News / Publications » Press Room

June 6, 2012

Wisconsin Recall

Gov. Walker fends off recall effort
By Cameron Joseph, The Hill,  06/05/12 09:58 PM ET

… Gerry McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) told The Hill last week that Obama and the national Democratic Party “could and should have done more” to help.

Turnout may make all the difference in Wisconsin (video) Ed Show MSNBC, June 5, 2012

Interview with AFSCME Sec-Treas Lee Saunders

Democrats appear to take Senate with narrow Lehman win
By Lee Bergquist of the Journal Sentinel June 6, 2012 3:03 a.m.

Democrats appeared to have assumed control of the state Senate with results posted early  Wednesday showing former Sen. John Lehman (D-Racine) defeating incumbent Van Wanggaard in a tight race.

Preparing for recall night in Wisconsin (video) MSNBC Hardball, June 5, 2012

MSNBC’s Ed Schultz and Marty Beil, Executive Director of Wisconsin’s AFSCME chapter, join Hardball to talk about the Wisconsin recall election and its implications on the state’s labor unions, citizens, and on what it could mean for America as a whole.

Analysis: Unions take a big hit in Walker’s win
7:08 am, Wed Jun 6, 2012. By Jason Stein Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (MCT)

Voters in Wisconsin dealt a stinging blow to the nation’s public-sector unions Tuesday in the state that first granted them broad bargaining power more than a half-century ago.  ….. . Although public unions will not disappear as a result, they were the clear losers in a race that confirmed Walker as a national celebrity for Republicans. They now have no prospects for recovering what they lost, with neither the money nor manpower they had when Walker rose to office. Marty Beil , executive director of the Wisconsin State Employees Union, said his group would continue in much the way it did more than 50 years ago, when it had no bargaining rights.

Wisconsin voters divided on bargaining, governor
By Jennifer Agiesta and Thomas Beaumont, Associated Press / June 6, 2012

Gov. Scott Walker won Tuesday's recall election by topping his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, among independents, according to exit poll results in the state.  … Just over half, 52 percent, said they supported the changes to the collective bargaining law, and the same share approved of Walker's handling of the issue. Views on collective bargaining were a dividing line in the electorate, with 9 in 10 who approved of the new laws backing Walker and a similar share who disapproved behind Barrett. …. Union households made up about a third of the electorate, and 62 percent of them backed Barrett, about the same level of support he received among the group in 2010.

A Fight for the History Books – and Workers Everywhere
BY CLYDE WEISS | JUNE 05, 2012, AFSCME blog

Wisconsin voters turned out in historic numbers today to declare their support for workers’ rights and against corporate-backed policies that have devastated the state’s economy. … An army of 36,000 We Are Wisconsin volunteers – including members of AFSCME’s three Wisconsin affiliates (Council 24, Council 40, and Council 48) worked together to support the campaign to replace Walker. They knocked on nearly two million doors during the course of this campaign. They also made more than one million phone calls.

Related:

AFSCME blog: Volunteers in Walker Recall Election Inspired to Get Out the Vote
AFSCME blog: Solidarity Knows No State Boundaries
AFSCME blog: For Wisconsin Activist, A Long-Awaited Day Arrives

Trumka: Wisconsin Forced Governor to Answer for His Divisive Tactics
AFL-CIO Now, 06/05/2012 Tula Connell

Wisconsin "forced the governor to answer for his efforts to divide the state and punish hard-working people" in today's recall election," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said tonight following predictions Gov. Scott Walker (R) would retain his seat.

Reports: Robo-calls lying to Wisconsin voters
By: Mackenzie Weinger, Politico, June 5, 2012 01:10 PM EDT

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said his campaign is contacting Wisconsin residents to counter reports of a robo-call that says anyone who signed a petition to recall Gov. Scott Walker doesn’t have to vote in Tuesday’s election. …. Walker’s campaign pushed back against the allegation, issuing a statement strongly denying any connection with the reported calls.

National/Politics

Unions wield new power as shareholders
By Harold Meyerson, Washington Post: June 5

…. Ironically, the one arena in which unions have made some headway this year is shareholder capitalism: By using the voting power of their pension funds, and by organizing shareholder opposition to excessive executive pay and corporate political donations, unions have begun to restore a modicum of accountability for out-of-control business leaders. … The battles that have been fought at this spring’s annual meetings of banks and corporations haven’t concerned worker rights as such. Many have focused on the corporations’ political donations and their support for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group that drafts and promotes right-wing economic and social legislation in statehouses across the land. …. Shareholders enjoy one advantage that workers do not: They cannot be entirely deprived of their right to vote on their company’s conduct.

