The Youngstown Vindicator
By Tom Davidson
Beaver County Times
March 23, 2017 -BEAVER — About 75 union supporters rallied at noon Thursday in front of the Beaver County Courthouse to rail against legislation they say moves Pennsylvania toward becoming a right-to-work state.
The legislation, Senate Bill 166, is called the Public Employee Protection Act, and it recently passed the state Senate.
"I like to call it ‘paycheck deception,’" is how Steve Kochanowski of Potter Township described the legislation.
He’s on the executive board of the Beaver County Democratic Party and is active with its young Democrats group.
Kochanowski, 32, is looking for a job now and is a former corporate trainer.
He opposed the law because "I believe it’s the first step to trying to make Pennsylvania a right-to-work state," he said.
He and other Democratic leaders, along with Beaver County’s labor union leadership, organized the rally to marshal opposition to the law before it passes the state House.
About 75 people turned out for the rally, wielding signs that said things such as "Workers’ Rights are Human Rights" and "Resist Right to Work Legislation."
The legislation would "hurt everybody here," according to Mitch Kates, political director of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.
"We’re having organizing events like this all around the state," Kates said. "We want to help raise awareness."
The law would prohibit unions from allowing payroll deductions for union dues that are used for political activities, and it’s a step toward stopping union members "from being able to donate to causes that are dear to your heart," Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker said.
Walker is the son of a union worker and said his father appreciated that union dues were deducted from his paycheck. Otherwise, with other bills to pay, the dues might not get paid, Walker said.
"These are matters of the heart," Walker said. "I stand for workers’ rights. You must resist."
All of the speakers at the rally urged people to call their state legislators to voice opposition to the law.
People who live in so-called right-to-work states, where union power is limited, make less money under worse conditions, Denise Cox of Ohioville said.
She’s an organizer for the Service Employees International Union and said laws like the one proposed "weaken our workforce."
"Government should … let us work together," Cox said. "(The law) is wrong for our future."
She called it "big government’s intrusion into our workplace."
Tepsic speaking at ATI strike rally in Midland
By Jared Stonesifer
Beaver County Times
MIDLAND. Dec 9. 2016 – — Tony Tepsic doesn’t have a Twitter account but, if he did, he would tell Donald Trump just when and where to find him.
Tepsic, president of the United Steelworkers Local 1212 in Midland, took offense to the fact that the president-elect earlier this week attacked a fellow United Steelworkers local president in Indiana.
The feud started when Trump claimed he helped save 1,100 jobs from leaving Indiana. Chuck Jones, president of United Steelworkers Local 1999 based in Indianapolis, called Trump a liar and said the real number of jobs saved was around 800.
Trump took to Twitter to fire back, saying Jones has done a “terrible job representing workers” while adding “no wonder companies flee (our) country!”
For Trump, it was just another 15 seconds on Twitter. Jones, however, started receiving anonymous phone calls that threatened his children.
“Nothing that says they’re going to kill me, but, you know, you better keep your eye on your kids,” Jones told MSNBC, according to the Associated Press. “I’ve been doing this job for 30 years, and I’ve heard everything from people who want to burn my house down or shoot me … I can deal with people that make stupid statements and move on.” Continue reading Midland Labor Leader Offended by Trump’s Attack on United Steelworkers
Workers’ demands include $15 minimum wage, union rights
PITTSBURGH — No 29, 2016 – Thousands of workers are walking off the job and marching Tuesday in cities across the country, including Pittsburgh, where morning protests will be followed by a larger downtown rally in the afternoon.
The Service Employees International Union is targeting McDonald’s restaurants and UPMC with marches demanding a $15 minimum wage and union representation.
Organizers began their "Day of Disruption" marches at McDonald’s on Penn Avenue in East Liberty. Demonstrators went inside to voice their demands, then began circling the restaurant outside and chanting slogans like "Hold your burgers, hold your fries. We want wages supersized."
"I want to be able to take care of my family, to take care of myself, to pay bills," McDonald’s employee Aaron McCollum said. "You can’t possibly do that on $7.25, $7.35 an hour."
The protest then moved to a McDonald’s restaurant on North Euclid Avenue.
"It’s about workers, but it’s also recognizing that workers are more than who they are in between when they clock in and clock out, but that they’re our community members, they’re our neighbors, they’re humans," said Kai Pang, an organizer with Pittsburgh United. "We should have the right to not only survive but thrive in this city."
The group plans a similar protest near a McDonald’s and the federal building downtown during the evening rush hour.
"I’m just trying to fight for something that I believe in," McCollum said.
A press release on behalf of the group added, "Giant Eagle workers will also join the Fight for $15 today, asking that the company start paying family-sustaining wages and stop interfering with Giant Eagle employees’ right to organize."
The union contends UPMC shuttle bus workers have also gone on strike seeking union representation.
UPMC previously announced plans to increase the minimum starting wage for entry-level jobs at most of its facilities to $15 per hour by 2021.
But the union says UPMC needs to move faster, and it accused the network of trying to silence workers and union organizers.
UPMC hasn’t commented on Tuesday’s activity.
"I think more now than ever that we’re standing up for worker’s rights, for economic justice at a time when income inequality is very high and only grows higher," said Pang.
