How Reid got nuke option votes
Alexander Bolton – The Hill, 11/22/13
.... Outside groups had worked for months to persuade Reid to curb the minority party’s power to filibuster nominees. But in the end, Reid worked largely alone. His decision to trigger the nuclear option — so dubbed because it’s viewed as a dramatic escalation of partisan tactics — caught them by surprise. Two members of the Fix the Senate Now coalition predicted earlier this week that Reid would not try to eliminate the power to filibuster executive and sub-Supreme Court judicial nominees before the end of the year.
Statement of AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders
AFSCME news release, NOVEMBER 21, 2013
“Washington is broken and the extreme partisan gridlock in the Senate is untenable. “Senator Reid did the right thing in moving to change Senate rules to allow a majority vote on most executive branch nominations. This is a major step toward resolving Senate obstructionism.”
CMD Exposes America’s “Highest Paid Government Workers”
prwatch.org, Nov 19, 2013
The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) today launched “America’s Highest Paid Government Workers,” a new initiative that will expose the taxpayer-funded salaries of CEOs whose corporations make billions by taking control of public services.
The Privatization of Public Service
November 21, 2013 by Zaid Jilani, Moyers & Company
...Deloitte does have government links. It rakes in billions of dollars from government contracts across the world. Its 2012 investor report shows $3.2 billion from work directly with the public sector. Yet, while the government generously pays the firm to do work that many argue it should be doing itself, Deloitte has been repeatedly caught up in scandals of mismanagement and poor performance ... In 2008, 10 percent of graduates who responded to the post-employment survey went to work in the private sector and 10 percent went to “public work in the private sector” – Maxwell’s terminology for consultants within the public sector. ..... When graduates at my school and others are faced with massive loan payments and few recruitment opportunities from the public sector, their dreams of working for their local municipal government or the Department of Labor are quickly put aside when smiling recruiters from for-profit consulting firms appear promising high salaries.
How a bright idea in 1983 helped Deltek corner the market in government contracting services
Kevin Sullivan and Marjorie Censer, Washington Post: November 21
.... In 1983, the federal government paid private contractors $159 billion for goods and services; by 2012, the figure was $517 billion, a 41 percent increase after adjusting for inflation. During the same period, the Washington-Maryland-Virginia share of that spending doubled, from 9 percent to 18 percent, according to a Washington Post analysis. Six of the 10 richest counties in America are now located in the Washington metro area. Fairfax County, where deLaski lived and Deltek still is headquartered, received a disproportionate 5 percent of all government spending on goods and services in 2010, more than $24 billion. The spike in the region’s prosperity has been driven in large part by government spending as the shift to private contractors accelerated with each administration, then took a giant leap after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Health Law Is Dividing Republican Governors
JONATHAN MARTIN New York Times, November 21, 2013
Republicans are planning to use the troubled health law against Democrats in next year’s midterm elections, but the Affordable Care Act is increasingly dividing their party, too. At the annual meeting here of the nation’s Republican governors, the ones who are eyeing presidential runs in 2016 say they oppose the health care law. But there is sharp disagreement among those who have helped carry out the law and those who remain entrenched in their opposition.
Insurers Cut Doctors' Fees in New Health-Care Plans Move Sparks Worries Plans Will Attract Fewer Doctors
CHRISTOPHER WEAVER and MELINDA BECK, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 21, 2013 8:55 p.m.
Insurers are slashing payments to medical practices in many of the plans they sell through the new health-law marketplaces—sparking worries that Americans signing up for coverage will have fewer doctors to choose from if low fees spark an exodus from the plans. .... The fees for some office visits are less than half of what doctors in the city say they receive for treating people covered by employer-sponsored insurance.
State Spending Dips As Stimulus Money Dries Up
Elaine S. Povich, Pew, Nov 22, 2013
States’ overall spending declined for the first time in 26 years in fiscal year 2012 as federal stimulus money dried up, according to a new report by the National Association of State Budget Officers. However, NASBO expects the 1.7 percent decrease between 2011 and 2012 to be a temporary blip. Although final numbers are not yet available, the group estimates that total state expenditures were up 4.7 percent in fiscal year 2013.
Federal Government Budget Problems Make State Budgeting Impossible
Liz Farmer | Governing.com November 22, 2013
As the nation’s governors and their staffs get knee-deep in numbers, policy-setting and late nights ordering takeout at the office, there is one certainty this budget writing season: don’t count on anything. (No pun intended, of course.) This era of uncertainty is familar by now – states have been dealing with a volatile economy and testy federal government since the federal stimulus program ended in 2010 and the nation’s economic recovery continued along slowly. But what makes budget writing and planning particularly irksome this year is that Congress likely won’t come to an agreement on whether to keep 2014 spending caps for defense and non-defense discretionary funding until the current continuing resolution expires on Jan. 15.
