It's not uncommon for labor unions to endorse Democratic candidates, but when a Republican congressman votes on a bill that could put union jobs at the region's largest employer in jeopardy, workers take a stance.
U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Lycoming Township, voted July 19, along with 224 other GOP House members and 101 Democrats, in favor of the Department of Defense appropriations bill for fiscal year 2012-13.
U.S. Reps. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, and Tim Holden, D-St. Clair, also voted for the bill.
The $606 billion defense bill could call for cuts at the Tobyhanna Army Depot, which employs 5,400, making the installation Northeastern Pennsylvania's largest employer.
Workers there are drawn from an 11-county area but Lackawanna (1,998) and Luzerne (1,409) are the two counties where the most employees live.
The 10th District, which Marino represents, now includes portions of both counties but will only include a smaller portion of Lackawanna starting next year because of redistricting.
Marino's opponent, Phil Scollo, a Democratic businessman from Dingman Township in Pike County, sent mailers out this week to congressional district residents highlighting Marino's vote.
He also touted his recently secured endorsement from the American Federation of Government Employees Third District. The third district encompasses all of Pennsylvania and Delaware and its Local 1647 represents employees at the army depot. Efforts to reach local union officials, who are at a national convention in Las Vegas, were unsuccessful.
"I'm proud to have the support of AFGE's working families and retirees," Scollo said. "Their work at Tobyhanna is critical to our region's economy and our national security, and those jobs must be protected. Tom Marino doesn't agree and he needs to be replaced."
That's a statement Marino scoffed at in an emailed statement received Friday.
"There is probably not a single member of Congress who wants to cut funding for these facilities, and that is why Appropriations Committee leaders pledged on the floor to make sure changes are made so that adequate funding can be provided before the bill becomes law," Marino said. "Knowing that the issue had been worked out satisfactorily, I was happy to support the measure …."
He said his recent actions show his support for the workers at the depot. "I have recently led an effort to preserve 30 jobs at Tobyhanna that the Army has proposed moving to Scott Air Force Base in Illinois and am planning to visit with Tobyhanna officials in September."
The reconfigured 10th District includes all or parts of the following 15 counties: Monroe, Columbia, Lackawanna, Sullivan, Wayne, Susquehanna, Pike, Bradford, Tioga, Lycoming, Union, Snyder, Mifflin, Juniata, and Perry.