By Jane M. Von Bergen
– Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will woo Pennsylvania’s labor leaders this week at the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO’s convention in Philadelphia.
More than 700 labor leaders and delegates will gather in Philadelphia Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in a conference focused on politics – and other worker issues, including raising the minimum wage.
Clinton is expected to speak Wednesday morning at 11:15 and Sanders will address the group on Thursday at 10 a.m.
“Other than New York, we’re the next battle ground,” Richard “Rick” Bloomingdale, president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, said last week.
Also listed in the three-day line-up are former mine worker Richard Trumka, a Villanova Law School graduate and president of the national AFL-CIO, Mayor Kenney, Gov. Wolf, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D., Pa) and embattled attorney general Kathleen Kane.
“Politics will play a big role, getting our folks energized to protect what we won at the bargaining table,” Bloomingdale said.
Nationally, 14.8 million workers, or 11.1 percent of the workforce, were union members in 2015, with the number of members up slightly over 2014. In the public sector, 35.2 percent of employees are union members, compared to 6.7 percent in the private sector, according to U.S. Labor Department reports.
In Pennsylvania, 747,000 employees, or 13.3 percent of the state’s workforce, were union members in 2015, up from 703,000, and 13.3 percent in 2014.
Bloomingdale said the conference agenda includes about 65 resolutions – and only four are dealing with politics.
Other issues on the agenda include raising the minimum wage, passing public employee workplace safety laws, and protecting the Pennsylvania state store system from privatization, which union officials say, would lead to lower wages for the system’s workers.
Mayor Kenney and Patrick Eiding, president of the Philadelphia Council of the AFL-CIO, will open the conference at the Sheraton Downtown Hotel Tuesday morning.
Following them to the microphone will be Trumka, Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Kathy Manderino, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and Kane.
Frank Snyder, the secretary-treasurer of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, will lead a political roundtable Wednesday morning, describing the AFL-CIO’s efforts on behalf of the state AFL-CIO’s endorsed candidates. Brady is scheduled to speak Wednesday and Gov. Wolf on Thursday.
Bloomingdale said last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that protected how public unions collect dues was a reprieve, but that the case got as far as it did “was a real wake-up call for us.”
“We have to get more workers, union or non-union fighting for their own economic justice and fairness.”
In Pennsylvania, public employee union due collection is a legislative issue. The Senate has passed a law saying that the government will no longer collect union dues via payroll deduction from the checks of public employees.
The bill is stalled in the House. If it passes and Gov. Wolf signs it, which is considered unlikely, it’ll be up to the unions to collect dues from their members.
Four local labor leaders will be honored at the convention: Harry Lombardo, president of the Transportation Workers Union of America; Michael Barnes, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 8; Ryan Boyer, business manager of the Laborers’ district council of Philadephia metropolitan area and Eiding.
Source – http://www.philly.com/philly/business/labor_and_unions/20160405_Hillary_and_Bernie_to_address_AFL-CIO_this_week_in_Phila_.html