Philadelphia Employment Law News

November 2010 Archives

Highway Employees Face Greater Risks Of Death While On The Job

Although Pennsylvania is currently at an 18-year low with regards to the number of people who have died while on the job, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported highway workers are killed more than individuals in any other profession. 166 people were killed while working in 2009, which reveals a 45 percent decline from 2008 and the fewest workplace deaths since 1992.

According to the Pocono Record, the bureau said economic factors affected the reduction of workplace fatalities in 2009. Fewer employees were working because worker-hours were falling by 6 percent, and the probability of getting killed while on the job decreased. However, highway workers are still dying in larger numbers. Many have been killed because a heavy object had fallen on them, they were exposed to hazardous chemicals, or they committed suicide.

Turbine Airfoil Designs Pays $100,000 Settlement

The Pennsylvania Attorney General's office filed a lawsuit against Turbine Airfoil Designs (TAD), a Texas-based aircraft parts manufacturer, because the company stopped paying for its employees' health insurance premiums. 90 former workers were left to pay almost $570,000 in medical bills during a time span of five months, and some of them were turned over to collection agencies.

According to PennLive.com, TAD employees in the Harrisburg firm were stunned that they had been paying for health care deductions with their paychecks while their insurance benefits cards were still active. They had assumed they were covered, but Capital BlueCross had terminated the workers' coverage in March of 2009 because TAD had not been making its corporate premium payments.

PA Top Government Officials Expected To Get Pay Raise

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Pennsylvania's top government officials will be receiving a cost-of-living pay raise of 1.7 percent. A 1995 law made the pay adjustments automatic for new and returning judges and legislators, who will collect their increases beginning December 1 once the new legislature opens for business.

Salaries will also increase from $78,315 to $79,623 for rank-and-file PA legislators. High level lawmaker will be paid even more as four legislative floor leaders will soon receive earnings of $115,364 instead of their previous salary of $113,468. These pay raises have been a sensitive subject for the PA legislature since lawmakers had approved pay raises for themselves and numerous top executive-branch officials and judges back in 2005.

David Bashore Fired for Receiving Unauthorized Bonuses

Radnor Township manager David A. Bashore still claims he has done nothing wrong after the State Ethics Commission fired him for paying bonuses to himself without the board's approval. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the commission discovered Bashore violated state ethics rules by using his job to enrich himself.

David Bashore initially thought he was authorized to grant bonuses to himself without direct consent from the board, but the commission terminated him in April of 2009 once they had found out. The commission ordered David Bashore to reimburse the township with the amount of unapproved bonuses he procured between 2004 and 2008, which came to a total of $55,331.21.

Philadelphians Begin Losing Unemployment Benefits This Week

The end of federal extensions on unemployment benefits has become effective in Pennsylvania this week. 18,000 Philadelphians and 2 million other Americans will have to endure the consequences of the extension cut. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported many unemployed Philly residents held a vigil this past Monday as they mourned the loss of their unemployment benefits.

39-year-old Rashidah Johnson found herself crying before a crowd of people affected by the federal extension cut. "I went to school and I did everything I was supposed to do, but I'm still unemployed," she said. After losing her position as a claims adjuster in March, Johnson will receive her last unemployment check for $586 to cover her for the next two weeks. Without federal aid, she said she will have to resort to moving back and living with her parents.

Philadelphia Firefighters Push For Cancer Coverage

According to a Cincinnati study, male firefighters are 100 times more likely to develop testicular cancer compared to other men. The exposure to toxic chemicals on the job makes firefighters more susceptible to the dangers of cancer. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported many union leaders and Philadelphia firefighters are pushing Governor Rendell to sign House Bill 1231, which will help firefighters qualify for health-care benefits even after they have retired.

The bill recognizes that certain cancers are "a work hazard" for about 7,000 paid firefighters and at least 65,000 volunteers in the state who are exposed to hazardous substances whenever they enter a burning structure. It would also allow firefighters could receive health coverage for life in the event they are diagnosed with particular cancer treatments prior to or five years after retiring.

