Union Watch Highlights

Union Watch Highlights

Illinois likely site of next fight over public employee pensions and benefits

By Kevin McDermott, August 22, 2011, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Unionized public employees are once again clashing with state leaders who want to roll back benefits and weaken collective bargaining to shore up a government budget. And this time, the threat isn’t coming in a Republican stronghold like Wisconsin, Indiana or Ohio, but rather in that “bluest” of states, Illinois. Leaders in both parties in Springfield appear ready to push a major pension reform bill this fall that would remove Illinois workers’ current defined-benefit plan and replace it with less lucrative options, including a 401(k) plan. (read article)

Union-backed bill that would make it harder for California cities and counties to privatize libraries

By Torey Van Oot, August 22, 2011, Sacramento Bee

A beast is on the loose at the Capitol today — and we’re not talking about Sutter Brown. A “privatization beast” will be roaming Capitol Park as librarians gather on the south steps to warn of what they say are the perils of privatizing public libraries across the state. The 11 a.m. presser is being staged in support of Assembly Bill 438, a union-backed bill that would establish a series of hurdles for cities and counties looking to hand over their library operations to private companies. Several California libraries have already signed on with a national contractor called Library Systems & Services. (read article)

California Legislative Analyst reviews pension, collective bargaining initiatives

By Jon Ortiz, August 22, 2011, Sacramento Bee

The Legislative Analyst’s Office has issued its take on several ballot initiatives that have qualified for signature collection, including one that concerns pension taxation and another that would end collective bargaining for government workers. What follows is a brief summary of the measures and the LAO’s reviews. Click “The LAO says” links for more in-depth analyses: The End Public Sector Bargaining Act would prohibit public sector collective bargaining in California. The LAO says: Potential state and local government employee compensation savings. The amount of savings would depend on future compensation decisions by state and local governments. The Tax Public Pensions Above $100,000 per Year Act, would amend the State Constitution to institute a new state tax on CalSTRS and/or CalPERS pension benefits that exceed $100,000 per year. (read article)

It’s time to end public-sector collective bargaining in California

By Lanny Ebenstein, August 22, 2011, CalWatchdog.com

There can be little question that great change is in the offing in our society in many areas, including the provision of public services. Public-sector employees are overpaid. They are overpaid across the board, in salary, overtime, benefits, health insurance, days off, holidays, vacations, working conditions and, most of all, pensions. Public-sector employees receive compensation that private-sector workers do not. If public-sector employees in California were paid a fair wage, not an inflated one, it would be possible to lower taxes and increase public services in the state, not raise taxes and slash services. (read article)

It’s a whole new world for unions in Wisconsin

By Bob Kellogg, August 22, 2011, OneNewsNow

The Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) is backing off its claims that council layoffs were directly due to Republican Governor Scott Walker. The union is being forced to lay off about 40 percent of its workforce because of a new law that ends compulsory unionism for public workers. “The public employees no longer will have their dues directly taken out of their checks, compliments of the state, and then deposited into their respective union,” explains Julaine Appling of the Wisconsin Family Council. (read article)

Cracks Only Growing In Union Solidarity

By Jonathan Walters, August 21, 2011, Hartford Courant

These are tumultuous times for public-sector organized labor.

With Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker leading the assault on collective bargaining, and Ohio’s John Kasich and Indiana’s Mitch Daniels also taking aim (Daniels in 2005 quietly revoked an executive order allowing collective bargaining for state employees), you’d think that government employee unions would be joining forces and showing the most unified front possible. And yet now comes the spectacle of a Massachusetts-based union — the National Correctional Employee Union — raiding a Connecticut bargaining unit that represents almost 5,000 prison guards, parole officers and other corrections employees. Another out-of-state unit, the United Public Service Employees Union of New York, is also asking public workers in Connecticut to join, according to CT News Junkie. It’s targeting members of the Connecticut Police and Fire Union, the Judicial Professional Employees Union and the Judicial Marshals Union. (read article)