By Anupama Jain
Oct 22, 2016 – There’s something in the air in Pittsburgh! From Robert Morris to Point Park, Steel City-area faculty are organizing to join the ranks of unionized labor. To some, this might be little surprise: Pittsburgh, is a city with a rich history of labor organizing. At the same time, when one thinks of Pittsburgh labor history they might think of workers smelting steel or armed Pinkertons at the Homestead steel mills. This isn’t entirely off base: in fact, Pittsburgh-area faculty are organizing with the help of the United Steel Workers including faculty at the University of Pittsburgh.
But why unionization, and why now? There are many reasons, but three important ones are: 1) labor contingency and uncertainty worsens learning conditions, 2) teachers and researchers need a stronger voice in negotiations with administration, and 3) academic freedom is an increasingly valuable commodity in an age of emerging social consciousness about inequality.
Focused, appropriately compensated teachers can do their best work,but one class of teachers, adjuncts, teach on a pay-per-class basis. Because the compensation for these classes is very low, adjuncts often teach at several different universities, and many must work other jobs. Moreover, these positions are renewed on an ad hoc basis, often with little lead time before classes start. One colleague of mine would teach two classes at Pitt a semester, a few more at Point Park, and also tended bar in the evening. The only job he could count on having come next semester was the gig tending bar. For many, teaching is a vocation chosen not for monetary benefit, but for the value of teaching itself. But running around town, barely making ends meet is not a recipe for the best teaching. The unpredictability wears both on the teachers —who struggle tol pay their bills—and students, who may be excited about particular instructors and their classes, only to scroll through the catalogue and see no hint of the instructors because they have not yet been renewed. For other, less-contingent faculty, increasing demands for service and research also eat into teaching time. Appropriately compensated faculty are more capable of directing time and effort into education.
By Neil Cosgrove
The New People via Portside
Nov 1, 2016 – The faculty of the 14 Pennsylvania state-owned universities went on strike from October 19th to the 21st, 2016, somewhat less than three days. Around mid-afternoon on the 21st, a tentative contract agreement was reached with the State System of Higher Education (SSHE), ending the strike. As part of the agreement, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) "agreed to a salary package that was significantly lower than that of the other unions" that had recently bargained with the State System.
As labor battles are traditionally viewed, making concessions on salary and benefits would have to be considered a defeat. But the faculty union regards the result of the strike as a clear-cut victory, a victory that preserved what many regard as one of the best university faculty contracts in the country. For the 16 months since the system’s previous contract with the faculty had expired (June 30, 2015), the Pennsylvania State System had tried to destroy that contract, but was forced by the strike to withdraw most of the 249 changes the Chancellor and Board of Governors had sought.
The most significant of those withdrawn changes, the ones that ultimately forced the faculty to strike, were obvious attempts to break the union by driving a wedge between tenured and tenure-track faculty and the growing number of temporary and adjunct faculty. What makes APSCUF a strong union is that adjuncts work under the same conditions, including teaching loads, benefit packages, and salary scale as so-called "regular" faculty. Adjunct faculty at State System schools like IUP, California and Slippery Rock generally regard themselves as an integral part of the universities in which they work, not as an exploited proletariat paid a ridiculously low per-course stipend, without access to offices or benefits, and forced to teach each term at multiple institutions in order to make a low-income living.
Moreover, APSCUF’s 2011-15 contract limited the number of temporary faculty a university could employ to 25% or less "of the full-time equivalent of all faculty members employed at that university." Compare that to estimates of adjuncts constituting close to half of the faculty at colleges and universities across the country. In 2015, median per-course pay for adjuncts was $2700. At Pennsylvania State System universities, full-time temporary faculty at the bottom of the salary scale received a 2014-15 salary of $46,610. If such a faculty member taught only a quarter, half, or three-quarters of the normal teaching load of four class sections per term, they would receive the appropriate fraction of the stated salary. Moreover, the contract required that temporary faculty members who had "worked at a university for five full, consecutive academic years in the same department" would be given tenure-track status if approved by the department.
By Susan Snyder
Oct 19, 2016 – Faculty in Pennsylvania’s 14 state universities are on strike, the first in the system’s 34-year history.
The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties union announced shortly after 5 a.m. that a strike could not be averted, likely bringing education to a halt for 105,000 students in the state system universities.
The decision followed five consecutive days of bargaining that went into last evening and broke off after 9 p.m.
"At 11:35 p.m., we made a last attempt to negotiate through back channels," said union president Kenneth M. Mash, a political science professor at East Stroudsburg University. "We waited until 5 a.m. We are headed to the picket lines, but even on the picket lines, our phone will be on, should the state system decide it doesn’t want to abandon its students."
Mash said he would be picketing outside the Dixon Center in Harrisburg, where the chancellor of the state system, Frank T. Brogan, has his office.
There is no limit on how long a strike could last. Mash said faculty will return when negotiators reach a contract.
The state system has said it intends to keep campuses open, including residence halls and dining facilities and operate as close to normal as possible. But it does not intend to hire replacement workers. It remains to be seen how many, if any, faculty cross the picket lines to work.
"I think none of us ever wanted it to end up here," said Amber Holbrook, a West Chester social work professor who was among the more than a dozen faculty members picketing outside the system’s Center City campus. But, she said, the system’s proposed changes would make it "hard to recruit and retain faculty."
Negotiations broke down over health insurance costs and salary increases