One Communications Settles Religious Harassment Suit

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania District Court against One Communications Corporation, a private regional company that provides telecommunication services in the United States. The suit claims the company's Conshohocken facility subjected three Jewish executives to harassment because of their religion, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Business Video News reported account executives Collin Buten, Alan Gordon, and Marc Reinstein were regularly harassed by the vice president of sales because they were Jewish. Gordon was forced to quit his position because the religious harassment was becoming unbearable. The lawsuit said the harassment included anti-Semitic remarks and claimed the company failed to impose corrective measures to end the offensive conduct even after the three men filed a complaint.

Landlords File Lawsuit Against PHA

Nearly 4,000 Philadelphia Housing Authority landlords each paid $200 to the PHA for a supposed mandatory one-day training course during 2008 and August 2010. Instead of the money being used for their training, the landlords claimed the agency used the money for "personal gain and enrichment" of PHA employees and for an illegal lobbying fund.

The landlords filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the PHA, alleging that PHA redirected their money to the agency's nonprofit organization known as the PA Institute of Affordable Housing Professionals. The lawsuit asserted the money was used "to advance political causes and lobbying efforts." It also demands a compensation amount of $10,000 to $100,000 to each landlord, which comes to a total of nearly $40 million.

Meg Whitman Offers Former Housekeeper $5,500 For Unpaid Wages

Meg Whitman's dispute with her former housekeeper Nicky Diaz Santillan regarding unfair wages may be a hot topic among PA employment lawyers. When news broke out that Whitman's housekeeper was an illegal immigrant, the former California gubernatorial candidate offered the woman $5,500 in unpaid wages to put an end to the dispute.

According to the Associated Press, Whitman and her husband Dr. Griffith Harsh agreed to a settlement without admitting they did anything unlawful. Gloria Allred, the attorney representing Santillan, said "the larger message" was this: any person or employer must pay wages to someone he or she has hired for the hours that the employee worked. "And there are no exceptions," Allred added.

Cops to Shut Down Boys' Cupcake Stand

Last month, New Castle Councilman Michael Wolfensohn found 13-year-olds Andrew DeMarchis and Kevin Graff selling cupcakes, brownies, cookies, and Rice Krispie treats that they had baked themselves. The young teens marketed their baked goods at Gedney Park and charged $1 for each item. Much to the boys and their parents’ surprise, Wolfensohn called the police on DeMarchis and Graff because they were working without a license.

The boys’ business plans were designed with the help of two of their classmates and inspired by this idea: to save enough money and open a restaurant by selling their treats at Gedney Park for a few years. After less than two days of business, the boys collected $150 of revenue and were forced to shut down their business after police officials arrived at their stand.

Philadelphia Workers Unions

Unions represent groups of workers in particular professions and trades. They are created as a means for employees to organize, protect their rights in the workplace, and negotiate employment terms and conditions with employers through collective bargaining. The results of the negotiation efforts are called a “collective bargaining agreement” (CBA), which is ultimately intended to resolve disputes between employees and employers.

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) regulates the organization of unions and collective bargaining, and the National Labor Relations Board governs unions with the NLRA’s authority. Philadelphia employees have the right to choose if they want to be represented by a union for bargaining purposes under the NLRA.

Daniel Castro Wants to Collect Pension After Indictment

Philadelphia police inspector Daniel Castro, 47, was indicted by federal officials for hiring someone to recover $90,000 he had lost on a real-estate deal. The Philadelphia Daily News reports that Castro told the Philadelphia Board of Pensions and Retirement that he is looking to retire and wants to receive his pension money.

Castro was arraigned last week and pleaded not guilty to charges of organizing an extortion scheme and accepting a bribe for using a law-enforcement database to gather personal information from a license plate. After working for 25 years in the force, Daniel Castro is expecting to get $65,000 a year in pensions after having earned $97,015 in salary pay. He is scheduled for an appointment with the board to complete the rest of his retirement paperwork.

McFadden's Bar Denies Racist Allegations

Bartender Michael Bolden recently filed a discrimination lawsuit against McFadden’s bar, alleging that the bar was giving him fewer shifts and moved him away from working at the main bar because he is black. The Philadelphia Daily News reported McFadden’s claims its actions were not racist. Rather, the bar just thought Michael Bolden wasn’t outgoing enough.

