June 11, 2012
Wisconsin Recall/Public Sector Unions
Dem. gov.: Public sector job losses are dragging economy
By Leigh Ann Caldwell, CBS News Face the Nation, June 10, 2012 1:23 PM
The political debate over the economy and the role of the private and public sectors continued Sunday on "Face the Nation." Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley said public sector job loss "puts a drag on the economy." …. O'Malley was joined on "Face the Nation" by AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka, who said there is "a stark difference" between the economic policies of President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. …. Schieffer asked Trumka about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's win in his recall election last Tuesday. Trumka downplayed the loss, and credited Walker's win with his fundraising advantage. "It's true that the people in Wisconsin didn't recall Governor Walker, but he spent over $50 million on this," Trumka said. "He has lost control of the State Senate, so his agenda is stopped dead in its tracks. He has the worst job creating record of all the states that are out there right now, and people are looking at that."
Recall aftermath: Public unions face uncertain future
June 10, 2012 7:00 am • Wisconsin State Journal
… Membership has fallen sharply — from 63,577 to 35,942 — for the state's other major public sector union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, in the year since the law passed, the Associated Press reported, quoting internal union documents. AFSCME leaders have disputed the figures.… But leaders are trying to figure out how to regroup after the election loss. "This was a hard blow, absolutely," said Rick Badger, executive director of AFSCME Council 40. "We're not looking at gains in the next few months, but in the next few years."
Tea party preps for other Big Labor state battles
By: Robin Bravender and Anna Palmer, Politico, June 10, 2012 07:30 PM EDT
Next stops for the tea party after Wisconsin: Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Fresh off last week’s seismic victory against Big Labor, conservative activists are revving up their ground game in key presidential swing states where unions have long dominated. The goal: secure big wins in the House, Senate and the White House. … The national tea party group FreedomWorks plans to have 18 campaign distribution points in Wisconsin, 40 in Texas and could wind up with about 100 in Ohio, said federal and state campaigns director Brendan Steinhauser, adding that conservative activists are holding statewide strategy calls in Ohio and Pennsylvania every other week. …. Walker’s win in Wisconsin “is a concern,” said Larry Scanlon, political director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “We had a very good ground game, but it just sort of was swamped by money.”
Scott Walker: Mitt Romney Got The 'Message Of Wisconsin' Totally Wrong
Brett LoGiurato | Jun. 10, 2012, 3:46 PM, Business Insider
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker doesn't think Mitt Romney got the "message of Wisconsin," either. Walker was on CBS' "Face the Nation" this morning, where he notably broke with Romney about the "message" that his recall election victory last week sent throughout the U.S. Specifically, when host Bob Schieffer asked him to respond to a comment Romney made on Friday about wanting to "cut back" on government workers, including firefighters, police officers and teachers, Walker backed away. On Friday, Romney followed up a Barack Obama gaffe with a gaffe of his own. Romney was responding to comments Obama made about how the private sector was "doing fine," but he hit some sensitive public-sector professions in his comment. "He wants another stimulus, he wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”
Government is the solution
By E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post: June 10
… Decades of anti-government rhetoric have made liberals wary of claiming their legacy as supporters of the state’s positive role. That’s why they have had so much trouble making the case for President Obama’s stimulus program passed by Congress in 2009. It ought to be perfectly obvious: When the private sector is no longer investing, the economy will spin downward unless the government takes on the task of investing. And such investments — in transportation and clean energy, refurbished schools and the education of the next generation — can prime future growth. Yet the drumbeat of propaganda against government has made it impossible for the plain truth about the stimulus to break through. … So when conservatives say, as they regularly do, that “government doesn’t create jobs,” the riposte should be quick and emphatic: “Yes it has, and yes, it does!”
NCPERS Survey Finds Public Pensions Remain Solidly Funded, Funds Express High Confidence in Plan Sustainability
June 11, 2012, 9:00 a.m. EDT, NCPERS news release
The most comprehensive and up-to-date study addressing retirement issues for public pension plans finds state and local pension funds remain solidly funded, have strong confidence in their ability to address retirement trends and issues and continue to adopt organizational and operational changes to ensure their long-term sustainability.
As November election nears, splits in Democratic coalition resurface
By Niall Stanage, The Hill, 06/11/12 05:00 AM ET
Divisions in the Democratic coalition have burst into view, endangering both President Obama and his party colleagues in Congress as November’s election nears. …. Wisconsin, where GOP Gov. Scott Walker trounced a recall effort last week, exposed tensions between Washington Democrats, including the president, and the labor movement. Many in Washington thought the recall was a bad idea from the start, something reflected in Obama’s reluctance to get involved at any level beyond his Twitter feed. The lack of effort added to disillusionment among union activists already unhappy with the low priority the White House had accorded to issues such as “card check” that they hold dear.
