State Collective Bargaining Update January 31, 2012
The Williams Report Collective Bargaining Weekly Update
This week's updates:
Indiana: House passes right-to-work bill. CBSNews.com.
Senate committee passes RTW bill out of committee on Jan. 30 by a 6-1 vote. Senate final passage is expected on Feb. 1. Indystar.com.
Minnesota: Report brings right-to-work fight to the Capitol. PoliticsInMinnesota.com.
Rhode Island: Collective bargaining reform could save RI $252 million per year. Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity.
South Dakota: A group of Republican lawmakers has introduced legislation that would prohibit public employees in South Dakota from negotiating collective bargaining agreements with state and local government. ArgusLeader.com.
Save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars; end government-sector collective bargaining. Goldwater Institute.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual report on union membership. The Baby Boomers naturally have comprised the bulk of the U.S. workforce for many years. As the workforce has aged, you would expect union membership to age as well. However, an examination of the last ten years of data reveals that union membership is aging at an accelerated rate relative to the rest of the workforce. In 2001, 6.3 percent of union members were below the age of 25. Last year, only 5 percent were. That's not encouraging, but the other end of the spectrum is truly alarming. In 2001, 14 percent of union members were 55 years of age or older. Last year, 23.3 percent were. Almost half a million working union members are 65 or older. During the last 10 years, not only did unions lose more than 1.5 million members, but 1.1 million additional members entered the 55-and-over age group. This creates a demographic storm that unions have not faced in recent memory. Over several decades they have been unable to increase membership at the same rate as the growing workforce. Now, even as the overall size of the workforce slows or stalls, they will find themselves needing to grow at a rate to replace retiring and deceased members. The aging union membership would also seem to be a sign that battles over retirement, health care and seniority will become more bitter and difficult in the short term, since a growing segment of the union population sees these as primary issues.
The U.S. Supreme Court appeared inclined last week to chalk up another defeat for public-employee unions by requiring that they provide nonmembers with additional opportunities to object to special assessments or dues increases to finance political goals. But members of the court also are weighing whether the case before it is moot-a question that dominated roughly half the Jan. 10 oral arguments in Knox v. Service Employees International Union . The case involves the intricate area of labor law involving "agency fees," or service fees that public-sector unions charge nonunion members for collective bargaining benefits and other permissible costs. Several of the Supreme Court's key precedents in this area involve teachers' unions, though the case argued last week arose from a unit of the SEIU. Education Week.
AEI/Heritage study concludes that public school teacher salaries are $120 billion over market value. Weeklystandard.com. November 1, 2011
On September 20, the Manhattan Institute presented the first comprehensive national poll on voter attitudes on public sector unions and state budgets. The poll was conducted by pollster Doug Schoen. Public Sector Inc.
Find the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) collective bargaining and labor union legislative database here.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute has released an index of government-sector union power in the 50 states. States ranked with the most powerful union clout are : Pennsylvania; Connecticut; Illinois, New Jersey and New York. States with the most employee freedom are Tennessee; Utah; Idaho, Texas and Florida. CEI.
U.S. Post Office tears up collective bargaining contract and drops its health care and retirement programs. Officially the postal service is withdrawing its 480,000 pensioners and 600,000 active employees from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and replacing the program with a cheaper, more efficient health program. pajamasmedia.com. August 12, 2011.
AFL-CIO is creating super-PACS (no campaign donation limits) to fight collective bargaining reform. . NLPC. August 8, 2011.
Government employee salaries and benefits are financially unsustainable in nearly every state. The Day of Reckoning has arrived, and legislators can no longer ignore the unfunded pension liabilities and unfunded retiree health care obligations. These unsustainable cost drivers must be addressed or thousands of state employees and teachers will have to be laid off in the next few years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the U.S. Department of Labor, as of December, 2010, state and local government employees received benefits that were 69 percent higher than those in the private sector. State and local government employees earn $13.85 per hour in benefits compared to the private sector workers who earn an average of $8.20 per hour in benefits.
