Archive | Collective Bargaining Rights RSS feed for this section

Rauner claim of pension deal quickly shot down by Madigan, Cullerton – Chicago Tribune

21 Jan

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner once again attempted to triangulate the Democratic legislative leaders he has been warring with in Springfield, announcing Thursday that he had struck a deal with Senate President John Cullerton on pension legislation while blasting House Speaker Michael Madigan as “unreasonable” and “irresponsible.”

But the claim of a deal was immediately rejected by Cullerton, who said in a statement that the pension legislation outlined by Rauner “goes beyond what we discussed and beyond what I support.”

Rauner, who is less than a week away from delivering a state of the state address while he presides over a government that has gone seven months without a budget, summoned reporters to his 16th-floor office at the Thompson Center in Chicago to announce what he billed as a “first step” “in the spirit of compromise.”

Rauner said he was dusting off and endorsing pension legislation that Cullerton had first proposed years ago. But there was a catch: Rauner said he wants the legislation altered to exempt salary increases from collective bargaining rights.

The governor said Cullerton had agreed to that change, but Cullerton disagreed.

“The governor called me this morning to say he was going to back my ideas for pension reform,” Cullerton said in a statement. “The plan he outlined at his news conference isn’t what we talked about. It’s not my plan. It goes beyond what we discussed and beyond what I support.”

Madigan also weighed in, saying in a statement that he was opposed to the proposal, and even going so far as to speak for Cullerton.

“Despite the governor’s desire to drive a wedge between Democrats in the House and Senate, neither President Cullerton nor I will agree to make changes proposed by the Governor that will hurt the middle-class families of our state,” Madigan said.

Source: Rauner claim of pension deal quickly shot down by Madigan, Cullerton – Chicago Tribune


‘Prevailing wage’ law doesn’t lower costs—it lowers standards – Opinion – Crain’s Chicago Business

4 Jun

Corporate types continually advise us that Illinois is losing ground to Indiana and that we must follow our neighbor’s abandonment of prevailing wage, and adoption of right to work, to succeed.

David From’s recent opinion piece, “Here’s another good idea from Indiana: Get rid of prevailing wage law,” advocates for the removal of good wages and benefits for construction workers in Illinois. If we don’t, he says, we are not good stewards of our tax dollars.

From says paying a prevailing wage causes “inflated construction prices.” Ohio repealed its prevailing wage law for school construction in 1997. Yet a 2013 study by Bowling Green State University found no evidence to support the assertion that Ohio saved money on school projects in the following decade.

If prevailing wage discourages competition, as he attests, then how can one account for the April project letting by the Illinois Department of Transportation in which the agency awarded 15 projects totaling $53 million—and the difference between the two lowest bids for each averaged less than $3,600?

When people argue that prevailing wage makes us less competitive, they mean that construction unions have built their skills training and productivity standards to such a high degree that many contractors without these type of worker-investment programs do not win. If you remove the living wages that help pay for worker training, you’ll “level the playing field.”

Or drive down the standards.


There’s real value in getting the job done right the first time. After Utah repealed its prevailing wage law, a study confirmed that cost overruns tripled in the following decade. The Construction Labor Research Council in Washington, D.C., found that the cost per mile of road construction in “high wage” states like Illinois is 4 percent less than in “low wage” states.

Which future does Illinois want? Where should our investments lie? In a state of unskilled, low-paid workers? Or toward the opportunities that come with being highly skilled, well-paid workers? Right now Illinoisans make nearly $3 more an hour than Indiana workers. Indiana construction workers anticipate a 25 percent drop in their annual salaries because of their state’s repeal of prevailing wage.

That’s 25 percent fewer dollars spent in their local communities, at local businesses. A loss of income like that affects many more people than the families of one group of workers.

No matter how badly the politicians have bungled our budgets, Illinois’ skilled workforce is one of the top reasons our state remains competitive, not only in the Midwest but across the globe. Especially when alarms are being rung that Illinois will be lacking 150,000 skilled workers by 2020, doing away with prevailing wage takes us in the opposite direction of where we need to invest, and keep investing—in our people.

via ‘Prevailing wage’ law doesn’t lower costs—it lowers standards – Opinion – Crain’s Chicago Business.

Lake County judge strikes down Indiana right-to-work ban on union fees in 2nd blow to law

24 Jul

A Lake County judge struck down Indiana’s right-to-work ban on certain union fees in a second legal blow to the contentious law passed in 2012.