Few options left for Obama on economy
By ANDREW TAYLOR | Associated Press, June 5, 2012

… At its peak in 2010, the stimulus measure accounted for at least 1 million jobs — and perhaps as many as 5 million — according to the Congressional Budget Office. Many of those jobs, particularly in state and local government, have since disappeared. Republicans, empowered by mid-term election returns two years ago, now scoff at Obama's suggestion for another round of stimulus government spending.

Most state economies still recovering after recession
By Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY, June 6, 2012

The residents of only nine states have returned their economic output to the level that existed before the downturn struck at the end of 2007 — and most of those states are energy producers, according to data released Tuesday. Even states now on the rebound — such as Michigan, Connecticut and California — find themselves far behind where they were economically when the recession started 4½ years ago, the data show.

Romney Critical Of Government Aid That Helped Bain Profit
By David J. Lynch - Jun 5, 2012 8:30 PM ET

During Romney’s years as chief executive of Bain Capital LLC, companies owned by the firm received millions of dollars in benefits from a variety of state and local government economic development programs.

Debt threatens to swamp the economy under bleak long-term CBO budget outlook
Associated Press, June 5

The Congressional Budget Office is again warning that the government’s mounting debt problems threaten to swamp the economy unless policymakers move to arrest out-of-control deficits. The national debt would balloon to almost equal the size of the economy after a decade and would swell to twice the size of the economy in 25 years, the CBO says, assuming existing tax and spending policies stay in place.

Breitbart.com's Fool's Errand: Comparing ALEC To NCSL
Media Matters, June 5, 2012

The right-wing website Breitbart.com is promising to "shine a light" on the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) in the coming days, a campaign that comes as corporate sponsors and lawmakers flee the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Media should be cautioned that any efforts to compare the two organizations is without validity, given their contrasting missions, standards of transparency, degrees of corporate influence, and ideologies.

Paycheck Fairness Act fails to advance in Senate
By: Seung Min Kim, Politico, June 5, 2012 03:00 PM EDT

The Senate on Tuesday failed to advance a bill that its backers say would help close the vast pay gap between men and women – an effort that was part of a broader election-year strategy by congressional Democrats and the White House to woo female voters. The vote Tuesday was 52-47, falling short of the 60-vote threshold needed to break a filibuster and proceed to debate on the bill.

McCaskill: Labor Department figures on veteran hiring by government contractors not reliable
By Steve Vogel, Washington Post, 06/06/2012

Statistics collected by the Department of Labor on the hiring of military veterans by government contractors are frequently inaccurate, according to the chairman of a Senate subcommittee, leaving the government without reliable data on progress in putting veterans to work for firms doing federal business.

Gage will not seek reelection as AFGE president
By Joe Davidson, Washington Post, 07:44 PM ET, 06/05/2012

John Gage will not seek reelection as president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the nation’s largest federal labor organization.

Average Prison Stay Grew 36 Percent in Two Decades
By ERICA GOODE, New York Times, June 6, 2012

For petty offenders and violent criminals alike, the length of a prison stay increased by more than a third over the past two decades, a period of time in which the prison population doubled, according to a report by the Pew Center on the States.

Wal-Mart is driving down wages for warehouse workers, report says
By Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times, June 6, 2012, 12:05 a.m.

Wal-MartStores Inc.has applied its aggressive cost cutting to logistics, helping to drive down wages and benefits for U.S. warehouse workers, according to a new studyconducted by a labor-backed group. The world's largest retailer has significantly outsourced its supply chain, hiring third-party companies to operate its warehouses and transport its good to stores. Those firms in turn often rely on poorly paid temporary workers, said a report released Wednesday by the National Employment Law Project, which advocates for low-wage workers.

State/Local

Alabama Officials File $1.6 Billion Claim Against County
By Edvard Pettersson - Jun 5, 2012 12:01 AM ET, Bloomberg

State and city officials in Birmingham, Alabama, filed a $1.63 billion claim in Jefferson County’s bankruptcy case on behalf of sewer system ratepayers, alleging county employees engaged in criminal conduct.

AK: Council Moves to Repair, Protect City Roads
By Alexandra Gutierrez, KUCB, Tuesday, June 05 2012

… The meeting wrapped up in executive session, where council unanimously approved the city’s negotiations with the Public Safety Employees of Alaska, a labor organization.

