WITH THE UNIONS: Firefighters Charge Commissioner With Perjury

Filed under: Labor,Subject Categories |

with the unionsPhiladelphia Fire Fighters Union Local 22 President Joseph D. Schulle is leading the charge Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers and Fire Dept. Human Resources Mgr. Karen Hyers have committed perjury before Judge Leon Tucker in a court hearing when they testified as to their reasons and roles in demoting 14 firefighters shortly after they had been promoted.

In a rally outside City Hall, he provided court testimony backing up his charge and called for the District Attorney to launch an investigation into the matter. As of press time, the DA has yet to comment.

The District Attorney is currently reviewing notes of testimony to determine whether an investigation is warranted.

 Eiding Encourages Walmart Workers

As thousands of Philadelphia-area Walmart workers prepare for a busy Black Friday shopping season, the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO applauded Walmart workers and their families across the country who have been demonstrating for a fair wage and fair treatment from the world’s largest retailer.

”Walmart needs to do the right thing,” said Pat Eiding, president of the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO. “We know they can afford to pay their employees a decent wage. The Philadelphia AFL-CIO supports all the Walmart employees who will be standing up for better wages and working conditions on Black Friday. We’ll be there with them.”

Walmart has made $17 billion in profits this year, but the company continues to drive the race-to-the-bottom economy by paying its employees poverty wages: 825,000 of their employees nationwide make less than $25,000 a year, trapping them and their families in a state of economic insecurity.

Wendell W. Young, IV, president of the 24,000-member United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1776, said it is “long past time for Walmart to join the ranks of responsible companies by paying its workers a living wage and making affordable health care insurance available to them.”

In a boost for Walmart employees, the National Labor Relations Board announced on Monday that they would take Walmart to trial over more than a hundred alleged labor-law violations.  The Board has found evidence that Walmart illegally fired or disciplined workers who protested or went on strike demanding better pay and fair working conditions.

Raising wages would increase Walmart employees’ purchasing power, create more jobs, supplement local tax bases, and improve the economy. Instead, Walmart keeps wages so low that its workers across the country are forced to rely on billions in annual government assistance to survive.

Young continued, “As long as more than half of its working men and women can’t afford the benefits that Wal-Mart brags about in its television commercials, this company will continue to lead our nation in a race to the bottom. All of us as taxpayers end up paying the bill. Walmart’s employees can’t afford the company’s insurance. They wait until they get sicker than they have to be, and they end up in expensive hospital emergency rooms for their medical care. Those costs show up in everyone’s medical bills, while Walmart’s profits soar. It’s a big part of our broken health-care system, and it won’t get fixed until Walmart assumes its fair share of responsibility.”

The wealth of the six Walmart heirs is greater than the combined wealth of 42% of American families. It’s not good for our regional economy that the Walton family and Walmart’s well-paid corporate executives are padding their pockets while thousands of Walmart workers in our area are struggling to support their families, Young asserted.

With the Unions Senators Hear From Labor Leaders

Philadelphia labor leaders and affected workers told a State Senate panel last week current unemployment-compensation laws are not doing enough to protect vulnerable Pennsylvanians who are temporarily out of work.

At the request of State Sen. Mike Stack (D-Northeast), one of the committee members, the State Senate Democratic Policy Committee hosted the roundtable to discuss recent changes made to the unemployment-compensation system with the implementation of Act 60 and Pennsylvania’s workforce in general.

“It’s our job to make sure workers – men and women who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own – avoid the social and economic disasters that can come from unemployment,” Stack said. “We can’t help these Pennsylvanians get back on their feet by tightening eligibility requirements and reducing benefits.”

State Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton), who chairs the policy committee, said the purpose of the discussion was to hear from workers, unemployment specialists and community members to better understand how changes in unemployment compensation affect vulnerable Pennsylvanians.

“How can we protect individuals and families who are facing hard times without burdening taxpayers?” Boscola asked. “It’s a delicate balance that we must achieve.”

Boscola said the unemployment trust fund is a vital safety net for people who lose their jobs, and it’s essential to have a fair, equitable system in place to assist the state’s workers during difficult times.

“This was a chance for Philadelphia leaders, workers and legislators to have a serious discussion on how to ensure reasonable unemployment benefits get to those who need it,” Boscola said.

Anthony Gallagher, business manager at the Steamfitters Union Local No. 420, said these highly skilled workers should not be punished for the seasonal natural of their careers.

“These are not people who want to be out of work,” Gallagher said. “This is their career …t his is a situation that is beyond their control.”

State Sen. Tina Tartaglione (D-Kensington) said since the implementation of Act 60, the system for applying for unemployment benefits has become incredibly difficult.

“We understood the changes to Act 60 were going to adversely affect laborers and employers, but we were unable to stop it from passing then,” Tartaglione said. “We need to reverse this now, because to me, this is unacceptable.”

also testing were Andrew Clauson, member, Steamfitters Union Local No. 420; Louis S. Agre, business agent, International Union of Operation Engineers Local 542; Sharon Dietrich, managing attorney, employment and public benefits, Community Legal Services; John Dodds, director, Philadelphia Unemployment Project; John Clark, business manager/secretary-treasurer, Boilermakers Local Lodge 13; Gerry Gontz, business agent, Sheet Metal Workers Local No. 19; and Mike Guinan, business agent, Sheet Metal Workers Local No. 19.

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