Lake County Circuit Court Judge George Paras determined the law violates the state constitution by forcing unions to provide services to workers without payment. He wrote in his July 17 ruling that the law was immediately “null and void”. Paras determined that the state interjected itself into a federal requirement that unions represent all workers — whether they pay union fees or not — when it established criminal penalties for violating the right-to-work law.

The United Steelworkers, which lobbied unsuccessfully against the law in 2011 and 2012, filed the suit against the state.

Indiana became the 23rd state in the nation to ban unions from charging mandatory fees for representation in February 2012; later that year, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder rushed through legislation making Michigan the 24th state to ban the fees. Indiana’s extensive battle on the issue drew thousands of protesters to the Statehouse between 2011 and 2012.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller said Wednesday he would appeal and seek an immediate stay of the ruling.

“Strong opinions exist on both sides about involuntary union dues, but the Attorney General’s Office has a duty to defend the laws the Legislature passes,” Zoeller said in a statement Wednesday.

Lake County Superior Court Judge John Sedia judge struck down the law last fall in a separate case, but stayed it from taking effect. That case is now being considered by the Indiana Supreme Court.

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, representing northwest Indiana, filed the suit being considered by the state’s high court and praised the decision in the sister lawsuit Wednesday.

“We applaud the decision of the Court and congratulate the Steelworkers on successfully dealing another blow to Indiana’s ill-conceived ‘right to work’ law,” IUOE Local 150 president-business manager James M. Sweeney said in a statement Wednesday evening.

via Lake County judge strikes down Indiana right-to-work ban on union fees in 2nd blow to law.

Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul Hope To Tack Right-To-Work Law Onto Employment Non-Discrimination Act

5 Nov

WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell R-Ky. and Sen. Rand Paul R-Ky. have proposed an amendment to a workplace discrimination bill in the hopes of creating a national right-to-work law.

The measure — which, as Roll Call reported Monday, would be tacked onto the Employment Non-Discrimination Act ENDA — would forbid contracts between companies and labor unions that require workers to pay the union for bargaining on their behalf. Prized by Republicans and business groups and loathed by unions, such laws have made it onto the books in 24 states, most recently in Michigan.

Speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday, McConnell praised Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder R, who signed the state law in December after it was fast-tracked through the Republican-controlled legislature. McConnell said he and Paul were following Snyder’s lead.

“The truth is, over the years, ‘Big Labor’ had come to care more about its own perks and power than the workers it was charged with protecting,” McConnell said. “Snyder knew that. And he knew it was time to tip the scales back in favor of workers. Well, he’s not alone.”

Right-to-work laws diminish union membership and weaken the clout of organized labor. Unions like to refer to such legislation as “right-to-work-for-less” laws, pointing to studies finding the laws depress wages. Right-to-work’s boosters, including McConnell, portray the laws as a matter of workplace choice and a necessary counterweight to “Big Labor,” even though unionized workers now make up only 6.6 percent of the private sector.

The Senate cleared a major legislative hurdle Monday night by voting to move forward with debate on ENDA, which would bar discrimination in the workplace for large businesses on the basis of sexual orientation or identity. The measure introduced by McConnell and Paul will now become part of that discussion.

It’s highly unlikely, however, that the Democratic-controlled chamber would ever send right-to-work legislation to the president’s desk. Unions remain a strong base of the Democratic Party, and right-to-work has proven deeply divisive in states like Michigan.

Speaking after McConnell on Tuesday, Sen. Dick Durbin D-Ill., said a national right-to-work law would lead to more inequality in the U.S. economy.

“If you look at the state of unionism today, I think the facts speak for themselves,” said Durbin, referencing the country’s falling union density. “Those who want to eliminate the opportunity for collective bargaining and make it more difficult for workers to stand up and speak for themselves in the workplace, I think frankly are going to condemn us to a much slower-growing economy and much more injustice when it comes to compensation.”

Correction: This post originally referred to ENDA as the Employee Non-Discrimination Act. It is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

via Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul Hope To Tack Right-To-Work Law Onto Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

“Let’s Get Rid of Step and Lane” Says NEA President | Intercepts

27 Oct

National Education Association president Dennis Van Roekel thinks the standard “step and lane” salary scale for teachers is antiquated. “Let’s get rid of step and lane. I don’t like it,” he said at an Education Writers Association event in Chicago last month.

Before you get too excited about his stance, Van Roekel believes that that it is school administrators and state policy-makers who insist on the current salary scale because it is the cheapest way to pay a large group of workers. He wants to get rid of it because it forces teachers to “work for peanuts.” Van Roekel said performance pay systems usually fail because they run out of money.