Information on collective bargaining in individual states can be found below:
A bill restricting collective bargaining rights for many Alaska public employees was introduced on March 21 in the House. Newsminer.com. March 21, 2011. Read more: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - Alaska bill would restrict collective bargaining rights
Government unions pose threat even in right-to-work Arizona. WesternFreePress.com. December 23, 2011.
Gov. Brown negotiates contract for prison workers that would allow an average of 8 weeks paid time off each year. Stateline.org. April 22, 2011.
California public employees earn up to 30 percent more in total compensation than comparable private-sector workers. Heritage Insider Online. March 18, 2011.
Gov. Malloy comes through for unions where legislature failed. Raisinghale.com. September 21, 2011.
Concession talks end with new tentative deal. The administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced a new tentative concession agreement, setting the stage for another attempt by a coalition of state employee unions to ratify a deal that could stave off mass layoffs and deep budget cuts. "I am pleased that an agreement has been reached," Malloy said in a statement. "So that there is no confusion, let's be clear about what this clarified agreement is. This agreement saves the same amount of money as the last agreement- $1.6 billion over 2 years, $21.5 billion over 20 years - and it contains all of the same cost-saving provisions as the last agreement." SEBAC followed by minutes with a statement that the new tentative deal addresses a major concern of union members: that a new wellness program was not the first step toward placing state employees in a new health plan modeled after SustiNet, the state's failed attempt at establishing a universal health system. CTMirror.com. July 22, 2011.
Florida teachers union files suit over merit pay law. Miamiherald.com. September 14, 2011.
House approves bill banning automatic deduction for union dues. Orlando Sentinel.com. March 25,2011.
Hawaii's public sector employment needs reform. Hawaii Reporter. July 31, 2011.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie promised a more collaborative, less adversarial approach to public-sector labor unions, but the Democrat finds himself in a similar place as his predecessor, Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, did two years ago. The Hawaii State Teachers Association has indicated it will file a legal challenge to Abercrombie's decision to unilaterally implement the state's final two-year contract offer, which includes a 5 percent pay cut and an equal split on health insurance premium costs for 12,700 teachers. The Abercrombie administration set a target of 5 percent labor savings in negotiations with public-sector unions. Most units of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, the state's largest private-sector union, agreed to a two-year contract in April with a 5 percent pay cut and an equal split in health insurance premium costs. An HGEA unit representing nurses rejected the contract and is in arbitration. Staradvister.com. July 4, 2011.
Judge upholds law curbing teachers' bargaining rights. The Idaho Education Association, which represents 12,000 teachers, filed the lawsuit and argued the law retroactively eliminated an existing retirement benefit by voiding an early retirement incentive for some educators. The Judge agreed with the teachers union that the law, which was passed by the Republican-led legislature in March, caused "substantial" contractual impairments. But the judge, siding with the state in a ruling handed down on September 29 and made public on September 30, said the constitution allows such actions when they serve a key public purpose. The state had a significant and legitimate public purpose in imposing the regulation, which "relates to matters of efficiency and accountability within Idaho's public school system," Judge Hansen wrote in the decision. Reuters.com. September 30, 2011.
The State Senate passed the right-to-work bill by a vote of 28-22. Nine Republicans joined all 13 Democrats in voting against the bill. The bill prohibits companies and unions from agreeing to contracts that require workers who aren't union members to pay representative fees. WISH-TV.
In the House, Democrats tried to kill the bill but failed on a 39-59 vote. WISH-TV.
House Democrats walked out again tonight when they were blocked from offering any more amendments. Indystar.com.
Democrats maneuver to put right to work before voters. Indystar.com
Senate Committee passes right-to-work, House may pass it on January 13. Indystar.com
House Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee will meet again at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to consider possible amendments and vote on right-to-work bill. That clears the way for the full House to debate changes to the bill on Thursday and vote on it on Friday, assuming the Democrats don't walk out again. Indystar.com.
Look for return of "right to work" in Governor Daniels' final session. Posttrib.suntimes.com. November 14, 2011.
