9/10/07

AFL-CIO's big plans for U. of Minnesota strike

The strike by clerical, technical and health care workers at the University of Minnesota enters its second week Monday, with numerous actions and support activities planned.

The workers, members of AFSCME Locals 3260, 3800, 3801 and 3937, went on strike Sept. 5 at campuses across the University of Minnesota system. Administrators claim only one-third of the 3,500 workers represented by those local unions have walked off the job; the union disputes that claim.

The workers are seeking pay increases to keep up with inflation. Workers and supporters held a rally Friday outside a session of the university's Board of Regents and more than 100 students interrupted the meeting. Five were arrested and jailed, but released Saturday.

Legislators also stepped up pressure on the university to offer a fair settlement.

In a letter addressed to the regents and University President Robert Bruininks, state Representatives Tom Rukavina and Mary Murphy, chairs of two key Minnesota House Higher Education Finance Committees, wrote in part, "We are deeply disappointed that thousands of university employees have been forced onto the picket lines due to the unwillingness of the university administration to provide adequate contact settlements for its clerical, technical and health care workers.

"For the first time in many years, the Minnesota Legislature provided the university with a generous 3.25 percent salary supplement. We expected those funds to be used to benefit all university employees. We can't understand how you can justify your minuscule offer of 2.25 percent on the salary schedule for your hardworking, dedicated employees."

Activities planned this week include:

Monday – Continued picketing with more elected officials and candidates, including U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken, slated to visit strikers.

Also on Monday, striking clerical workers in Duluth will hold a news conference to discuss support activities occurring at UMD's sister campus in Birmingham, England.

At 4:30 p.m. Monday, students will hold a solidarity and information meeting at the strike headquarters at University Baptist Church, 1219 University Ave. S.E., in Dinkytown.

Tuesday – Teach-ins about the strike are scheduled both Tuesday and Wednesday in the Twin Cities. University professors and instructors are expected to bring their classes to the teach-ins, held off campus at the Oak Street Cinema, 309 Oak St. S.E., Minneapolis.

Tuesday also will be "Teamster Tuesday." University employees represented by the Teamsters union, who recently reached an agreement with the university, will be encouraged to join strikers on the picketlines during their non-working hours.

At 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, the Faculty Solidarity Group with meet at the strike headquarters at University Baptist Church, 1219 University Ave. S.E., in Dinkytown.

Wednesday – Participants in the weekly peace vigil on the Marshall Ave.-Lake St. bridge will highlight the connection between the university strike and the war in Iraq. "In U.S. society, those with the fewest resources are expected to bear the brunt of U.S. war by fighting on the front lines; likewise, at the University of Minnesota, those who are least able are asked to bear the costs of the university," organizers said.

The vigil will start at 5 p.m. on the bridge and end with a march to Bruininks' house.

(workdayminnesota.org)

Governor's pet unions put lipstick on a pig

Roger Hessler, a maintenance worker for the Colorado Department of Transportation, meets regularly with the top boss of his agency. An 11-year veteran of CDOT, Hessler said it's a way for front-line workers to share ideas and address problems with Russell George, CDOT's executive director.

Those meetings - occurring once every month or so since the beginning of the year - are a major change in direction for state government that is stirring political debate at the Capitol.

Union leaders consider the meetings a first step toward creating "labor- management partnerships" that they say will make government more efficient, effective and accountable. Elected Republican officials fear that such meetings are a stepping stone that will give unions greater bargaining power for budget-busting higher pay and benefits.

Hessler, a member of the Colorado Association of Public Employees union, said he doesn't know what the fuss is about. He said the meetings are about making his job better and improving the quality of the work he does.

Hessler, who lives in Sterling, works on a crew that plows snow in the winter and repairs broken road posts in the summer.

"One of the things they've got to remember," Hessler said, "is that we all pay taxes."

For George, listening to workers is a matter of style and circumstance.

"I came with my own experiences of managing of state agencies," George said. "I have always had the philosophy that I want the organization to work as a whole. I didn't want management versus anybody else."

George, the former director of the state Department of Natural Resources, is the highest- ranking Republican holdover from Gov. Bill Owens' administration.

George launched discussions with union workers after a computer malfunction that he inherited messed up workers' paychecks.

When union leaders asked for a meeting, George agreed. As the conversations continued, George said union officials asked about surveying workers. He said they should coordinate that effort with the department's already existing employee council, which includes nonunion members.

Thus was born one of the first "labor-management partnerships" of the Ritter administration.

Elected Republican officials warn that the partnerships are part of a Democratic deal with the unions. They point to reams of documents released by Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter's administration last week showing ongoing discussions with union officials.

"Partnerships! So, that's what they're calling a union chokehold these days," said Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany, R-Colorado Springs. "They're putting lipstick on a pig."