Bolden filed the suit last week and claimed McFadden’s created a culture and environment where racial segregation and discrimination were permitted. The bar denied Bolden’s claims of racism, stating the bartender never complained about his shifts or which of the three bars he worked at. Even though McFadden’s thought Bolden was a “competent” and “reliable” employee, they said his “less outgoing personality” affected how successful he was at promoting the bar.

Neshaminy Teachers End Work-to-Contract Action

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Neshaminy School District teachers brought an end to a six-month work-to-contract action where they refused to carry out extra duties, like decorating classrooms and attending back-to-school nights. The work-to-contract action was meant for the district and community to “realize the invaluable role teachers and education professionals have,” according to Louise Boyd, president of the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers.

Since June 2008, teachers have been working without a new contract. No negotiations have been reached with district negotiators, and which led teachers to show how much extra, unpaid work they do. Teachers have only been doing the “basics” since the start of the fall school semester. They did not offer struggling students any before- or after-school help or plan class parties. Some teachers would not even write college recommendation letters.

Workplace Safety and the OSHA

According to Bloomberg, a new federal study found North and South Carolina as two of the safest states in the country to work in. The study was based on calculations related to the rate of injuries in the workplace, yet some workplace safety experts are doubtful that the study accurately shows which states are safer. Pennsylvania did not place as one of the safest states.

North Carolina had its lowest rate of 3.1 injuries or illnesses within private companies for every 100 workers in 2009, as reported by the NC Labor Department. South Carolina had 3.2 injury or illness cases per 100 employees last year. Texas, Louisiana, and New York also had the lowest injury rates. Within the last seven years, workplace injuries have continued to drop nationwide.

Employees Risk Termination from Drug Testing in the Workplace

Dura Automotive Systems, a Tennessee company that makes car parts, modified its work policy to test for illegal and certain prescription drugs. The New York Times reported the company decided to terminate Sue Bates, an employee of 22 years, after she tested positive for a legally prescribed drug. Bates filed a lawsuit against Dura for discrimination and invasion of privacy and said “I don’t think it should end the way it did.”

Bates had been taking hydrocodone, a medication for back pain prescribed by her physician that the company suddenly considered unsafe. Although the Supreme Court has maintained the right for employers to test for drugs in the workplace for the last 20 years, Sue Bates was concerned that many employees nationally were also being regarded as a safety hazard and losing their jobs.

Tony Ferrante, founder of Standard Medical Supply Inc., hired three salesmen from a rival firm in an attempt to expand his company. After two years, the three new hires quit and established their own competing business, which has now landed them in court with Ferrante.

PA employment lawyers have recently been encountering more cases similar to this that involve employee duty of loyalty, breaches of confidentiality, trade secrets, and noncompete contracts. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the two parties are in dispute about whether the three former employees developed their business through an unjustified use of Standard’s pricing tactics for its product line of bedpans and oxygen tanks.

Reformed Pension Bill Approved by PA House

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the pension bill on improving retirement costs for state and public school employees was approved by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. The bill addresses the rising costs of retirement funds by increasing employees’ contributions, boosting the retirement age, and implementing other changes. Many Philadelphians expect that the pension bill will help counterbalance the projected spike in the state’s pension payouts.

Governor Edward Rendell agreed to sign the measure in support of the pension changes. The Rendell administration reported the pension bill would help the state save an estimated $16 billion in payments during the next 25 years. The Senate has also passed the measure, which will be forwarded to Rendell’s office. A PA employment lawyer can clarify how changes in the new pension bill may affect public school and state workers and their retirement funds.

Dennis Powell Resigns After Discovery of Prior Criminal Records

The Philadelphia Daily News reported former Pennsylvania state probation and parole officer Dennis Powell was a prior fugitive who had served time in prison on a warrant for multiple counts of forgery and theft. Powell worked as Philadelphia’s district director of the state Board of Probation and Parole, supervising thousands of Philly criminals and managing dozens of probation and parole officers.

Dennis Powell is expected in a court hearing next month for allegations involving a failure to pay restitution. After board executives discovered his legal troubles, Dennis Powell resigned from his position on October 26. The board is left with the awkward situation of having to explain how they hired and continued to promote a former fugitive while overlooking his record of arrests.