At Meeting of Left’s Online Activists, Weighing Impact of Attack Ads
By SARAH WHEATON, New York Times, June 10, 2012
…. This year’s Netroots Nation conference fell just days after Tuesday’s failed effort to recall a union-busting Republican governor in Wisconsin. The liberal activists and bloggers who gathered here for the four-day event were clearly upset that their highly refined ground game could not overcome the huge financial advantage held by the governor, Scott Walker, and his forces. Mr. Walker’s victory was attributable only in part to the Supreme Court case that paved the way for unlimited donations to outside political groups. Still, the conference attendees feared that especially in races further down the ballot, super PACs would hit their candidates with a barrage of attack ads that they could not match. … By some measures, the left has had a successful year. There was Occupy Wall Street and the defeat of anti-union legislation in Ohio.
Related AFSCME blog: Activists Gather in Providence for Netroots Nation 2012
Demographic Shifts in Key States Could Aid Obama in Fall
By JOHN HARWOOD, New York Times, June 8, 2012
…. “A number of states are urbanizing and losing their historically large rural conservative vote,” said Jan van Lohuizen, a Republican pollster who advised President George W. Bush. …. Indeed, Mr. Teixeira frames the battle between Mr. Obama and Mitt Romney, his Republican challenger, as a contest pitting “demographics versus economics.” In an analysis for the liberal Center for American Progress, he and his co-author, John Halpin, calculated that in 12 battleground states, the proportion of votes cast by working-class whites, a group Mr. Obama lost lopsidedly in 2008, will drop by three percentage points this fall.
Latino Growth Not Fully Felt at Voting Booth
By ADAM NAGOURNEY, New York Times, June 9, 2012
The nation’s rapidly growing Latino population is one of the most powerful forces working in President Obama’s favor in many of the states that will determine his contest with Mitt Romney. But Latinos are not registering or voting in numbers that fully reflect their potential strength, leaving Hispanic leaders frustrated and Democrats worried as they increase efforts to rally Latino support.
Keep Children Out of Poverty
BY DAVE KUNES | JUNE 11, 2012, AFSCME blog
There’s not a lot of bipartisan support for anything in Washington D.C. these days, but one bill that has support on both sides of the aisle is a proven, cost-effective, way to bring children out of poverty. The Child Support Protection Act – sponsored by Senators John D. Rockefeller (D-WV), John Cornyn (R-TX), Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) – does just that. It gives budget-strapped state and local agencies the funding they need to ensure children are supported by both parents, and lessens spending on safety net programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Child support enforcement, when fully funded and efficiently administered, has had a huge impact on decreasing child poverty.
Health Law Ruling Won’t Alter Plans by Insurer
By REED ABELSON, New York Times, June 11, 2012
The UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, announced Sunday night that it planned to continue offering some of the popular consumer protections required by the federal health care law, even if the Supreme Court declares the entire law unconstitutional later this month.
CA: Move over, Wisconsin -- the union battle is beginning in California
Jon Ortiz, @sacbee.com, Sunday, Jun. 10, 2012 –
Labor unions and business interests have been quietly raising millions of dollars and testing campaign messages for months, girding for a brawl over a November ballot measure that could fundamentally shift political power in Sacramento. Now, on the heels of an election that saw unions handed a major defeat last week in Wisconsin, the opposing camps in California soon will launch a campaign battle likely to consume $50 million or more in political spending. … The measure, which has not yet received a proposition number, would ban both unions and corporations from contributing directly to candidates, although both sides could still freely spend money on their own independent efforts. Another provision forbids both sides from using money gathered from payroll deductions for political purposes.
CA: Public-employee pensions face a rollback in Calif.
By ELLIOT SPAGAT, Associated Press Sunday, June 10, 2012
For years, companies have been chipping away at workers' pensions. Now, two California cities may help pave the way for governments to follow suit.
CA: Gov. Jerry Brown, unions seek deal at bargaining table
June 8, 2012 | 5:34 pm Los Angeles Times
As California's leaders race to finish the state budget by June 15, Gov. Jerry Brown's proposals face a crucial test on Saturday. Brown wants to save $402 million through a 5% reduction in state worker costs, and negotiations with the largest union of state workers, SEIU Local 1000, begins in the morning in Sacramento. It's unclear when a deal could be announced. The governor has suggested shifting some state workers to a 38-hour, four-day workweek. SEIU 1000 President Yvonne Walker has signaled that she's open to the idea, saying last month that "it could be a good thing."
