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Friday, December 11, 2015

A Hollow Victory For AFSCME at Gracedale

At their final meeting of the year on December 10, Northampton County Council voted 8-0 to approve a three-year contract with AFSCME Local 1435, the union representing about 650 workers at Gracedale. It provides for a step and grade increase this year, followed by a 1% increase in 2016 and 2% increase in 2017. It also comes at a heavy cost for two occupational therapy assistants who only have a few months left before they have 20 years. Their jobs have been eliminated, and they must apply for employment with Advantage care, the private rehabilitation company Gracedale uses to provide occupational therapy.

Heather Kincaid and Joan Webb, 19-year veterans of the County, are occupational therapist assistants at Gracedale. They help patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working.

In July, NorCo Council inked a $2.9 million deal with Advantage care to provide rehabilitation care at Gracedale. Medicare and medicaid fully fund this contract. Advantage Care agreed to provide 13 physical therapists and even agreed to pay the salary for three assistants employed by the County, including Kincaid and Webb.

But no more. "I'm one of three people who found out two days ago that my life was basically torn out from under me," Kincaid told a Council preparing to celebrate Christmas. She is the sole breadwinner in her family, which includes a disabled husband who relies on her medical plan and is scheduled for a surgical procedure on December 14.

"We were told we're OK. we're OK, we're safe," she told Council. Her life insurance and medical benefits will be gone as of the first of the year. "I'll be honest with you, I'm terrified," she said, beating back tears. Kincaid and Webb were told to get a job with Advantage Care, which provides no family medical care or sick time or job security.

Kincaid and Webb have tried to contact Executive John Brown and Deputy Administrator Cathy Allen, to no avail. They told Council they just want to finish out their 20 years as county employees.

They also pointed out that residents can see as many as three different therapists in a given week, while they provide consistency and a familiar face.

Gracedale has used four different rehabilitation companies during the time Kincaid and Webb have worked there. "The only thing that remained consistent was us," noted Kincaid.

"We're just very flabbergasted at how three individuals in the large scheme of things who do not cost very much, but generate income, could just be discarded so heartlessly."

"After working at Gracedale for 20 years, we built a rapport with so many residents, added Webb, standing by Kincaid's side.Everyone that works there and the residents are just sick about this."

"I'm not just asking ... I'm begging that you reconsider this and allow us to remain through the end of our time," closed Kincaid.

As Kincaid and Webb described their plight, about eight of their fellow union members sat on the other side of the room, including union President Hector Rivera.Rivera later explained that the union fought for Kincaid and Webb, but the County insisted they be privatized. Noting that union members voted to support the contract by a 207-34 margin, Rivera stated he "cannot sabotage a contract for something they voted for."

Union members made no pitch for Kincaid or Webb.

After the meeting, Cathy Allen stated she would arrange a meeting between these workers and John Brown. Bob Werner and Peg Ferraro said they'd like to attend.

In other business, Council discussed a possibly joint meeting with Lehigh County Commissioners to discuss changes in the articles of incorporation at the Airport Authority. Glenn Geissinger, Council's representative on the Authority, was absent so Council had no direction about what is being sought. Geissigner also missed the final budget hearing last week. Even his vote concerning the Budget was done by phone.

Geissinger is running for the 17th Pa. Congressional District currently being served by Matt Cartright..

This was also the final meeting on Council for Lamont McClure and Scott Parsons.

McClure spoke of serving with legends like Wayne Grube and Peg Ferraro. He claimed that Grube taught him.that Gracedale is a "moral obligation. He also spoke of Ron Angle. "We both worked very hard to get rid of each other," he joked.

Parsons, who offered no parting words, left with the model workhorse awarded to him for his near perfect attendance record at Council meetings and committees.

55 comments:

Anonymous said...

1. Geissinger will lose badly

2. Gracedale will continue to rape taxpayers

3. Ladies, welcome to the private sector where benes and job security are non-existent. I thought that everyone was saying pay and benes were much better in the private sector?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Your comment is short-sighted. You seem to think that bc some people in the private sector are treated like shit, everyone in the public sector should work with lousy wages and no benefits. This kind of thinking does nothing but assure everyone's descent into the ranks of the working poor.

As fpr private sector employment, the pay is much better there but the benefits are not.

Anonymous said...