This is a fascinating view of the world, considering how protective union negotiators are of the current salary schedule, and how NEA itself always meets with fierce resistance from its own activists whenever it floats any changes to its current policy.

NEA Resolution F-10 still states, “The National Education Association believes that the single salary schedule is the most transparent and equitable system for compensating education employees.” And Resolution F-9 still states, “salary schedules should… be based on preparation, academic degrees, experience, professional growth, responsibilities, and full length of service.”

Perhaps Van Roekel is entering full Shanker mode, calling for revolutionary changes he knows will never happen, in part because of his own organization.

via “Let’s Get Rid of Step and Lane” Says NEA President | Intercepts.

Judge rules Indiana right-to-work law unconstitutional | Chicago Federation of Labor

9 Sep

INDIANAPOLIS — A Lake County judge has determined Indiana’s right-to-work law violates a provision in the state constitution barring the delivery of services “without just compensation.”

Lake Superior Court Judge John Sedia found that the law wrongly requires unions to represent workers who do not pay dues. Indiana became the 23rd state in the nation to ban the collection of mandatory fees for representation from unions.

Since then, union lawyers have gone to the courts to try and overturn the law. Sedia issued an order last Thursday declaring the ban on collections and associated criminal penalties unconstitutional.

Union spokesman Ed Maher calls the ruling a victory for the middle class and dues-paying union members.

A message seeking comment was left with a spokesman for the Indiana attorney general’s office.

via Judge rules Indiana right-to-work law unconstitutional | Chicago Federation of Labor.

Some new teachers may forego traditional pay model | The Journal News | |

19 Aug

BEDFORD — One of teaching’s most hallowed traditions may be on the way out under a new contract that is on the table in a northern Westchester County district.

“Steps and lanes,” which supplement teachers’ pay for their years of service and education, will not be offered to new teachers in the Bedford schools if a tentative agreement is approved by the rank and file and the school board next month. Instead, they will be offered “a completely new compensation framework” ruled by the state’s tax levy cap.

“We’ve not heard of anything like that” before, said Tim Hoefer, executive director of the Empire Center, an Albany-based nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that keeps track of public spending. “You are taking a really complicated pay scale and making it simpler. It’s a huge step in the right direction for them” depending on what the details show.

Eliminating or curbing steps and lanes, he said, “puts the board of education on equal footing in negotiating the next contract. I think this is a huge thing.”

School districts and unions have been wrestling with pay scales for years.

Angry taxpayers, slipping state aid and the tax levy cap have forced districts to cut past the bone to pay for required programs, health and retirement systems and contracted raises.

Layoffs, school closings and early retirement incentives can only go so far, educators said.

Now, districts are looking for contract concessions that would take away from what had been given in the past.

In many salary discussions, precedence is everything.

“There are certain sacred cows on the part of certain bargaining units and they want to save those, but it’s a new landscape: Concessions are being made, adjustments are being made,” said Kenneth Mitchell, South Orangetown schools superintendent and president of the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents.

“In the past few years, we’ve seen cooperation and recognition of limitations for the preservation of quality programs.”

Some recently negotiated contracts have touched on steps and lanes without eliminating or significantly modifying them. More…

via Some new teachers may forego traditional pay model | The Journal News | |

SRC suspends seniority rule for calling back Philly school employees — NewsWorks

16 Aug

During a raucous meeting packed with angry teachers and activists, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted Thursday to deploy its emergency powers to suspend rules on teacher seniority as the district begins to rehire 1,000 of the 3,800 staff members laid off in June.

After a summer of fiscal crisis, layoffs, school closings and political uncertainty, superintendent William Hite said he needs the measures to ensure an orderly school opening on Sept. 9.

The state law that set up the School Reform Commission gave it power to suspend some provisions of the school code in an emergency.

The five-member SRC board voted unanimously, among other provisions, to:

1) Let Hite ignore usual seniority rules in rehiring laid-off teachers and guidance counselors.

Hite used guidance counselors as an example — saying that he wanted the ability to take a guidance counselor who last year worked at ‘x’ school, and return that counselor to the same school. As the school code is currently written, teachers and counselors would be rehired based solely on longevity in the district. The more senior staff members would get to choose for themselves among the vacancies.

Hite did confirm, though, that not all schools would regain a guidance counselor.

2) Let the district suspend automatic, longevity-based pay increases for staff.

3) Allow the district to hire non-unionized staff for its “independent” schools. The potential biggest impact of which would occur in the district’s new online virtual school.