Economists and Labor
Henry M. Banta, Huffington Post, : 11/21/2013 1:42 pm
.... The inescapable conclusion, reached by almost all of the economists left standing after 2008, is that a revival of the union movement is vital to the survival of the middle class and a revival of the economy. If the middle class is to stop losing ground it needs the support of a strong labor movement..... The question is whether the labor movement, as well as liberals generally, can use this as effectively as conservatives used the economics of the hard core free market ideologues.
Revised companionship rule strengthens the home care workforce
Karen Kulp, CEO of Home Care Associates of Philadelphia. The Hill, November 21, 2013, 01:51 pm
On October 1, the U.S. Department of Labor published a revised rule that will guarantee, beginning January 1, 2015, that home care workers receive minimum-wage and overtime protections under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Home care jobs – caring for elders and people with disabilities in their homes and communities-- are our nation’s fastest-growing occupations. .... The success of our company is proof that you can have thriving business and still pay workers decent wages. That is why we, along with many other employers, support the rule change.
Expanding Social Security
PAUL KRUGMAN, New York Times, November 21, 2013
... Many workers used to have defined-benefit retirement plans, plans in which their employers guaranteed a steady income after retirement. ... Today, however, workers who have any retirement plan at all generally have defined-contribution plans — basically, 401(k)’s — in which employers put money into a tax-sheltered account that’s supposed to end up big enough to retire on. ...As a result, we’re looking at a looming retirement crisis, with tens of millions of Americans facing a sharp decline in living standards at the end of their working lives. ... So there’s a strong case for expanding, not contracting, Social Security.
Wages Stagnate as U.S. Manufacturers Reap Record Profits
Tim Catts, Peter Robison and Ilan Kolet November 21, 2013 Business Week
.... Manufacturers’ after-tax profits rose to a record $289.1 billion last year, more than three times 2009’s tally, the Commerce Department reported...... Some of the states where factory jobs are growing the fastest are among the least unionized. In 2012, 4.6 percent of South Carolina workers were represented by unions, as did 6.8 percent of Texans, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. New York, the most-unionized, was at 24.9 percent.
CA: AFSCME Members in California Stand Up for Patient Safety and Care
PABLO ROS | AFSCME blog, NOVEMBER 21, 2013
Thousands of our AFSCME sisters and brothers who work for the University of California hospital system and campuses stood up Wednesday for patient safety and quality health care by demanding safe staffing levels at all worksites. .... “Our members have both the legal right and moral responsibility to stand up for the safety of the students and patients we serve,” said AFSCME 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger, who is also an AFSCME International vice president.
CA: Strike three? BART workers considering next steps as directors reject paid-leave provision
Chris Roberts, Examiner, Nov 22, 2013
.... The BART board’s decision met with sharp words from the unions, which accused management of pulling a fast one. “So apparently we can take out sections we don’t like and then bring that to be voted on?” asked Patricia Schuchardt, president of AFSCME Local 3993, which represents train controllers. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees did not participate in the October strike and is not scheduled to vote on its contract until next month. “Those are the new rules?”
California sues SAP over payroll system failures
Chris Megerian November 21, 2013, 10:15 a.m. Los Angeles Times
-- The battle over California's failed effort to upgrade its payroll system for public employees is heading to court. Controller John Chiang on Thursday sued SAP Public Services, the contractor he fired in February after deep problems with the project were revealed. .... California began trying to upgrade its decades-old payroll system for 240,000 public employees in 2004, and the effort has run years behind schedule while tripling in cost. .... The previous contractor, BearingPoint, was fired in January 2009 after being paid $26 million. The state sued, recouping $2.8 million and managing to keep any completed work.
CT: Bridge named in memory of New Haven police officer
Rich Scinto, New Haven Register: 11/21/13, 7:10 PM
The bridge that connects West Haven and New Haven at Kimberly Avenue will be known as Officer Robert Vincent Fumiatti Memorial Bridge in honor of the New Haven cop who died in 2007 from complications after being shot in 2002. .... “I don’t think there is any better tribute and nothing more appropriate than the dedication of this bridge in his memory,” said Matchett, executive director of AFSCME Council 15 Connecticut Council of Police.
IL: Striking AFSCME workers pack Will County Board meeting
Cindy Wojdyla stmedianetwork.com November 21, 2013 9:50AM
Striking workers packed the Will County Board meeting room Thursday morning before the board meeting, chanting, banging pots and calling on county officials to bargain for a new contract. .... About 1,000 members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1028 walked off the job on Monday, the first strike by county government workers since the mid-1970s.
MA: Northampton approves raises for 139 municipal employees in four unions
CHAD CAIN, November 22, 2013
.... One municipal union — the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents clerical workers — does not have a new contract for the current fiscal year, Mayor David J. Narkewicz said. He anticipates wrapping up contract negotiations with that union next month.