Whaa, whaaa....If people would have listened to John Stoffa and Ron Angle we would not have to deal with this constant whining. Gracedale is a dump so lets not cry too much. These guberment goldbrickers are just more trough feeders who want it all. When will these people learn about the real world that exists without mommy government taking car of them.

Anonymous said...

1:03. You are an asshole. Return to a feral state with no government so you can live a short,nasty and brutish life. When you run out of your canned peas and ammo in your bunker perhaps I will be lucky enuff to be assaulted by a lawless band of anti govt soulmates.

Anonymous said...

Gracedale will be sold after County Council and Mr. Brown win re-election. The deal is in the works and the taxpayers are happy.

Dump the money pit Angle warned us about. Stop the government waste and join the people in the private sector real world.

Stop the moaning.

Anonymous said...

I empathize with their sad tale. I've been downsized three times in the private sector. My wife was downsized after 22 years with a local company. Public employees don't face these consequences nearly as often as those in the private sector. On an individual basis, the devastation is no different. At least they have some kind of job opportunity waiting. That's more of a blessing than they realize now.Gracedale is losing a lot of money. I understand things need to be done to keep it in county hands. There will be sacrifices. While no solace to the three individuals involved, it's only three positions. That's really not too bad.

Anonymous said...

merry fucking Christmas brought to you from lack of support from your union. Wonder if you can get your dues back.

taja358 said...

People stay with the county for the stability. So sad to see that this is not the case in this situation and the union was silent about it. I hope it all works out for these dedicated workers and if Brown is re-elected God help us all.

taja358 said...

People stay with the county for the stability. So sad to see that this is not the case in this situation and the union was silent about it. I hope it all works out for these dedicated workers and if Brown is re-elected God help us all.

Anonymous said...

"After the meeting, Cathy Allen stated she would arrange a meeting between these workers and John Brown."


Is that even allowed?

These workers are represented by their union. I didn't think that the Administration could bargain with individual employees.

Are Allen and Brown looking for an unfair labor practice charge?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

The county should make arrangements to transfer them to work in another county position to finish their 20 years.

Anonymous said...

And how about Lorraine Schintz, long-time deputy director of HR. She was thrown under the bus by the new HR director, probably with Allen leading the charge. Let's see what Brown or Allen crony is appointed to that position.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I know that Lorraine has been let go but do not know the details. She is a very nice lady. She was a confidential (exempt) employee, and as such, has no due process rights.

Bernie O'Hare said...

10:46, I am not going to allow you to anonymously use derogatory and sexist words to refer to Allen. Knock it off. Because you had to be a thug, I had no choice but to remove your entire comment, including some good points.

Anonymous said...

Not anymore. They are at will employees employed by a private sub contracting company. Only thing that has changed is they aren't paid bennies from the county taxpayer.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Taja358, The union actually looked pretty pathetic. I would be ashamed to be a member of that union or one of its leaders bc they very clearly threw these people under the bus. How many rank and file members even know the plight of these ladies? If they had, I am sure they would have told the county to stuff it. But the leaders who sat in chambers last night sat on their hands. Not only did they hurt the ladies far worse than the County could do, but they hurt themselves and AFSCME. How can anyone want to belong to a union willing to sell its own people out? And can a person involved in that kind of activity really respect himself. Hector Rivera owed it to these ladies to get up and speak.

Bernie O'Hare said...

8:21, After the union threw these ladies under the bus, they arein no position to make any argument at all about them. If anyone engages in an unfair labor practice with respect to these workers, it is AFSCME, which should hang its head in shame.

Anonymous said...

Please explain what the problem is with the 19 year dilemma......what do they lose by not hitting the 20 year mark? How long did they have? It was not clear in the bog

Anonymous said...

@8:21
Of course it is. Being a member of a union does not take away your ability to meet with management privately, though I would expect they might request a Union Rep to be present. The reason being that if management wants to provide them work for their last year (by say, offering a lateral move to another department), that the offer doesn't violate the contract by infringing on other workers employment or seniority. That's assuming Allen and Brown really want to help these two ladies reach their 20 years of service.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Please explain what the problem is with the 19 year dilemma......what do they lose by not hitting the 20 year mark? How long did they have? It was not clear in the bog"

One only has four months to go and the second has seven months. The third employee, who has five years to go, was willing to go private. The solution is to allow these two to finish and then go private. I can't imagine something like this would be a sticking point.

