News / Publications » Press Room

Daily Newswire


This Congressman Wants To Give You The Right To Sue Union Busters
Dave Jamieson  · · 07/26/2014

If your boss tramples on your right to organize in the workplace, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) believes you should be able to sue for damages in federal court. He plans to introduce a bill in Congress next week that would grant you that very right.  "Union busters are on the march and are aggressive," Ellison, a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told HuffPost. "I think the [legal] options that are offered by the current process are not adequate." .... As he explained it, Ellison's plan, first reported by MSNBC, would amend the National Labor Relations Act to make labor organizing something akin to a federal civil right.

Private sector, male dominated unions out, public sector, female dominated unions
Matthew D. Austin ·  Lexology · July 23 2014 

The typical union worker now is more likely to be an educator, office worker, or food or service industry employee rather than a construction worker, autoworker, or electrical mechanic.  ....  Professor Barker does not see the role of unions diminishing. “I just think the colors of the collars are changing,” he said.  For proof, the American Federal of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) has succeeded in recruiting more than 90,000 new members this year through grassroots organizing by teams of trained “volunteer members organizers” (VMOs). AFSCME now has 1.6 million members, making it one of the largest labor unions in the United States. Despite the recent setback to public unions and agency fees in Harris v. Quinn, home health workers made up 20,000 of the 90,000 members recently organized.  Lee Saunders, AFSCME President, has Republican governors in states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania in his crosshairs. According to him, those governors attacked public sector collective bargaining, wages, work rules, and pension security. As the fall elections approach, Saunders plans to mobilize his members and dedicate them to unseating Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio’s Gov. John Kasich, both of whom are seeking re-election in November.

The right’s pathetically low curve: How it got a pass on race and poverty
Joan Walsh · · JUL 25, 2014 11:25 AM

.... I’m sympathetic to the UNCF wanting more scholarship funding. But “Koch scholars”? A no-strings gift would be one thing, but scholarships Koch foundation appointees help award, based on a student’s affinity for “entrepreneurship” and the free market is something else entirely.  Liberals who applaud UNCF taking the money, and decry AFSCME’s parting ways with the group, insist it’s possible to separate the principle of education for black children from the Kochs’ funding of efforts to break unions in the public sector – which disproportionately employ their parents – and suppress their voting rights.  But it’s true that all of these moves are preferable to outright race baiting and demonizing black people and the poor, so liberals give them extra credit. Applauding minimal GOP gestures toward decency reflects the soft bigotry of low expectations once again.

Will Labor Solidarity Save the Post Office?
David Morris, The Public Good Initiative · Huffington Post ·: 07/26/2014 1:29 pm

The United States Postal Service (USPS) management just ran into a possible game-changing obstacle to its shameful pursuit of a fully privatized post office: labor solidarity. ..... In July, the International Association of Firefighters representing more than 300,000 backed the boycott. AFSCME union, representing 1.6 million public-sector workers, followed suit.

Fast-Food Workers Intensify Fight for $15 an Hour
STEVEN GREENHOUSE · New York Times · JULY 27, 2014

.... Throughout the convention, one overarching strategy was to say the fast-food movement was an economic justice movement comparable to the civil rights movement — a strategy the service employees used to unionize tens of thousands of cleaning workers in its “Justice for Janitors” campaign. Inspired by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the fast-food workers debated and discussed using nonviolent civil disobedience to step up pressure on the fast-food companies.

Editorial: New Job Law Misses the Mark
New York Times · JULY 25, 2014

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, recently passed by large bipartisan majorities in Congress and signed into law this week by President Obama, makes overdue reforms to a Clinton-era job-training law..... For all its aims, however, the new law falls short of addressing the larger problem of unemployment and underemployment. Its premise is that jobs are there for the taking and that many unemployed workers would qualify for these jobs if only they could acquire the necessary skills. A corollary is that a skills deficit is at the root of the nation’s current low employment and stagnating wages.