Public-worker unions have limited power in Colorado. They can lobby for changes to existing laws on behalf of their members. They can stand up for workers in employment disputes with managers.

But they can't negotiate for raises or benefits, which is known as collective bargaining.

As a result, the unions have relatively small memberships. The four unions representing state workers count 7,000 members among their ranks, including retirees. There are about 60,000 current state workers, and about half of them are eligible to join the existing unions.

A draft bill that was included in the documents released by Ritter shows that "employee partnership groups" could be chosen by workers to serve as "the official representative of all employees" in the group.

"Ultimately, on economics, a negotiated employee partnership agreement would shape the legislative budget-setting process," the draft bill says. "The Governor, in partnership with employees, would go to the legislature with a jointly supported request for financial needs."

From there, officials disagree about what would happen.

"The ramifications to the budget are enormous," McElhany said. "And all the offshoots of collective bargaining, like binding arbitration, are huge budget-busters."

Ritter's administration has not called the draft bill collective bargaining; instead, it says such partnerships are a way to make government use taxpayers' money more efficiently.

"The governor has been very open about his support for expanding opportunities to partner with state employees," Ritter spokesman Evan Dreyer said. "He believes that stronger partnerships will result in more efficient and accountable state government."

The approach has worked in the private sector, union officials said, pointing to a labor-management partnership with health care provider Kaiser Permanente.

Donna Lynne, chief executive of Kaiser Colorado, called it a "performance-sharing program" with workers.

"To the extent that we achieve certain goals, they share in the financial aspects," Lynne said. "It might be that we want to attain certain (income) margin, grow our margin or achieve customer satisfaction goals."

Lynne acknowledged that governmental goals would be different from the private sector, but she said it is still possible.

"In many respects in the public sector, it's harder to be concrete about outcomes," she said.

But she pointed to examples of timely completion of construction projects or reduced costs for providing certain public services.

(denverpost.com)

Big Government begets Big Labor

At the start of the school year in Bethel, Washington, the local teachers' union went on strike. A week later, New York city's cabbies went on strike. The two strikes lasted just a few days each, but could hardly be more different. And yet both tell us interesting things about life in our over-governmentalized age.

But first, let's clear up something. Both strikes were mass protests involving not force, but inactivity. The word "strike" is, indeed, a funny word for not showing up to work. It's such an active word. (When I don't show up for work, it's not usually because I'm being active.) The word is also violent. I don't have the right to strike you in the face. You don't have the right to strike me with a bowling pin. Our very liberties don't allow aggression.

Now, not showing up to work isn't very aggressive. Barring some legal, binding contract, everyone has a right not to show up to work. And employers [should] have the right to not pay those who don't show up. And, while it lasted, the Bethel public school teacher strike was a case where a contract hadn't been signed. Why not just start hiring non-union teachers?

I don't belong to a union, as you can guess. But I do employ union workers. After all, as a citizen, I'm a shareholder in our government. More and more, it is in government that we find unionized workers.

But I'm not a Washingtonian, so it wasn't my biz to tell Bethel's teachers to start looking for other jobs. I can quote the state's Attorney General, though: "In Washington, state and local public employees do not have a legally protected right to strike. No such right existed at common law, and none has been granted by statute."

You might be asking yourself, how could a right to strike not be in common law? And the reason is that what we mean by a strike, by a union, is (as you suspected earlier) something more than just not showing up for work. It also has something to do with preventing other people from taking the job you are not showing up to work for. For strikes to be really effective, it helps that unions get special treatment, in law. There's a reason that Washington state, a once very strong union state, legally allows union strikes only against corporations; politicians are savvy enough to shift the "gun under the table" form of negotiation away from themselves.

Unfortunately, when illegal strikes occur, Washington officials rarely put up much more than a weak harumph.

The strike lasted only three days. The teachers pretty much got what they wanted: a policy about class size, and a raise. Most "harumphs" were uttered in private.

Funny thing is, during the strike, the school district website emblazoned a "schools closed" notice, adding, "athletics to continue."

Ah, well, at least essential services were preserved.

The Big Apple cabbie strike provides a study in contrasts. For one, essential services weren't treated as quite the joke they were in the western Washington town. The majority of cabs remained in service, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg upped bus service and loosened up on the multiple passenger taxi restriction to allow riders to get where they needed to go.

For another, the cabbies who actually protested weren't demanding more from a government body. They were demanding less.

Instead of striking against the cab companies, they were protesting New York City government. In particular, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance — which is not quite a union, more like a trade group — sought to stop the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission's demand that all taxis include a special global positioning satellite (GPS) device and wireless credit card reading system. The cabbies fear they'll end up paying the cost individually.

Of course, as in many other towns, New York's cab market is oppressively controlled. Licenses are expensive. Cabbies are often ordered about. They were forced out of employment contracts and into independent contractor status, but their fares remain regulated. They may not even refuse fares to neighborhoods they deem dangerous.

