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April 27, 2012


Janus shareholders approve executive pay plan
Thu, Apr 26 2012 By Ross Kerber, (Reuters)

A majority of Janus Capital Group shareholders voted in favor of the company's executive pay plan, a turnaround after the asset manager lost a similar "Say on Pay" vote last year. There were 95.5 million shares voted in favor of the plan, or 61 percent of the votes cast, according to a securities filing made by Janus after its annual meeting in Denver on Thursday. … The total "is not a strong show of support for their pay practices," said John Keenan, governance analyst for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees who attended the meeting.

Interview with AFSCME Sec-Treas Lee Saunders (audio)
Jeff Santos Show, AM 1500, Progressive Voice in New England, April 26, 20122

George Will Makes It Up to Go After Public Sector Workers
Dean Baker, CEPR, Thursday, 26 April 2012 10:53

Okay, I know that picking on George Will might seem like cheap fun, but as oped columnist for the Washington Post we are supposed to take him seriously. Today Will is beating up on states that don't follow his pro-rich prescriptions focusing on California and my home state of Illinois. ….. If the oped page imposed any standards on its writers it might have asked Will to express this number as a share of state income over this period, since no one (I mean no one) has any clue how large an expenditure $83 billion is for Illinois over the next 30 years. The answer is that it would be equal to around 0.7 percent of the state's projected income over this period. That is not trivial, but not exactly the sort of expenditure that implies the immiseration of the population.

Federal union blasts Romney over remarks about government workers’ pay
By Timothy R. Smith, Washington Post, 06:03 PM ET, 04/26/2012

The head of the largest federal employees union sent a scathing letter to Mitt Romney after the Republican presidential candidate made disparaging remarks about federal pay. After essentially clinching the Republican nomination on Tuesday, Romney said “We will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve.” That comment roiled the American Federation of Government Employees. “You know what’s really unfair?” AFGE President John Gage wrote to Romney. “The specter of having a new boss who thinks so little about the work that you do that he can’t bother getting his facts straight before making the ridiculous and patently false claim.”

Can cash-strapped cities afford the 2012 election?
Wed, Apr 25 2012, By Patricia Zengerle, (Reuters)

…. With cities and counties across the United States in dire financial straits, many local officials are struggling to come up with the millions of dollars they will need to hold the November 6 elections. That is likely to mean fewer election workers and long lines for voters, which could reduce turnout. …. High-turnout elections typically are better for Democrats, who usually fare well among low-income, minority and less-educated voters whose election turnout is inconsistent, said University of Wisconsin political scientist Charles Franklin.

Editorial: A Year in the Life of Social Security
New York Times, April 26, 2012

…. When Republicans claim that the country can’t afford more public investment — or that the way to “fix” Social Security is with privatization — consider these numbers: Letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for people making more than $250,000 a year would raise $800 billion over 10 years for needed spending. And the revenue loss from making those tax cuts permanent is nearly as large as the entire Social Security shortfall over the traditional 75-year time horizon for measuring the system’s solvency. Ultimately, the biggest threat to Social Security would be the failure of lawmakers to take the needed steps to strengthen the system and the economy.

Romney campaign says former NLRB member is no longer an adviser
By Kevin Bogardus, The Hill,  04/26/12 02:22 PM ET

A former member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) caught in an ethics scandal at the agency is no longer a campaign adviser to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Peter Schaumber, the former NLRB member, is alleged to have received confidential information from Terence Flynn, a Republican member of the labor board who was recess-appointed to the agency by President Obama in January. Flynn leaked internal information to Schaumber and others outside the labor board, allegedly breaking ethics rules and violating attorney-client privilege, according to a report by the NLRB’s inspector general (IG).

Watchdog expanding ethics probe at labor board
By SAM HANANEL, Associated Press, April 27, 2012

A government watchdog has expanded an ethics probe of the National Labor Relations Board after finding that more inside information was leaked to a former adviser to Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, a Democratic lawmaker said Thursday. aryland Rep. Elijah Cummings said the board's inspector general discovered additional and more serious improper disclosures by Republican board member Terence Flynn to former NLRB board member Peter Schaumber, who was a senior labor adviser to Romney's campaign.