Carl Greene Seeks $4 Million to Settle Wrongful Termination Suit

Former Philadelphia Housing Authority executive director Carl R. Greene insists he deserves around $4 million to settle the lawsuit he filed against the PHA board, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Greene accused PHA of wrongful termination in October after he was fired for several alleged cases of sexual harassment by former PHA employees.

Carl Greene’s PA employment attorney Clifford E. Haines sent the PHA board the demand letter this week. Richard A. Sprague, who represents the board members, thought it was “obviously absurd, the idea that [Greene] would demand any money.” Sprague asserted no settlement was going to happen. PHA Board Chairman John F. Street said the board should consider filing a countersuit against Greene.

CareerLink Centers in Philadelphia Can Help The Unemployed

The Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board reported that roughly 18,000 Philadelphians will be pushed to look for new source of income and find new jobs when their unemployment benefits will end next month. According to the Philadelphia Daily News, 83,000 people in Pennsylvania will run out of employment benefits by December compared to the 7,300 individuals who lost those benefits this month.

Interim CEO Eric Nelson said he, “can’t deny this is a challenging and tough situation,” and Philadelphia’s figures were “just really daunting.” Nelson stated that many Philly residents may have to resort to seeking public aid through welfare and food stamps for the first time in their lives once December rolls around.

Michael Bolden Files Discrimination Suit Against McFadden's Restaurant

Michael L. Bolden, a bartender at McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon in Old City, filed a lawsuit against McFadden’s and claimed the bar and its parent company, East Coast Saloons, created an environment where “racism and racial segregation are not only tolerated, but mandated.” The class action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.

The complaint revealed five out of McFadden’s 75 employees are black, including Michael Bolden and “the man and woman who work in the bathroom handing out towels.” In June, McFadden’s hired Everett “Mr. Hollywood DJ” Jackson and promoter “Alexis” in an attempt to draw in larger crowds during the summer. Both individuals are black.

Philadelphia Nurses Face Violence at Work

20-year-old Amber Knierim was sent to jail for beating emergency-room nurse Joan Meissler from Temple University Hospital. 53-year-old Meissler, a Northeast Philadelphia local, was trying to keep Knierim from getting needles in an empty examination room when Knierim starting hitting her. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Meissler now works on light duty as she heals from the beating.

The incident triggered a session on workplace violence for health-care workers, which is sponsored by the union known as the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professions. 180 nurses and other health-care workers will meet at the Philadelphia Airport Hilton for the assembly. Union president Patricia Eakin said violent incidents like Joan Meissler's are becoming a "national problem."

The Basics Of Being An Independent Contractor

Philadelphians who work as independent contractors have legal rights and duties that can differ from those who work as employees for various businesses and institutions. While a knowledgeable Philadelphia employment lawyer can provide a thorough explanation on the legal issues significant to independent contractors, FindLaw covers some of the basic legal matters related to being self-employed.

An independent contractor is typically determined based on factors including:

  • The permanency of the business relationship with a customer;
  • The level of independent operation or business organization; and
  • The worker's opportunity for profit and loss.

NAACP Settles Discrimination Lawsuit Against US Airways

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed a lawsuit alleging US Airways Group Inc. at the Philadelphia International Airport discriminated against its African American workers. The suit was resolved with a settlement and the airline's guarantee to increase diversity in the workplace. No information was given about the monetary terms of the settlement.

The suit claimed US Airways managers gave derogatory code names to the airport terminals where many African American employees were assigned. The managers referenced communities with large populations of minorities, such as calling Terminal C "Compton" and Terminal F "The Ghetto." They also had names for areas that had more white employees, calling Terminal B "Frankford/South Philly."

Dawnmarie Souza Fired for Facebook Posts About Her Supervisor

As much as people may love to openly express themselves on various social media sites like Facebook, could an online post potentially jeopardize one's job? According to Yahoo News, Dawnmarie Souza was fired from her job after posting crude remarks and mocking her supervisor on her Facebook.

The National Labor Relations Board brought the wrongful termination complaint before an administrative court, who will decide on whether or not Dawnmarie Souza was illegally fired. Philadelphia employment attorneys will be interested to see how this case will go, considering it could have a large effect on employee's speech rights in relation to social media.