Anonymous said...

I do not get it...what is acheived by hitting the 20 year mark as opposed to the 19 years they have now?

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
Thanx for your narrative over on MM's blog because he is not publising the reel and has an agenda too¿!($
This article is has to do with the browne hole propagated to be the cure¿!($ The notorious hamilton gang o thugs infect the hole of ReNue the valley with there influence peddling and infecting both ends of the spectrum begining and end as well as most of the inbetween time too¿!($
So hopping for at least the LVHN formally known as the great allentown hospital circus snake oil pic to be posted¿!($ Have omar the tent maker so a differet twist in the same old lame shit with a different twist¿!($
redd
patent pending

Bernie O'Hare said...

12:37, They both plan to retire after 20.

Anonymous said...

so they lose their pension or what else do they lose?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I don't believe they lose their pension, but they will lose all their medical benefits and life insurance. Both have disabled husbands.

Katie Bisher said...

Oh my goodness this is sad if everyone just treats this like well it at least it wasn't me then that's not unity... I am so sorry for the turn out and I really firmly believe as a body part of a unionized group this should be a red flag to current members. This isn't a victory because all in one or none at all either everyone wins or no one loses.

Anonymous said...

You did not like my "sexist" description of Allen, but it was accurate. Maybe by calling her a snake in the grass would pass your stringent "sexist" remark test. Or is that too derogatory for the King of Derogatory Remarks?

Bernie O'Hare said...

If you have the Kerge to sign your name as I do I might consider letting your sexist remark remain so that people would know who you are, but you won't do that because you were a coward. Go be a sexist on Lehigh Valley live.

Anonymous said...

So sad to hear about Lorraine Schintz. Why did they let her go? She was a nice person. It is amazing she was le tgo but Linda Markwith held on to her job.
She was even less qualified than Lorraine. Wonder who she kissed up to this time.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Well said, Katie Bisher.

Anonymous said...

The Kerge? Is that a word in the redneck dictionary?

Anonymous said...

Not the first time Hector RIvera turned his back on his union brothers and sisters.

Anonymous said...

In NJ..public employee's are allowed to buy service time. Maybe they can do that in this situation to get to their retirement service dates. AFSCME in NJ employees do this on a regular basis. Check it out or share this info with these two ladies. Perhaps they can bargain on their own with Brown.

Anonymous said...

This would require they pay whatever would have been taken out of their pay checks to the county in return for extending their service time to retirement minimum time served.

Anonymous said...

Brown could use some good PR anyway.

Anonymous said...

lol- keep supporting the disgusting unions you sheeple. wonder if your union dues will be refunded? nope.

the union used that cash for political campaigns and the black lives matters scam.

afscme is totally behind black lives matters, they were in Fergusson for the mike brown scam as was the seiu and a few more of these disgusting unions.

not sure what is more disgusting , the unions , the sheep who pay the dues bc they are forced to or the democrat politicians who take the union dues in return for pay to play scams.

if unions are so great , why is it mandatory to join and or pay dues when you get nothing , when push comes to shove.

love how people claim the union sheep have great benefits. that is very true. that is bc the union and the people do not pay for most of their benefits. that is compliments of the tax payers.

when some of these unions strike, they are striking against the tax payers. for the union leadership to spin it any other way is not being honest, but then again...its afscme and their good buds seiu. both have a history of not being honest.
just like every single teachers union leader.

Ovem Lupo Commitere said...

I notice that every time you have a story about workers, your comments section is filled with anti-union rhetoric about "union pukes", "sheeple", "welcome to the private sector", etc, etc. I have been on both sides of contracts, and I have seen how unions have protected workers who genuinely don't deserve it. I have also seen how management in both the private and public sectors will push where they can, at the expense of the worker, to save a buck. Unions can be too greedy, management can be too greedy. BUT, at the end of the day unions (directly and via ripple effect) helped to create the large middle class in the 1900s, and since their decline the middle class has also shrunk. Many other variables at play, besides the decline of union households, but the middle class is shrinking. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/09/the-american-middle-class-is-losing-ground/

Anonymous said...