NLRB Issues Guidance on New Election Rule
by Ilyse Schuman on April 26, 2012, Labor Relations Counsel

In anticipation of the April 30, 2012 implementation date for the new National Labor Relations Board representation election rule, the Board’s Office of the General Counsel has issued guidance on the representation case procedure changes. The Board has also released a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the impact of the new election procedures.

Democrat Vies for Union Vote
By JENNIFER LEVITZ, Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2012, 7:30 p.m. ET

Elizabeth Warren bounded to the front of a union meeting hall here last week and delivered a message tailored for the crowd. … In past campaigns, such stops, filled with pledges to fight "shoulder to shoulder" with labor, would have been a formality for a Massachusetts Democrat. But this isn't a group Ms. Warren can take for granted. She must win back rank-and-file union members who, surprising their own leaders, backed Republican Sen. Scott Brown in 2010 and helped him win a special election for the seat vacated by the late Edward M. Kennedy. …. The race is being closely watched nationally as the Democratic Party's best chance to take a GOP-held seat, helping the party retain its majority in the Senate. Most polls show a tight contest, making union support all the more important. While unions have lost clout nationally, in Massachusetts—where 14.6% of workers are in unions, compared with 11.8% in the U.S.—they affect races with money and activism. And union households deliver up to a quarter of the vote in general elections in the state, Mr. Cunningham said.

AFL-CIO Workers' Voice Super PAC to let activists tell it how to spend money
Daily Kos Labor, THU APR 26, 2012 AT 10:23 AM PDT

A grassroots Super PAC? Yep. How do you make a Super PAC democratic? Here's an exciting experiment in doing exactly that: The AFL-CIO's Workers' Voice Super PAC is giving activists—union and non-union alike—the chance to decide where and how it spends money. Basically, people who sign up with Workers' Voice and log their campaign volunteering like canvassing and phone banking, will get credit that they can apply to their chosen candidates and types of expenditure. Workers' Voice can't make direct campaign contributions, but can spend on online advertising, Get Out the Vote work, and more.

Does organized labor have a future? The push by bankrupt American Airlines to cancel labor contracts and impose cost-cutting terms on employees is the latest sign of troubles facing unions.
David Lazarus, Los Angeles Times, April 27, 2012

…. Public-sector union membership remains strong at about 40% of the workforce, although public employees such as teachers are under growing pressure to give up a variety of traditional protections, such as seniority safeguards. Some of organized labor's setbacks have been self-inflicted. Allegations of corruption have been a perennial problem for unions, as has a seeming inability to adapt to changing times. …. Is organized labor dead? Not quite. If nothing else, it will still require a generational shift before public-sector unions bow to the same pressures as their private-sector cousins.

President Obama’s campaign launches aggressive Florida voter registration drive to defeat Mitt Romney

In a nondescript store front next to a Pembroke Pines gym, Florida Democrats launched a major offensive this week to boost their ranks despite a Republican law that makes the voter-registration push harder than ever. President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign has closely studied the registration-crackdown law for months and devised a step-by-step quality-control process and is ready this weekend to train hundreds of volunteers at its 24 offices throughout the state.

Activists Pressure Walmart to Drop Support of ALEC
By Janie Lorber, Roll Call, April 26, 2012, 6:43 p.m.

The boycott ALEC movement has turned its sights on Walmart, finding new allies among the retailer’s longtime opponents. Civil rights activists including the Rev. Jesse Jackson are demanding that Walmart cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative nonprofit that’s come under fire for promoting Stand Your Ground laws such as the one at the center of the Trayvon Martin case. They are working with Making Change at Walmart, a coalition of activists that launched a petition drive Wednesday demanding the nation’s largest retailer drop its financial support of ALEC.