CA: San Jose Asks Court to OK Pension Cuts
By NICK MCCANN, Courthouse News, Monday, June 11, 2012Last Update: 7:58 AM PT
San Jose claims in Federal Court that a pension reform ballot measure is a legal way to avoid a budget crisis, and seeks a declaration that the measure does not violate city employees' rights. Measure B, which the City Council placed on the June 5 ballot and voters approved last week, requires public employees to pay more into their pension funds or get reduced benefits. …. Defendants include the San Jose firefighters union, and the local chapters of the Municipal Employees' Federation and the City Association of Management Personnel.
CA: L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pushes pension reform
By Rick Orlov, SGV Tribune 06/07/2012 09:34:22 PM PDT
With two of the state's largest cities voting to roll back pension benefits for workers, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called Thursday for Los Angeles officials to speed up his proposal for reducing pensions for new city employees. In a letter to City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, Villaraigosa asked that his proposal to increase the retirement age, require larger contributions from workers and a cap on benefits move ahead as quickly as possible. …. Cheryl Parisi of the Coalition of L.A. City Unions said an agreement was reached last year with the city to reduce pension costs by 13 percent.
CA: San Jose library ballot measure hits major roadblock
By Tracy Seipel, mercurynews.com, 06/07/2012 10:31:16 PM PDT
A controversial effort to ensure that San Jose's libraries are able to offer better hours and more staff is in jeopardy after the city clerk told backers of the plan the wrong number of signatures needed to get the initiative on the November ballot. City Clerk Dennis Hawkins this week informed the group Save San Jose Libraries that the number of signatures would have to be tripled. With only a week left to turn in the names, leaders of the library group say they can't possibly get the additional voter signatures in time.
CA: Los Angeles Appraisals Probed
By TAMARA AUDI and ERICA E. PHILLIPS, Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2012, 8:30 p.m. ET
Property values in the ritzy communities of Beverly Hills and Brentwood have fallen along with those elsewhere amid the recession. But prosecutors here say that for some of those houses and businesses the drop isn't because of the economy, it's criminal. An investigation by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office last month led to the arrest of a former county appraiser on felony charges for allegedly improperly lowering dozens of property values by a combined $172 million.
CT: Calls to state police soon going to 1 place / Colchester, Danielson, Montville, Tolland dispatch centers merging
By GREG SMITH, The Bulletin, Jun 09, 2012
… American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees representative Larry Dorman said his union represents about 75 emergency dispatchers. He said dispatchers are in a “wait-and-see” mode. “This is being done to save money, and you have to be careful to weigh safety with cost savings,” Dorman said. “This is ultimately an issue of public safety. We have had some of our concerns addressed, but this really is a time-will-tell proposition.”
Iowa prison locked down
(AP) Monday June 11, 2012
The Anamosa State Penitentiary has been placed under tighter security since two inmate brawls. …. Investigators are looking into the cause of the incidents, and Scaletta said it’s too early to say whether they were gang-related. Danny Homan, president of Council 61 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said the fights show what can happen when the prisons are overcrowded and understaffed.
IL: Retiree COLA: Budget buster or safety net?
By DOUG FINKE The State Journal-Register, Jun 10, 2012 @ 10:45 PM
Reforming a pension budget-buster or whittling away the financial security of retirees? Cutting back on automatic cost of living adjustments is the cornerstone of pension reforms being considered by the Illinois General Assembly. ….. But critics said the lower COLA would erode pension benefits as they fail to keep up with inflation. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees analyzed the effects on a state worker pension if the changes had gone into effect 25 years ago. …. “It illustrates the real cost to retirees of the provision to gut the COLA protection against inflation,” said AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall.
IL: Weapons found in Menard shakedown
By John O'Connor, The Associated Press, Jun 09, 2012 @ 10:26 AM
Searches of inmates' cells at the Menard prison turned up 21 weapons this week. That's according to Kevin Hirsch. He's president of the union representing correctional officers at the 3,600-inmate prison in Chester where an officer was attacked on Sunday. … Hirsch is a member of the American Federal of State, County and Municipal Employees. AFSCME is arguing against plans to close the Tamms "supermax" prison where troublemakers can be isolated from places like Menard.