Arizona prisons can be deadly for sick
by Bob Ortega - Jun. 4, 2012 11:20 PM, The Republic

…. A review by The Arizona Republic of deaths in state prisons over the past two fiscal years found at least four inmates, in addition to Dix, whose medical care was delayed or potentially inadequate leading up to their deaths. The records of these cases, together with interviews of officers, medical staff and inmates point to a system in which correctional officers routinely deny inmates access to timely care, and in which treatment sometimes falls short of accepted standards. ….  …. Corrections officials do acknowledge that a long-planned privatization of prison medical care has made it difficult to fill vacancies. …. By the end of June, Wexford Health Sources Inc. of Pittsburgh will assume responsibility for medical and mental-health care at Arizona's state prisons under a three-year, $349 million contract.

CA: 2 California Cities Voters Embrace Pension Cuts
ELLIOT SPAGAT Associated Press, June 6, 2012 (AP)

Voters in two major California cities overwhelmingly approved cuts to retirement benefits for city workers in what supporters said was a mandate that may lead to similar ballot initiatives in other states and cities that are struggling with mounting pension obligations. … In San Diego, 66 percent voted in favor of Proposition B, while 34 percent were opposed. Nearly 97 percent of precincts were tallied by early Wednesday. The landslide was even bigger in San Jose, the nation's 10th-largest city. With all precincts counted, 70 percent were in favor of Measure B and 30 percent were opposed. … Those arguments failed to resonate with voters. "A lot of employees are disheartened," said Yolanda Cruz, president of the San Jose Municipal Employees Federation, who called the outcome disappointing. "We've been made the full problem of what's been going on."

CO: Voters To Decide On New Protections For State Employees
June 6, 2012, Denver Channel

DENVER -- Colorado state employees could see revised job protections under a measure headed to ballots this fall. Gov. John Hickenlooper says he plans to sign the proposal to revise personnel regulations on Wednesday. The governor's signature is the last step before the changes go to voters.

D.C. Council OKs furlough payments
June 05, 2012 -- 8:00 PM, Examiner

Labor unions notched a high-profile victory Tuesday as D.C. Council members approved spending $22 million to pay thousands of city workers for the four holidays-turned-furlough days they were forced to take last year. …. Organized labor, which coordinated an intense lobbying effort to secure the payments, cheered the council's vote. "It puts money back in people's pockets that can't afford to lose a dime," said Geo Johnson, the executive director of the D.C. chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. "It restores the economic power. It was a great victory for them."

IL: Unit 5 outsources bus system, eyes $1.5M savings
By: Ryan Denham  |  WJBC

…. Unit 5’s school board voted unanimously Tuesday night to hire First Student Inc. to take over student transportation, starting with the 2012-13 school year. The vote – preceded by no new discussion by board members – caps a months-long march toward outsourcing, starting last fall with a pledge by district leaders to fix late-bus problems and other operational headaches made worse by Unit 5’s growing enrollment. That planning also coincided with Unit 5’s first-ever round of contract talks with its current bus drivers and monitors’ new union, AFSCME Council 31.

Indiana awaits Wisconsin recall fallout / Wisconsin vote was viewed as referendum on labor rights
11:42 PM, Jun. 5, 2012 |   Mary Beth Schneider, Indianapolis Star

Indiana's labor unions Tuesday watched Wisconsin's recall election -- triggered by Gov. Scott Walker's push to limit public employees' collective bargaining rights -- with a mixture of trepidation and shrugs. After all, several labor leaders said, even if a Walker win propels Indiana's lawmakers to pursue new anti-union avenues, how much more do they have to lose?

LA: Jindal asked to veto pension fund debt forgiveness
BY MARSHA SHULER, Advocate, June 06, 2012

The Louisiana State Employees Retirement System asked Gov. Bobby Jindal to veto legislation that would require forgiveness of certain debts owed a pension system. Connie Carlton, board chairman at Louisiana State Employees Retirement System, or LASERS, wrote that the legislation “creates a very troubling precedent” that flies in the face of the Louisiana Constitution because it would require the “donation of funds.”

MD: Craig asks panel to consider Harford for casino site
By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun,  6:52 p.m. EDT, June 4, 2012

… In his letter, Craig told Morton that a Harford casino would generate tens of millions of dollars for the state as well as provide revenue for the county to help make up for the legislature's recent decision to shift a large share of teacher pension costs from the state to the counties. Craig said he favors legislation that would let Harford voters decide whether they want a casino in the county.

MI: School unions win injunction against Mich. payroll deduction law
BY JENNIFER CHAMBERS THE DETROIT NEWS. JUNE 5, 2012 AT 11:02 PM

Detroit — Union dues will continue to be taken from the paychecks of school employees after a U.S. District Court on Tuesday granted an injunction blocking implementation of a state law which prohibited the deduction. In issuing the injunction, U.S. Judge Denise Page Hood said the law was likely to be found unconstitutional, David Hecker, president of AFT Michigan said. … The MEA was joined in its lawsuit by the American Federation of Teachers-Michigan; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25; and Service Employees International Union Local 517.