MA: Boylston selectmen seek to stem loss of taxes due to non-profits
Michael D. Kane telegram.com, Thursday, November 21, 2013
The Board of Selectmen enacted a long-talked-about policy last week, approving a non-binding request for payment in lieu of taxes from the town's increasing non-profit entities. Better known as PILOT payments, the agreements are more often worked out between cities and larger non-profit entities, like universities, Town Counsel Brian Falk said ... The town estimates that non-profits account for $200,000 in uncollected revenue each year.
MI: Former D.C. council CEO tapped as Detroit's chief financial officer
CHRISTINE FERRETTI THE DETROIT NEWS, NOVEMBER 21, 2013 AT 5:17 PM
Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and Mayor-elect Mike Duggan on Thursday announced John Hill has been named Detroit’s new chief financial officer. Hill, the former CEO of the Washington, D.C., Federal City Council, replaces Jim Bonsall, who resigned last month amid allegations he made racially insensitive comments to colleagues.
MD: Authorities thwart smuggling attempt at jail
12:38 PM, Nov 21, 2013 (AP/WUSA9)
Maryland prison officials say they used closed circuit cameras to stop an attempt to smuggle marijuana, tobacco and a cell phone into the troubled Baltimore city jail. .... AFSCME released a statement on Thursday: "No one depends more on the integrity of a correctional officer for their personal safety than a fellow officer. AFSCME members are deeply troubled by today's indictments.
MD: Anne Arundel government goes for the Gmail
Pamela Wood, The Baltimore Sun November 22, 2013
Anne Arundel County government officials say the days of delays are gone for employees opening and responding to email messages. More than 6,000 county government email addresses were switched this month from an old system called GroupWise to a Google-based system. .... It's taking some time for employees to get used to the new system, said Tim Kingston, president of AFSCME Local 2563, which represents professional, clerical and technical employees. Kingston already uses Gmail for the union and is a fan of the system.
NM: UNMH employees ask judge to halt mandatory flu shots
ABQnews By Olivier Uyttebrouck / Nov 21, 2013 6:53 pm
The union that represents University of New Mexico Hospital employees is seeking a court ruling blocking mandatory flu shots. The National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees filed the request for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction in 2nd Judicial District Court on Thursday. Union members say they are not opposed to flu shots but “want guarantees from UNMH that should an employee become infected from the flu shot, that they not have their wages or benefits adversely affected,” the National Union of Nurses and Hospital Employees, AFSCME, District 1199 New Mexico, said in a written statement.
NY: Town council assures MMH employees that decison on MMH privatization isn’t in immediate future
BENNY FAIRCHILD JOHNSON NEWSPAPERS: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2013
Elected officials assured the more than two dozen employees and supporters of Massena Memorial Hospital at this week’s Town Council meeting that no decision on privatization will be made in the immediate future. Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray, who said he met with hospital CEO Charles F. Fahd II and hospital board President Andrew T. Spanburgh this week, said he has heard of no plan to privatize the publicly owned hospital within the next two months, despite what some believe. ... “The unions have offered $100,000 in insurance savings. That has been ignored,” Mr. Lincoln said, adding he’s also suggested the hospital do something to streamline its registration process.
NY: Bill de Blasio picks two union leaders for transition team
BY GLORIA PAZMINO, Capital New York, 4:12 pm Nov. 21, 2013
The head of the city's powerful healthcare workers union - the only union to endorse mayor-elect Bill de Blasio during the Democratic primary - has been appointed to de Blasio's transition team. George Gresham, president of 1199SEIU Healthcare Workers East and Vincent Alvarez, president of the NY Central Labor Council were among the list of names announced this week as part of the team tasked to help de Blasio appoint commissioners and other city officials.
NY: Wall Street Fees Paid by NYC’s Pension Funds Climb 28%
Martin Z. Braun - Nov 22, 2013 Bloomberg
Scott Stringer vowed during his successful campaign for New York comptroller to reduce the $370 million in fees the city’s five pension funds pay money managers and consultants annually. His job, which starts Jan. 1, just got harder. The charges climbed to $472.5 million in the year ended June 30, enough to pay the salaries of 6,440 teachers, a city report shows. The 28 percent gain is more than double the return on the $137.4 billion retirement system’s assets in the same period. In the past seven years, investment expenses for the pensions, which are overseen by the comptroller’s office, surged by $280 million.
NY: Union Upset With Queens Library Raises
November 14, 2013 NATALIA KOZIKOWSKA, Queens Tribune
Queens Library has given some of its nonunion workers raises and promotions, further fueling tensions between the Administration and Local 1321. In August, the Queens Tribune reported that the Queens Library Administration was replacing its union workers with lower-paid private contractors to clean the Central Branch in Jamaica. .... With the news that the Queens Library Administration has given many of its private contract workers promotions and raises retroactive to July 1, 2013, John Hyslop, president of Local 1321, said union workers are becoming increasingly frustrated.