Fair Wages: Minimum Wage and Overtime Basics

While paychecks and compensation are important for Philadelphia employees when they look for a job, federal and state governments also understand the significance of wages. A Philadelphia employment attorney knowledgeable about fair wages can inform employees on the laws that protect their interests on receiving fair pay.
 
Under federal law, employees must receive wages of at least $6.55 an hour. The minimum wage rate in Pennsylvania is currently $7.25. Employers may pay workers under the age of twenty a lower minimum wage rate, or a "youth minimum wage," which federal law sets at $4.25 each hour. Employers can only pay the lower wage during the youth's first 90 days of employment.

Federal Unemployment Benefits May Get Cut Next Month

With unemployment benefits scheduled to end next month, U.S. government officials seek to extend emergency unemployment benefits by cutting $5 to $6 billion of spending each month. Thousands of unemployed Philadelphians and nearly 2 million individuals nationwide could lose benefits, which amount to $310 a week. According to the Associated Press, the expiration could affect at least 5 million people by the end of February.

President Barack Obama renewed the call for another unemployment extension "to help those hardest hit by the downturn while generating more demand in the economy." The unemployment rate hasn't budged and remains at 9.6 percent while recent employment figures reveal 14 million people are still without a job as of last month.

150,000 New Jobs Added Nationwide

The federal government reported the nation's economy added 150,000 new jobs, which is the highest number of employment opportunities that have been offered in the last five months. The U.S. Labor Department stated many of the new jobs were generated in mining and other service-providing businesses. Still, Philadelphia locals can look forward to more opportunities for potential employment.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the number of new jobs added is still fewer than the 200,000 jobs needed to help 14.8 million unemployed Americans. At the same time, the new jobs are keeping up with population growth. This year was also the best showing in hiring since May. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 431,000, even though most of the new positions were temporary census jobs that have already ended.

PA Commissioners Review Anti-Discrimination Proposal

For this week's commissioners meeting in Haverford, a proposed anti-discrimination ordinance will be reviewed. The Daily Times reported the ordinance would initiate the development of a township human relations commission and ban discrimination based on "sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression" in employment, public accommodations, and housing.

Commissioner Larry Holmes noted that Pennsylvania currently has no civil rights protections for homosexual individuals. The anti-discrimination ordinance aims to treat discrimination against the queer community "with the same degree of contempt" the state treats other types of discrimination. No relief is currently available for discrimination against gays at the state level, but an experienced PA employment lawyer can find the proper legal remedies for those who have faced discrimination in the work place.

PA Pension Reform Plan May Be Close at Hand

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, some people believe Pennsylvania lawmakers have an opportunity to resolve the public-employee pension crisis with a new pension-reform plan known as House Bill 2497. This bill serves to balance the needs of taxpayers, public education employees, and other essential service workers.

The commonwealth and school districts have not been able to contribute enough money to pension funds, and the 2008 financial fall has caused some investment losses for the state. These problems have resulted in delayed pension payments within the last ten years, which lead to less funding for public government workers like those in Philadelphia.

Mifflin School Board Holds Hearing For Wrongful Termination

According to ReadingEagle.com, Gov. Mifflin School Board administrators asked for Rachel Dombrowski to be terminated because of her testimony supporting Mifflin's research director Andrea Coleman-Hill, who filed a discrimination suit against the district. Dombrowski, the district's technology director, has been on unpaid leave since September 24 and on administrative leave since September 2.

After receiving a demotion from the position of intermediate school principal in 2005, Andrea Coleman-Hill filed a suit claiming she was harassed and demoted by Gov. Mifflin superintendent Dr. Mary T. Weiss.  Coleman-Hill alleged she was discriminated against for being African American. The lawsuit was filed in the Philadelphia U.S. District Court last year, seeking damages and court and lawyer costs.

Unemployment Benefits Versus Finding A Job

Some people in Philadelphia may prefer to collect unemployment benefits than go through the hassle of finding a job because there are not enough job openings in the market. For others, the only jobs available are low-wage or part-time positions, which might not be enough to pay for their expenses and may be a step down from their prior career.