Corporate Artful Dodgers Tax Avoidance du Jour: Inversion
Paul Krugman · New York Times · JULY 27, 2014

.... The federal government still gets a tenth of its revenue from corporate profits taxation. But it used to get a lot more — a third of revenue came from profits taxes in the early 1950s, a quarter or more well into the 1960s. Part of the decline since then reflects a fall in the tax rate, but mainly it reflects ever-more-aggressive corporate tax avoidance — avoidance that politicians have done little to prevent.

Outside Money Drives a Deluge of Political Ads
ASHLEY PARKER · New York Times · JULY 27, 2014

An explosion of spending on political advertising on television — set to break $2 billion in congressional races, with overall spots up nearly 70 percent since the 2010 midterm election — is accelerating the rise of moneyed interests and wresting control from the candidates’ own efforts to reach voters.  In the first full midterm cycle where outside groups have developed a sophisticated infrastructure, the consequences are already becoming apparent: a harshly negative tone dictated by the groups and a nearly nonstop campaign season that could cause voters to tune out before Election Day. .... The top three outside groups alone — Americans for Prosperity, Senate Majority PAC, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — have already spent a combined more than $80 million in congressional races.

The GOP’s digital dilemma
DARREN SAMUELSOHN · Politico · 7/25/14 1:48 PM

Republicans are in a technology pickle this November.  Win in the midterms and create a narrative that the party is finally on par with President Barack Obama and the Democratic data machine headed into the 2016 cycle.  But leading GOP techies warn that any success connected to gains in the House and Senate could bring a dangerous sense of overconfidence. They argue that there’s really much ground left to cover in creating the technological skills and gadgetry needed for future elections, especially a winning White House campaign.

Social Impact Bonds: Phantom of the Nonprofit Sector
RICK COHEN   · Nonprofit Quarterly · FRIDAY, 25 JULY 2014 13:59

.... As this issue of the Cohen Report explores, this potentially phantom program is getting serious consideration at the federal government level and in a variety of states. .... Many states have witnessed SIB legislation come and go over the years. The problem, as the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits’ Jon Pratt told Nicole Wallace of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, is that SIBs have “been overpromoted and oversold…We have yet to have a single transaction completed, and yet multiple states and multiple agencies are jumping ahead.”


CT: New Haven Mayor Harp’s half-year on job draws positive initital reviews
Rachel Chinapen · New Haven Register · 07/27/14, 8:39 PM

New Haven Register NEW HAVEN>> Several snowstorms, a controversial budget season and numerous appointments later, Mayor Toni Harp is half-way through her first year in office...... Larry Dorman, spokesman for Council 4 AFSCME, which represents more than 1,000 New Haven workers, agreed Harp’s first term is too young to weigh in on. AFSCME endorsed Harp in the election.  Given ongoing union contract negotiations, Dorman kept his comments brief:

FL: Union wants Scott to wave white flag on drug testing
Bill Cotterell · Democrat · 11:54 p.m. EDT July 26, 2014 

Attorneys for the largest union of state employees filed a new motion last week suggesting Gov. Rick Scott surrender in his long-running fight to require random drug testing of government workers.  The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, hot-footed it to federal court right after Scott signed his 2011 order requiring drug tests in agencies under his control. So far, the governor has struck out consistently in court.

FL: South Miami workers concerned by plan to privatize garbage collection  

Concerned city employees sat shoulder-to-shoulder, filling South Miami’s City Commission meeting July 22 at City Hall. Several attendees voiced their concerns regarding an ordinance authorizing City Manager Steven Alexander to enter a franchise agreement that would change South Miami’s waste collection department from city operated to privately operated.  Eleven jobs within the city’s public works department will be affected if the city decides to hire Waste Pro of Florida Inc. and passes the ordinance at its second reading Aug. 5.  “I think maybe 14 employees, that have been working an average length of eight years for the city will be impacted,” said Norman Herdocia, regional director of AFSCME council 79, the union that represents the city employees.

FL: Miami-Dade mayor lets higher library-tax ceiling stand  

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez won’t veto a higher property tax rate ceiling for libraries set by county commissioners.  Mike Hernández, Gimenez’s spokesman, said Friday that the mayor decided to let the commission’s 8-5 vote from last week stand, even though that means the county’s overall tax rate could go against Gimenez’s wishes.