Meet the 28 Lawmakers Who Have Quit ALEC This Month
Zaid Jilani April 26, 2012 , The Nation

The exodus of major corporations from the corporate front group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has made headlines nationwide as the group’s agenda has been increasingly scrutinized by the general public. But as these corporations have fled ALEC, there has also been one other little-noticed exodus from the group: that of legislators.  SourceWatch and Keystone Progress have been tracking the defections of lawmakers. Here are 28 who have left so far:

Exclusive: Washington Post's Kaplan and Other For-Profit Colleges Joined ALEC, Controversial Special Interest Lobby
Dave Halperin, Huffington Post: 04/26/2012 6:24 pm

Republic Report has learned that the Washington Post Company's Kaplan for-profit college division, was, last year, a member of the controversial business advocacy group the American Legislative Exchange Council. Other major for-profit education companies also joined ALEC. Republic Report has obtained a July 2011 document showing Kaplan Higher Education and other for-profits as members of ALEC's Education Task Force.

Obama administration scraps child labor restrictions for farms
By Rachel Leven, The Hill,  04/26/12 08:14 PM ET

The Labor Department withdrew a proposed rule Thursday that would have limited the work that children can perform on farms. The proposal drew heavy criticism from rural-state lawmakers and agricultural leaders, who cast the rule as government overreach that would erode the traditional American family. Others in Congress supported the rule, and unions argued it was needed to make farm work safer for young adults.  In nixing the proposal, the Labor Department cited the need to protect "the rural way of life."

Inspection rule pits chicken industry against unions
By Kevin Bogardus, The Hill,  04/26/12 08:12 PM ET

A proposed rule by the Agriculture Department (USDA) that would speed up inspections at poultry processing plants has enraged unions. Chicken and turkey producers support the proposal, saying it could modernize outdated inspection procedures. But those in labor organizations are seeking to modify the rule, arguing it would shift too much responsibility over to plant owners and endanger the safety of the food and workers. Also at stake are up to 800 poultry inspector positions that could be affected by the new regulation. … AFGE also set up the website and created the Twitter account @KeepChickenSAFE
to push the issue online.

US Economy Grows at Tepid 2.2% Pace; Misses Estimates
Friday, 27 Apr 2012 | 8:34 AM  Reuters

U.S. economic growth cooled in the first quarter as businesses cut back on investment and restocked shelves at a moderate pace, but stronger demand for automobiles softened the blow. Gross domestic product expanded at a 2.2 percent annual rate, the Commerce Department said on Friday in its advance estimate, moderating from the fourth quarter's 3 percent rate.

The Gospel according to Paul Ryan
By Suzy Khimm, Washington Post: Friday, April 27, 9:00 AM

Liberal critics of Paul Ryan’s economic policies frequently accuse him of being heartless. Now some Catholics are pressing the question of whether the Wisconsin Republican’s policies are soulless as well. A small handful of Catholic social justice activists descended on Georgetown University’s gothic campus to protest Ryan’s speech there this morning, unfurling a 50-foot sign that read, “Were you there when they crucified the poor?” Organized by Catholics United, a left-leaning advocacy group, members argued that Ryan’s proposed cuts to Medicaid and other welfare programs for the poor go against the teachings of the Church to uplift the poor and downtrodden.

Even as economy picks up, food-stamp rolls expand
By Brad Plumer, Washington Post: April 26

During the recession, the number of Americans on food stamps surged as people lost their jobs and families slipped below the poverty line. That’s not surprising — it’s how the program was designed to work. What’s noteworthy, though, is that this trend hasn’t reversed itself, even as the economy has improved. A new analysis from Bloomberg Government finds that the number of Americans on food stamps has risen to record levels even as unemployment has dropped significantly over the past year:

Study: Fed workers down on bosses
By: Mackenzie Weinger, Politico, April 26, 2012 10:57 AM EDT

Federal employees have fairly low regard for their bosses’ management skills, according to a survey released Thursday. Government workers gave their management a score of 54.9 out of 100 for effective leadership in the Partnership for Public Service’s study of large government agencies. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization analyzed data from the Office of Personnel Management’s 2011 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey to create their ranking system.

