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Executive Pay: Invasion of the Supersalaries
PETER EAVIS · New York Times · APRIL 12, 2014

.... The current system of executive compensation, with its emphasis on performance, can theoretically constrain pay, but in practice it has not stopped companies from paying their top executives more and more. The median compensation of a chief executive in 2013 was $13.9 million, up 9 percent from 2012, according the Equilar 100 C.E.O. Pay Study, conducted for The New York Times. .... Economists have long known that high executive pay has contributed to the widening gap between the very rich and everyone else. But the role of executive compensation may be far larger than previously realized.

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Statement on HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
· AFSCME news release · FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2014 

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on Kathleen Sebelius’ leadership as Secretary of Health and Human Services:  “Secretary Sebelius’ legacy is the more than 10 million Americans who now have quality, affordable health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Millions more have improved coverage, including seniors who can now access free, preventive services and lower prescription drug costs through their Medicare coverage.

Goldman dodges a shareholder battle that dogs rivals
Lauren Tara LaCapra and Ross Kerber · Reuters · April 14, 2014

When Goldman Sachs Group Inc filed its shareholder proxy earlier this month, it was free of a proposal that has become increasingly popular among corporate governance activists: a demand for more disclosure about lobbying. .... Like Goldman, Morgan Stanley said it does not use corporate money for elections and that its political and lobbying activities are subject to oversight by its management and board of directors. But unlike Goldman, the bank did not reach out to its critics - in this case the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which is pursuing the proposal on Morgan Stanley's proxy this year. "We would like them to do more," John Keenan, AFSCME corporate governance analyst, said of Morgan Stanley, including disclosing its trade association memberships and what it might pay to those groups.

Moody's: Pension Risk Will Stay Higher For States and Localities Than for Corporations
NAOMI JAGODA · Bond Buyer · APR 11, 2014 2:40pm

Pension risks for state and local governments will continue to be higher than those for corporations, Moody's Investors Service said in a report Thursday.  "Corporations have already made far more progress on reducing pension risks than state and local governments, and the difference is likely to grow given the slow and uneven pace of reform among municipal entities," Al Medioli, one of the authors of the report, said in a release.  Unfunded pension liabilities are higher for state and local governments than for corporations, relative to other debt. The risk levels for private and public sector pensions have been on diverging paths for 30 years and are likely to stay that way for at least the coming decade, Moody's said.

LABOR Policy Divides Over Union Elections on Display at NLRB
MELANIE TROTTMAN · Wall Street Journal · 7:59 pm ET Apr 11, 2014

Political and workplace divides over labor policy were on display at the National Labor Relations Board’s Washington headquarters this week, where the board held a hearing to examine its proposal to streamline and speed union-organizing elections in the private sector.  The proposed federal rule was revived by the board’s three Democrats in February after business groups stymied a 2011 version in court on a technicality. The board’s two Republicans dissented on the latest attempt, in a split that has reverberated in Congress and among employer and union groups at odds over the proposal.  About three dozen people testified Thursday to the board members of the  agency run by presidential appointees, and dozens more presented Friday as part of the two-day hearing.

BLS releases report on state and local government worker injuries
· Safety BLR · April 14, 2014

In March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released a report detailing the rates and characteristics of nonfatal work-related injuries and illnesses among state and local government workers across the country.  .... State and local government workers made up 14.6 percent of the employees covered in the BLS’s 2011 survey data, but accounted for 21.6 percent of the injury and illness cases that year.

Student Maps Voting-Rights Approach
DEVLIN BARRETT · Wall Street Journal · April 13, 2014

The Obama administration's new legal strategy to preserve decades of minority-voting rights will follow a blueprint first sketched out by a Yale University law student four years ago.  In 2010, Travis Crum, then a second-year law student, proposed a new approach to bolster federal enforcement of the Voting Rights Act—rightly predicting the government's longstanding approach would soon be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.   ....  His roadmap, which seized on a mostly ignored provision of the 1965 law, has become the government's strategy for challenging states it believes are enacting discriminatory voting laws, including North Carolina and Texas.

Obama, Republicans Compete for Support Among Women
NEDRA PICKLER · Associated Press · April 13, 2014

  After months on the defensive over his health law, a more combative President Barack Obama has emerged to fight about gender politics, leading to an election-year competition with Republicans for support from women.  No single group will be more important to Democrats' fortunes, say White House advisers, than unmarried women, who are likely to go Democratic — if they vote, and that's far from certain when trust in Washington is low.

