Union Watch Highlights

Union Watch Highlights

Largest New York State Employees’ Union Accepts Wage and Benefits Concessions

By Thomas Kaplan, August 16, 2011, New York Times

Members of New York’s largest union of state employees, in a begrudging acknowledgment of the increasingly hostile mood toward public workers, have agreed to accept major wage and benefits concessions sought by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The union, the Civil Service Employees Association, announced late Monday night that its members had voted by about 60 percent to 40 percent to approve the contract agreement that the governor and union leaders struck in June. (read article)

The fall of the Midwest economic model of big companies and big unions

By Michael Barone, August 16, 2011, Wall Street Journal

President Obama has kicked off a three-day bus tour of Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois, where the corn is high and at least some factories are spewing smoke. He’s holding town-hall meetings on the economy, putting the unemployed back to work and “growing wages for everyone.” He won these Midwestern states handily in 2008, but he’s not taking anything for granted these days. The Midwest is the region with the largest number of target states. The president’s latest Gallup job approval there is 39%, the same as the nation as a whole. (read article)

Regarding Democratic leaders who slash public employee jobs and benefits: Be vewy vewy quiet

By Mary Pat Campbell, August 16, 2011, The Conservatory

Interesting that various Democratic leaders are making decisions to slash public employee jobs, wages, and benefits… but we don’t hear much about it splashed on the national news. In New York, Gov. Cuomo has gotten unions to capitulate on wages and benefits (NYT): Members of New York’s largest union of state employees, in a begrudging acknowledgment of the increasingly hostile mood toward public workers, have agreed to accept major wage and benefits concessions sought by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. (read article)

School Construction Study The Latest Front of Project Labor Agreement Fight

by Dan Oney, August 16, 2011, PublicCEO.com

From their data, the National University study discovered that the cost of school construction projects operating with PLAs was 13 to 15 percent higher ($28.90 to $32.49 more per square foot) than those without PLAs. For the 65 schools included in this study that were constructed with PLAs, the total cost of $1.7 billion includes as much as $200 million in unnecessary spending. This is the fourth study since 2003 that has found that school construction projects are more expensive when executed under a project labor agreement. (read article)

California taxpayers spend $350,000 to send prison guards to Las Vegas for a union convention

Video, August 15, 2011, Americans for Prosperity/California

(watch video)

Rhode Island judge rules unions can’t represent retired city workers in municipal disputes

By Linda Borg, August 15, 2011, Providence Journal

A Superior Court judge has reinforced a state Supreme Court decision that says public-employee unions can’t go to bat for retired workers if the former workers have a dispute with a municipality. The ruling was made by Judge Bennett R. Gallo in a case involving the Providence Teachers Union and the school board. “The Providence School board applauds Judge Gallo’s decision …” said Nina Pande, board vice-president. “The decision rightfully restores the purview of Providence school management to administer benefits for active and retired employees in a way that makes sense, financially and logically, while providing ongoing health-care benefits to its retirees.” (read article)

California legislation backed by grocery employees’ union targets Fresh & Easy chain

By Greg Lucas, August 14, 2011, California’s Capitol

Despite lockout mechanisms that require proof of ID for all alcohol purchases, self-service supermarket checkout stands make it easier for minors to buy booze. Therefore, all sales of alcohol must occur only at traditionally staffed checkout stands. That’s the logic and policy change in AB 183 by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, a San Francisco Democrat. Her bill is a carbon copy of AB 1060 of last year – vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – which, in turn, was a retread of AB 523 a late-in-the-session, 2008 gut-and-amend measure that originally dealt with University of California contracts. (read article)

‘Paycheck protection’ gets third try

by Thomas D. Elias, August 13, Appeal Democrat

Anti-union sentiment has always been strong in California, with today’s particular emphasis on resentment of public employee unions whose members’ pay and benefits sometimes equal or exceed the levels to which recession has reduced similar categories in private business. Loathing of unions by some has reached the point where the same forces that tried to eliminate organized labor as a political force two other times in the last 13 years are back again. (read article)

Chairman Issa: NLRB a ‘rogue agency’

By Keith Laing, August 12, 2011, The Hill

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Friday described the National Labor Relations Board as a “rogue agency” for its response to subpoenas he issued for documents related to the panel’s legal complaint against airplane manufacturer Boeing. The NLRB has yet to provide any documents to Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The board’s general counsel said Friday in a letter to Issa that the NLRB was concerned about releasing any documents prematurely. That provoked a harsh response from Issa, who said the NLRB’s hesitation put into question “the integrity of NLRB and its leadership.” (read article)

Maryland teachers union balks at pension cost change

By David Hill, August 11, 2011, Washington Times

Maryland’s teachers union is resisting state lawmakers’ efforts to trim an anticipated $1.1 billion budget gap by sharing teacher pension costs with counties. A state-appointed commission has recommended Maryland begin splitting the cost of nearly $1 billion in annual teacher pension benefits with its 23 counties and Baltimore, to help close the state’s structural deficit during next year’s legislative session. Yearly pension payouts to Maryland teachers have essentially tripled in the past 10 years as salaries have increased and more teachers have retired, and represent nearly two-thirds of the state’s annual $1.5 billion in total pension costs. (read article)

Vetoed Card Check Measure Posed Threat to California’s Small Farms & Field Workers

By John Kabateck, August 11, 2011, Fox & Hounds

There has been a fair amount of post-mortem analysis of the Governor’s decision to veto legislation that would have given the United Farm Workers (UFW) the power to eliminate secret ballots for farmworkers voting on whether to unionize. State and national newspaper editorials and commentary have rightly concluded that Governor Brown realized the measure would have blown up the very labor reforms he constructed in 1975. Furthermore, it went too far in allowing unions to intimidate and bully workers. (read article)