Head Start Faces a New Test / In a First, the Preschool Centers Will Vie for Funds; Weeding Out Low Performers
By STEPHANIE BANCHERO, Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2012, 7:23 p.m. ET

Some local Head Start programs for the first time will have to compete for a share of $7.6 billion in federal funding under a plan aimed at weeding out low-performing preschool centers. In its initial move, the Obama administration recently told 132 Head Start programs across the country that they have been identified as deficient, including the nation's largest programs in Los Angeles County and New York City. The targeted programs, which serve low-income three- and four-year-olds, won't lose current funding. But instead of having their grants renewed automatically, as has been the practice, the programs now have to prove they are effective in preparing children for kindergarten before they will be given future funding.

Report: Rebates from health care law will top $1B
By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press, April 26, 2012

More than 3 million health insurance policyholders and thousands of employers will share $1.3 billion in rebates this year, thanks to President Barack Obama's health care law, a nonpartisan research group said Thursday. … "This is one of the most tangible benefits of the health reform law that consumers will have seen to date," said Larry Levitt, an expert on private insurance with the Kaiser Family Foundation, which analyzed industry filings with state health insurance commissioners to produce its report. Kaiser is a nonpartisan information clearinghouse on the nation's health care system.

Related Ezra Klein, Washington Post: Insurers are spending more of our dollars on actual health care

Employers Are Advised on Dropping Health Insurance
By LOUISE RADNOFSKY, Wall Street Journal, Updated April 26, 2012, 4:27 p.m. ET

Consultants have told some large employers they can save money by dropping health insurance in 2014 and funneling employees into insurance exchanges under the new health-care law, according to a report by congressional Republicans. …. Whether the health-care overhaul will prompt employers to drop their health insurance is a subject of intense debate. Several studies have found that most employers don't expect to do so once workers have the option of buying policies through insurance exchanges, set to begin in 2014. But consultants say employers with lower-wage workers may be more likely to shift workers to exchanges.


CA: San Jose council candidate goes to bat for workers' pensions
by: HENRY MILLSTEIN, People’s World, april 26 2012

…. Steve Kline, a workers compensation lawyer and longtime community activist, is challenging City Council member Pierluigi Oliverio, one of the most enthusiastic backers of the pension-bashing measure, for the seat in the June 5 municipal elections.

CA: Bill lets governor, local officials meet privately
April 27, 2012, 05:00 AM By Judy Lin The Associated Press

A bill that would allow the governor to attend closed-door meetings with city councils, boards of supervisors and other local elected bodies passed unanimously out of the state Assembly on Thursday. …. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees opposed the bill on the grounds that it discourages transparency. The union wrote that “any meetings between the governor and a local legislative body should be conducted freely and openly, without concealment from the public.”

California Child Care Providers Recognized for Service
APRIL 13, 2012, AFSCME blog

At Cesar Chavez Day festivities in Orange County’s Jerome Park, California Assemblyman Jose Solorio, Sen. Lou Correa, Maria Elena Chavez (the niece of Cesar Chavez) and others honored the important work of local child care providers. ….. As the crowd applauded, Santa Ana providers and AFSCME activists Yadhira Ramirez, Rosa Fonseca, Elizabeth Lindsay and Gabriella Villanes were presented with certificates of recognition for their work supporting children in the community.

CO: AFSCME Members Fight to Protect Colorado Voters

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler has launched a massive attack on the rights of Centennial State voters this year. Gessler has been lobbying the state legislature to block efforts – supported by AFSCME and allied groups – to prevent voters from being considered "inactive" after missing only one election.

FL: Governor vows appeal of judge's rejection of his state employee drug-testing order
DARA KAM, Palm Beach Post  Thursday, April 26, 2012

A federal judge has ruled that Gov. Rick Scott's random drug testing of state workers is unconstitutional, raising doubts about a new state law allowing Scott's agency heads to require the urine tests without reason to believe that employees have a problem. …. Lawyers for the union and the ACLU applauded the decision. "Judge Ungaro has protected the privacy and personal dignity of tens of thousands of Florida's best and brightest -- our state workforce," AFSCME special counsel Alma Gonzalez said in a statement. "There never was any evidence that state employees used drugs more than any other group, so this was a case of using hard working state employees to score political points."