How salaries compare by gender for federal employees
ERIC YODER · Washington Post · April 11 at 11:08 am 

..... The report from the Office of Personnel Management shows an overall gender pay gap for white-collar occupations of 12.7 percent as of 2012, down from 19.8 percent in 2002 and 30 percent in 1992. However, it added that all but 3.8 percentage points of the 2012 gap can be explained by differences in occupation and certain other factors.

Editorial: The College Faculty Crisis
·  New York Times ·APRIL 13, 2014

The public colleges and universities that educate more than 70 percent of this country’s students were burdened by rising costs and dwindling state revenues long before the recession. ...... .  They also cut labor costs by replacing full-time professors who retired with part-time instructors, who typically have no health or pension benefits and are often abysmally paid, earning in the vicinity of $3,000 per course. .... The portrait of these instructors that emerges from a new studyby the Center for Community College Student Engagement, a research center at the University of Texas at Austin, is alarming. The report, based on survey responses from more than 71,000 teachers, found that part-timers face many challenges. Because they are treated almost like transient workers, they are given little reason to make an investment in the institution.

State/Local

California Votes for Responsible Public-Private Deals
OLIVIA SANDBOTHE · AFSCME blog · APRIL 11, 2014 

California elected officials are standing up to protect the public services in their communities from corporate outsourcing.  The state Assembly in Sacramento recently passed HR 29, a resolution that urges the state to embrace the principles of the Taxpayer Empowerment Agenda.  The Taxpayer Empowerment Agenda is a set of guidelines for responsible public-private partnerships developed by In the Public Interest, a group that advocates for public control of public services.

CA: The Most Important Social Conflicts of 2013
Dan La Botz  · International Viewpoint · 14 April 2014

... Workers Strike University of California Hospitals – May 2013 and November 2013  In May 2013 almost 25,000 workers struck the University of California Hospitals in the cities of San Francisco, Davis, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Irvine, and San Diego. The principal strike by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3299 involved 13,000 respiratory therapists, surgical and lab technicians, nursing assistants, and licensed vocational nurses strike over pensions and patient care issues.

CA: GRADUATE STUDENTS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!
Malcolm Harris · Al Jazeera ·  April 14, 2014

At the beginning of April, one of the most important labor unions in U.S. higher education staged an unexpected two-day strike. It wasn’t the American Association of University Professors — the left-leaning professors’ union — or a chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, representing service workers; it was United Auto Workers Local 2865. Auto workers might appear to be an odd group to strike across American university campuses, but Local 2865 represents 12,000 teaching assistants, associate instructors and undergraduate tutors at University of California campuses. These nonprofessors are responsible for an incredible amount of teaching and grading work at the country’s largest public university system, and their union is one of the nation’s orneriest. With the help of their supporters on campus, they’ve taken a stand against the exploitation of low-wage academic labor.

CT: Fire union files suit against mayor
ISAAC STANLEY-BECKER · Yale News · April 14, 2014

.... Cherlyn Poindexter, president of AFSCME Local 3144, the city’s managerial union, said she also has legal concerns about the transfer. Her local represents George Peet, who was heading the center on an acting basis but has reverted to the deputy position since Briscoe’s appointment. Because Briscoe has maintained his responsibilities as a firefighter, Poindexter said, she is worried that the lion’s share of the 911 center work will fall on Peet, who will then not be properly compensated.

Delaware has a chance to expand voting rights
Michael A. Begatto, executive director of the Delaware Public Employees Council 81 AFSCME · News Journal · 8:19 p.m. EDT April 11, 2014

Our 7,000 AFSCME members that make Delaware happen share the optimism and concerns of most Delawareans.  .... The politicians gunning against collective bargaining rights and against the middle class are going after voting rights, too. There have been zero cases of voter fraud in Delaware, but big money continues to promote this myth in an attempt to maintain and expand barriers to voting targeting people of color, poor people, the elderly, the disabled, students, and working families.

Florida Officials: Pension Change To Help State, Retirees 
Lloyd Dunkelberger · LEDGER·  Sunday, April 13, 2014

Carol Horton, a teacher for 18 years in Palm Beach County, is now approaching her retirement years. .... As the Florida Legislature approaches the final three weeks of its annual session, she asked lawmakers to back off plans to make major changes to the retirement system, which covers some 622,000 public employees in Florida, with the majority working for local school systems and county governments.