A public employees union has filed a lawsuit against Gov. Mitch Daniels and the state personnel director, challenging the constitutionality of a law that bars any governor from granting collective bargaining rights to state workers. That provision was included in the new state budget adopted by the legislature this year. In the 1980s, Gov. Evan Bayh had issued an executive order granting collective bargaining. That stayed in effect until Daniels' first full-day in office in 2005, when he ended collective bargaining. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 62, which continues to represent some Indiana state employees though they can negotiate for wages and benefits, filed the lawsuit in Marion Circuit Court. Indystar.com. Aug. 31, 2011.
Labor unions unhappy with Governor but still hope to work with him. SJ-R.com. September 4, 2011.
The Legislature passed SB 7 on May 12, directed at the teachers' unions that in many respects is as anti-union as the measures proposed by right wing Republicans elsewhere. SB 7 would severely restrict the right to strike for Chicago teachers. The bill not only would require that 75% of the entire membership vote in favor (i.e. not just 75% of those who vote) but then mandates a complex process of notification, mediation and "cooling off" that would all work to management's advantage. It is clear that the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is being targeted for special treatment because it is perceived as a particular obstacle to the corporate agenda. The bill effectively ends the use of seniority in determining layoffs across Illinois. Instead, layoffs will be determined by "performance" which in turn will be measured by high stakes tests. SB 7 also mandates that teacher evaluations are tied to test scores. Evaluations based on test "performance" will make it far easier to fire "ineffective" teachers in general and the bill is explicit about this aim. SB 7 would make it possible for incoming Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to lengthen the school day and the school year without having to negotiate any pay increase for teachers. In reality this would mean a unilaterally imposed cut in hourly pay for teachers. Illinois Statehousenewsonline.com. April 21,2011. and Socialistalternative.org. May 9, 2011. Socialistalternative.org. May 9, 2011. Illinois Policy Institute. May 12, 2011.
New Bill seeks to shed light on collective bargaining in the public sector. The Public Employee Bargaining Transparency Act (HB 204). calls for collective bargaining sessions between a public employer and a labor union to fall under the Open Meetings Law. The bill also requires that any document created or presented during the sessions be made available to the public and that the details of collective bargaining agreements be posted on the Internet. The Pelican Post. May 11, 2011.
The legal counsel for Gov. Paul LePage said on June 2 that a controversial bill that would change the state's ability to collect fees from nonunion, public-sector workers would bring so-called "fair share" back to the negotiating table in collective-bargaining talks. But labor advocates say the bill, LD 309, would tilt the scales against the Maine State Employees Association and other public-sector unions while repealing 50 years of settled federal and state labor laws. Both sides presented their cases to the Legislature's Labor Committee during a public hearing that went well into the night. The hearing was initiated by the Republican majority's decision last week to reintroduce the bill after it languished in committee for several months. The GOP's decision prompted a bitter partisan debate in the Legislature, as Democrats and labor advocates accused GOP lawmakers of doing LePage's "dirty work" after indicating that the right-to-work legislation would not be a priority this session. Republicans say the amended version of LD 309 is no longer a "right-to-work" bill. Sunjournal.com. June 3, 2011.
Evergreen proposal nixed from one bill, filed in another. In October 2010, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that state law (Ch. 150E) is clearly written to "limit the term of a collective bargaining agreement to not more than three years." Evergreen clauses, which provide that all terms of a contract are in force until a new contract is signed, are therefore invalid, the court found. The governor's FY12 supplemental budget bill would amend Chapter 150E to state that a collective bargaining agreement may remain in effect until a new one is reached. The language would make the change retroactive, meaning that many local personnel decisions made since the SJC's ruling could be subject to appeals or grievances following arbitration procedures in previously expired contracts. MMA.org. October 21, 2011.
The Senate on May 18 released a plan to overhaul the way cities and towns provide health coverage to municipal workers. Under the proposal, cities and towns could either transfer workers into the state's Group Insurance Commission or create their own system of co-payments and deductibles that are no greater than the median co-payments and deductibles offered by the GIC. Senate leaders say the plan doesn't mandate a "one size fits all" approach and would give workers 30 days to negotiate. The goal is to help slow soaring health costs for municipalities. Any cost-saving proposal from a municipality must also include plans to ease the impact on retirees, low-wage workers, and heavy users of health insurance. The House approved a similar measure to largely strip public employee unions of collective bargaining rights over health benefits. BostonHerald.com. May 18, 2011.
