board’s ruling rather than engaging in delaying tactics by appealing the decision to the courts,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein.