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Labor Report

Teachers, Labor Community Mourn Passing of PSEA President McCracken

Dolores McCrackenMembers of the Pennsylvania State Education Association are mourning the loss of PSEA President Dolores McCracken, who passed away on Nov. 13.

“Dolores McCracken was an excellent PSEA president, a phenomenal woman, and a great friend. Dolores was not just the president of PSEA. She was also part of our family. We will miss her dearly,” said PSEA Vice President Rich Askey.

McCracken was a local, regional and statewide leader with the 181,000-member PSEA for more than two decades. A native of New York, she was raised in Philadelphia and worked as a paralegal before serving as president of the home and school association at her children’s elementary school in the Council Rock School District. That experience led her to become a paraprofessional in a sixth-grade inclusion classroom.

She served as a PSEA board member, as well as a member of the association’s Education Support Professionals board from 2001 to ’11, when she was elected PSEA treasurer. She was elected vice president in 2015 and president in 2017.

Askey will assume the role of president in accordance with the association’s bylaws.

“I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from PSEA members for Dolores and her family throughout this difficult time,” Askey said.

Dolores dedicated her life to advocating for great public schools, Pennsylvania students, and the PSEA members she served. While our hearts are breaking, we smile knowing that she leaves behind an amazing legacy for our children, our grandchildren, and all who come after us.”

Mt. Pleasant School Board Rejects Fact Finder Recommendations as Out-of-Contract Teachers Keep Working

Mt. Pleasant School BoardWith Mt. Pleasant Area School District teachers and staff working without a contract since the start of the current academic year, the local school board voted on Nov. 12 to reject a state-appointed, independent fact finder’s report that recommended a new seven-year labor agreement including pay raises and healthcare premium reductions.

The 143-member Mt. Pleasant Area Education Association had previously accepted the 56-page report. Dozens of members and their supporters attended the school board meeting to urge the board to adopt the recommendations. But the board rejected the report, 7-2, according to the Tribune-Review.

The previous three-year contract expired on Aug. 31. Members have not authorized a strike. Union leaders intend to continue negotiations.

“I still believe, and will always believe, that it was a fair report, reasonable recommendations,” Mt. Pleasant Area Education Association President Terri Remaley told the newspaper. “And our association will continue to — as we always have attempted — to continue to bargain in a reasonable manner. … We are definitely disappointed in the board vote.”

In addition to the wage and health insurance issues, union members also seek preservation of a “sick day donation” program, as well as assurances that members will be provided with adequate classroom supplies and break times.

Board members said the recommendations would cost the district too much money and prompt local tax increases.

The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board appointed the fact finder in September after negotiations stalled.

Pennsylvania Loses Amazon HQ2 Sweepstakes

Neither Philadelphia, nor Pittsburgh will become Amazon’s next home.

The Seattle-based online retailer’s much-publicized “HQ2” project reached a milestone on Nov. 13 when the company announced it intends to develop two sites – one in Queens, New York, and the other in Arlington County, Virginia – as supplemental corporate headquarters, investments that purportedly will generate 50,000 jobs and billions of dollars for the local and state economies.

Pennsylvania’s two most-populous cities were among 20 locales nationwide on Amazon’s list of finalists. The company also announced that it would develop a third, smaller office in Nashville, Tennessee, which was also among the finalists.
Throughout Amazon’s 14-month request for proposals, both Keystone State cities and the Gov. Wolf administration had kept their offers close to the vest due to the competitive nature of the process. On the heels of the company’s announcement, Wolf revealed that the state had offered $4.6 billion of incentives were Amazon to select either city.

Most of that package, about $4.5 billion, would go to the company incrementally over 25 years in the form of a new grant program based on the amount of personal income taxes collected by the state from Amazon employees, according to a report published by PlanPhilly. Another $100 million would take the form of transportation improvements in the area of the development site.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and local officials further promised to provide the company with $1.1 billion in 20-year tax increment financing. Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation President John Grady stated publicly that the $1.1 billion investment would generate an estimated $6 billion in new local taxes over 20 years.
In Pittsburgh, Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County officials offered $2.1 billion (pending council and school board approvals), mostly in affordable housing improvements, job training programs, transportation improvements and other infrastructure work, according to WPXI. Combined with the state’s $4.6 billion offer, the total incentive would have amounted to $6.7 billion in the Steel City.

Hiring Slows and Workforce Participation Remains Historically Low Despite ‘Strong’ Economy

Despite a widely-reported strong economy and historically low unemployment rate in the United States, the nation’s workforce participation rate also remains historically low and hiring may be slowing down nationwide, according to, which cited a Nov. 12 report by LinkedIn, the employment-oriented social media service that claims more than 150 million registered users in America and 590 million worldwide.

“After a rise in hiring growth over 2017 and most of this year, LinkedIn's Workforce Report for November 2018 says that trend may be levelling off. According to LinkedIn's user data, gross hiring in the U.S. was 3.8 percent higher than in October 2017, but seasonally-adjusted national hiring was down 0.3 percent from September to October 2018. Those numbers are notably lower than some of the hiring spikes earlier this summer, but LinkedIn's economic team says ‘time will tell whether we're seeing a temporary breather or a more sustained pause,’” Politico wrote.

Meanwhile, “the labor force participation rate — the share of people actually looking for a job — edged up slightly but remained close to 63 percent in October, near its lowest level since the 1970s.”

The rapid increase in the women’s workforce participation rate powered the overall participation growth in the 1970s. The women’s rate reached 50 percent for the first time in 1978, peaked at 60 percent in 1999, and stood at about 57 percent in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The men’s rate declined from about 78 percent to 69 percent from 1978 to 2016.

Philadelphia Needs Better-Paying Jobs as City’s Growing Hunger, Poverty Contradict National Trends

Can you please help us we are very hungry. Anything helps.On the heels of a report that the number of Philadelphians living in hunger increased by 22 percent from 2012-17, leaders of national and local anti-hunger organizations blamed the city’s declining median income and need for better-paying jobs.

The New York-based nonprofit Hunger Free America released its findings in a Nov. 12 report and revealed that 302,685 Philadelphia residents, accounting for 18.3 percent of the population, lived in households classified as “food insecure” under federal standards during the 2015-17 period, compared to 248,046 residents for the 2012-14 period. Meanwhile, food insecurity declined nationally from 15.7 percent to 11.1 percent for the same periods.

Further, Philadelphia’s poverty rate remained static at 25.7 percent from 2016-17, while the national poverty rate declined from 12.7 to 12.3 percent, leaving it as the poorest among the nation’s 10 most populous cities, reported.

“The focus, then, should be on creating jobs, raising wages, and ensuring an adequate safety net,” Hunger Free America Executive Director Joel Berg wrote in a statement accompanying the report.

Glenn Bergman, executive director of Philabundance, told the news agency the city needs “better-paying jobs, access to healthcare, financial assistance, education, and other social services that help alleviate the root causes of hunger.”

Kathy Fisher, policy director for the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, told she wasn’t surprised at the report “given that housing prices have skyrocketed, and that people at the bottom aren’t earning any more money. Overall, we haven’t moved the needle on poverty.”