Friday, April 13, 2007

County Reaches Agreement With Gracedale Staff

The County and AFSCME has issued this joint press release, which speaks for itself.

EASTON – Northampton County and AFSCME Gracedale Division, Department of Human Services workers have reached a tentative collective bargaining agreement in just three months since the December 31, 2006 expiration of the previous contract.

"The relatively quick turn-around is the result of joint cooperation between County Administration and AFSCME Local 1435 negotiating teams in conducting good faith collective bargaining," said Northampton County Executive John Stoffa.

"We look forward to working with the members of Local 1435 in continuing to provide excellent care for our most fragile, elderly residents," stated Mr. Stoffa.

The contract agreement, effective from January 1, 2007 through December 31, 2011, covers a variety of Department of Human Services positions supporting the County’s operation of the Gracedale Nursing Home. These 700+ employees are represented by Council #13 and District Council #88 of AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees."The contract is a fair contract and was forged in the spirit of cooperation between AFSCME Local 1435 and the County of Northampton," according to AFSCME District Council #88 representative Justus James.

Mr. James adds: "The AFSCME employees at Gracedale stand out in the health care field. They provide the highest quality of care for those in their charge."

The highlights of the agreement include a 4.5% salary increase across the board for each of the five years; increased employee contributions for health care for each of the five years; the introduction of in-network medical deductions; the introduction of co-pays for office visits, emergency room visits and hospital confinement; improved incentives to encourage better attendance; increased longevity payments; and clarification of several technical provisions.
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AFSCME District Council 88 represents more than 13,000 public employees in Southeastern Pennsylvania, including employees of the Commonwealth and its counties, cities, townships, boroughs, school districts, and health and human service facilities.

Northampton County employs over 2,000 workers and has 11 bargaining units, totaling more than 75% of its workforce.


J. Spike said...

Sadly here in the City of Easton. Our city went the wrong way, and eliminated Union jobs at the Water Plants when the turned power over to Private Enterprise.

Now Public works has an engineer whom now cleans drains, and cuts grass. Most just chose to lose their tenure with a union, and stayed at the plant for a loss.

Billy Givens said...

j. spike,

As a former elected vice-president of an AFSCME-sister public union, AFGE, representing hundreds of professional employees including electronic and electrical engineers, technical writers, illustrators, repair parts specialists, and other support personnel such as clerk-typists.

Add to these hundreds the wage-grade or blue-collar workers represented by my local, 1904, and the total number of employees protected by collective-bargaining burgeoned into the thousands.

Just one example of the provided protection: Unlike your union, mine lacked the power of outside, binding arbitration. Employee grievances, disciplinary actions, and terminations had to be adjudicated under the agency procedures, which were stacked against us.

But in an Executive Order, President Jimmy Carter of Georgia, my neighboring state of Alabama (both of which, unfortunately, still have anti-union so-called "Right-to-Work laws)giving federal unions the right to negotiate arbitration in their contracts.

I was privileged to be a member at my installation of one of the first contract negotiated under President Carter's EO.

I was further privilege to be one of only three members sitting across the table from management in the negotiation of this contract: the President of my local, Ken Boyter, a native of South Carolina and opponent in a previously close, disputed election which I challenged under Department of Labor rules - based on a decision by him and his executive board disallowing ballot boxes in my area of representation, consisting mostly of professional white-collar employees; and by the District representative, Eileen Zimbardo, whose offices at that time were located in East Orange, New Jersey and later re-located to Lower Manhattan.

Yet Boyer and Eileen respected me enough to include me in the negotiating. Much of that was due to my having brought to their attention President Carter's recently issued E.O. providing for binding outside arbitration - which, I'm proud to say, we succeeding in securing for the thousands of employees in our bargaining union.

This was possible only because my local had prevailed over our competing union NFFE in an internal jurisdictional election the right to represent professional employees in the newly formed Communications and Electronic Command headquartered in New Jersey.

As an independent candidate for Northampton County Council's lone challengeable at-large seat in November's general election, I urge your support and that all other public-employee union members - including members of locals, such as your own, that management has succeeded effectively in decertifying by circumventing the more respectable route based on DOL rules, rather than on the the devious one of privatization, or, as more commonly known, the "contracting out" of jobs.

Anonymous said...

Hey Billy, go back to Bama and have a few more Budweisers, but please just shut the hell up. You are one, clueless, self aggrandizing ass. My God, id there any topic you can't spout your own self importance on?
I believe in free speech, but in your case, I wish there was a free "Comment blocker."
I swear to God, if someone were to yell "Fire" in a croweded theater, Billy would stand and regale himself with memories of the time he watched the Hindenburg burn!

Anonymous said...

Billy should rename his blog from "Billy Bytes." to "Billy Bull Shit!"

Anonymous said...


Billy Givens said...


Re the last three comments, 9:22, 9:24, and 9:49, all a.m., in that order:

I'm not a self-immolator, for sure, a trait that emboldens me to comment non-anymously.

It's a trait that dares me also to grab his image of fire, with ungloved hands, and fling it right back in his face and up his cowardly ass.

Cowardly, because he dasn't dare tell me who he is, and where I can find him, so's I can then kick his sorry ass - the way we do it back down ol' Alabama way.

As for the next anonymous comment, at 9:24 a.m., my retort is: "Don't try to bird-turd a lanky old fart from Alabama.

As for the third comment, my response is, "Don't be surprised. John Stoffa is shitting (not to interrupt the barnyard imagery) on the county's non-union workers.