NBC Philadelphia reported nearly 8 million Americans collect some type of unemployment assistance as of this year. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average weekly benefit offered to the jobless was $293.54. Unemployment insurance generally pays roughly 47 percent of what an individual was making prior to when the person lost his or her job.

When Can You Receive Unemployment Benefits?

Some unemployed Philadelphians may not know when they are entitled to receive unemployment compensation. Only former employees who have been without work through no fault of their own may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Sometimes the situation may depend on whether the employee was fired, quit, or was laid off.

If an employee was fired as a result of financial cuts or was just not a good fit for the job he or she was hired for, then the employee may claim unemployment benefits. If the employer had a good reason for the worker's termination but the violations were reasonably minor, the worker can still receive benefits. If the individual was fired because of misconduct, he or she will not be eligible to receive benefits.

What To Do When Faced With Discrimination At Work

There are various forms of discrimination that can occur in the workplace based on sex, religion, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, age, and other classifications. Federal and state laws provide similar protections that prohibit discrimination at work, but some Philadelphia employees may not know what to do when they feel they are being discriminated against by an employer or coworker.

Here are a couple of tips from FindLaw for employees who feel they have suffered discrimination in the workplace:

DRPA Reevaluates Top Officials' Salaries

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported a newly developed compensation committee for the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) is starting a process that may alter the salaries of DRPA employees. This week, the committee has asked DRPA staff for a proposal to study current pay levels and compare them to the salaries and benefits at similar agencies within the area.

The salaries of top DRPA officials have triggered heated discussions from some state legislators and DRPA board members. Last month, board member and Philadelphia labor leader John Dougherty sent a proposal to the new committee to decrease the salaries of John Matheussen, the chief executive officer, and some of the other top DRPA managers. The proposal asked to reduce Matheussen's salary from $219,475 to $175,000.

Philly Union Unite Here Finalizes Breakup

At least 5,000 workers were involved in a custody battle between two unions, including 1,000 union hotel workers and 2,000 employees from the three Philly sports arenas. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported the split between the two once-merged unions known as Unite Here has finally ended. Philly bartenders, cafeteria servers, laundry workers, hotel clerks, and other workers finally know which union will help them negotiate their contracts and handle their complaints.

Thousands of Philadelphia-area union members' assets and dues along with the 4.5 billion Amalgamated Bank owned by the labor union were all at stake in the unions' custody battle. The Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association executive director Ed Grose said, "It was kind of a mess. The employees didn't know who was representing them."

Increase In Health Benefits For PA Employees

Health benefits for Philly employees may be on the rise because of a tax credit in the health law that covers as much as 35 percent of a company's insurance premiums. According to The Wall Street Journal, recent data reveals the number of small businesses who offer workers health benefits and insurance may increase tremendously this year.

A report by NY's Bernstein Research showed 59 percent of employers who had three to nine workers offered insurance this year compared to last year's 46 percent. Employers with 10 or fewer employees and average yearly wages below $25,000 can receive a full tax credit, which has a cap at employers with 25 workers and average annual wages of $50,000. An experienced Philadelphia employment lawyer can further explain the details behind fair wages and health benefits for employees.

Teva Pharmaceuticals Sets Up New Facility In Philly

One of the world's largest generic drug makers is preparing to open a distribution facility in Northeast Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, the American sector of the Israeli generic drug company, will provide 200 jobs for Philadelphia-area locals and neighboring residents.

U.S. representative Allyson Y. Schwartz of PA stated Teva will construct three buildings for the company's new distribution facility on Red Lion Road. Schwartz also said this plan is a $295 million project that will generate over 200 employment opportunities and preserve more than 200 existing job positions.

21,000 Fewer Unemployment Claims This Week

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported the national number for unemployment claims has gone down 21,000 from last week's initial 434,000. The news was also similar locally with declines happening in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey.

Even with the 9.6 percent national unemployment rate, many Philly locals may be wondering whether they should expect a big change next week when the U.S. Labor Department releases another monthly report next Friday. Philadelphia labor economist Eileen Appelbaum doesn't think a big change will happen anytime soon. She said "the fact that it is doing down is better than it going up. But any number over 400,000 is bad news."