BC-PA--Exchange, Advisory, PA
Here are the stories for this week’s Pennsylvania Member Exchange package. If you have any questions, contact the Philadelphia bureau at 215-561-1133.
For use anytime:
Editorials from around Pennsylvania.
EXCHANGE-FIRING PUBLIC WORKERS
SCRANTON _ Cursing the boss, sleeping on the job or using a work computer to view pornography would get most private-sector employees fired on the spot. If they work for the government, it’s another story. Municipalities and school districts often are forced to pay tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars waging protracted battles defending termination decisions, even when they have a strong case, several attorneys who specialize in labor law say. That is because most public-sector employees are covered by collective-bargaining agreements, which give them significantly more rights than nonunion, private-sector workers. Pennsylvania is an “at-will” employment state, meaning workers who aren’t protected by contracts can be fired at any time for any reason. However, state labor laws and collective bargaining agreements ensure that protected employees have the right to due process, arbitration and appeal. Terrie Morgan-Besecker and Jim Halpin, The (Scranton) Times-Tribune and (Wilkes-Barre) Citizens’ Voice.
EBENSBURG _ Judge Norman Krumenacker III recalls Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro asking him what kind of attention the statewide investigation into allegations of abuse by priests in the Roman Catholic Church would bring. “I told him to get a new tie and suit because he was going to be on ‘60 Minutes,’ ” Krumenacker said. Cambria County’s president judge directed the grand jury investigations into priest abuse that led to reports targeting the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese in 2016, and then six more dioceses across the state in 2018. The two reports combined found sexual abuse by 350 priests or other church officials and involved more than 1,300 children and extensive efforts by church officials to cover up the abuse. “I realized the gravity of what was going to happen,” Krumenacker said. Jocelyn Brumbaugh, The (Johnstown) Tribune-Democrat.
EXCHANGE-RECRUITING FEMALE OFFICERS
HANOVER _ Almost 20 years ago, Lisa Layden was the first female police officer to work in her department. Within her first year of working, she noticed a difference in how people responded to her compared to her male co-workers. Once Layden had been called out to a mental health crisis to help serve an involuntary commitment order in a neighboring township that did not have a female officer — a woman had barricaded herself in her house. Police had dealt with the woman before and anticipated using force. Layden gained the woman’s trust and convinced her to come out into the ambulance. Even though citizens use the same amount of force against female officers as they do male officers, and in some cases are met with more force, female officers are more successful in diffusing violent or aggressive behavior. While area police chiefs understand the importance of having female police officers, departments are struggling to recruit in general because of a lack of applicants. Sophie Kaplan, Hanover Evening Sun.
MEADVILLE _ Amid the politics surrounding negotiations between President Trump and Congress regarding a wall along the southern U.S. border, a group of students from the Global Citizen Scholars Program at Allegheny College traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border Jan. 7 to 12 to learn more about the contentious situation up-close. Led by co-directors of the program, professors Laura Reeck and David Roncolato, 11 students stayed in Tucson with an organization called BorderLinks, a nonprofit that, since 1987, has been facilitating educational immersion trips for delegations to raise awareness of immigration and border policies, connecting with communities affected by such policies and inspiring action in response. Tyler Dague, Meadville Tribune.
AUDUBON _ For three years, Wynnifred Franklin enjoyed retirement. But it got old, quick. And she didn’t. So at the age of 72 — armed with a resumè that included a job at RCA during World War II — she went to a hiring fair for a new Giant supermarket that was opening in Audubon in 1996. “It took, perhaps, a little bit of being brave,” she said, of applying for a job in her 70s at the Montgomery County store. But Franklin’s bravery paid off and she was hired as a bakery associate, working on her feet from 6 to 9 a.m. up to six days a week — a job she still works today at the age of 94. Stephanie Farr, The Philadelphia Inquirer.