MN: Dayton won't fight loss in child care union case
9:33 PM, Jun 5, 2012  |   The Associated Press

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says he won’t fight a court ruling that blocked a unionization vote he called for home-based child care workers. Dayton said Tuesday that he disagrees with the April decision but opted not to appeal it. A Ramsey County judge said the Democratic governor had overstepped his bounds by calling the election via an executive order rather than going through the Legislature. … President Lisa Thompson of AFSCME Child Care Providers Together says Dayton “respects our democratic right to decide for ourselves whether or not we want a union.”

NC: Editorial - North Carolina, Meet Citizens United
New York Times, June 5, 2012

The North Carolina Judicial Coalition is a new tax-exempt organization, known as a super PAC, supported by wealthy conservative Republicans who are determined to make this year’s race for a seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court ideological and expensive. This kind of influence in judicial elections is a direct result of the Citizens United decision, which allows corporations and unions to make unlimited so-called independent expenditures in campaigns. In a dissent in that case, Justice John Paul Stevens predicted that such spending would overwhelm state court races, which would be especially harmful since judges must not only be independent but be seen to be independent as well. North Carolina is proving him right.

NH: Rochester council approves two collective bargaining agreements
LIZ MARKHLEVSKAYA, Foster’s, Wednesday, June 6, 2012

… The three-year negotiated agreement with the 43 Public Works employees, who are members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, would implement an average wage increase of 3.85 percent next year, 4.7 percent in fiscal year 2014, and 4.16 percent in fiscal year 2015.

NV: City declares emergency, suspends union contracts
Jun. 3, 2012Larry Conley | American City and County

The city of North Las Vegas is going where no other local government has gone – declaring the city a disaster area in order to suspend collective bargaining agreements with unions. On Friday, the City Council voted unanimously to grant the city manager powers enabling him to discard portions of union collective bargaining agreements negotiated long ago, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

NY: Editorial: The Governor and the Committee
New York Times, June 5, 2012

When Andrew Cuomo was running for governor of New York in 2010, he printed eight books describing his priorities. Many were excellent ideas, including campaign finance reform, ethics reform, balancing the budget, ending pay-to-play, getting government to work. Nowhere in those books was there a word about casinos. … The Times reported on Tuesday that an industry trade group donated $2 million last year to the Committee to Save New York, a group organized at Mr. Cuomo’s urging to promote the governor’s policies and praise his performance with campaign-style political ads.

NY: Cost of Prekindergarten Special Education Is Soaring
By DAVID M. HALBFINGER, New York Times, June 5, 2012

New York City is paying private contractors more than $1 billion this year to operate a little-known special education program for 3- and 4-year-olds, nearly double the amount it paid six years ago. The program serves 25,000 children with physical, learning, developmental and other disabilities. While the number of children in the program has risen slowly in recent years, annual costs have soared to about $40,000 per child, according to an analysis of city education spending by The New York Times. … When government auditors have delved into disclosure reports by contractors, they have routinely discovered irregularities. … Under the Internal Revenue Code, all 501(c)(4)s are required to have a social welfare purpose that is not primarily political. We are eager to know what that purpose is for the committee, beyond supporting Mr. Cuomo and promoting the interests of its contributors.

NY: Union Leader Threatens Litigation Over GPS Proposal
By Lisa Finn, Patch, June 5, 2012

A proposal to outfit Riverhead Town highway department vehicles with GPS devices has some seeing red. At a Tuesday town board meeting, Local President of the Civil Service Employees Association Matt Hattorff blasted the proposal, stating that the cost of approximately $20,000 was too high and unnecessary. He has expressed similar objections in December.

NY:  Legislature Votes In Favor Of Layoffs / About 150 positions were abolished in Tuesday's vote
By Adam Littman, Patch, June 6, 2012

Cries of “disgusting” and “for shame” were hurled from a few in the crowd at the packed Rockland County Legislature office Tuesday night as the legislators voted 14-2 in favor of abolishing 140-plus county jobs. … Rockland County CSEA President P.T. Thomas said he was surprised with how Tuesday’s vote went, and just how many legislators voted in favor of the layoffs.

