Giant Supermarkets To Boost Minimum Pay To $9 Per Hour

Giant Food Stores will boost its minimum pay to $9 per hour, effective June 7, the company said Tuesday.

The change applies to 197 non-union supermarkets run by Carlisle-based Giant and its Martin’s division.

Data from a website that tracks wages shows the decision will be worth as much as $1.67 per hour extra for the company’s workforce.

“Our associates are the foundation of our success and we have always believed in paying competitive wages to attract the best talent,” said Giant President Tom Lenkevich in a prepared statement.

Read more:

http://lancasteronline.com/business/local_business/giant-supermarkets-to-boost-minimum-pay-to-per-hour/article_9581413c-e360-11e4-8edd-bfd0cd3f9d3d.html

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Paychecks Shrinking In Delaware

Unhappy about the size of your paycheck?

A lot of folks in Delaware probably are.

Its nickname may be “the Diamond State,” but it’s the only state in the U.S. where nominal wages dropped between 2009 and 2014,according to The Economist.

That means people are earning less money even before inflation is taken into account. Wages are down 2 to 3 percent, according to the chart accompanying the British newsmagazine’s article.

Read more:

http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/paychecks-shrinking-in-delaware/article_e2c366cc-da1a-11e4-abb5-9b3cbecec6a2.html

Carbondale Adopts 2015 Budget With Wage Tax Increase

CARBONDALE, PA — City council on Monday unanimously adopted a budget for 2015 that raises the city’s wage tax a notch to cover an anticipated $120,000 deficit.

Council voted 7-0, with Joseph Marzzacco, Kathleen Connor, Jerry Arnese, Francis Lagana, John Masco, John Gigliotti and Walter Martzen all in favor, on both a budget appropriation ordinance and a separate ordinance raising the earned-income tax from 1.6 percent to 1.7 percent.

Increasing the city portion of the earned-income tax from 1.6 percent to 1.7 percent would equate to an extra $24 levied on a resident with the city’s median earnings of $23,893.

With the school wage tax remaining at 0.5 percent, the total wage tax on a Carbondale resident now will increase from the current 2.1 percent to 2.2 percent next year, when the one-tenth-of-1-percent hike is implemented.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/carbondale-adopts-2015-budget-with-wage-tax-increase-1.1803584

Labor Department: Marcellus Shale Contractors Owe $4.5 Million In Back Wages

Contractors involved in natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania and West Virginia must pay nearly $4.5 million in back wages to more than 5,000 workers, following a two-year U.S. Department of Labor investigation.

“An ongoing multi-year enforcement initiative conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division offices in Wilkes-Barre and Pittsburgh from 2012 to 2014 found significant violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which resulted in employers agreeing to pay $4,498,547 in back wages to 5,310 employees,” read a Labor Department statement released on Tuesday.

“It’s part of an ongoing initiative, a multi-year initiative,” said Labor Department spokeswoman Leni Fortson of the Philadelphia office. “These are the findings from the first three years.”

A list of the violating companies can be found attached to this story at http://www.timesleader.com.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/50834414/Labor-Department:-Contractors-owe-millions-in-back-wages

Pittsburgh-Area Colleges Produce Nearly $9 Billion Economic Impact

The 10 colleges and universities that make up the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education produced an economic impact of $8.99 billion and supported more than 70,000 jobs in the Pittsburgh area during fiscal year 2012-13, according to a report the council prepared in collaboration with Fourth Economy, a national economic development consulting firm.

Their collective economic impact represents approximately 32 percent of the city’s gross domestic product, the report said.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/6936623-74/university-pittsburgh-council#ixzz3FfiHRLmm
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SEPTA Regional Rail Strike Begins; Corbett To Seek Federal Help

SEPTA logo with text

SEPTA logo with text (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SEPTA railroad engineers and electrical workers went on strike early Saturday, halting commuter rail service in the Philadelphia region, after last-ditch efforts by federal mediators failed to break an impasse in the long-running labor dispute.

The strike shut down 13 Regional Rail lines that provide 60,000 passengers with 126,000 rides on a typical weekday. That promised to snarl already clogged highways with additional cars and to hamper commuters and their employers throughout the region.