House lawmakers voted overwhelmingly (111-42) on April 26 to strip police officers, teachers, and other municipal employees of most of their rights to bargain over health care, saying the change would save millions of dollars for financially strapped cities and towns. The push was led by Democrats who have traditionally stood with labor to oppose any reduction in workers' rights. Boston Globe. April 27, 2011.
Governor Snyder signed legislation providing sweeping new authority to emergency managers, state-appointed administrators who take charge of the operations of a troubled community or its school system. Three communities - Pontiac, Ecorse and Benton Harbor - have emergency managers, as does the Detroit school system. Under the law, the emergency managers have the authority in 2012 to cancel provisions in contracts covering public employees. An emergency manager can request to have an entire contract thrown out, and a decision would be made in conjunction with the state's treasurer. (Michigan's treasurer is Andy Dillon, a Democrat, who was speaker of the Michigan House.) WBEZ 91.5. March 30, 2011.
Two unions, the Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees and the Service Employees International Union, are going door to door asking daycare workers to sign up for their union representation. Union leaders tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that collective bargaining could gain health care and more state subsidies for home daycare providers. Volunteer daycare workers, who are helping the unions gain signatures, say there is strength in numbers and bargaining with the state could improve conditions for them and the children they serve. There are twelve thousand daycare workers in Minnesota and if the unions get fifty-percent of those signed up, they will ask Governor Mark Dayton to sign an executive order recognizing the daycare providers in two different unions. But, some daycare workers tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that they believe union organizers mislead them into signing union authorization cards. One daycare worker told us she thought she was signing up for more information, when in essence, she signed a union authorization card. There is a lot of money at stake for unions in the push to organize daycare providers. In Michigan, unions collected more than four million dollars in just two years. For parents, it could mean higher daycare costs, but it will depend on the actions of their individual daycare providers. Some daycare workers might choose to pass along their higher costs of union dues and health care onto their clients. If the unions get the needed signatures, they will probably ask Governor Dayton to sign the executive order after the special legislative session this summer. KSTP.com. June 13, 2011.
The Republican-led Missouri Senate passed legislation earlier this month that would require public employees who are members of unions to give annual consent for dues to be deducted from their paychecks. Kansascity.com. April 19, 2011.
Collective bargaining reform passed unanimously on May 25. The measure essentially creates new operating guidelines for Nebraska's Commission of Industrial Relations, the unusual agency that has been resolving public sector labor disputes in the state since 1947.The bill gives more specific guidelines to the commission for deciding wage disputes. It also requires that pensions and other benefits be considered. When governments don't have the revenue to pay salary increases during bad economic times, the bill contains a provision allowing governments to adjust down the targeted range of compensation. Reuters.com. May 25, 2011.
Gov. Brian Sandoval and legislative leaders from both parties announced a budget agreement today that will see tax extensions and restorations of funding to public and higher education in exchange for significant policy reforms in education and collective bargaining. In exchange for extending the sun-setting taxes, Sandoval and Republican lawmakers won a number of reforms, including the elimination of teacher tenure and ending the seniority system used in the public schools for layoffs. Other reforms include the elimination of health care benefits upon retirement for new state hires. The state currently subsidizes health insurance for retirees. The change effective Jan. 1, 2012 will save an estimated $275 million over the next 30 years. There are also reforms to the state's collective bargaining law, including a provision allowing agreements to be reopened in cases of fiscal emergency and eliminating bargaining for supervisory public employees. There will also be a study on how to deal with the $10 billion unfunded liability of the Public Employees' Retirement System. The governor will also get to appoint the superintendent of public instruction. The agreement came on the 115th day of the session, and virtually guarantees that lawmakers will adjourn the 2011 session by June 6 as the constitution requires. www.nevadanewsbureau.com. June 2, 2011.