GA: Child Welfare Council Reacts To Deal's Privatization Plans
· NPR · April 14, 2014

Members of a Governor Nathan Deal’s child welfare panel are responding to his plan to privatize some of the child welfare system.  Deal’s plan calls for a two-region privatization pilot program, with the state moving child placement and family recruitment to private groups already working with the state. Those two pilot regions have yet to be named.

IA: Union chief says Iowa 'do-not-hire' list is flawed
RYAN J. FOLEY · Associated Press · 3:03 pm, Friday, April 11, 2014

A now-public list of workers who are supposed to be barred from returning to Iowa's executive branch is filled with mistakes, including at least two names of individuals who currently work for state agencies, a union official said Friday. ..... Danny Homan, president of Council 61 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said his staff launched a review after the list was posted online Thursday and have identified numerous errors, including some he called "very egregious."  He said that an employee once fired by the Department of Corrections is on the list, even though he was reinstated after an arbitrator ruled that his discipline was not justified.

IA: Ryan budget plan draws protest at GOP dinner in Iowa
JAMES Q. LYNCH · Journal · April 11, 2014 7:33 pm  

According to his critics, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s “anti-middle class budget” would cost the country 3 million jobs – the equivalent of firing the entire population of Iowa.  But it gave one Iowan, retired electrical worker Norm Sterzenbach, plenty to do Friday.  Sterzenbach put in a long day, taking part in a Democratic National Committee conference call with the media, a Progress Iowa news conference in Cedar Rapids and a demonstration outside the events center where Ryan spoke at the Republican Party of Iowa Lincoln Day dinner.  .... The Murphy campaign was joined by demonstrators organized by AFSCME and SEIU calling for immigration reform.

IA: State workers can wear anti-governor pins, judge says
Jason Clayworth · The Des Moines Register · April 12, 2014 

State workers can wear pins that reflect unfavorably on Iowa's governor, an administrative law judge has ruled.  The pins, distributed by a union that says it represents 40,000 public employees in Iowa, shows an unflattering black and white photograph of Gov. Terry Branstad's face bisected by a red diagonal slash with the words, "NOTHING HAS CHANGED."  The Branstad administration tried to ban the pins after employees at the state Department of Corrections' Medical and Classification Center in Coralville, Iowa, wore them on the job.  But administrative law judge Jan Berry ruled March 31 that workers could display the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees pins on their uniforms or clothes.

IL: Chicago Unions Divided Over Emanuel’s Move To Gut Pensions
MATTHEW BLAKE · In These Times · APR 11, 2014, 6:15 PM

Faced with a debt crisis eerily reminiscent of Detroit’s financial straits, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel now wants to slash retirement benefits for city workers, who have already seen their pension funds erode from decades of mismanagement and delayed payments.  Because the state government has control over Chicago public worker pensions, Emanuel’s first fund-cutting measures have surfaced in the form of proposed legislation.  .... Meanwhile, the three unions staunchly opposed to the bill are heavy hitters in Illinois labor: The Chicago Teachers Union, AFSCME Council 31 and the Illinois Nurses Association. .... In the meantime, both CTU and AFSCME Council 31 demand the mayor look beyond property taxes for the desperately needed city revenue, such as instating a city income tax. In 2011, a city audit concluded that a 1 percent tax on residents’ income could net Chicago $500 million a year.

IL: Tough tax votes looming for state
KERRY LESTER · The Associated Press · Sunday, April 13, 2014

Faced with an expected $3 billion budget hole from an expiring income tax increase, Illinois lawmakers are grappling with whether to raise taxes to avoid major cuts to schools and social services next year. .... Recent polls by the Paul Simon Institute and others that show state residents are more supportive of a progressive tax than keeping the income tax increase in place, said Anders Lindall of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.  Even so, “if it’s ultimately the will of the leaders we’ll support the permanent extension,” Lindall said.

IL: State's new fleet of squad cars not on road
Andy Grimm · Chicago Tribune · April 13, 2014

.... The state's ongoing budget problem — a $3 billion shortfall this year and billions in unpaid bills — has meant agencies won't request funds for new staff, said Anders Lindall, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union that represents state police technicians. That means the state pays out more in overtime for short-staffed departments or spends more on repairing squad cars while new ones sit parked, he said.  "The taxpayers are not getting the value of cars that are sitting on a lot and are already a year old when they begin service," Lindall said.

LA: Analysis: Questions on La. hospital deals linger
MELINDA DESLATTE · Associated Press  · April 13, 2014

A year after Gov. Bobby Jindal started turning over the operations of Louisiana's university-run hospital system to outside companies, lawmakers are complaining that they have unanswered questions about the deals.  Over the past week, state senators have asked why federal officials haven't signed off on the financing arrangements, what happens if federal approval never comes, and how the state will compensate other hospitals now dealing with a rush of uninsured patients.

