Editorial - Don’t Blame the Work Force
June 15, 2013, New York Times
.... If a business really needed workers, it would pay up. ..... Meeting today’s job challenges requires action to improve both the economy and pay, including government measures to create jobs, strengthen health and retirement systems, and raise the minimum wage. Fretting about a skills gap that does not exist will not help.
NLRB poster rule likely dead after second federal appeals court ruling
6/17/2013 Amanda Becker (Reuters)
In a decision that questions the National Labor Relations Board's authority to craft certain types of rules, a federal appeals court has invalidated one that required workplace posters notifying employees of their right to unionize. The decision on Friday by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a 2011 rule that required employers to post, physically or electronically, a notice describing workers' rights under the National Labor Relations Act.
How Obamacare Could Flatline . Employers are doing their best to exploit loopholes in the ACA, and that’s just one of many perils.
BY DAVID MOBERG, In These Times, JUNE 17, 2013
.... In a spiteful act that Steve Kreisberg, a health expert with the public employee union AFSCME, calls “pure political theater,” governors or legislatures in some 20 states are likely to block this expansion for as many as 9 million needy Americans. And they are doing so even though the federal government has agreed to pay the full cost for the first three years and a gradually declining share thereafter, leveling off at 90 percent in 2020.
Choice of Health Plans to Vary Sharply From State to State
By REED ABELSON, New York Times, June 16, 2013
... With only a few months remaining before Americans will start buying coverage through the new state insurance exchanges under President Obama’s health care law, it is becoming clear that the millions of people purchasing policies in the exchanges will find that their choices vary sharply, depending on where they live. States like California, Colorado and Maryland have attracted an array of insurers. But options for people in other states may be limited to an already dominant local Blue Cross plan and a few newcomers with little or no track record in providing individual coverage, including the two dozen new carriers across the country created under the Affordable Care Act.
Valuing the Home Care Workforce
06/14/2013 12:31 pm By Scott Einbinder, Bend the Arc: a Jewish Partnership for Justice, and Delia de la Vara, Vice President, California Region, NCLR. Huffington Post
In a recent Los Angeles Times article, Chris Megerian mis-characterizes the Obama administration's proposal to extend basic federal labor protections to home care aides as contrary to the needs of people with disabilities. In California, nearly a half-million workers provide services and supports to elders and people with disabilities through the In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program. Many more provide support to families who pay privately for assistance for their parents and grandparents who can no longer manage on their own. These home care workers are part of a national workforce that, according to the national nonprofit PHI, numbers at least 2.5 million, and is the fastest-growing workforce in the country.
Throwing children in prison turns out to be a really bad idea
By Brad Plumer, June 15, 2013 at 9:00 am
. …...A new paper by economists Anna Aizer and Joseph J. Doyle, Jr. offers strong evidence that juvenile detention is a really counterproductive strategy for many youths under the age of 19. Not only does throwing a kid in detention often reduce the chance that he or she will graduate high school, but it also raises the chance that the youth will commit more crimes later on in life.
Sasha Chavkin: Marco Rubio's private prison connection
June 13, 2013, Sun Sentinel
As an immigration reform bill grinds its way through Congress, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has emerged as perhaps its most crucial broker. The rising Republican star has put reform at the center of his political ambitions, using his conservative bona fides to round up GOP votes while negotiating hard to add additional enforcement measures to the legislation. Rubio's starring role may also provide opportunities for a company whose business could be substantially affected by the bill's outcome: the private prison company GEO Group, which operates many of the federal facilities that hold detained or incarcerated immigrants. Rubio is the Senate's leading career recipient of contributions from the Florida-based company, garnering $27,300 in support, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. .... On Wednesday, a report by The Nation provided new revelations about GEO Group's links to Rubio.
Bass Pro grew with taxpayer aid / Bass Pro critics decry public incentives
June 15, 2013 at 10:59 p.m. Commercial Appeal
...…. Bass Pro’s critics complain about the company’s practice of accepting municipal subsidies to build megastores in their communities, often with the understanding they would create jobs or increase tax revenue. Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, a watchdog group based in Alexandria, Va., estimated in August 2012 that Bass Pro and its closest competitor, Sidney, Neb.-based Cabela’s, received or were promised more than $2.2 billion from taxpayers over the prior 15 years.