NY: Few Speak Out At County Budget Hearing
by Robin Traum (Patch) , November 21, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Very few Rockland County residents spoke at the legislature’s public hearings on the proposed 2014 budget and tax cap override on Tuesday..... CSEA President Tom Ninan asked legislators to reassign 40 employees in the Mental Health Department who are slated to lose their job on July 1 when Nyack Hospital takes over those services.
Ohio to close another juvenile correctional facility
Andrew Welsh-Huggins Associated Press: November 21, 2013 - 10:10 PM
Ohio announced the closing of another juvenile correctional facility Thursday as the number of young people sentenced to time in the state detention system continues to fall. .... The union representing many of the guards at the center called the closing unnecessary and dangerous. Christopher Mabe, president of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, said the decision shuffles young people into already overcrowded local facilities.
PA: Retirees urged to back bill to kill school property tax
November 21. 2013 11:31PM By Jerry Lynott - civitasmedia.com
For Chuck Liedike the pending legislation in Harrisburg on school property tax reform has a much greater reach. Liedike, the campaign manager of Real Reform 76, met with about 30 local AFSCME retirees Thursday afternoon to provide an update on the legislation and encouraged them to continue to push for its passage.
PR: Economic Advisory Team From U.S. Will Be Sent To Aid Puerto Rico
DANICA COTO, 11/20/13 09:24 AM (AP)
The U.S. government is sending a team of federal officials to help Puerto Rico manage an economic crisis that has spooked investors as the U.S. territory braces for its eighth year of recession. The team will be composed of officials from the departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, a U.S. administration official said Wednesday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the effort.
TX: In Texas, Inmates and Officers Swelter
Lance Lowry is a correctional officer and the president of the Huntsville-based local of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. New York Times, November 21, 2013
... The prison system also tries to save money on climate control. The Texas Commission on Jail Standards requires all county jails to keep the temperature below 85 degrees — not necessarily a comfortable temperature, but a humane one. .... The overheating in prisons is made even more dangerous by other cost-cutting measures. Employment screening for correctional officers is inadequate, and a physician’s examination isn’t required for applicants — even though they’ll be expected to work in a physically demanding job up to 12 hours a day, sometimes in heavy Kevlar vests, often in extreme heat. And just as the inmate population is aging, the officer population is getting older, too: with the economic downturn, we’ve seen retired officers returning to the job. .... . Texas needs to ensure humane conditions for the inmates who live in prisons and the officers who work there. After all, people shouldn’t be treated worse than the livestock.
VT: New AFSCME Home Care Local Born in Vermont
KAREN CONNER | AFSCME blog, NOVEMBER 21, 2013
Dozens of Vermont home care providers recently launched their new union, AFSCME Vermont Homecare United Local 4802.
WA: Park system: A rescue for a grand building along Lake Washington's shore?
By Tristan Baurick, Crosscut, Nov 22, 2013
.... The state parks commission passed a resolution on Nov. 14 — a day after receiving the letter — that announced an open-door policy for "public and private-sector partnerships" at St. Edward Park. The resolution irked the state employees' union. "I'll fight it," said Terri McCullough of the AFSCME Council 28. McCullough said the trend of turning over portions of state parks to outside entities is costing well-paying state jobs.
WA: Gov. Jay Inslee wants healthful food and drinks for state employees
JORDAN SCHRADER, Olympian, November 21, 2013
A new order issued by Gov. Jay Inslee will require healthful food and drinks in state facilities. .... The Democrat pitched such a plan during his campaign for governor last year as a major way to cut costs, and he secured it in principle last month during contract negotiations with state-worker unions.
WI: Supreme Court voids Act 10 contempt order
ED TRELEVEN | Wisconsin State Journal | Nov 22, 2013
The state Supreme Court late Thursday threw out a contempt order issued last month by a Dane County judge that put union recertification elections on hold for school and municipal workers. The court did not, however, stay a September 2012 decision by Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas that found key parts of a 2011 state law limiting collective bargaining rights for most public workers to be unconstitutional. The Supreme Court’s unsigned 5-2 ruling said that because the case is under appeal, Colas could not issue a contempt order. The court said that it has superintending authority over all Wisconsin courts that allows it to control the course of litigation in the lower courts and allows it to protect its own jurisdiction.
WI: District Council 48 upset with city over data breach
Don Walker of the Journal Sentinel Nov. 21, 2013
As the investigation over what happened to a missing flash drive that contained the personal information of thousands of city employees continues, a well known labor organization is criticizing the city for its actions. In a statement, AFSCME District Council said it is unacceptable that city of Milwaukee officials are unwilling to meet with them about the missing flash drive.