IL: AFSCME Now Less Likely to Negotiate on Pensions
AMANDA VINICKY · TSPR · July 27, 2014

Illinois lawmakers hope to have a second shot at reaching a compromise with public employees over pensions, but the unions are pinning their hopes on the court system.  There was a time that a coalition of Illinois' largest unions signed onto a plan that would leave members with reduced pensions.  The Illinois Capitol building It was a deal negotiated with Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) that called for giving workers some options for how it would be done.  But the legislature decided to go a different route and voted to reduce Illinois' massive pension debt by unilaterally reducing benefits.  The constitutionality of that legislation is in question, and in a recent Chicago Tribune column, Cullerton hinted at the idea of going back to the model that had union backing.  But it sounds as though unions are no longer interested.  "Until and unless we prevail in the courts, there is no room to continue those discussions now,” said Anders Lindall of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.

IL: Third altercation occurs at Shawnee Print
Chris Hottensen · Southern · July 28, 2014

A third correctional officer in less than a month has been assaulted at the Shawnee Correctional Center, an AFSCME union representative and an Illinois Department of Corrections spokesman said.  At about 8:30 a.m. Friday, an inmate headbutted a correctional officer, causing the officer to suffer a concussion.  "He's still experiencing light-headedness," said Jeremy Noelle, AFSCME Local Union Council 31 representative. "The doctor told him it was a pretty significant concussion."

IL: Chicago Teachers Union, progressives form new Chicago coalition
Sun Times · 07/28/2014

Look out Chicago, a new political movement has arrived.  United Working Families, a partnership between labor groups, including the Chicago Teachers Union, and a coalition of a dozen community groups is expected to announce its formal launch on Monday, executive director Kristen Crowell tells Early & Often. .... Crowell previously served as executive director of We Are Wisconsin, which grew out of protests in 2011 and eventually cultivated its battle into a full-blown recall election against Walker.

IN: Right To Work Not Decreasing Union Membership
NETWORK INDIANA · July 25, 2014

Two years after Indiana became a right-to-work state, the membership decline unions feared hasn‘t happened.  Unionization slipped from one in nine Hoosier workers in 2011 to one out of 11 in 2012, when right-to-work took effect. But union membership had been sliding for years before that, and in the first full year of right-to-work, membership actually rebounded by two-tenths of a percent.  During debate over the law, unions predicted their membership would decline while the number of “free riders” — workers enjoying the benefits of collective bargaining without paying dues — would rise.  Indiana AFLCIO president Brett Voorhies credits unions’ efforts to serve their members with averting those outcomes.

IN: Pence stands by right-to-work law
Dan Carden · · July 25, 2014 4:52 pm  

Gov. Mike Pence is not giving up on the state's right-to-work law, even though two Lake County judges have ruled it incompatible with the Indiana Constitution. The Republican governor said Friday he strongly supports Republican Attorney General Greg Zoeller's efforts to stay Lake Circuit Judge George Paras' July 17 ruling and overturn Lake Superior Judge John Sedia's 2013 decision, which is set for review by the Supreme Court Sept. 4.

IN: Right-to-work unnecessary
Kokomo Tribune · July 27, 2014

. ..... Indiana’s right-to-work law is nothing more than Republican retribution for labor’s financial and electoral support of Democrats.

IN: Shine backs city workers’ protections To ease collective bargaining ban
Brian Francisco · The Journal Gazette  · July 28, 2014

Allen County’s Republican Party chairman is offering suggestions for how the Fort Wayne City Council can take some of the sting out of its recent decision to end collective bargaining rights for 500 municipal workers.  In a letter sent Friday to the six Republicans on the nine-member council, GOP leader Steve Shine asks for the consideration of his proposals for “guaranteeing that Fort Wayne workers are treated fairly in the workplace.”