Connecticut’s State Workers Have Their Deal, Now Unions Have An Image To Mend

By Rick Green, August 19, 2011, Hartford Courant

The good news is that there’s finally an agreement to prevent layoffs and balance the state budget. But for public employee unions, the troubles might have only just begun. “Down the road, taxpayers will be taking a closer look at all these agreements,” said Mike Clark, first selectman in Farmington and a Republican candidate for Congress in the 5th District. Municipal leaders like Clark haven’t missed the powerful lesson that when the union deal appeared dead Gov. Dannel P. Malloy refused to renegotiate and — whatever you think of it — got the concessions he wanted in the end. (read article)

After Wisconsin recalls fail, the teachers union lays off 40% of its staff

Editorial, August 18, 2011, Wall Street Journal

The Battle of Wisconsin ended with a whimper on Tuesday as two Democrats facing recall elections for their roles in the fight over union reform hung on to their seats. Four of six Republicans up for recall did the same last week. After Greek-style protests in Madison, a judicial election and tens of millions of dollars spent, voters weren’t in the mood for revenge after all. For all the hullabaloo, the great upheaval prophesied by the unions never… (read article – subscription required)

Why the unions lost in Wisconsin

By Gary Jason, August 18, 2011, Orange County Register

Last week saw the heroic forces of reform score a major victory over the militant forces of reaction. I refer to the failure of the union drive to recall six Republican Wisconsin state senators who had voted to rein in the power of the public employee unions. The unions targeted the six reformists for recall, and in the special election managed to successfully recall two of them. Some statist cheerleaders tried spinning that as a triumphant victory, but the spin failed miserably, for a host of reasons. First and foremost, the union myrmidons failed to flip the government: the Wisconsin Senate will still be in the hands of the Republicans, albeit by a narrower margin (17-16, rather than 19-14). The margin was unchanged by this week’s victory by two Democratic incumbents facing recall. (read article)

Nevada Court Declares Project Labor Agreement to be Favoritism

August 17, 2011, The Truth About PLAs

On August 15, State of Nevada District Court Judge Jerry Wiese ruled that a project labor agreement (PLA) imposed on contractors by the elected Clark County Board of Commissioners for a $17 million prison project in Las Vegas violated the state’s competitive bidding laws. The Nevada Supreme Court has asked Judge Wiese to evaluate the legality of the project labor agreement based on specific criteria previously established by the Nevada Supreme Court regarding whether or not a project labor agreement runs afoul of the state’s competitive bidding laws. In his decision, Wiese noted that certain requirements in this project labor agreement exhibited “favoritism” toward union contractors and union workers – something not permitted in state law. (read article)

California Public Employee Unions Campaign Against Pension Reform

By Coburn Palmer, August 17, 2011, Desert Sun

Two dozen people from the Pension Truth Squad gathered on the sidewalk outside Palm Springs City Hall on Tuesday as part of a statewide campaign to stop a pension system overhaul for California’s public employees. Teaching, public safety and other retirees shared their stories in an effort to dispel what they said is a myth that public employees retire with extraordinary benefits. “They’re talking about slashing Social Security, then we’re going to get rid of pensions,” said retired teacher Richard Kanehl of Cathedral City. “What are people going to live on?” Riverside County and other government agencies have traditionally offered generous pension plans to compete with higher salaries in the private sector. (read article)

Former dredge crew’s union protests end of contract: Harbor director says hiring in-house workers cut costs

By J.M. Brown, August 17, 2011, Santa Cruz Sentinel

A labor dispute between the Santa Cruz Port District and union representing former dredge operators intensified Wednesday as the workers and dozens of supporters protested the harbor’s push to hire its own crew for the first time in 25 years. The port district has contracted with Operating Engineers Local 3 since 1986 for a five-member crew to keep sand out of the harbor mouth and conduct maintenance for 10 months a year. However, this year, amid rising operational costs and $22 million in damage from a tsunami in March, the district decided to hire its own workers to gain greater control of the operation and cut personnel costs by 20 percent. (read article)

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!