Workers See Shift in Benefits, Report Finds
By Abby Ellin, Jun 17, 2013, ABC News
Companies are making shifts in the benefits they offer employees, from providing more contraception coverage and more services for new mothers, to being more flexible with paid time off, according to a new reportfrom the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). This is partly a response to new laws, including the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as well as an uncertain economy, the report said.
CA: Home care worker can sue county for pay
Bob Egelko, 4:53 pm, Thursday, June 13, 2013, SFGate
In a case that could affect many low-paid home-care workers in California, the state Supreme Court has left intact a ruling allowing a caretaker to sue Sonoma County after her disabled client failed to pay her. The county had appealed a lower court ruling in February that allows a jury to decide whether a county social services agency was the worker's "co-employer" and therefore responsible for unpaid wages.
California’s Misleading Pension ’Losses’
By David Crane Jun 16, 2013 6:00 PM ET, Bloomberg
... The reason for rising pension costs has nothing to do with the recession or short-term declines on Wall Street. Public pension costs are increasing simply because liabilities are growing faster than assets. Calpers is a good example. .... In 2007, Calpers reported that the pension liabilities of its largest pool of employers totaled $248 billion. By 2011, just four years later, those liabilities had grown 32 percent, to $328 billion. That rapid growth happens because pension liabilities grow (“accrete”) at the rate used to discount those obligations to present value, which at Calpers is a very high 7.5 percent per year.
FL: Attacks on state pension plan not over
JAMES L. ROSICA, Tampa Tribune June 17, 2013
.... But the people who represent many of the 900,000 current employees and retirees in the Florida Retirement System aren’t so sure. State workers comprise about a quarter of pension plan members; the rest are teachers and local government workers, including police and fire. By cutting the pension plan off from new members, they say, it starves the fund of that revenue stream of contributions from new employees and employers. .... Weatherford’s pension overhaul bill didn’t pass this legislative session, but he promises to bring it back next year. ... Many of those are lower-paid secretaries, data entry clerks and groundskeepers who want to rely on a guaranteed pension and not some form of welfare in their retirement, said Jeanette D. Wynn, president of AFSCME Florida Council 79, which represents 60,000 state workers.
Fla. Democrats see Gov. Rick Scott as easy target in 2014
MARC CAPUTO, MIAMIHERALD.COM, June 15, 2013
.... But when the elites of the Florida Democratic Party met Saturday for their annual fund-raising gala, they suggested none of that was really a big problem for one big reason: Rick Scott. The unpopular Republican governor looks like an easy target for an incumbent.
Hawaii government employees union endorses Schatz in Senate race
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, June 16, 2013
..... The Hawaii Government Employees Association on Sunday threw its support behind the Hawaii Democrat, with President Jackie Ferguson-Miyamoto saying in a statement that Schatz has "had unwavering support for Hawaii's workers." Ferguson-Miyamoto says that support led to the union's decision to make an early endorsement.
IA: State leaders to explore privatizing data network
Jun. 15, 2013 11:47 PM | Jason Noble, Des Moines Register
The Iowa Communications Network — best known to a generation of schoolchildren for its distance-learning hubs in classrooms across the state — may see its image and function transformed in coming months as state leaders mull its sale or lease to a private company. After decades of building out, paying for and grossly underutilizing the statewide fiber-optic data system, officials now are formally exploring their options for privatizing it in hopes of realizing a greater return on an investment that now exceeds $280 million.
IL: Expectations low for special session on pension reform
DOUG FINKE, GateHouse Media Illinois, Jun 16, 2013
.... There have been suggestions the union-backed Senate plan could be changed to increase the savings to the state. However, that could cause public employee unions to withhold their support. "Any changes to that legislation would not be in keeping with the agreement between the coalition and the Senate president," said Anders Lindall, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. AFSCME is a member of the We Are One Illinois coalition of public employee unions.
IL: More Inmates Move to Menard
Hilary LeHew, WSIL TV, Jun 14, 2013 at 9:09 PM
Frustrations are rising for corrections workers as dozens more inmates are transferred to a Southern Illinois prison. Friday more than 70 new inmates were transferred to Menard prison in Chester. .... Union leaders say it's stuffing an already overcrowded system. ... "We made beds at Menard so that's where they came," said AFSCME Union President Kevin Hirsch.