The House Committee on Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services held hearings Thursday on six bills in front of around 350 bill opponents, mainly public union members. The proposed measures also prohibit mandatory agency fees for non-union members, deducting dues from public employee paychecks and ban former public employees or union members from the state's negotiating team. Boston.com.
House fails to override Governor's veto of right-to-work. Boston.com. November 30, 2011.
State workers approve contract that saves nearly $50 million by freezing wages and changing healthcare benefits. Concordmonitor.com. August 30, 2011.
Governor Lynch vetoes right to work bill. Republican leaders are working to get enough votes to override the Governor's veto. concordmonitor.com. May 11, 2011.
Government employees sue over benefit changes. chron.com. August 31, 2011.
Lawmakers on June 24 voted to enact a sweeping plan to cut public worker benefits after a long day of high-pitched political drama in the streets of Trenton and behind closed doors. Union members chanted outside the Statehouse and in the Assembly balcony, and dissident Democrats tried to stall with amendments and technicalities. Although they successfully convinced top lawmakers to remove a controversial provision restricting public workers' access to out-of-state medical care, they failed to halt a historic defeat for New Jersey's powerful unions and a political victory for Republican Gov. Chris Christie. Unions have blasted the bill for ending their ability to collectively bargain their medical benefits. Health care plans for 500,000 public workers would be set by a new state panel comprised of union workers and state managers, rather than at the negotiating table. A sunset provision would allow unions to resume collective bargaining after increased health care contributions are phased in over four years. In addition, police officers, firefighters, teachers and rank-and-file public workers would all pay more for their pensions and health benefits. Supporters of the bill say the state needs to cut costs because the pension and health systems are underfunded by more than $120 billion total. The Christie administration estimated the bill would save $3 billion in health benefits over the next 10 years and $120 billion in pension costs over 30 years. Much of the pension savings are from the controversial elimination of the cost-of-living adjustments for retirees, which unions have threatened to challenge in court.Over the years, lawmakers and local leaders from both parties have offered increased benefits to public employees, often in exchange for political support. But even as benefits improved, the state and municipalities failed to meet its financial obligations. Since 2004, the state has not made $15.11 billion in required payments to the pension funds, while the municipalities have skipped $1.9 billion. Public employees, meanwhile, have fully paid their required contributions. NJ.com. June 24, 2011.
Even as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo sent layoff notices to the first of 3,496 employees he is vowing to let go, leaders of New York's second-largest union of state workers said Wednesday that they did not intend to ask their members to reconsider the proposed contract they had rejected. NYTimes.com. September 28, 2011.
New York labor leaders, spooked by public workers' rejection of negotiated concessions in Connecticut, are beginning a carefully planned campaign to persuade more than 100,000 state employees to accept a wage freeze and other measures in order to avoid sweeping layoffs. The state's largest union of public workers, the Civil Service Employees Association, has sent contract negotiators across the state as part of an effort to persuade health care, maintenance and clerical workers that it would be better to stomach furloughs, benefit cuts and three years without a salary increase than to risk losing thousands of jobs as the state cuts costs. The second-largest union, the Public Employees Federation, also plans to campaign for its members' approval after agreeing Saturday to nearly identical concessions. Together, the two unions represent more than half of New York's public work force. The contract, which Gov.. Cuomo called "a tremendous deal for the state," calls for a three-year freeze on base wages and 2 percent raises for the next two years. By contrast, the previous contract gave employees 3 percent raises for each of the first three years and a 4 percent raise in the final year. The new contract would also require workers to take nine furlough days, and it would increase health insurance costs for employees. For example, state employees currently must pay 10 percent of their individual health insurance premiums; under the new contract, the contribution would rise to 12 percent for lower-paid workers and 16 percent for higher-paid ones. NYTimes.com. July 17, 2011.
Group seeks vote on a right-to-work law. Washington Times. November 21, 2011.
NEA spent more than $10 million to defeat collective bargaining reform in Ohio. NPR.org. November 12, 2011.