KS: 17 reported incidents at Kansas prisons
AP · July 26, 2014

More than dozen attacks on guards at Kansas prisons have been reported this summer, including a recent fight in which an inmate used a chair against two guards, leaving one of the guards with a concussion, according to a state employees union.  Rebecca Proctor, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, which includes correctional officers at the state's adult facilities, said Thursday there have been 17 inmate-on-staff batteries since June. KOSE has discussed the issue of violence at state prisons with the Kansas Department of Corrections, but "things definitely have not gotten better."

KY: General Burnside Island State Park to Lead Way For Park Privatization in Kentucky
JONATHAN MEADOR · WKMS · July 25, 2014

The Kentucky Department of Parks is poised to allow private corporations to develop at, or even operate aspects of, state parks, and expansion of previous efforts permitting commercial activity.   .... About a dozen states permit some form of park privatization scheme, including Tennessee, Florida and California.

Maryland pension fund earns 14%, now valued at $45 billion
Maryland Reporter · July 28, 2014

Maryland’s pension system for state employees and teachers had another strong investment performance for the fiscal year which ended June 30 earning 14.37%, bringing the value of the portfolio to $45.4 billion, a gain of more than $5 billion.

MO: Rally held to fight ambulance billing outsourcing
KCTV Jul 26, 2014 3:40 PM

Some city residents and leaders are trying to block a plan to outsource Kansas City's ambulance billing. Their method Saturday was a rally downtown.   The rally was held Saturday until 2 p.m. near 73rd Street and Prospect Avenue against Intermedix. People gathered outside of the union American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 500 to gather signatures to try and get the company to stay out of Kansas City. .... Robert Patrick, the union's president, says the contract the city signed with the company just doesn't seem right.

NC: New NC Senate bill shields salaries of for-profit charter school staff
Ann Doss Helms · · Jul. 25, 2014 

Tensions rise over NC charter school rejections Charter freedom doesn’t mean higher teacher pay  Conflict over disclosure of charter-school salaries flared anew Thursday as House Democrats said a Senate-approved bill shields for-profit management companies from revealing who they hire and how much they pay.

NM: Workers at Christus St. Vincent again soundly reject contract offer
Jackie Jadrnak ·  Journal ·  July 27, 2014 at 9:48 pm 

The second time around didn’t go any better for management at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center.  On Sunday, union members voted down a contract proposal by similar margins by which they rejected a previous offer a week ago.  “We’re interested in going back to the table as soon as possible,” said Fonda Osborn, president of Local 1199 NM of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, after the votes were counted late Sunday.  Totals showed 94 percent of nurses voting against the proposal, along with 82 percent of technicians. The union had recommended that both versions of the contract be turned down.

NJ: For Chris Christie, New Jersey pension battle presents a test for
Karen Tumulty · Washington Post · July 27 at 7:54 PM

.... Public employees, however, say they have already done what Christie is asking — three years ago, when the governor and his allies in the legislature pushed through a bill that raised the retirement age, increased their pension contributions and cut benefits. Retirees gave up cost-of- living adjustments. .... The unions’ focus groups found that New Jerseyans who worked for the private sector harbored deep resentment toward what they saw as overly generous benefits for state workers. ... Union officials believe that the political climate has shifted since then, in part because of the sacrifices they made.

NY: Massena town supervisor wants vote on Massena Memorial Hospital future

Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray said Thursday that if he has his way, a vote on how to proceed with Massena Memorial Hospital will happen “within the next couple of weeks.” ..... The committee established by Mr. Gray met Tuesday and had what he called “a very good discussion.” Mr. Gray said no dates have been set for additional committee meetings. “At the meeting on Tuesday, CSEA (Civil Service Employees Association) and NYSNA (New York State Nurses Association) presented some ideas to generate revenue or savings for the hospital.

Ohio prison growth ‘unfathomable’ to director
Jona Ison · Marion Star · July 26, 2014

.... More controversial has been Mohr’s part in other changes, including privatization of two prisons and food services across the state in attempts to reduce the budget.  Ohio Civil Service Employees Association President Christopher Mabe feels Mohr is very passionate about the system and its mission, especially rehabilitation, but Mabe remains concerned about security staffing levels. Over the last four years, he said Ohio has lost 400 correction officers.  “Overall, I think we want to arrive at the same destination, we just take different paths,” Mabe said.