OH: Editorial: Take the best road / State should consider cost and quality of privatizing road upkeep
Dispatch, Wednesday June 6, 2012 5:41 AM

After years of planning roadwork that it didn’t have the money to pay for, the Ohio Department of Transportation is trying to come up with creative ways to lower costs and raise revenue. … Any change in the status quo is sure to receive pushback from labor, and this idea is no exception. Sally Meckling, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association union, criticized the “presumption that the private sector is always going to cost less.” This isn’t always the case, she said, pointing to ODOT’s decision not to privatize sign-making when it determined that the plan wouldn’t save the state money.

Ohio State Expected to Name Winning Parking Bidder
Wednesday, June 6, 2012 By Caitlin Devitt 

Ohio State University on Friday is expected to tap a private investor that has offered $483 million in cash to take over the school’s parking system for 50 years in a deal that would make OSU the first public university to privatize such an asset.

OH: Conneaut prison bill awaits approval of Gov. John Kasich
By MARK TODD - starbeacon.com, June 2, 2012

A bill that cements the law enforcement relationship between the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut is headed to Gov. John Kasich for final approval, according to State Rep. Casey Kozlowski, R-Pierpont. The item would authorize the OHP to handle felony-level investigations that occur within the privately-owned prison.

OH: Commissioners OK 3-year pact with ODJFS workers
By JIM MAURER, Review Times, June 6, 2012

Seneca County Commissioners approved a three-year contract with employees of Seneca County Department of Job and Family Services which provides a pay increase and a pay supplement for two years and a wage reopener in the third year. Employees will receive 25 cents per hour increase each year and a 1.5 percent pay supplement on their base pay each year. Employees are represented by American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Local 1685.

OH: DeWine’s override of career attorneys threatens reputation of Attorney General’s Office
Plunderbund,  June 4, 2012

A recent opinion from Mike DeWine on a technical legal issue could have huge long-term ramifications on the reputation and integrity of the Ohio attorney General’s Office. Records recently obtained by Plunderbund show that DeWine rejected the opinion of career government attorneys in order to assist Governor Kasich’s effort to privatize state prisons, sending a clear message that politics is more important to him than the rule of law. …. So, by now you are probably thinking: do I really care which agency investigates crimes at private prisons? …. But you should care deeply about the process that went on here – and that is the real scandal.

PA: Senate approves Act 47 fix-it bill
BY ROBERT SWIFT June 6, 2012, Citizen’s Voice

A bill to put new limits on the amounts of arbitration settlements and awards for public safety employees in Act 47 cities won overwhelming approval Tuesday in the state Senate. The measure, approved 47-1, establishes a process to evaluate an arbitration settlement in terms of whether a fiscally distressed city under Act 47 status can afford to pay it. It also sets procedures for considering any arbitration settlement that would be in conflict with an Act 47 fiscal recovery plan.

PA: New contract may scuttle effort to privatize Pa. liquor sales
By Angela Couloumbis, INQUIRER, Tue, Jun. 5, 2012, 2:23 PM

In what some are calling a setback for privatizing the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, the union representing state wine and liquor stores has ratified a new, four-year contract that appears to require private business in the liquor business to hire displaced LCB workers — and give them the same salary and benefits. The new contract between the state and members of two United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) locals representing 3,500 people in the state’s wine and spirits stores would, among other things, seemingly obligate any employer that sells wine and hard liquor — including a private business — to adopt all the terms and obligations of the contract.

RI: Central Falls, R.I., Sees Bankrupty Exit Soon
Tuesday, June 5, 2012 By Paul Burton, Bond Buyer

Central Falls, R.I., which is on the verge of exiting bankruptcy, would experience modest gains under its five-year budget plan. The city attorney, Theodore Orsini of Orson and Brusini Ltd., filed the plan on Monday night with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Rhode Island in Providence on behalf of new Central Falls receiver John McJennett.

TN: Consultant: Tax incentives to corporations are bleeding Memphis taxpayers
By Tom Bailey Jr., Commercial Appeal, June 5, 2012 at 12:30 p.m.

A union has crunched some numbers in trying to get more pay for municipal workers from cash-strapped City of Memphis. This is what it found: Memphis and Shelby County sacrificed $41.6 million in revenue in fiscal 2011 by giving corporations property tax breaks. At the same time, the city responded to a $47 million deficit by cutting pay for most its workers by 4.6 percent. AFSCME Local 1733 this week questioned the perception that companies won’t bring their jobs to town unless they get tax freezes called PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes).

VT: Pension problems leave Vt looking at big shortfall
Jun 05, 2012 8:22 PM EDT By Susie Steimle, WCAX

Three-billion dollars: That's how much the state can't afford to pay for pension and health care benefits for retiring Vermont state employees and teachers. "I think the promises were more than what we could afford," said David Coates, retired CPA. Coates has been leading the charge on bringing publicity to the state's pension problems.