A group of conservative activists plan to push for a constitutional amendment that would make Ohio a "right to work" state. Reuters.com. November 11, 2011.
Voters repeal Ohio's collective bargaining measure passed earlier this year. Washingtonpost.com. November 9, 2011.
Ohio voters to decide bargaining rights for public employees. Csmonitor.com November 5, 2011.
A yes vote will restore control of government budgets to taxpayers. Dispatch.com. October 17, 2011.
Ohio wages fierce fight on collective bargaining. NYTimes.com. October 15, 2011.
An editorial in The Columbus Dispatch said that a yes vote on SB 5 will restore control of government budgets to taxpayers. Dispatch.com. October 17, 2011. Ohio wages fierce fight on collective bargaining. NYTimes.com. October 15, 2011.
The Ohio Secretary of State announced that enough signatures have been gathered to put Gov. John Kasich's recent public-sector collective bargaining changes to a statewide public vote. National Review Online. July 25, 2011.
Poll- Majority want repeal of Ohio Bill (SB5) that limits government employees collective bargaining rights. In the poll, 54% of registered voters said the collective bargaining law should be repealed, while 36% said it should not. And with the law potentially headed for a referendum in November, it looks like they may get their wish. TPMDC. May 18, 2011.
Ohio Education Association imposes $54/member dues hike to generate $5 million for a referendum campaign to fight SB 5.
Governor Kasich signed into law SB5, a collective bargaining law on March 31. Key provisions of the bill:
Prohibits "public employees" from striking. Requires the public employer to deduct from the compensation of a striking employee an amount equal to twice the employee's daily rate of pay for each day or part thereof that the employee engaged in a strike.
Prohibits employees of community schools from collectively bargaining, except for conversion community schools
Permits public employers to not bargain on any subject reserved to the management and direction of the governmental unit, even if the subject affects wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment. Prohibits an existing provision of a collective bargaining agreement that was modified, renewed, or extended that does not concern wages, hours, and terms and conditions from being a mandatory subject of collective bargaining.
Prohibits a public employer that is a school district, educational service center, a conversion community school that collectively bargains, or STEM school from entering into a collective bargaining agreement that does specified things, such as establishing a maximum number of students who may be assigned to a classroom or teacher. Requires collective bargaining agreements between such an education-related public employer and public employees to comply with all applicable state or local laws or ordinances regarding wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment, unless the conflicting provision establishes benefits that are less than provided in the law or ordinance.
Prohibits a collective bargaining agreement from prohibiting a public employer that is in a state of fiscal emergency from serving a written notice to terminate, modify, or negotiate the agreement. Prohibits a collective bargaining agreement from prohibiting a public employer that is in a state of fiscal watch from serving a written notice to modify a collective bargaining agreement so that salary or benefit increases, or both, are suspended.
Prohibits an agreement from containing a provision that requires as a condition of employment that the nonmembers of the employee organization pay to the employee organization a fair share fee.
Prohibits a collective bargaining agreement entered into or renewed on or after the bill's effective date from containing provisions limiting a public employer's ability to privatize operations.
Prohibits a collective bargaining agreement entered into or renewed on or after the bill's effective date from containing provisions for certain types of leave to accrue above listed amounts or to pay out for sick leave at a rate higher than specified amounts
Prohibits a collective bargaining agreement entered into or renewed on or after the bill's effective date from containing certain provisions regarding the deferred retirement option plan.
Public employees pay. Generally eliminates statutory salary schedules and steps. Requires performance-based pay for most public employees, including board and commission members, and makes other, related changes. Requires performance-based pay for teachers based, in part, on evaluations conducted under a policy that is based on a framework for teacher evaluations that has been recommended by the Superintendent of Public Instruction and adopted by the State Board of Education
Limits public employer contributions toward health care benefit costs to 85%
Abolishes continuing contracts for teachers, except for those continuing contracts in existence prior to the effective date of the bill and revises the law relating to limited contracts
Prohibits a public employer from paying employee contributions to the five public employee retirement systems.
Removes consideration of seniority and length of service, by itself, from decisions regarding a reduction in work force of certain public employees.