5:48,
Either you are in management, or just a malcontent union member that feels you shouldn't have to pay for representation. I know a couple of co-workers like you. They bitch about the union and dues, but I have yet to see one of them refuse the raises and other benefits the union got them through a bargaining agreement. Things they never got until the workforce organized and the union "forced" them to pay dues. Their pay and benefits more than pays for the dues, yet they think they are being treated unfairly because paying dues isn't optional.
I wish the law allowed you few idiots to bargain for yourselves and get left behind as union members gain, but it doesn't. We have to hear you bitch and watch you undermine as an butt-licking snitch, and then protect your ass when you screw up. Which you eventually do.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
These crews of court jezters running entire city's, county's and states are ASSimilated with ISIS¿!($ Chances are they are all working in collusion with those ASSoshits on turning the area into the pussie boil on the ass of the spinkter it has become¿!($
This is all for our future when fact is our dirtnapp is nearer than the public expenditures¿!($ Hence the selling of our childrens children's future sold for a false sac of goods like the circus bottle of snake oil, cure all¿!($
redd
patent pending

Anonymous said...

Ovem, the union movement at large has been undermined by public service unions. Their voting patterns are more predictable and reliable for Democrats than unions operating in the private sector. Trades unions were thrown to the side in PA re: fracking by a more radicalized Democratic Party. Coal miners have been stabbed in the back by a party that sees more capital in environmentalism than workers in Appalachia. It started when some unions supported Reagan in the 80s and the downward trend has continued. Public service unions are not our fathers' unions. They're a 100% reliable voting bloc and never go rogue. There's a big difference between public and private sector unions.

Anonymous said...

Bernie I to am a union member of AFCSME,people have to remember that the union, no matter which one it is, is only as strong as the membership is. I have belonged to AFSCME for quite a long time and have to say this union SUCKS and that can be attributed to the people that are members of this shit union, due to the fact that they are only in it for themselves and what can you do for me and me only, Let me remind those assholes that it is not about them it is about every member and how they can make things better for all and not just for themselves!

Bernie O'Hare said...

I would urge you to run for leadership. I don't know Hector too well. Although I think he dropped the ball here, I think he has genuinely tried. James Irwin before him was very good. I do think AFSCME dropped the ball here and with 17 magisterial district judge employees.

Anonymous said...

anon 10:120 even after all that you claim they still won't back your whack-out Republican Party. Makes you think how fucked up you guys must be in workers eyes.

Anonymous said...

If you don't have 20 years you don't get a full pension or retirement medical benefits so yeah this is a big deal to the employee and a really big deal to the county which favors obviously the county.

Anonymous said...

I worked part time at LVH hospital when they did this exact same thing to the housekeeping department...employees with almost 20 years and some more...there were worker's crying in the hall ways, some even wanted to kill themselves. Yeah they were offered jobs with the private company at not even half of what they were making and then had to spend the majority of that money on benefits if they wanted them. So it's not just happening in the public sector but the private as well....any way for the exec's to keep their money and screw the little guy.

Anonymous said...

I think this is the time union members can get out of the union. There's only a short window to do this. Check your contract. You will still have to pay fair share but not the higher union percentage.

Anonymous said...

6:37,
Paying "fair share" does not get you out of a union. It allows you to pay less (I think it is 15% less), but you give up benefits associated with paying full dues. Most union bylaws do not provide fair share members a union lawyer if the member goes to the Labor Board. They can not vote on bargaining agreements, can not attend union meetings, vote for or run for officers positions within the union. They may even be ineligible for scholarships and other perks offered by their union.
Surprisingly, union stewards work just as hard to protect these fair share members during disciplinary matters, or in a grievance against management, because these often anti-union members become the best union members after their ass is saved. The light finally comes on for them.

Anonymous said...

What happens if everyone goes fair share?

Anonymous said...

When Jim Gregory was still here this kind of thing would not have happened. he was the watchman on the tower keeping things safe for all employees of the county. Stoffa and Angle tried devious plots and Jim Gregory always sniffed them put.

It is sad that he was caught in a web of conspiracy and sent away. He let his guard down and his enemies trapped him. Soon he will return and he may once again take up the flag of the employees in the county and elsewhere. There was no one who was more passionate and articulate on such matters.

His charismatic leadership is missed and now he is wiser and will not fall into the political traps of the past. Northampton County. Bethlehem and the entire Lehigh valley will soon have a labor leader who cares.

