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Unemployment Picture by County

UnemploymentPennsylvania’s unemployment rate held at 5.6 percent in June but counties’ seasonally adjusted rates had to have made many local economic development officials smile.

Every county’s jobless number was lower in June than one year ago.

Philadelphia County (7.6 percent), Forest County (7.4), Cameron County (7.3) and Huntingdon County (7.2) have the highest unemployment rates; Philadelphia was second in May. Chester and Montour counties have the lowest jobless number, tied for 3.9 percent.

More than half of PA’s counties (35) have unemployment rates that are below the state’s 5.6 percent.

Bitter Reality

CheckPennsylvania was one of the states that cut unemployment benefits following the recession in the attempt to save money. Many people, including me, protested the cuts and worked to persuade the Corbett administration to reverse course because the action was hurting the very people it was designed to help: suddenly jobless workers.

Now comes a study that says Pennsylvania and other states that slashed UC benefits didn’t save much money but did decrease job seekers’ bank accounts.

“Even before the federal EUC program lapsed in December 2013, eight states reduced the number of weeks state-level unemployment benefits were available, claiming the cuts were needed to shore up insolvent state accounts in the federal Unemployment Trust Fund (UTF),” the Economic Policy Institute said this week.

“Compared with a tax hike that would have achieved the same boost to the state UTF account’s balance, the savings per covered worker in the six of these eight states for which data are available ranged from $0.06 to $0.69 per week. In short, unemployed workers lost an average $252 per week of curtailed benefits just so states could save roughly 37 cents per covered worker per week in SUTA taxes, holding trust fund account balances equal,” EPI said in its study.’s take on EPI’s study can be read here.

We really didn’t need a study to show how poor a policy it was for PA (Act 6 of 2011 and Act 60 of 2012) and these states. We were seeing, reading and hearing firsthand evidence of how this hurt Pennsylvanians.

Obama for Labor. It’s an Order!

TransportationHow fazed is President Obama about the Republican lawsuit filed against him yesterday? Apparently, he has been encouraged by the stunt.

The president signed an executive order to require federal contractors to better deal with union employees and give them more rights in disputes.

“By forcing companies to disclose recent labor law violations, Obama hopes to pressure the most egregious violators to clean up their act or else lose out on lucrative federal contracts, White House officials said. The order also requires that contractors give their workers information to determine whether their paychecks are accurate, and allow workers to have a judge, not an arbitrator, hear sexual assault and civil rights grievances,” the AP reported.

Labor needs more political support, and I am especially glad this presidential order happened on the same day his opponents continued in its “business as usual” theme.

McUnion Yes!

McDonald'sMinimum wage for some fast-food workers could be coming to an end now that the National Labor Relations Board has had its say.

On Tuesday, the NLRB said McDonald’s, the company, must be held in the same regard as an employer as its franchisees.

“The general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday ruled that McDonald’s  MCD qualifies as a joint employer of workers at its franchise restaurant locations, a decision that—if upheld—could hold the company responsible for employee conditions and ease the fast food industry’s path toward unionization,” reported.

Hopefully, this ruling will be upheld. It would be a wonderful victory for the little guy and girl – big companies’ frontline workers who are paid the least.

Made in America

CoppertoneThe sun—friend or foe? It allows plants to grow, warms the earth and lights our surroundings, but the sun’s powerful rays can be overwhelming and harmful, as well. Not only can the sun cause draughts and wildfires, but it can also lead to illnesses and loss of life.

Sun worshippers need not fear the sun, however, as long as they take the proper precautions to protect themselves. In addition to remaining hydrated, wearing tightly woven clothing, donning UV-blocking sunglasses and avoiding extended sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.,  sunscreen is one of the most important and effective ways of shielding yourself from the sun.

Next time you reach for sunscreen this summer, one brand that can be relied upon for union-made skincare protection is Coppertone.

A pioneer of sunscreen products for more than 60 years, Coppertone brand has maintained its reputation with the help of its union employees belonging to United Steelworkers (USW).

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the company’s employees, as well as the daily testing and innovation by scientists working at its solar research center, Coppertone’s production and distribution has grown to a global level.

Owned by Merck & Co. Inc., Coppertone has made numerous break-through developments over the years, including the Sun Protection Factor (SPF), water-resistant sunscreen and anti-oxidant products, which have allowed the brand to continuously set new standards in sun products and meet growing consumer demands.

As a result of its close work with dermatologists, Coppertone has, among other things, discovered ways to boost the skin’s natural defenses against the sun, while improving the overall appearance of the skin and preventing it from further sun damage in water and on land.  While it continues to develop new products and increase its efforts to educate consumers about sun safety, the ever-evolving nature of the Coppertone brand ensures its products will remain at the top of its industry and the front of consumers’ cabinets for as long as the sun continues to rise and set.