FL: 47 counties challenge medicaid funding law
News4Jax,  Apr 26 2012 09:52:57 PM EDT

Arguing they are being hit with an "unfunded mandate," 47 counties filed a lawsuit Thursday that challenges the constitutionality of a new state Medicaid law that could cost them hundreds of millions of dollars.

IA: Protests planned today at Regents meeting
8:57 AM, Apr 26, 2012 | by Jens Manuel Krogstad |  Des Moines Register

At least eight organizations are expected to protest the Iowa Board of Regents meeting today at the University of Northern Iowa. Demonstrators said they intend to draw attention to announcements this spring about the closure of UNI’s Malcolm Price Laboratory School, program cuts and layoffs of tenured faculty. University administration officials have said the measures are necessary to close a $5 million budget gap. …. The protest is sponsored by the  …..  American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

LA: Jindal Bows to Public Pressure, Halts State Prison Sale

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and his allies in the state Legislature backed down from plans to sell an Avoyelles Parish prison last week responding to the public outcry against selling the state property. AFSCME members have been leading the charge, building coalitions with community groups and religious congregations to fight for these public service workers and ensure public safety.

LA: Tax Revenue Lags in Louisiana
by Josh Goodman, Pew Statline, April 27, 2012

Oil prices have boomed in recent months and Louisiana is one of the nation’s top oil-producing states. Louisiana’s latest revenue forecast, though, is a surprising bust. Earlier this week, Louisiana’s Revenue Estimating Conference announced that it was reducing the amount of general fund revenue it expects to bring in the 2012 fiscal year, which ends June 30, by about $200 million. Plus, the revenue forecasters cut expectations for the 2013 fiscal year by about $300 million too. Even before the new revenue prediction, lawmakers had been trying to close a budget gap of close to $900 million for 2013. Now, the task will be even more difficult.

MI: Emergency manager ballot issue rejected, now it's headed for the courts
April 27, 2012 |   By Dawson Bell, Detroit Free Press

- Opponents of Michigan's beefed-up emergency manager law are headed for the state Court of Appeals after a state elections panel declined by deadlock Thursday to place a referendum on the law before voters in November. Herbert Sanders, attorney for the group Stand Up for Democracy, which collected 203,000 petition signatures to put the issue on the ballot, said he would file an appeal of the Board of State Canvassers' decision within a week. The canvassers split 2-2 along party lines (Democrats supporting and Republicans opposed) after hearing exhaustive testimony on a single point of contention about the adequacy of the petitions -- whether the typeface used on a heading met a statutory size requirement.

MN: House forced to deal with Right-to-Work Amendment
April 27, 2012 by Tom Scheck MN Public Radio

The Minnesota House tabled a measure that would have let voters decide if union membership and the payment of union dues should be voluntary for all workers. Rep. Mark Buesgens made a motion to send the proposal to the Rules Committee. He told reporters before he took the action that he wanted to get the bill moving again.

Minnesotans Remembering Those Killed in Work Zone Accidents
Public News Service – MN  April 27, 2012

Workers who have been killed in construction zone accidents are among those being remembered in Minnesota this weekend at Workers' Memorial Day events. Mike Lindholt, a road crew worker with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), says it's a dangerous job – and he can attest to that, having been hit twice while in his truck, during his career.

MN: In Memoriam: DeLois Brown

AFSCME mourns the tragic loss of DeLois Brown, 59, an activist from Minnesota Council 5’s Child Care Providers Together who was murdered in her home, along with both of her parents, on April 9. ….. Brown “embodied AFSCME’s creed,” said Council 5 Exec. Dir. Eliot Seide. For us, public service isn’t just a job – it’s a calling to make a real difference in our communities.

MN: Virginia City Workers Approve Latest Contract Offer
Northland's NewsCenter, Apr 26, 2012 at 5:39 PM CDT

After more than a year of negotiation with the Virginia City Council, city workers in AFSCME Local 454 have approved the latest contract offer. …. Under the new contract, city workers would pay 85 percent of their healthcare insurance premiums while the city will pay 15 percent.