IL: Chicago parking meter company wants more money; mayor balks
BY DAN MIHALOPOULOS AND CHRIS FUSCO Chicago Sun times, June 5, 2012 11:37AM
The private investors who run Chicago’s parking meters are doing better than expected, and now they’re demanding an additional $14 million they say they’re owed under obscure provisions of the wildly unpopular 2008 deal that privatized metered parking and caused rates to soar, records show. Disputing the claim, City Hall says Chicago Parking Meters LLC is seeking a “windfall to which it is not entitled.”
IL: No deals yet with Evanston city unions
Friday, June 8, 2012, at 10:08 am by Bill Smith, Evanston News
City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says Evanston has yet to reach deals on new contracts with any of its major employee unions. At this point two years ago, in the last round of contract talks, the city had reached a settlement with AFSCME Local 1891, which represents about 400 city workers, but was embroiled in a heated dispute with the firefighters union, while a settlement with the Teamsters union representing police officers had been imposed by an arbitrator.
IL: Teachers union: More than 75 percent voted to authorize strike
Tribune 6:58 a.m. CDT, June 11, 2012
The Chicago Teachers Union will announce today that more than the required number of members have voted to authorize a teachers strike.
ME: Unions complain that workers ‘took it on the chin’ in Maine’s last legislative session
By Matt Wickenheiser, BDN, June 08, 2012,
Business and labor groups say Maine’s latest legislative session had its ups and downs for their members, but union leaders say the downs were pretty deep. The wrap-up of the 125th Legislature last week also marked the end of the first period in decades in which Republicans controlled the Blaine House, Senate and House of Representatives — and, so, the constitutional offices of state treasurer, attorney general and secretary of state.
MI: Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, Detroit City Council to have emergency meeting today
Jun 10 2012 03:16:11 AM EDT Click on Detroit
An emergency meeting is scheduled for Monday between Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and Detroit City Council. They will be discussing the latest predicament the city faces. This all surrounds a lawsuit filed by Detroit's attorney and $80M that hangs in the balance. Some Detroit union leaders accuse Bing and the city of backing them into a corner by refusing to negotiate new collective bargaining deals with less than a month before some of the contracts expire. … "People are saying if (the city) goes to bring somebody in here to take their jobs that there is going to be hell to pay," said Ed McNeil, a spokesman for American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees Council 25. "When you start to roll over people you are going to get a lot of push-back in this town, which I don't want to see."
MI: Emergency financial manager ballot measure may get closer look from Court of Appeals
Saturday, June 09, 2012, 8:06 AM By David Eggert | mlive.com
The state Court of Appeals said Friday that a coalition wanting to repeal Michigan's law giving more power to state-appointed emergency managers shouldn't qualify for the ballot because the font size on its petitions was too small. But that's not the end of it. The three-judge panel ruled that it actually cannot keep the referendum from the ballot because of an earlier Court of Appeals case. It called for a special panel of the court to review the case, meaning that the controversial law remains in effect for now.
MN: Free tuition for some U employees
: June 8, 2012 - 7:57 PM, Star Tribune
The University of Minnesota has brought back free tuition for some employees. President Eric Kaler announced Friday that employees working on their first baccalaureate degree would again have their full tuition covered. Employees seeking a second degree would continue paying 25 percent of tuition, he said. … Cherrene Horazuk, a U clerical worker and president of the AFSCME unit, called Friday's announcement "a great start."
MO: Most Missouri employees to receive raises July 1
BY ELIZABETH CRISP post-dispatch.com Monday, June 11, 2012
John White hasn't received a raise in four years. A group home supervisor for developmentally disabled individuals in southeast Missouri, White makes about $24,000 a year from the state of Missouri. ….. Most of Missouri's state employees, including White, will see a slight bump in pay starting July 1 — their first pay raise since 2008. … Jeff Mazur, director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees' Council 72, said lawmakers realized the impact stagnant pay was having on public employees. "They couldn't brush the issue under the rug any longer," he said. "It had gone on too far and too long."
MS: Utah company wins contract to run three state prisons
by Associated Press, June 7,2012
— A Utah-based private prison operator will take over management of three Mississippi correctional institutions beginning in July. Management & Training Corporation of Centreville, Utah, has signed 10-year operating contracts for the East Mississippi Correctional Facility near the Lost Gap community beginning July 2; Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in Walnut Grove on July 9; and the Marshall County Correctional Facility in Holly Springs on Aug. 13.
ND: Flush State Ponders a Tax Cut's Cost
By MARK PETERS, Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2012, 7:05 p.m. ET
An energy boom has flooded North Dakota's coffers at a time when almost every other state is struggling to make ends meet. But when its fiscally conservative residents get the chance Tuesday to vote themselves a big tax cut, they are expected to say "no." At issue is a referendum for a proposed constitutional amendment to eliminate local property taxes, requiring the newly flush state government to make up the difference.