OH: Legislative committee to hear update on complaints facing Ohio prisons food vendor
ASSOCIATED PRESS  · July 26, 2014

A legislative committee is getting updates on complaints facing the private food vendor that won the contract to feed Ohio inmates.  Reports indicate employees with Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services have repeatedly failed to provide food or run out of it since beginning work last September.

PA: As $50B pension debt weighs on Pennsylvania, other states have embraced retirement overhauls
Debra Erdley · Tribune · July 26, 2014, 8:42 p.m.  

The future of public pensions has become a bone of contention in this year's Pennsylvania gubernatorial race, and public employees fear they're the ones who will get bitten.  Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who is trailing in the polls, insists underfunded state and school public employee retirement plans are causing hardships for taxpayers. He wants the Legislature to reduce the size of the lifetime pension guarantee for future hires and supplement it with a 401(k)-style benefit that shifts some of the risk to workers. .... Only Alaska and Michigan have shifted new hires into 401(k)-style programs, but nearly a dozen states have crafted hybrid programs featuring smaller lifetime pension plans along with a 401(k)-style plan, and some states, such as Florida, are giving new employees the option of going entirely into a 401(k)-style plan.

TN: "I Am a Man" Exhibit Brings People Back To 1968
BY LOUIS GOGGANS  · Memphis Flyer · JUL 25, 2014 AT 2:33 PM 

April 4th, 1968, forever remains a date embedded in history: the day Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.  The tragic occurrence took place during Dr. King’s visit to Memphis to support a strike of 1,300 sanitation workers, who demanded to be treated equally to and receive the same wages as their white colleagues.  Award-winning photographer Richard Copley was privileged to experience and capture some of the strike’s most intense moments—along with the aftermath of King’s assassination—and subsequent settlement between sanitation workers and the City of Memphis.  People have the chance to travel through time and envision what it was like during late March and early April of 1968 by visiting Copley’s “I Am a Man” exhibit inside of the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library.  .... Copley had the chance to take the historical pictures while doing freelance work for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union.

WA: $1.3M settlement reached for county workers over health benefits
Noah Haglund · Herald · July 28, 2014

Leaders from the union that represents most Snohomish County employees say they received their largest-ever settlement this month for $1.3 million. The dispute stems from how the county has been administering health-care benefits. The AFSCME-affiliated Washington State Council of County and City Employees filed a grievance last year. County leaders finalized the settlement in early July. For the union, the overriding issue is poor management of employee benefits: health, dental and long-term disability insurance. “They were overpaying for the benefits they were receiving,” union president Chris Dugovich said.

WI: Scott Walker facing new test in deadlocked race with Mary Burke
Craig Gilbert · Journal Sentinel · July 26, 2014

Republican Scott Walker’s last two races for governor were competitive and hard fought but not really all that suspenseful, ending in a 6-point victory in 2010 and a 7-point victory in 2012.  This one is shaping up differently, polls suggest.  Gov. Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke are effectively tied, according to the last two statewide surveys by Marquette Law School.

WI: UWS Employees March Against Job Outsourcing · 07/26/2014 4:25 PM

Over 100 people are marching in solidarity with UWS custodians and ground crew members on Saturday to protest the university's consideration of a plan to outsource the jobs to private companies.  ... The university is considering cutting 28 jobs to help make up a $4.5 million deficit, however, 18-year UWS employee Glen Kahalar questions recent choices made by the administrators.  .... . Many members of the Wisconsin State Employees Union joined the UWS workers on Saturday.

WI: City seeks $2M from unions 
SCOTT ANDERSON · · July 26, 2014

Looking for help to close a projected a $4.6 million deficit next year, administration officials at City Hall are seeking $2 million in concessions from police and fire unions. .... The only other employees currently not paying their WRS contributions are the 200-250 city employees in AFSCME Local 67, which represents public works and parks workers, as well as a smattering of other city staff. Their contract expires on Dec. 31, as well, but under Act 10 — which essentially eliminated collective bargaining for all public employees except police and firefighters — they can only bargain for base wages.

Get news & updates from AFSCME