NC: Experts: hospitals need scrutiny / They say lawsuits and a lack of state rules leave patients vulnerable,  Wednesday, Apr. 25, 2012

…. An investigation by the Observer and The News & Observer (of Raleigh) found that N.C. hospitals get tax breaks worth hundreds of millions, but most are doing little to help the poor. Instead, many hospitals are pursuing uninsured patients with lawsuits or collections agencies that can destroy their credit.

NJ: VDC workers protest lack of contract
10:59 PM, Apr. 26, 2012 |  Stephanie Loder, Daily Journal

Union workers at the Vineland Developmental Center staged an informational picket line Thursday morning to let people know they have been working without a contract. The workers representing Communications Workers of America 1040 and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees used their lunch breaks to picket as part of a larger, statewide initiative to bring attention to the contract dispute.

NY: Vallone wants pencil-pushing cops patrolling neighborhoods instead
April 26, 2012 by Rebecca Henely, Queen Campaigner

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) and the union DC 37 Local 1549, which represents the city’s clerical and administrative employees, called upon the New York Police Department last week to turn over 500 desk job positions to civilians.

NY: Legislature fails to agree to fund County Home matching grant
April 26, 2012 By ERIC TICHY – OBSERVER

A resolution that would throw the Chautauqua County Home a $1 million lifeline was tabled during the County Legislature's full-body meeting Wednesday. … Before the vote, Rose Conti - CSEA Unit 6300 president - urged the legislature to consider the local share payment. As she has done in previous meetings, Conti reminded legislators of County Home residents and workers who would be affected by the facility's sale or lease.

NY: CSEA to bring 1,000 members to Lake Placid conference
April 26, 2012, Adirondack Daily Enterprise

- Nearly 1,000 members of the state's largest public employee union will renew their commitment to on-the-job safety at the Civil Service Employees Association's Statewide Conference on Occupational Safety and Health this weekend. …. CSEA President Danny Donohue said in a press release that "safety on the job is one of CSEA's top priorities and something we have to fight for every day.

OH: COTA, workers schedule new talks on pact / Union rejected tentative contract because of wage, benefits issues
Robert Vitale, The Columbus Dispatch Friday April 27, 2012

…. Trustees said union negotiators agreed to the wage and pension provisions during talks with the mediator, although the union’s executive council recommended that members vote against the tentative agreement. The union vote Sunday and Monday was 500-10. “I was under the impression that things were going fairly smooth,” said William A. Anthony Jr., a COTA trustee who’s a former official with the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association. Anthony acknowledged his own experience on the union side of contract talks but voted in favor of the tentative agreement with a disclaimer: “I’m the management side now.”

OK: In shocking development, Republican-controlled Oklahoma House rejects State Chamber-backed workers compensation bill
By RANDY KREHBIEL World  4/26/2012 

In a stunning reversal of form, the Republican-controlled Oklahoma House of Representatives rejected a State Chamber-backed workers compensation bill Wednesday night.  By a count of 42 ayes to 50 nays, with 51 votes needed for passage, the House voted down House Bill 2155, a measure that would have allowed certain employers to opt out of the state's workers compensation system.

PA: $167K more needed for Pleasant Ridge Manor pensions
BY KEVIN FLOWERS, Erie Times-News, PRIL 27, 2012 7:25 AM EST

…… County Council has signed off on pension plan changes for employees at the 312-bed Pleasant Ridge Manor-West, 8300 West Ridge Road in Fairview Township, and the 76-bed Pleasant Ridge Manor-East, 4728 Lake Pleasant Road in Millcreek Township. Those changes, aimed at saving the county millions of long-term dollars, are at the center of an unfair labor practice complaint filed with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board by the union representing many Pleasant Ridge Manor employees. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union believes the changes must be negotiated.

PA: Harrisburg City Council Attorney Says He’s Being ‘Ganged Up Upon’
Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2012, 3:40 PM ET

Some days it’s tough to be Mark D. Schwartz, Esq. On Wednesday, Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson joined the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Dauphin County in asking the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to levy sanctions against Schwartz for filing a frivolous appeal. The outspoken lawyer for the Harrisburg City Council has been trying to deal with the city’s problems with Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code rather than through a state-run process.