Poll Shows Growing Opposition to Unions

By Lanny Ebenstein, August 11, 2011, CalWatchdog.com

Public sector unions are hugely powerful in California and the nation. In California, about 17 percent of all employees work for government at the local, state or federal levels, and about 14 percent of all employees work for state or local governments. Currently, about 4 million Californians — just more than 10 percent of all Californians — are members of government-defined benefit pension systems. About 2 million Californians work for state and local governments; there are currently about 1 million state and local government pension recipients; and inactive members and families comprise the balance. (read article)

Conservatives and unions in new civil war in Pennsylvania

By Dennis Owens, August 11, 2011, WHTM-TV

There’s a new Civil War raging and it’s between the conservatives and the unions. State worker unions in Pennsylvania have found high ground for now, but they realize the war’s not over. The first salvos were fired in Wisconsin in February. Skirmishes continue to flare across the country and Pennsylvania seemed headed there when Gov. Tom Corbett talked of salary and benefit cuts in his budget address. But then state workers agreed to a new contract giving them 10 percent increases over four years. Conservatives, wanting to join the bigger fight, feel cheated. “While everybody else in the private sector is tightening belts and paying more for health coverage, we think the governor missed an opportunity to rein in what have been ever-generous benefits and salaries for public employees,” said Matthew Brouillette, President and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation. (read article)

Reform Wins in Wisconsin: A GOP Majority Survives a National Union Onslaught

Editorial, August 11, 2011, Wall Street Journal

They called it Armageddon. They promised political revenge, and they said it would be the beginning of the end of the GOP ascendancy of 2010. Unions across the country threw everything they had to defeat Wisconsin state senators who voted for collective bargaining reforms for government workers, and on Tuesday the unions lost. Maybe we’re not Greece yet. In the six months since Governor Scott Walker introduced his reforms, Big Labor and Democrats have tried to make the Badger State a national demonstration that some political lines can’t be crossed. Union power, once granted, is sacrosanct. Even President Obama denounced Mr. Walker. The legislative brawl consumed Madison in European-style protests and turned a judicial election into a national spectacle before the law was upheld by the state supreme court. (read article)

Gov. Walker Reacts to Big Labors Massive Defeat in Wisconsin

By Brett Healy, August 10, 2011, Big Government

On the morning after Republicans won 4 of 6 recall races and maintained control of the state senate, Governor Walker sat down with the MacIver News Service and shared his thoughts on the Democrats’ failed efforts to win a majority in the State Senate, and what the future holds for his legislative agenda. The Governor is pretty gracious here considering this is an incredible victory  for Wisconsin conservatives and a stunning defeat for the Left, Big Labor and the Democrats, including President Obama. (watch video)

Here’s How One Union Blocked Parents From Improving Their Kids’ Education

By Grace Wyler, August 10, 2011, Business Insider

The Connecticut chapter of the American Federation of Teachers has come under fire over a presentation detailing how the union undermined efforts to give parents more power to improve their children’s education. The Powerpoint presentation, “How Connecticut Diffused The Parent Trigger,” concerns an ambitious school reform proposal, known as the “parent trigger,” which allows a 51% percent majority of parents at a failing school to force administration changes or invite a charter school to take over. (read article)

Police Union in Escondido, California Says Pay Cuts and Pension Reforms Could Increase Crime

By David Garrick, August 9, 2011, North County Times

Pay cuts and pension changes proposed for Escondido police could increase local crime by making it harder to recruit and retain quality officers, Chief Jim Maher and leaders of the city’s police labor union told about 80 residents during a public forum Tuesday night. City officials have said 3 percent pay cuts and less generous pensions for new hires are necessary to balance the city’s budget and rein in long-term employee costs, but Maher and union leaders called those proposed changes shortsighted. (read article)

California measure to ice union spending gains $$$, steam

By Josh Richman, August 9, 2011, Political Blotter

There’s a lot of money piling up behind the proposed ballot measure to ban unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes, including $70,000 in the past week. In all, I see just short of $1.5 million banked by the “Californians Against Special Interests” campaign committee since the end of April – just over a million by midyear, and almost $493,000 since July 1. The Citizen Power Campaign, which had launched and then abandoned a similar measure early last year, has kicked in $225,000 for this measure, while various Lincoln Clubs have anted up more than $136,000. The biggest individual donor so far, at $200,000, is Edward Bloomfield Jr. of Manhattan Beach – I’m pretty sure that’s laundry-and-real-state mogul William Edward Bloomfield Jr., a prolific contributor to Republican candidates and causes. (read article)

Wisconsin recalls fail, unions suffer major blow

By Brian Calle, August 9, 2011, Orange County Register

Unions attempting to recall Republicans in the state legislature who supported Governor Scott Walker’s policies which limited the  power and influence of public employee unions failed in the state on Tuesday. The defeat is a victory for the taxpayers and voters who have become enraged by the power of special interests, particularly public employee unions, in the political process. (read article)

Public employees’ Cadillac health care plans are squeezing states and localities

By Josh Barro, August 8, 2011, New York Daily News

With stimulus money running out and the economy stagnant, state and local governments are under severe financial strain. So how can states and localities continue to afford to pay for ultraexpensive health plans for their workers? Some insist these “Cadillac” plans are a figment of the right-wing imagination. But in a new report just out from the Manhattan Institute, I show that employees of state and local governments get health benefits that are significantly more generous than is typical in the private sector. The average government worker earns $4.66 per hour in health benefits, compared to just $2.08 per hour in the private sector. (read article)

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