Legislature passed and sent to Governor, HB 1380 which ends the "trial de novo" process Republicans believe has impaired the ability of public school districts to fire poorly performing educators. The legislation will provide for a "fuller hearing in front of the local school board," but end the option for direct appeals to district courts. Capitolbeatok.com. April 2, 2011.
Legislature passes bill to repeal the Municipal Employees Collective Bargaining Act, a law approved in 2004 that requires Oklahoma cities with more than 35,000 residents to collectively bargain with their employees. If approved, cities would have the option of whether to collectively bargain, said Sen.. Cliff Aldridge, who sponsored the bill. Beltway Confidential. April 20, 2011.
For the first time, a public employee union struck a tentative two-year contract agreement with state government requiring workers to pay part of the cost of their health insurance premiums. Following an all-night bargaining session, Ken Allen, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 75, said on July 19 that his team agreed to a deal requiring 3,500 workers at more than 20 state agencies to pay 5 percent of their monthly premiums, beginning next year. Costs would be offset somewhat by a $30 monthly subsidy to workers who earn less than $32,352 a year. Oregon's public employees have staunchly resisted any erosion of their fully paid health benefits. But the recession-beleaguered state budget coupled with dramatic increases in the cost of health care led Gov. John Kitzhaber to push for the change. The agreement announced is likely to be the first of several labor agreements breaking that wall. The state's largest public employee union, the Service Employees International Union Local 503, may be close to a similar agreement on sharing health premium costs. But the SEIU, representing 23,000 state and university employees, wants more highly paid managers to pay more than line workers. Oregonlicve.com. July 19, 2011.
The state's largest public employee union has a new four-year contract guaranteeing pay increases in three of the next four years. Unlike other first-term Republican governors, Gov. Tom Corbett did not take a hard-line stance with public sector unions, agreeing to a new contract quickly and quietly while most of the state's attention was focused on the budget process at the end of June. The contract includes a 4 percent base pay increase during the next four years and 6.75 percent increases based on the experience and seniority for workers who have been in the union between one and 20 years. Depending on seniority and position, unionized workers could earn a 10.75 percent pay raise during the course of the next four years in a series of smaller annual increases. Health-care contributions for union workers will rise from 3 percent to 5 percent in the fourth and final year of the contract. Even with those contributions, the average unionized state worker will have to pay about $150 per month for a comprehensive family health plan, though the exact amount will depend on the worker's salary. In the private sector, the average is $333 per month, according to the Kaiser Family Institute, a nonprofit health-care research center. The old contract expired June 30. Union members voted for the new contract by a ratio of 4-to-1, said David Fillman, president of Council 13 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). It represents about 45,000 unionized state workers. Pocono Record. July 25, 2011.
A compromise plan that reduces unions' role in representing teachers passed the state legislature on May 20, as lawmakers moved toward resolving a three-month debate on the eve of the end of session. The compromise will let the Tennessee Education Association continue to represent teachers in contract talks with local school boards. But the bill would place other organizations at the bargaining table, and it would set new limits on what could be written into final agreements. The legislation rewrites the rules that have shaped the employment contracts between teachers and school boards for more than three decades. But it does so without cutting teachers unions out of the process entirely, a situation that probably will leave the 52,000-member TEA as the dominant representative of teachers in the state. The Senate approved the compromise in a 19-12 vote early Friday evening. After 11 p.m., the House voted for the measure 55-40, sending it to Gov. Bill Haslam for his signature. About 250 union members packed galleries to watch the final vote in the House, waving their hands to show support for opponents of the bill without interrupting the debate. Scores more filled the Capitol rotunda to watch the vote on closed-circuit television, their cheers occasionally audible though the heavy doors to the House chamber were shut. Tennessean.com. May 21, 2011.
HB 2986, paycheck protection bill was introduced in the House.
Teachers defy court order and continue to picket. This is an illegal strike- teachers in Washington state do not have the right to strike. KOMONews.com. September 15, 2011.