Service on SEPTA’s buses, subways, trolleys and the Norristown High-Speed Line – which carry about 85 percent of SEPTA’s riders – were not affected.

Gov. Corbett was prepared to ask President Obama to quickly appoint a presidential emergency board to mediate the rail labor dispute. Under federal railroad law, the creation of such a board would compel the workers to return to the job for 240 days.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20140614_Last-ditch_talks_pending_as_Regional_Rail_strike_looms.html#v26c8poq4F1xhoJB.99

More People Moving Into Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Region Than Out

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro...

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PLAINS TOWNSHIP, PA — More people are moving into the region than leaving.

Migration into Luzerne and Lackawanna counties is on the rise and much of the immigration is coming from New York, New Jersey and elsewhere in Pennsylvania, according to the 2014 Indicators Report from the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development at Wilkes University.

The report, unveiled Thursday morning to business and civic leaders who filled the convention center at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, analyzed 120 indicators in areas such as demographics, population and migration, jobs and the economy. It was the ninth year for the event, said Teri Ooms, executive director of the institute.

Ooms highlighted the 2010 Census, which shows a growing population for the first time since the 1950s. Some are from the low- to moderate-income demographic and some earn a middle- to upper-middle income, the report showed.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/more-people-moving-into-region-than-out-1.1690955

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Best & Worst Cities To Work For A Small Business

Editor’s note:  Several Pennsylvania metro areas fared well on the list.  Pittsburgh (26), Philadelphia (33) and Lancaster (38).

Continuing WalletHub’s theme of small business-related releases in honor of National Small Business Week (May 12-16), this study sought to identify the cities that are the most and least friendly to employees of small companies.

There is no shortage of commentary on the best and worst cities to start a small business, after all, and with such companies employing about 47% of the private workforce in this country, paying more than 40% of the private payroll, and creating more than 60% of the new jobs added over the past 20 years, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, it bears asking what opportunities exist for the roughly 12.3% of people who are currently either unemployed or marginally attached to the labor force, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More specifically, WalletHub’s used 10 different metrics – ranging from net small business job growth and industry variety to hours worked and average wages for new hires – to evaluate the state of small business in the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the United States.  We then ranked the cities based on their overall attractiveness for job seekers.

Read more: http://wallethub.com/edu/best-cities-to-work-for-a-small-business/3768/

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Downtown Pittsburgh Traffic A Mess As Protesters Take To Streets

English: The U.S. Steel Tower, located in Pitt...

English: The U.S. Steel Tower, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, with the new corporate logo of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Traffic jams around U.S. Steel Tower delayed Monday-morning commuters as hundreds of activists staged a loud protest against UPMC.

Pittsburgh police said they expect more demonstrators to arrive during the day. An estimated 600 had gathered by about 11:30 a.m., said police spokeswoman Sonya Toler. None had been arrested or cited as police blocked both northbound lanes of Grant Street at Steel Tower to handle the group.

“We have a bit of gridlock throughout town,” said Toler, who described the crowd as “mannerable” and “well behaved.” Police will decide later when to reopen the Grant Street lanes, though they were trying to reopen at least one as soon as they can, she said.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/5695344-74/upmc-service-activists#ixzz2uvS97DRf
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

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Automatic Tips May Be Off The Table

If you’ve dined out in a big group, chances are you had an automatic tip tacked on to your bill.

That practice might soon go away.

Orlando, Fla.-based Darden Restaurants may drop automatic gratuities for tables of eight or more at its chains including Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse.

Experts predict others will follow suit.  An Internal Revenue Service ruling will treat automatic gratuities as wages. That could lead to higher payroll taxes for restaurants and make record-keeping more complicated.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/consumer_news/Automatic_tips_may_be_off_the_table.html#0ZM1lP8QkvHAEumM.99

At Caterpillar, Pressing Labor While Business Booms

JOLIET, Ill. — When it comes to dealing with labor unions,Caterpillar has long taken a stance as tough as the bulldozers and backhoes that have burnished its global reputation.  Be it two-tier wage scales or higher worker contributions for health insurance, the company has been a leader in devising new ways to cut labor costs, with other manufacturers often imitating its strategies.