MD: Vote on school employee raises this week
Tim Pratt, Gazette, Sunday, June 16, 2013
Employees in Anne Arundel County public schools have been counting on step increases for four years. .... The 1,200 members of the county schools’ chapter of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees would get 2 percent cost-of-living adjustments, but no step increases, a union official said.
MI: Pennies or Bankruptcy, Detroit Tells Creditors
By MATTHEW DOLAN, KELLY NOLAN and EMILY GLAZER, Wall Street Journal, June 14, 2013, 7:31 p.m. ET
The city of Detroit told some debtholders on Friday they will have to accept pennies on the dollar or risk getting drawn into the largest U.S. municipal bankruptcy ever. ..... Union leaders expressed disappointment with the plan, saying workers and retirees were taking too big a hit. Ed McNeil, assistant to American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25 president, representing the city's largest union for municipal workers, said bondholders needed to take a larger cut since workers had already been hurt by cuts to wages and furlough days. Daniel McNamara, president of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association, said it would be difficult to get all of the 48 unions to agree to such concessions. One of the goals of the plan is to try to improve city services, which remain subpar despite one of the state's highest levels of taxation. Mr. Orr's team called the city's current path a "death spiral" because of the increasing percentage of the city's budget in coming years that will be devoted to paying retiree benefits.
MI: Senator Casperson expresses disappointment over prison privatization
by Beth Cefalu, 06.15.2013 at 9:05 AM, Upper Michigan News source
Senator Tom Casperson began by stating he's "disappointed" in how things have turned out. The senator said the decision made to privatize food service in the Michigan Department of Corrections is about saving money, however, he doesn't feel decision makers in Lansing compared "apples to apples." .... They say ARAMARK is not being held to the same civil service standards and menu regulations. These employees even showed the senator documented proof that the new menu portions are significantly less, adding that it isn't a fair playing field when comparing costs and savings. "We have to give them milk in the morning and offer it at lunch; they do not," said Todd Hennigan, food service leader at the Alger Correction Facility and AFSCME local 3639 Union Representative.
MI: What happens when the GOP controls all levels of state government
June 16, 2013 | By Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press
..... Republicans have held total control of Lansing — from the state House and Senate to the governor’s office, attorney general, secretary of state and the state Supreme Court — for the last two-and-a-half years. .... But it was the right-to-work legislation, which passed without committee hearings or public input in three legislative session days, that raised the most ire from Democrats. The bill, which makes it illegal to require a financial contribution to a union as a condition of employment, was seen as a body blow to organized labor and resulted in more than 10,000 people descending on the Capitol to protest the bills.
MN: Sequester cuts hit home for Minnesotans
COREY MITCHELL , Star Tribune June 16, 2013 - 10:06 PM
..... Starting July 1, Hawkins will be among more than 2,400 federal Department of Defense employees in Minnesota forced to work a reduced, four-day week for several months. Those furloughs will be spread across 63 sites statewide, but Duluth’s 148th Fighter Wing, Camp Ripley in Little Falls and St. Paul’s 133rd Airlift Wing — the units with the highest concentration of federal employees — face the brunt of the cutbacks.
NJ: Planned civil service changes irk N.J. state workers
Jane M. Von Bergen, Inquirer, Monday, June 17, 2013, 8:21 AM
New Jersey public employees are bracing for what their union leaders say is the latest anti-worker onslaught by the Christie administration. The New Jersey Civil Service Commission, all of whose members are Gov. Christie's appointees, has proposed sweeping changes it says would streamline the promotion process, making it easier to advance top-notch people. That's not how the unions see it. They say the changes would invite cronyism and political favoritism, discouraging state, county, and municipal workers who don't want to play politics.
NY: Ramapo urges local pension freeze from state
Jun. 15, 2013 | 1 Mareesa Nicosia, lohud.com
RAMAPO — The Town Board is calling on the state comptroller to freeze pension-contribution requirements on all local governments for the upcoming year and consider reducing their obligations. .... Town officials have blamed most of the 2013 increase on new costs passed down by Rockland County, which is grappling with its own financial crisis. But the 2013 budget increase includes $1 million in additional costs for police and Civil Service Employees Association worker pensions, town officials have said.
NY: Administrative judge orders ORDA to enact employee contract
KIM SMITH DEDAM, Press-Republican, June 15, 2013
A ruling by an administrative judge has ordered the Olympic Regional Development Authority to implement a union contract agreement. According to documents from a recent Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) ruling, the employment contract for ORDA’s full and part-time employees had expired in 2009. ... ORDA CEO Ted Blazer allegedly told the workers’ union, the Civil Service Employees Association, he would put the employment contract on the board’s June agenda. But the contract was neither discussed nor put to vote. CSEA filed a formal complaint with the Public Employment Relations Board last July.