MA: Danvers resident ‘honored’ to be union’s first female VP 
Anna Burgess · wickedlocal.com ·  April 11, 2014

Danvers resident Julie Curtis has just become the first female vice president of the North Shore Labor Council. Curtis, who is the secretary for the Athletic Department at Salem State College, was elected vice president in February. She has been a member of the North Shore Labor Council (NSLC) for almost 15 years, representing the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) at Salem State College and North Shore Community College.

Maine Senate Rejects LePage's Business Zones Plan
· Associated Press · 04/11/2014 01:58 PM

The Maine Senate has voted down Gov. Paul LePage's bill to offer business tax breaks and workers the freedom not to pay labor union fees in an effort to attract big companies to the state.  The Republican governor's bill would set up pilot project areas in Brunswick and Limestone. Businesses that invest more than $50 million and create at least 1,500 jobs would be offered tax and energy cost relief and assistance to help train and recruit workers. They would be ``right-to-work'' zones, meaning non-union employees wouldn't have to pay fees to negotiate and administer contracts.

MI: Updated plans for Detroit bankruptcy to be filed today
Matt Helms · Detroit Free Press · April 14, 2014  

Detroit is expected to file its latest amended bankruptcy restructuring plans Monday in federal court, three days ahead of a key hearing about whether the city’s Chapter 9 case is ready to proceed.

MI: Judge OKs $85M Detroit debt deal with 2 banks
CHAD LIVENGOOD · THE DETROIT NEWS · APRIL 11, 2014 AT 3:37 PM

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes on Friday approved Detroit’s $85 million settlement of a troubled pension-related debt with two banks —a major component to the city’s plan to shed $9 billion in debt and emerge from bankruptcy by October.  Under the deal, Detroit will pay UBS AG and Bank of America $85 million to settle a hedge bet on interest rates that soured on the city in 2008-09, causing initially low annual payments to balloon to $50 million.

MI: Amid crisis, Detroit urged to outsource more
DARREN A. NICHOLS · THE DETROIT NEWS · APRIL 14, 2014

  Detroit has made progress in contracting with private firms for certain services, such as garbage collection and electricity, but outsourcing advocates say there are more opportunities yet unexplored.  Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s office is considering outsourcing other services, including the water department, to cut costs and an estimated $18 billion in debt.  Yet Detroit’s privatization efforts are “a bit underwhelming, when you look at the severity of the (financial) crunch,” said Leonard Gilroy, director of government reform for the libertarian Reason Foundation in Los Angeles.  City officials insist they are being prudent. ..... “They are not saving any money” through outsourcing, said Ed McNeil, special assistant to the president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 25, which represents many city workers.

MI: Detroit retirees subpoena Snyder for documents on debt-cutting plan
CHAD LIVENGOOD · DETROIT NEWS · APRIL 11, 2014

A committee representing retirees in Detroit’s bankruptcy slapped Gov. Rick Snyder’s office with a massive subpoena Friday for documents about the governor’s involvement in the city’s debt-cutting plan.  The subpoena seeks to compel Snyder’s office to produce any and all documents about the city’s treatment of pensioners, retiree health insurance and the state’s pledge of $350 million to a fund to bolster pensions and shield the Detroit Institute of Arts.  The document also asks the Governor’s Office to fork over all communications Snyder and his aides have had with DIA officials and suburban leaders over the city’s water department — two thorny issues involving the unresolved future of Detroit’s biggest assets.

Michigan ban on same-sex benefits for public workers back in court 
Khalil AlHajal · The Associated Press  · April 13, 2014

A month after Michigan's same-sex marriage ban was overturned, the state is vigorously defending another law that's being challenged by gays and lesbians: a prohibition on domestic partner benefits for employees in public schools and local governments.  U.S. District Judge David Lawson halted the law with an injunction last summer, saying it was a clear case of discrimination against same-sex couples.  ....  Nonetheless, the state isn't giving up. Lawson has scheduled another round of arguments Tuesday in Detroit federal court before making a final decision on the law's fate, although it's possible the case could be put on hold. The state believes it's better to wait until the separate gay-marriage marriage challenge is over.

