Area Municipalities Sue State to Overturn Zoning Gift to Gas Drillers

Homes burned by 1000 foot wall of fire from gas line explosion in San Bruno, CA

by Randy Shannon

March 30, 2012

Led by Robinson Township, numerous municipalities, officials, and individuals have filed suit in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania for a Declaratory Judgment against Act 13 of 2012.

Passed with overwhelming Republican support and signed by Governor Corbett, the law was written by the gas drilling industry. The premise of the law is that the right of corporations to fully exploit all of the gas deposit in the Marcellus shale takes precedent over the lives, property, communities, and other business interests in Pennsylvania.

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Labor-Civil Rights-Voting Rights Candlelight Vigil April 4th








by Randy Shannon

March 29, 2012

A candlelight vigil will be held at 7pm at the Beaver County Courthouse on the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The vigil will focus on the new Pennsylvania Law that restricts access to the polls and is expected to disenfranchise over 200,000 Pennsylvania voters. The law is an attack on the democratic right to vote under the pretext that voter fraud is taking place. There have been no cases of voter fraud brought in PA. Republican lawmakers approved the law over Democratic opposition.

The vigil is sponsored by the Beaver-Lawrence AFL-CIO, SEIU Local 668, USW, and Beaver County NAACP. Speakers will include representatives of local labor unions, civil rights, and community groups, as well as local political leaders.

The American Civil Liberties Union is planning to ask for an injunction to prevent the law from influencing the 2012 election. Most voters who will be denied the ballot usually vote for Democratic candidates.  An ACLU spokesperson will address the vigil.

A limited supply of candles will be available at the vigil.

Aliquippa’s 1937 J&L Workers Come Up In Supreme Court Wrangling Once Again—This Time Over Health Care

Ten Steelworkers, Five Justices, and the Commerce Clause

By Amy Davidson
The New Yorker

If there had been Twitter, instead of news tickers, in February, 1937, reporters and other observers would have been using it to follow the arguments before the Supreme Court in National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp.

It was the central case of five, argued in one extraordinary round, which challenged the constitutionality of the National Labor Relations Act, also known as the Wagner Act.

The J. & L. dispute involved ten steelworkers who had been fired from the company’s Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, mills for trying to organize a union. As with this week’s hearings on the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, those deliberations were being watched with an anxiety that extended well beyond any concern for the protagonists in the suit, or even the law in question, to an entire vision of government.

Jones & Laughlin and its companion cases involved the Commerce Clause, the constitutional conductor for a whole orchestra of New Deal programs and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s more urgent efforts to pull the country out of the Great Depression. (It gives Congress the power “to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes.”) The post-1937 conception of the Commerce clause has, as Jeffrey Toobin noted yesterday, become an assumed part of any number of government efforts today; it is the defense for challenges to the individual mandate but also to other aspects of the A.C.A., like provisions protecting people with preëxisting conditions.

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Budget For Wall Street vs Budget For Main Street

John Nichols

A Budget For Wall Street Versus A Budget For Main Street

John Nichols on March 28, 2012 – 11:27 AM ET

The U.S. House of Represenatives will weigh in Thursday on the direction the country should take regarding budget priorities.

At the most interesting ends of the debate, the choice will be stark: A Budget for Wall Street versus a Budget for All.

Most Americans know that House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan is presenting the former option. The Wisconsin Republican has a history of crafting budgets that deliver for Wall Street. And he makes no great apology for that.

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Trumka Calls on Pa. Unions to Support Obama

AFL-CIO Pres. Rich Trumka addresses PA AFL-CIO Convention

Trumka calls on Pa. unions to support Obama

March 27, 2012|Jane M. Von Bergen INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

While acknowledging the “ups and downs we’ve had over the past three years,” the national head of the U.S. labor movement called on Pennsylvania union members Tuesday to mobilize to keep President Obama in office.

“President Obama stands on our side,” AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka told hundreds of AFL-CIO union delegates gathered at the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown in Philadelphia at the start of the Pennsylvania Federation of the AFL-CIO’s three-day convention.

Much of the convention will consist of union administrative business, heavily underscored with politics. But on Thursday, the AFL-CIO will also unveil a new effort to connect start-up companies with union workers before sending delegates to attend a noon rally in support of a drive to unionize 3,000 security guards working in Philadelphia’s office towers and major institutions including the University of Pennsylvania.

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Judge Upholds Forest Service Protection of Water in Allegheny National Forest

Erie federal judge rejects oil and gas industry motion

A Forest Service ban that keeps Marcellus shale drillers from using surface or groundwater from the Allegheny National Forest stands after a federal judge refused to overturn it.

In a ruling Friday, U.S. District Judge Sean McLaughlin said a long-running, three-sided dispute involving the oil and gas industry, the federal agency and environmental groups has not addressed water rights.

Specifically, the judge said his 2009 preliminary injunction ordering the Forest Service to resume processing drilling proposals in the forest and an earlier 1980 federal court decision confirmed only that, under Pennsylvania law, the federal government and other surface property owners can`t block mineral owners` access to the minerals. The decisions don`t address water rights.

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Tragedies, Crimes and Trayvon Martin

How Newt Played the ‘Race Card’ Against Obama’s Decency

By Carl Davidson
United Steel Workers Blog

Every so often an outrage happens that lights up the sky, like when lighting strikes at night, and all of a sudden everything previously hidden in darkness and shadow stands out in sharp, bright relief.

The murder of Trayvon Martin was such an event, even though it took a while for the rolling thunder of its full impact to spread across the country. Slowly at first, and then in greater leaps, the news media, after being nudged, picked it up.

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