OH: 19 Positions Being Cut in Westlake Schools
09:33pm, June 10, 2013, Fox 8
The first of many cuts was made in Westlake City School District Monday. ... At a board meeting Monday, six bus drivers became the first employees to be officially laid off. “I think it will be devastating to a lot of people,” said Karen Herzberger, president of OAPSE Local 319. “This is their bread and butter; knowing that even six will lose their health care benefits, no income coming in. We’re all going to have to come together and fight even harder if it’s even possible to get a levy to pass in this school district.”
OR: Company doesn't want to manage Gladstone library
Michael Bamesberger, The Oregonian, June 13, 2013 at 3:17 PM
..... Library Systems and Services, which advertises its services as a way for municipalities to make their libraries more efficient, earlier this month declined to submit a bid to operate the library. A company representative said the potential savings and improvements were minimal and wouldn't justify their services...... A group of residents that opposed outsourcing suggested the library is not in financial trouble and doesn't need LSSI's services. Citing state data, the group said the Gladstone library operates at $37.99 per capita, compared to about $47.24 for the average Clackamas County library.
PA: Layoffs in 2 weeks for Harrisburg school union opposed to new discipline rules
pennlive.com, June 14, 2013 at 3:12 PM
Pay cuts and increased health premiums were OK with AFSCME 13 workers at capital city’s public schools – it was other changes that prompted them to reject the district’s contract offer, union reps said Friday. .... That is one of many components included in the district’s Act 141 recovery plan aimed at restoring financial stability and improving academic performance. .....Schwanger said the problems arose when workers were presented with other changes that included adding evaluations, raising standards for promotions and heightening disciplinary procedures for Harrisburg School District support staff to get pay raises. Tardiness proved the biggest sticking point, Veno said.
PA: Budget Cuts Reach Bone for Philadelphia Schools
By TRIP GABRIEL, New York Times, June 16, 2013
... Under a draconian budget passed by the Philadelphia School District last month, none of these supporting players — aide, counselor, secretary, security monitor — will remain at the school by September, nor will there be money for books, paper, a nurse or the school’s locally celebrated rock band. .... The troubles have many causes: rising pension costs, high debt payments for past borrowing that papered over budget gaps, a flight to charter schools and a block-grant formula for state aid that has fallen behind enrollments, which have increased 5,000 a year between charter and traditional schools, according to Mr. Hite. ..... So far the new revenues fall far short of what is needed to recall the 3,783 laid-off school staff members and reverse the cuts to supplies and programs.
Pa. Democrats remain grounded as they eye Corbett in 2014
Print By Robert J. Vickers | pennlive.com, June 16, 2013 at 1:25 AM
Pennsylvania Democrats gathering in Lancaster this weekend for their summer state committee meeting were of two minds. They were giddy about Gov. Tom Corbett's profound vulnerability. The Republican governor's weakness, Democrats feel, offers them an unprecedented opportunity to reclaim the office in 2014.
PR: New Puerto Rico Tax Deal Reached
by: PAUL BURTON, Bond Buyer, Friday, June 14, 2013
Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García Padilla and legislative leaders have reached a new tax deal. On Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Melba Acosta scaled back the amount of revenue expected from a proposed business-to-business sales tax. Instead, the government will introduce a tax on business sales volume and increase a business profit tax, Acosta told The Bond Buyer.
RI: GUEST OPINION: Morally obliged to bondholders, not workers?
Mike McDonald is President of Local 528, R.I. Council 94, AFSCME. Westerly Sun, 11:14 am, Fri Jun 14, 2013.
To pay or not to pay, that is the question currently being debated at the Rhode Island General Assembly. Left with nearly $112 million worth of poor decisions, our elected officials must decide whether to divert funds aimed at improving our state and the lives of Rhode Island residents in order to feed the beast that is “Wall Street.” .... If I understand correctly, walking away from a moral obligation to pay bonds held in large part by multi-billion dollar corporations is bad for the citizens of our state. While on the other hand, walking away from public employee pensions is good for the citizens of Rhode Island and should be worn as a badge of honor for Rhode Island.
