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Shop Talk: Hearing set on disputed SEIU election

Sunday, February 18, 2001

By Jim McKay, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Service Employees International Union President Andrew Stern has directed a hearing be held into alleged election improprieties at Pittsburgh-based Local 585, which represents 14,000 workers in Western Pennsylvania.

Stern appointed Thomas Balanoff, an international SEIU vice president, to conduct the hearing. It will be held Feb. 26, Dan O'Sullivan, a spokesman for the union in Washington, D.C., said Friday.

Former Local 585 President Rosemary Trump was defeated by James Neville, an Allegheny County assessor, in December by a vote of 1,505 to 1,403. Roughly 20 percent of the union's membership voted.

Trump, who held the job for 27 years, alleges Neville and newly-elected Vice President Dennis King received outside financial assistance for campaigning in violation of the union's constitution.

Trump has declined comment on the matter.

But Stern's announcement said Trump also alleges that Neville was ineligible for office because he did not attend a single meeting in the 12 months prior to the election, as required by the local's constitution and bylaws, and because he failed to pay dues in December,

Neville declined comment through his secretary, Margie Muscarella.

The change in administration came in the midst of contract talks with Allegheny County to replace an expired agreement covering 900 workers. The county has settled with other several other unions.

Stern said the international has received telephone calls and letters from Local 585 members raising concerns about the local's internal affairs.

More than a dozen members of the local have filed internal charges against Neville alleging he violated various provisions of the constitution by canceling union meetings, hiring staff without proper authorization, engaging in nepotism and improperly ordering that collective bargaining agreements not be put out for ratification..

Online for Civil Service

The Pennsylvania Civil Service Commission has a new interactive Web site that can be used to apply for the employment tests offered daily at the agency's offices in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

The commission administers the merit hiring system in Pennsylvania, covering 61,000 employees of 35 state agencies and another 9,000 employees of more than 300 county and local agencies.

The new site,, includes online applications. It also highlights jobs that are in demand.

Building a future

What can you build out of plastic blocks, foil, string and a rock?

Those are the tools elementary school children will be given Sunday, March 4, in the annual Block Kids Contest sponsored by the National Association of Women in Construction.

The contest, intended to interest young people in construction, is open to children in grades one through six. It will be held at the carpenters union training center at 222 Second St., Neville Island, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Registration is requested by Feb. 23. Contact event chairwoman Georgenne Kamarados at 412-937-8097.

Forgiving nurses' debts

State lawmakers may soon consider a student loan forgiveness program in an effort to attract more people to nursing careers in Pennsylvania.

Details are still being worked out, but the program would likely forgive student loans in exchange for promises to work in the state, said state Sen. Harold F. Mowery Jr., R-Cumberland, chairman of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee.

Latrobe nurses to vote

Nurses leading a union organization drive at Latrobe Area Hospital say they are motivated by desires to improve patient care and working conditions.

"Money is not the issue," said nurse organizer Donna Kelly, a 27-year veteran who says her co-workers complain of forced overtime and part-time employees working full-time hours. "You feel really stretched thin at the end of the day."

Some 289 hospital nurses and 27 home health nurses are eligible to vote Thursday for or against Healthcare-PSEA, an affiliate of the Pennsylvania State Education Association. The union is also seeking an election for 150 technical employees at the hospital.

Teamsters choose Keyser

The Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters has chosen Edward F. Keyser as its new president to succeed retiring conference president Thomas Griffith.

Keyser started his career in 1972 as a dockman at Emery Air Freight in Philadelphia. He held several positions with his own local, and was appointed trustee of Philadelphia Local 115 in late 1999, replacing former conference President John Morris, who lost his state job and control of the local over allegations of financial mismanagement and other abuses.

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