After having championed school reform, Washington State's governor, Christine Gregoire, is now doubling back on that idea and threatening to veto a bill that would end the state's "last hired, first fired" rule for teachers. According to the Seattle Times, "the bill headed to the governor's desk would allow districts undertaking layoffs to first choose teachers who received the lowest average ratings during their two latest evaluations." The 82,000-strong teachers union opposes the measure and recently hosted Gregoire at a convention. A coincidence? Washington State is a fascinating case study in the power of public employee unions. In 2002, the state's AFSCME affiliate and other unions persuaded the new Democratic majority in the state legislature to lift restrictions on collective bargaining. In the span of three years, the number of union members and the amount of union dollars flowing into the coffers of Democrats running in state elections doubled. A prime beneficiary was Christine Gregoire, who became governor in 2004 after one of the closest elections in the state's history. (AFSCME gave a quarter million dollars to the state Democratic party to help pay for the recount that won her the election). Once in office, Gregoire negotiated contracts that resulted in double-digit salary increases for thousands of state employees. In 2008, Gregoire won again this time by 194,614 votes. Publicsectorinc.com. May 17, 2011.
Organizers file more than 1 million signatures to recall Gov.Walker. Signatures were also filed to recall Lt. Gov. Kleefish, Sen. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and three other Senators. Madison.com.
New court challenge to Wisconsin collective bargaining law. Reuters.com. December 30, 2011.
Local teachers' union leaders encouraged by statewide recertification results. Northwestern.com. December 12, 2011.
Six state employee unions win recertification elections. Under the new state law that removed most public employee union rights, recertification is required before unions can negotiate, and then the only allowable issue on the table is cost-of-living wage increases - pegged at 2.01 percent for 2012 by the state revenue department. Benefits or working conditions are not subject to bargaining. Without certification, no collective bargaining is allowed on any matter. Madison.com. November 17, 2011.
Lawmakers approve pay freeze for two years and tighter rules on overtime. JSonline.com. November 17, 2011.
The state is no longer required to bargain with largest public unions. Madison.com.. September 23, 2011.
The National Support Organization is discouraging its members from seeing work with the Wisconsin Education Association Council. Chuck Agerstrand, president of the National Support Organization, accusED WEAC officials of "breaching staff contracts and destroying any working relationship with its employees." "WEAC management is taking a page out of Gov. (Scott) Walker's playbook and making up new employment rules not in the (United Staff Union) contract," Agerstrand said on the labor group's website. "They should be looking to the 42 employees they laid off to fill vacancies before they go outside the state." JSonline.com. September 12, 2011.
Wisconsin reforms are already working. National Review Online. August 11, 2011.
Background: Most government sector unions would not exist without forced union dues. Government unions fight allowing workers the choice to join or not join a union. they only survive by a dreadful anti-worker provision in state laws called "union security" Note the term is "union security" not worker security. The union security clause allows unions to force government employees to pay for the union's services as a condition of employment. If you want a government job you have to pay tribute to the union. And the union has no trouble in firing workers who don't toe their line. No one should be forced to join a government union against their will. The heavily unionized government worker states - i.e. California; Illinois; New Jersey and New York have the largest unfunded liabilities (pensions; retiree health care, etc). As Michael Barone has stated, government sector collective bargaining increase the cost of government and reduces the accountability of public employees. Further those states with the highest percentage of unionized government workers have the largest unfunded pension and retiree health care liabilities. There are no studies that show that government workers in unionize states provide better services than those in nonunionized states. In Wisconsin teachers violated their contract by abandoning their classrooms; doctors wrote phony medical excuses; Democrat legislators fled the state to avoid the legislature voting on the proposals. Federal workers have fewer bargaining rights than those proposed by Governor Walker. The purpose of private-sector unions is to get workers a larger share of the profits they helped create. If there are no profits, the union workers jobs are in danger. However, government has no bottom line- no profit or loss. State and local employees in 28 states are required to pay full union dues or get fired. Using this government coercion, government-sector unions have amassed large financial resources which they use to campaign for higher taxes and higher pay for government workers and to elect pubic officials who will support their agenda.