MN: Pension subsidies pass the House
Charley Shaw · Daily Planet · April 11, 2014

The long-term financial outlook for Minnesota pensions would improve if a bill that passed the House Thursday becomes law. The omnibus pension bill, HF1951, sponsored by Rep. Mary Murphy (DFL-Hermantown), which passed 79-52, contains several provisions aimed at shoring up unfunded liabilities for public pensions. It now goes to the Senate, where Senate President Sandy Pappas (DFL-St. Paul) is the sponsor.

Missouri union vote focuses on absent lawmakers
DAVID A. LIEB · Associated Press · April 13, 2014

In legislative lingo, it's called "taking a walk." A lawmaker walks out of the chamber — sometimes to a nearby office, sometimes to get out of town — and avoids taking a vote on a politically sticky issue.   .... Eleven of the 108 House Republicans voted neither "yes" nor "no" when the so-called right-to-work legislation won initial approval 78-68. But they could get another chance to take a stand. To advance to the Senate, the measure will need to pass a second House roll call with at least 82 "yes" votes.

NM: Two union members fight to get their jobs back at WNMU
Susan Dunlap · scsun-news.com · 04/13/2014

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, (AFSCME) Local 3882 and WNMU have been in arbitration this year over the firing of two union members last year.  The initial case, brought on behalf of Eric Brown, an electrician in the maintenance department at WNMU, was resolved Feb. 11 when an impartial arbitrator ruled in favor of Brown. The second case, involving Julian Reyes, a plumber in the maintenance department at WNMU, was heard by an arbitrator Thursday. Officials with AFSCME contend the two men were targeted because they are union members.

NY: CSEA announces contract agreement for court employees
Casey Seiler · Times Union · April 11, 2014 at 12:55 pm

The 5,700 employees of the state Unified Court System who are represented by CSEA have reached agreement on a contract proposal that would run through March 2017. The old contract expired waaay back in March 2011, leading to what the union describes as “a long and challenging set of negotiations” with the Office of Court Administration. .... The six-year agreement runs from April 1, 2011, through March 31, 2017 with the following highlights:  Two (2) percent across-the-board salary increase in October 2014; Two (2) percent across the board salary increase in April 2015; Two (2) percent across-the-board salary increase in April 2016;

NY: Medicaid millions on line for Rockland's Summit Park bidders
Laura Incalcaterra · The Journal News  · April 13, 2014

Rockland County continues to push forward with its plan to sell its Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Care Center even after the leading contender to buy the facility dropped out. .... The frontrunner to buy both operations walked away from the sale after Northern Services Group and the Rockland Civil Service Employees Association filed lawsuits in state Supreme Court to block the sale. Northern Services Group also sought to have a Brooklyn-based rabbinical court intervene and halt the sale.

NY: Department of Labor announces furloughs, cuts to temporary staff
TED BOOKER · TIMES · APRIL 12, 2014

The state Department of Labor has enacted layoffs and furloughs for temporary employees who help job seekers because federal funding that the state received to pay for the staff when unemployment was higher has dried up.

NY: QUEENS LIBRARY CONTROVERSY PROMPTS POLS TO INTRODUCE REFORM BILL
· Forum · APRIL 12, 2014 

Elected officials gathered outside Borough Hall last week to call for sweeping reforms to the Queens library system. Photo courtesy NYS Senate Following the recent high-profile controversy surrounding spending and oversight at Queens Borough Public Library, a group of elected officials gathered on the steps of Borough Hall last week to announce the introduction of legislation that they said would reform the library’s Board of Trustees and overall governance at one of the busiest library systems in the country. .... The new legislation calls for the implementation of several “best practice” reforms, including the creation of an audit committee to oversee the library’s accounting and financial reporting processes and its annual audits, as well as the establishment of a labor relations committee to address employee issues and oversee the contracting out of services.

NY pay raise for 100K direct care workers
·AP ·  April 14, 2014 

New York's new budget will increase pay 2 percent for about 100,000 caretakers of the disabled and others next year, their first raise in several years for many.  They will get a second cost-of-living adjustment next April, along with about 30,000 case workers, nurses and social workers.

OH: New FM Akron radio station aims to give ‘a voice to the voiceless’
Stephanie Warsmith · Beacon Journal · April 12, 2014

An interesting hodgepodge of local community leaders has banded together to start a new, low-frequency radio station in Akron that they say will give “a voice to the voiceless.” Those involved include Warner Mendenhall, an Akron attorney who led the unsuccessful recall effort against Mayor Don Plusquellic; George Johnson, president of the Akron chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; ...... Johnson, who has been involved with the effort since the start, is excited about a show that will focus on unions and workplace issues. “Working folks don’t have a real voice in the media about what really goes on in their workplace,” he said. “We want to give working folks — even non-union — an open forum.”