NH: Beth LaMontagne Hall's City Hall: Aldermen, school committee square off in budget battle
By BETH LaMONTAGNE HALL, New Hampshire Union Leader, June 09. 2012 11:25PM
… ALDERMEN ALSO ratified the concession deal made with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union that represents Welfare Department employees. The deal, similar to those made with nearly all other city unions, requires employees to pay more of their health insurance costs. Although the concessions create about $20,000 in savings for taxpayers next year, Alderman Levasseur wants to trim more from the Welfare Department budget.
NY: A Public Pension Should Be Public
New York Times, June 8, 2012
For years, New York taxpayers have been able to find out the pension benefits for retired public employees, like state troopers, corrections officers and public schoolteachers. But New York City police pension officials have refused to disclose the names of retirees receiving pensions and the amount of the benefits. Those officials — unlike other state and local officials — decided to hide behind an ambiguity in the state’s Freedom of Information law.
OH: Prison health care fight may continue
By Laura Bischoff | Wednesday, June 6, 2012, 02:20 PM, Daily News
The Cincinnati-based Ohio Justice and Policy Center filed a motion in U.S. District Court on Wednesday to extend a class action lawsuit over the quality of prison medical care for 50,000 inmates. …. Inadequate staffing means inmates don’t get essential medications or receive timely care for serious conditions, the center said.
OK: Council mulls change to union measure
By D.E. Smoot, Phoenix, June 10, 2012
Nearly a year after city councilors voted to quit bargaining collectively with Muskogee’s non-uniform employees, union supporters are renewing efforts to win back that right. Non-uniform employees this past year were able to get an ordinance passed that gives them the right to reorganize. But some provisions of that ordinance, labor supporters say, are particularly onerous. The decision in 2011 to strip non-uniform employees of their collective bargaining rights caused a public backlash that resulted with the biggest City Council turnover since 1992. Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees hope this year’s election results will translate into a victory for collective bargaining rights.
OK: Tax refund debit cards draw criticism
By BARBARA HOBEROCK World : 6/11/2012
Some Oklahomans say the state's efforts to become more efficient are costing them money. They say a recently enacted law that requires the Oklahoma Tax Commission to issue refunds on debit cards or by direct deposit in lieu of paper checks is costing them money in fees associated with using the cards. … The program was competitively bid, she said. Affiliated Computer Services was the successful bidder.
PA: Corbett supports full privatization of state liquor stores
June 8, 2012 12:45 pm Karen Langley / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Gov. Tom Corbett said this morning he will back only full privatization of the state liquor system.
PA: Dover, Phila mayors want to hire human resources director
By Joe Mizer, TimesReporter.com Jun 08, 2012
…. Homrighausen does much of his city’s human resources work. So does the city’s safety director, service director and each department superintendent, as well as city Auditor Mary Fox. “And we combine our efforts together, depending on the department where the need is,” Homrighausen said. He also is the lead negotiator for the city dealing with members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, and Safety Director Tweed Vorhees is the city’s lead negotiator in negotiations with police and fire unions.
SC: Illegal cellphones key to Lee prison riot
June 7, 2012 By John Monk —thestate.com
Cellphones played a prominent role in the Lee County prison riot that that ended in the early-morning hours Wednesday with tear gas and the release of a guard being held captive. Cellphones like the ones that inmates used to talk with officials during the riot are illegal in prison, but many inmates have them.
VA: Editorial: The privatization of Virginia's roads
Virginian-Pilot June 10, 2012
When it comes to solving transportation problems across the commonwealth, Gov. Bob McDonnell appears ready to abandon Virginia's paralyzed legislature and partner exclusively with the private sector. That is, perhaps, the best explanation behind his administration's reliance on the state's Public-Private Transportation Act to refurbish, expand or build much of the infrastructure critical to the free flow of goods and people in Hampton Roads. … The priority in the next session should be repeal or amendment of the Public-Private Transportation Act of 1995.
WA: No Wisconsin virus here
JORDAN SCHRADERAND ANDREW GARBER | The Seattle Times • June 10, 2012
Pumped by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s recall victory last week, conservatives nationally are pushing to curb the power of public employee unions. … Although he declined to be interviewed for this story, he did talk to the Washington Federation of State Employees union in an interview posted on the Internet. He told the federation he sees the current setup of bargaining as “the right model.” “It makes sure the governor has to stand up and be publicly accountable for what he or she has done in that negotiation,” he said.