TN: Garbage Services Weighs Collection Overhaul
By Bill Dries, Memphis Daily News, June 17, 2013
As City Hall roils in a tempestuous budget season, discussions about changing how the city collects garbage for its citizens have been making progress. Sanitation services are part of the city’s operating budget, but they are not funded through the city’s general fund, the largest pot of revenue the city of Memphis has. They are funded with the monthly $25.05 solid waste fee paid by citizens. ...... Around a table at City Hall Thursday, June 13, Conrad, Little and Chad Johnson – leader of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union that represents sanitation workers – talked about future steps in the next month.
TX: County may lose millions on sale of mental health facility
Sunday, June 16, 2013 11:17 pm, By Howard Roden, Courier
Selling off its mental health facility isn’t going to be profitable for Montgomery County as it was with the Joe Corley Detention Center. After earning an estimated $22 million from the sale of the jail, the county might lose between $2 million and $4 million on the 100-bed Montgomery County Mental Health Treatment Facility. ... Currently, the mental health facility’s outstanding debt is at $39 million. If GEO’s offer stands – and that appears likely since GEO was the lone bidder for the Joe Corley facility – that should trim the deficit.
WA: Budget impasse has state staffers concerned
BRAD SHANNON; News Tribune, June 17, 2013
.... Tim Welch, spokesman for the Washington Federation of State Employees, said the Office of Financial Management has provided one reassurance: Workers will get paid on July 10 as usual, for the work they did through June 30. But without a budget deal, many state workers would be told to stay home beginning July 1.
WA: New Evergreen College union ratifies contract
THEOLYMPIAN.COM: June 14, 2013 at 1:27 a.m. PDT
Members of a new labor union at The Evergreen State College ratified their first contract Thursday on a 52-2 vote, according to the Washington Federation of State Employees. The federation is the umbrella organization for the more than 55-member Evergreen Student Support Services Staff Union, which went on strike for one day last month after failing to strike a deal after 17 months. ..... The agreement includes a 3 percent pay raise on July 1 and another 1 percent raise on July 1, 2014, and it includes yearly step pay increases once a worker has been on the job 12 years.
WI: State Supreme Court to hear unions' challenge of collective bargaining law
Jun. 14, 2013 The Associated Press
The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear the appeal of a lawsuit brought by two unions challenging the constitutionality of Gov. Scott Walker’s law effectively ending collective bargaining for most public workers in the state. The 4th District Court of Appeals had urged the high court in April to directly hear the appeal, noting ongoing uncertainty about the law’s status. The court agreed Friday, but didn’t release any details about its decision. The lawsuit was brought by unions representing Madison school teachers and City of Milwaukee workers. A Dane County circuit judge ruled last year that the law was unconstitutional as it applied to school districts and local governments, but it was unclear if the ruling applied outside Madison and Milwaukee.
WI: Editorial - Scott Walker looks foolish for rescinding appointment
June 16, 2013, Journal Sentinel
Is absolutely everything about politics with this governor? Apparently. The latest evidence: The Joshua Inglett case. He's the University of Wisconsin-Platteville engineering student whose appointment to the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents was rescinded by Gov. Scott Walker after the Republican governor learned that Inglett had signed a petition to recall the governor. Inglett was among nearly 1 million Wisconsin residents who did so.
Wisconsin and Minnesota -- governments next-door going in opposite directions
By Craig Gilbert, Journal Sentinel June 15, 2013
.... Wisconsin has been cutting taxes, curbing unions, expanding private school vouchers and rejecting hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding. Minnesota has been raising taxes, empowering unions, legalizing same-sex marriage and embracing Obamacare. Wisconsin is getting its most conservative governance in decades. Minnesota is getting its most liberal governance in decades. ... Wisconsin eviscerated public-sector unions. Minnesota just gave childcare workers and personal care assistants the ability to unionize.
Wisconsin's Walker Downplays Presidential Buzz
by SHAWN JOHNSON, NPR Morning Edition, June 17, 2013
..... Democrats here constantly play up the idea that Walker is focused more intently on running for president in 2016 than on governing the state. He dismisses that. ... But there are signs: The governor is writing a book. He was the keynote speaker recently at an Iowa fundraiser. And he's kept up an aggressive out-of-state speaking and fundraising schedule. Walker also sits squarely atop the list of Republican presidential contenders put together by Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.