4) Allow the district to have more flexibility in how it deals with charter schools, including the ability to budget “responsible” growth of charters and to suspend, revoke or not renew charter status.

Of all changes, this set was the only to receive cheers from the standing-room-only crowd.

SRC heaped with scorn

During the public comment section, speaker after speaker blasted the commission for calling a “sneaky” last-minute meeting; selling out teachers and schoolchildren; supporting a Harrisburg agenda to privatize public education; failing to stand up to an anti-public schools agenda from Harrisburg; and other sins.

“This selective elimination of seniority that you are about to embark on has another name — it’s to justify institutional inequity,” said Helen Gym, founder of Parents United PA.

“Your job is not to selectively and arbitrarily make decisions about the needs of any child in this district. Every child is needy. Every child deserves a guidance counselor. Every child deserves a safety aide,” Gym testified.

Donna Cooper, head of Public Citizens for Children and Youth and formerly policy director for former Gov. Ed Rendell, urged the crowd to consider whether the real problem was not SRC actions, but school funding decisions in Harrisburg.

“We are in this room, in this fight, because the governor of Pennsylvania imposed a $1 billion cut to public schools in this state, and he has stood behind state laws that make it nearly impossible for you to put a balanced budget in place,” said Cooper.

Sylvia Simms, appointed to the SRC in January by Mayor Michael Nutter, was called on by many in the crowd to be the “voice of the parents.” Simms, a former district bus attendant and founder of the activist group Parent Power addressed those calls before voting.

“Too many people talk about the adults. Too many people worry more about the adults than the students they’re supposed to serve,” Simms said. “So I vote yes in support of Dr. Hite.” More…

via SRC suspends seniority rule for calling back Philly school employees — NewsWorks.

Red Alert! This is what’s happening in Ohio…it could happen any where

13 Aug
The Fairborn Board of Education unanimously voted to repudiate the collective bargaining agreement with the FEA/FCEA that was set to expire on June 30, 2013. Repudiation is a refusal to pay a lawful debt; or an act, intention or threat of disowning or rejection of, an agreement already accepted and agreed to. Repudiation of a contract has never been attempted by a Board of Education in the state of Ohio. The Fairborn BoE repudiated the contract even when both FEA and FCEA were making concessions to salary, insurance, and class size. Bargaining was still in progress. The idea of repudiation was presented to the Yellow Springs Board, but they declined to follow that path.

This course of action could result in Fairborn City Schools operating under Ohio Statutory Law. If this is allowed to occur the state minimum teacher salary will go into effect and many benefits would be decreased automatically. This will happen if negotiations between the Fairborn Education Association and the Fairborn Board of Education break down and do not continue. Currently, the Fairborn B.o.E. is asking for the teachers to accept unlimited class sizes, to have no evaluation language in the contract, increase insurance contribution percentage and accept severely lowered health benefits.

It should be strongly noted by every teacher union in the state of Ohio that repudiation could be attempted by their Board of Education IF the Fairborn BoE is able to successfully win all grievances and injunctions set against it.

Wisconsin Gov. Walker Offers “Special” Advice for Snyder

30 Jul

The governor of Wisconsin is back in the news this week with new attacks planned on public safety workers’ collective bargaining rights – and this time he’s urging other states to follow his lead. Gov. Scott Walker is poised to extend the provisions of Act 10 to police officers and firefighters — two groups that had largely been spared, for obvious reasons, in his first go-round at the state’s public sector unions. But, now that they’ve been properly patsied to serve his own devices, it’s their turn.

Walker boasts that his policies should act as a model for Michigan and the nation, and that Detroit simply wouldn’t be in bankruptcy if it had been under his leadership. In an address given at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for the Governmental Research Association, the governor dialed up the hubris to elephant-ball maximum, rivaling even that of Anthony Weiner. Walker told the crowd:

“The position I pushed is not unlike the principle that Franklin Delano Roosevelt — not exactly a conservative — pushed as well when it came to public sector collective bargaining.He felt that there wasn’t a need in the public sector to have collective bargaining because the government is the people. We are the people. And so what we’ve done is to be able to empower our great employees, to affirm them.”

Yup, FDR. This is not the first time Walker has flattered himself with that inappropriate comparison. Two years ago, he recorded his own “fireside chat” in which he explained that he was destroying public sector unions for their own good — Ooops, sorry guys, had to be done. More…

via Wisconsin Gov. Walker Offers “Special” Advice for Snyder.

%d bloggers like this: