In pursuit of an Eagle Scout badge, Kevin Anderson, 17, has toiled for more than 200 hours hours over several weeks to clear a walking path in an east Allentown park.
Little did the do-gooder know that his altruistic act would put him in the cross hairs of the city's largest municipal union.
Nick Balzano, president of the local Service Employees International Union, told Allentown City Council Tuesday that the union is considering filing a grievance against the city for allowing Anderson to clear a 1,000-foot walking and biking path at Kimmets Lock Park.
Balzano said Saturday he isn't targeting Boy Scouts. But given the city's decision in July to lay off 39 SEIU members, Balzano said "there's to be no volunteers." No one except union members may pick up a hoe or shovel, plant a flower or clear a walking path.
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UPDATE-1: Check out the following letter from Congressman Charlie Dent -
Dear Mr. Balzano:
I am deeply troubled by a story that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Morning Call titled, “Union Troubled by Eagle Scout Project in Allentown.” I read it twice, as I’m sure a number of other readers did, because I couldn’t believe that issue would be taken with the volunteer activity of a Boy Scout working to become an Eagle Scout.
For the last five years I have had the honor to support the Boy Scouts by chairing the Minsi Trails Council’s Lehigh Valley Leadership Dinner. The volunteer spirit of the young men who participate in Scouting should be valued and praised, not condemned or considered a grounds for a grievance.
Taxpayers pay my salary, your salary and the salaries of your Allentown members. As a taxpayer and Member of Congress, I can assure you that no one wants to hear about you or your union bothering and hassling young people trying to do right by their community.
Further, speaking as a taxpayer and resident of Allentown, I am astounded that you would threaten to file a grievance against the City of Allentown because the Administration wisely chooses to make volunteer opportunities available, especially when this type of frivolous grievance could add to the tax burden of the citizens. The vast majority of people would consider your actions in this matter outrageous, uncivil and wrong-headed.
I urge you to reexamine your decisions and actions in this matter and after doing so, that you drop it entirely.
An apology both to the Scout involved and to the public would be appropriate as well.