Now, in what has become a test case in American labor relations, Caterpillar is trying to pioneer new territory, seeking steep concessions from its workers even when business is booming.

Despite earning a record $4.9 billion profit last year and projecting even better results for 2012, the company is insisting on a six-year wage freeze and a pension freeze for most of the 780 production workers at its factory here.  Caterpillar says it needs to keep its labor costs down to ensure its future competitiveness.

The company’s stance has angered the workers, who went on strike 12 weeks ago.  “Considering the offer they gave us, it’s a strike we had to have,” said Albert Williams, a 19-year Caterpillar employee, as he picketed in 99-degree heat outside the plant, which makes hydraulic parts and systems essential for much of the company’s earth-moving machinery.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/23/business/profitable-caterpillar-pushes-workers-for-steep-cuts.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hpw

Berks County Property Tax To Rise 5-8%

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Next year Berks County property owners can expect the first county tax increase in eight years: between about 5 and 8 percent.

The amount will depend on negotiations with labor unions that represent county workers, county commissioners said Tuesday during their workshop session.

Budget Director Robert J. Patrizio Jr. said that in a worst-case scenario a 2.5 percent increase in wages would cost the county $3.2 million in 2013. Covering that, plus an expected deficit this year of $9.5 million and cuts in state funding would require an 8 percent increase in taxes, he said.

Property owners currently pay a rate of 6.935 mills, or $693.50 annually on a property assessed at $100,000.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=399675

A Statement And Upcoming Local Events From Occupy Pottstown

I asked Amy Francis to write a few paragraphs about what Occupy Pottstown’s goals are and what it hopes to achieve.  Amy also talks about the Occupation Movement in general.  If all you know about this movement is what you have seen on television you may want to take a moment and see what this is all about. 

So without further adieu, Amy writes:

The Occupations are a statement against the economic and political systems in this country, which are currently only working only for the most “powerful” (in other words, the richest) 1%. In Pottstown, we have surely seen the trickle down effects from this economic imbalance everywhere: homes going into foreclosure, blight in what were once nice neighborhoods, companies moving out of town or closing, broken-down infrastructure, educational cuts while unfunded mandates continue to increase, skyrocketing taxes, more and more unemployment, etc, etc. What has become painfully clear is that the American Dream has become virtually unattainable for the majority of American people, and certainly for the Pottstown people.

While it is clear is that everyone’s reason why they “occupy” is unique and personal, however, what I perceive to be the common thread of the Occupy Pottstown supporters is a desire to put a spotlight on the inequities that Pottstown bears, along with many other First Suburbs. As history has shown us in Pottstown, ignoring these problems will not make them go away; the Occupy Pottstown group has proven to me to be the people willing to talk openly about the local issues and how they have effected their lives in palpable way; that, I believe, is the only real fist step towards making things better for more people. Simply put; the members of Occupy Pottstown have opened up the discussion and have shown a commitment to do so until change takes hold.

Occupy Pottstown’s first public gathering will be on November 21, 4 – 7 pm at the corner of Hanover Street and College Drive, and all are invited to join us. Occupy Pottstown also wants to increase awareness of the importance of supporting local businesses which, in turn, helps to support our local economy. To initiate this goal, Occupy Pottstown members will be holding our first “Occupy Downtown Pottstown Walk” on November 26th, which is Small Business Saturday; meeting time and place to be announced. Again, all are invited and encouraged to join.

Power to the People (one Pottstown at a time)!

Dana Reports Increased Earnings For Third Quarter

Some good financial news for our area today as Dana announced their 3rd quarter results.  Dana Holding Corp. reported a year-to-date income of $148 million for 2011.  In 2010 that figure was only $24 million.  Sales were up almost 30 percent over the 3rd quarter of 2010 and up $1.1 billion year-to-date over last year.

Dana operates a driveshaft plant in Pottstown which contributes greatly to the local economy.

Pottstown Memorial Medical Center Employees Rally At Sunnybrook

Check out my coverage of this afternoon’s PMMC union rally at Sunnybrook on the Pottstown Herald!   The Mercury did not cover this event!!

http://pottstownherald.com/pottstown-memorial-medical-center-employees-rally-at-sunnybrook/1432/