OH: Union: Superintendent 'has to go' School's local files labor action against Tri-Valley official
Anna Rumer · Times Recorder · Apr. 12, 2014  

The Ohio Association of Public School Employees Local 351 has filed a labor action against Tri-Valley Local Schools Superintendent Mark Neal, alleging he has continually violated its collective bargaining agreement in addition to creating a “hostile work environment.” ..... Local 351, which represents 100 employees at Tri-Valley, including non-teaching employees such as food-service workers, educational assistants, mechanics, bus drivers and custodians, claims Neal violated their agreement after refusing to deduct union dues from members added after Sept. 20, meaning they would have to pay the union directly.

Puerto Rico court strikes down teacher pension overhaul
· Reuters · Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:30pm

The Puerto Rico Supreme Court on Friday struck down a recently enacted overhaul of teachers' pensions, dealing a major blow to Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla's efforts to fix the Caribbean island's crumbling economy and budget.  Five of the court's nine members determined that significant portions of the reform law were unconstitutional. Three judges dissented and one recused himself.

PR: Analysts See Signs of Puerto Rico Economic Stabilization
ROBERT SLAVIN · bond Buyer · APR 11, 2014 1:19pm

Thursday's announcement that an aviation repair and maintenance facility will bring 400 jobs to Puerto Rico was a bright contrast to years of bleak economic news.  But there is hope that it represents a larger shift of fortunes.  After seven years in which Puerto Rico's economy generally declined, several economists say there are signs that it is stabilizing. ... Economists who focus on Puerto Rico noted that private sector employment is up a bit since the middle of 2013. They also noted there recently has been a decline in initial jobless claims and that these can be a leading economic indicator.

VT: With Solidarity in Spades, Vermont Bus Drivers’ 18-Day Strike Results in Big Win
JONATHAN LEAVITT · In These Times · FRIDAY, APR 11, 2014, 1:01 PM

  At 6am on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, 40 bus drivers and a dozen community members defied negative-10-degree weather to picket outside the Chittenden County Transportation Authority (CCTA) bus garage in Burlington, Vt. The action marked the beginning of nearly three-week-long transit strike over concessionary contract demands that would capture the imagination of much of Vermont and culminate in victory. ..... He says that drivers have already volunteered to join marches on the boss at Vermont's HowardCenter, a counseling and medical-services center where workers are in the process of unionizing with AFSCME. “We got the help and now we’ve got to give the help," he says. "Vermont is so small, but this movement is so big."

WA: In Mudslide Recovery Effort, Value of Strong Community Services
OLIVIA SANDBOTHE · AFSCME blog · APRIL 11, 2014 

A month after a mudslide devastated the small community of Oso, Wash., killing at least 35 people, the community is still picking up the pieces. As rescue crews search more than 250 acres of wreckage and engineers work to control further flooding, people in the surrounding Snohomish County are trying to rebuild their lives. At times like these, the value of strong community services and dedicated public servants becomes most apparent.

WI: Many War of Act 10 legislators head for state Capitol doors 
STEVEN WALTERS · Gazette · April 14, 2014 

On March 10, 2011, 95 members of the state Assembly voted on Act 10, which all but ended collective bargaining by most public employees. The 53-42 vote gave Republican Gov. Scott Walker, in office only a few weeks, a huge victory.  Of the 95, 52 Republicans and one independent voted for it, and 38 Democrats and four Republicans voted “no.” One legislator missed the vote; three Assembly seats were vacant.  Four years later, 48 of the 95—or more than half—of Assembly members who voted on Act 10 will be gone from that house when the next Legislature convenes in January. And 25 of those 48 are Republicans.   ....  It's too simple to say that the brutal Act 10 fight drove half the Assembly, and 33 percent of the Senate, out of those jobs.  But it's also naïve to discount it as one reason for the Legislature's unusually high turnover over the next four years.

WI: Local governments exploring employee health clinic
Nathaniel Shuda · Oshkosh Northwestern Media · Apr. 11, 2014 12:57 PM  

Government leaders in Winnebago County are considering a new concept they think might save taxpayers money and improve the health of public employees.  The city of Oshkosh, along with Winnebago County and the Oshkosh Area School District are exploring the feasibility of an on-site or near-site health clinic for their employees. A group of leaders from each entity already having narrowed the field to two possible providers, which leaders plan to visit this month, said Sue Schnorr, the school district’s business director.