Anonymous said...

"I have also seen how management in both the private and public sectors will push where they can, at the expense of the worker, to save a buck. Unions can be too greedy, management can be too greedy. BUT, at the end of the day unions (directly and via ripple effect) helped to create the large middle class in the 1900s, and since their decline the middle class has also shrunk. Many other variables at play, besides the decline of union households, but the middle class is shrinking. Yes , as you said, we have many other variables, that are at play as to why the middle class is shrinking. The number one reason and there is a very direct correlation to stagnant wages and illegals entering the USA , over the last 40 years. That is a fact that can not be ignored.

Nobody is forced to stay at a job. As far as I know, we have employment laws to protect people and as far as I know we still have the ability to change jobs/mobility.

You can claim all you want that since the unions have declined , so has the middle class. The war(WW2) created/was responsible for most of the creation of
the middle class.

One very very important issue you fail to mention is that there is a major connection between the onslaught of illegals , depressed/ stagnant wages, govt regulation, and out of control govt spending.

60% of the auto work/manufacturing is dome in Mexico. How does that help the middle class? Maybe NAFTA and Bill Clinton should explain that.

In the 1900's there was an urgent need for unions and fair labor practices/laws...it is now 2015 and the unions could careless about anything as long as they get theirs, and theirs comes from the tax payers. Unfunded union pension liability in the state of Pa, alone is pushing the trillion dollar mark.

America’s teachers unions — particularly the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers — are the most organized and most powerful voices in education politics. BUT FOR SOME UNKNOWN REASON, these unions continue to block reforms needed to improve our nation’s schools by putting their focus on teachers rather than on the students they teach.

Need some proof http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=7f5_1285637004

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baM8N24K8kE

Our teachers work very hard to educate. BUT , some of our teachers pay more attention to union issues than education.

Why don't you look into the issue of "ghost" teachers? These are people on the payroll as teachers , but they spend NO TIME , in the classroom. THEY ARE UNION REPS getting paid by the tax payers to do union work from their homes and "secret offices". This one issue alone costs the tax payers of Pennsylvania millions of dollars. Why doesn't the union pay these workers? Instead they fleece the tax payers and as of today it is still legal.

One other reason the middle class is shrinking is due to the massive amounts of debt college students take on when they go to college.

The tuition continues to rise for our students and nobody is upset with higher learning for playing this game. The college I went to decades ago was 8000 per year. today my daughter attends the same school and here tuition is 53,000 per year. She will be graduating with close to 100,000 in debt , just so she can become a physicians assistant. Will she make 100,000 -150,000 per year by the time she graduates , yes. So that dent issue will be under control, but for those kids who graduate and take on a job that pays them 50,000 per year or less, are in big trouble.BTW she received numerous academic and other achievement driven scholarships. If not for this, she would have over 200,000 in college debt.

THE GOVT AND BOTH PARTIES OWN THE SHRINKING MIDDLE CLASS. LOOK AT CALIFORNIA, AND EVEN ALLENTOWN, AND YOU WILL SEE A MICROCOSM OF THE SHRINKING MIDDLE CLASS

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:33, based on your grammar and spelling you deserve a refund from the college you attended.

Anonymous said...

Hector is a sell out. Laundry is next followed by dietary and housekeeping. As long as the aides and LPN's are not he is happy. I hope that everyone that voted for him is proud. Stupid is what stupid does.

Anonymous said...

Bernie as to your comment that I should run for leadership ,I was at one time in a leadership role as an Eboard member for 5 years of an AFSCME local but I have to tell you this one. While talking one day to a fellow union member this individual asked me about a contract and what might we be asking for, so just for conversation I said to this person how does 3% across the board sound, to which this individual replied oh that will never go, and I asked him why, his reply was that will never happen because we out number you ,This mentality is common place for some union members,as I stated previously it is all about what can you do for me or what can you do for my portion of the work force and FUCK THE REST OF YOU, The real killer part to all of this is that same person that made that comment was elected to the Eboard the very next election.Yeah I would really want this person to have a say about any individuals livelihood,in closing I would like to say to all and any union members it is not just about you, it is all about us as a group bettering ourselves together.

Anonymous said...

Jim Gregory for Northampton County Executive.