SC: Lawmakers Exempted ALEC in S.C. Lobbying Law
by Corey Hutchins, April 26th 10:51am, Free Times

The American Legislative Exchange Council, a special interest group that writes laws favorable to its corporate sponsors, is specifically exempted from lobbying regulations in South Carolina’s ethics laws. Several Republicans and Democrats in the General Assembly are members of ALEC, though at least one has dropped his membership amid criticism from a Democratic lawmaker and the press.

SC: House: School bus privatization needs more study
The State, Apr. 26, 2012

In a 103 to 2 vote, the House gave key approval Thursday to form a study committee to look into privatizing the state’s school bus system.

Tennessee Bill Regulating Hospital Privatization Heads to Governor's Desk
Molly Gamble | April 26, 2012, Becker’s Hospital Review

A Tennessee bill regulating transactions between county-owned hospitals and private companies is headed to the desk of Governor Bill Haslam, according to a Tennessean report.  The legislation would control the use of potential proceeds should a county-owned hospital be privatized. The issue stems from a local debate last year over whether Williamson Medical Center in Franklin, Tenn., should be privatized and whether the proceeds should be used to retire county debt. That privatization plan did not go through, however, due in part to the state law that restricts use of those proceeds.

WA: Second Violent Death At Western State Hospital
John Ryan, KUOW, 04/26/2012 

Lakewood Police say 20–year–old Megan Templeton hanged herself with a bed sheet at the state's largest psychiatric hospital. She was found, alive, just after midnight Saturday night. She was taken to the intensive care unit at St. Clare Hospital in Lakewood, where she died Tuesday night. Templeton hanged herself a day after another patient was apparently murdered on a different ward at Western.  … Union officials say the staff at Western are reeling after the back–to–back fatalities. Carol Dotlich is with the Washington Federation of State Employees. Dotlich: "The workforce is traumatized, they're devastated and they're grieving. They're also very worried about staffing levels, making sure they're adequate to meet needs of severely mentally ill people."

Washington Commemorates Workers' Memorial Day
Thu, Apr 26, 2012 by Chris Thomas, Lake Stevens Journal

People are gathering around the state through this weekend to honor those who have died on the job.  …. James Robinson, president of the Washington Federation of State Employees Local 793 at Lakewood's Western State Hospital, says people come away from these ceremonies with a new resolve to be safer at work.

WI: Kathleen Falk and supporters rally at the Capitol
MARY SPICUZZA | Wisconsin State Journal | Thursday, April 26, 2012 11:30 am

Union members and other supporters of Democratic candidate for governor Kathleen Falk gathered at the state Capitol on Thursday morning and touted how their get out the vote efforts will help her win the recall race. …. She was joined by representatives from the state's largest teachers' union Wisconsin Education Association Council, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Sierra Club, the American Federation of Teachers, and Emily's List, groups which have all endorsed her.

WI: Unions make huge pro-Falk ad buy in recall race
9:58 PM, Apr. 26, 2012 |   Associated Press

Labor unions exerted some muscle Thursday in the Democratic primary race for Wisconsin governor, announcing a $1 million advertising blitz and rallying around their endorsed candidate, Kathleen Falk. A group supported by the statewide teachers union, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, as well as the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, announced it was buying $1 million of television, cable and online advertising time beginning today and running through May 7, the day before the primary.

WI: Robert Mentzer column: Does Barrett foil 'union bosses?'
12:01 AM, Apr. 27, 2012, Central Wisconsin Hub

…. Falk is the labor candidate. She has the endorsements of the state's biggest public employee unions, the Wisconsin Education Association Council and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME. She has the endorsement of the AFL-CIO.  …. Is Barrett some kind of anti-union Democrat? No. Like Falk, Barrett says if elected he'll work to restore public workers' collective bargaining rights.  …. Still, for those activists on the left and on the right who see the recall as fundamentally, centrally about collective bargaining and union rights, Barrett is not really the obvious choice to carry that particular message.

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