He learned this from his prececessor Glenn Reibman.

Reibman, with county council's concurrence, coerced non-union construction workers on the fraudulent $111 million-plus courthouse and prison expansion.

(Aside.The latter of thes expansions is, in fact, a $22.5 million-plus "contraction;"
it's already over-crowded, with Northampton County taxpayers footing the bill for, and feeling the inflicted pain of, kicking convicted felons - a growing number of them illegal aliens - over the borders of neighboring counties for confinement in their prisons - confinement for which Northampton County taxpayers also pay the rent and board.)

Finally, back to the coercion, the non-union construction workers were required to pay the equivalent of union-dues, called "LPAs," or Labor Protection Agreements, in order the work do work on the county's dual "Expansion-Contraction" projects, with the two growing and shrinking, respectively, at the same time.

Many of these non-union worker were resident were Northampton County residents and taxpayers.

Meanwhile, in egregious violation of general-obligation bonds, their proceeds pay the wages and benefits of construction workers who are residents of counties outside the bonding jurisdiction of Northampton County and even outside the bonding jurisdiction of the state.

Meanwhile, investors the world over are selling and buying and re-buying and re-selling these bonds "Over The Counter" (OTRB).

This the day-traders, brokerage houses like Raymond James, Merrill lynch, and Concord Financial Services, and government corporations like Orange County, California and Northhampton County pull off through "creative fiancing."

One such creation is the Bermuda interest-rate "swaption" that sank Orange County and threatens to sink Northampton County and its municipalities like Bethlehem.

OTC allows the trading of stocks and bonds without Securities and Exchange Commission oversight the world over: Macao Red China and the Sands-owned Venetian Casino; Russia and Severstal Steel; India and Mittal Steel, the United States and International Steel, all of which destroyed Bethlehem Steel.

Add Mexico and Canada under NAFTA and the Central American countries under CAFTA.

And, finally, unless by June 30 of this year Congress doesn't step in and stop Resident George W. Bush and his "fast-track" Security and Prosperity Act (SPPA), or North American Union (NAU) add also the South American continent - of which Sand BethWorks LLP and "Fair Trade Zone" are the beginning.

Unless Congress intervenes, this "pilot" program and "Free Trade Zone" will bring across our southern border trucks crossing the Easton-Phillipsburg Delwaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission (DRJTBC) and wiping out the livelihood of 163 million American truck drivers' jobs.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) has already pulled out of the AFL-CIO in disgust with its boss John Sweeney, just as decades ago in Detroit Walter Reuther pulled the United Auto workers (UAW) out of the affiliation of George Meeney.

Billy Givens said...


I overlooked citing Arcelor Steel of Luxembourgh, now merged with both Mittal and Severstal, as another of the destroyers of Bethelem Steel.

Billy Givens said...


My apologies to you and your readers. "163 million truck drivers' jobs" should, of course, read "163 thousand truck drivers' jobs," which are still too many could would day conceivably reach that number, I suppose.

Even so, the numbers will increase, and where's the infrastructure - not to mention - the funds to support them?

Privatize our public highhways, as Rendell proposes, such as Illinois is doing with American Highway in Chicago?

Billy Givens said...


What frosts my balls (Will the lewd language PC police be out tonight to arrest me in my home, and will they "knock" before they "announce" who they are before bustin' in?) is how governments like Northampton County and its Seat Easton "privatize" their work.

When Mayor Tom Goldsmith privatized his city's pickup of garbage and the other detritus of our throw-away society, he assured us "not to worry, the city's retaining control of the billing.

Of course it did. How else could he launder our money through Waste Management and Grand Central Sanitation into his campaign "slush fund?"

Our Republican Mayor needed these funds to help get Democratic Mayor of Filthydelfia across the Schulkill and Susquehanna rivers and into the Governor's seat in Harrisburg, to the constirnation of "Lehigh Valley" Republican rain-maker Elmer Gates, who the record shows opposes slot machine casino and racino gambling.

No matter that in the vortex of the Don Amos-Rutgers women's predominantly black basketball team, Goldsmith was a charter member in good standing of the Easton's Southside Fleas Club, which, though admittedly with more subtlety than George Corley Wallace standing in the University of Alabama's door, or Lester Mattox planted at the entrance to his Atlanta, Georgia, fried chicken resturant, ax handle raised against any Black attempting entry.

Ignoring the indignation and outrage of most of Easton's citizenry, Rendell rewarded Goldsmith by plucking him from his mayoral seat and planting him on Pennsylvania's Liquor Control Board.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, is this Billy Bytes or Lehigh Valley Ramblings?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Billy's on thin ice again. he has his own damn blog, and should not post OT remarks here.

Billy Givens said...


It's true. I have a blog. And I post on it. And I do get comments.

So does that mean I shouldn't be allowed to comment on the posts on your blog?

And if I "ramble," isn't that the operative word your blog's title?

The words "Lehigh Valley" certainly aren't. The "Lehigh Valley," commonly defined as Northampton and Lehigh counties, has as much reality as William Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County down in the Mississippi, in pages between the covers of his fiction.

Moreover, my comments were OT. They responded, in order, to those of the three submitters immediately who commented immediately prior to me.

It is also true that I gave a longer response to the third commenter than to the preceding two.

I thought his was the most deserving of the three. He struck me as having been directly, and personally, affected by Northampton County's job actions.

J. Spike said...


Too much Billy Givens NOT ENOUGH TITO JACKSON!

I will now beat myself with a tire iron.