The GPS devices are of no use to cabbies. They are to be only viewable by customers. The credit card machines might help some cabbies, but most see them as a bother, and as yet another financial drain. Accept a card, and you pay a percentage to the card company. And you pay for the device. And even if you, the cabbie, lease all this equipment from the cab company you deal with (as a hyper-regulated "independent contractor," of course), rather than have to install it yourself, you'll almost certainly still be charged. Yet another hassle, more paperwork, more complexity added to a job already known for its demands.

One could argue, as some have, that the devices are good for consumers. But what would really be good for consumers Bloomberg and the city's high muckety-mucks refuse to try: free enterprise. Instead of tweaking decades of coercive controls that hurt everybody, both cabbies and customers alike should advocate phasing out all regulations burdening the industry.

Alas, it doesn't look like the strike did much good. The mayor and his cronies in the government pooh-pooh the extent of the disruption. Service was down only 20 percent for the two days, or somesuch figure.

Too bad. In both Bethel, Washington, and New York, New York, the problem — what instigated the interruptions in service — was government's obsession with monopoly. Not anti-monopoly, mind you, but pro-monopoly.

In Bethel, as everywhere else in the country, it was the way schools were designed that gave power to the unions. Set up one de facto monopoly in a jurisdiction, and the corresponding monopoly, unions, are bound to form. The resulting situation becomes what economists call a "bilateral monopoly," which is the least efficient bargaining system possible.

In New York, it was the regulation of the industry, and the deliberate limitation of legal cabs, that led to the mess. New York government just doesn't like consumer options — or producer options — in private, for-contract fare service. They prohibit those options, making all providers provide pretty much the same thing.

Both the provision of schools and of taxis should be opened to competition. When that happens, we'll have better taxies and better-informed people.

The Big Apple and Bethel, Washington, could hardly be more different. But it's really no shock that they both provide lessons against big government. Big government is everywhere.

And so are its lessons.

(townhall.com)

Sweet monopoly deals for Ohio unions

As Ohio labor laws stand, only government workers — not those working in private business — have an option that allows them to receive overtime pay or carry overtime hours in compensatory time to be taken later.

The policy of allowing employees to carrying vacation time, sick time and compensatory time — something some refer to as a taxpayer-funded liability — is one some experts say doesn’t make good business sense.

With the exception, for example, of Warren city firefighters, who are required to take overtime instead of compensatory time, Warren employees to date are owed 27,980 hours of compensatory time, which according to state law has to be used over the next three years or the time is considered lost. That equates to about 13.5 total years of time off or about $646,081.63, according to records obtained by the Tribune Chronicle.

Under a labor contract between Trumbull County and one of its largest unions, AFSCME Local 2493, employees may receive cash for their balance of comp time at the end of every year. With the exception of the county’s maintenance department, for which overtime balances weren’t immediately available, records show AFSCME Local 2493 employees could cash out more than $27,000 today if they so opted.

Those same employees have the option of cashing in up to two weeks of vacation time at the end of the year. If an employee chooses to work, and be paid for those two weeks and then cash in at the end of the year, he or she would essentially be paid twice for those weeks.

If each eligible employee decided to cash in the allowable vacation hours, it would cost the county about $184,159.

"That (vacation and sick time carry-over as well as compensatory time) is public sector entitlements that has gotten really out of hand," said Michael Creatore, who is a financial adviser in the private sector and the Austintown Board of Education president in the public sector.

"In the private sector companies can only afford to do for their employees based on profits of the company. It’s not like that in the public sector. They think they can just go back to taxpayers to fund their request."

Mike Villano, an accounting and finance faculty member at Youngstown State University as well as the auditor for the city of Hubbard, said compensatory time also is a liability because an hour earned today is worth more in the future. Ohio law states that when an employee retires, the unused time is cashed out at the rate the employee is earning at the time of severance.

"You’re not paying the 2007 rate, you’re paying the 2025 rate," Villano said.

Numerous bills have been introduced in both the Ohio House of Representatives and Ohio Senate over the years to give those in the private sector the same opportunity, but have failed. Some of the most recent companion bills died without even making it to committee.

But whether the option ever becomes allowable under Ohio law, it’s questionable whether managers in private Ohio companies and industry might ever allow workers to carry comp time because of the liability it would create on company books.

It’s the competitiveness of private business that drives companies to work harder to control their costs — something government leaders don’t have to worry about, according to Reid Dulberger, executive vice president of the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber, who works with local business and development issues.

"Government is by its nature, a monopoly. There are very few monopolies left in the private sector and if it is, it’s very heavily regulated. Businesses are in competitive markets and are therefore forced to control costs," Dulberger said last week. "They (private businesses) are forced to constantly seek to improve efficiencies. If they don’t, someone else is going to come in and provide another product at a lower cost and put them out of business. That’s not true in government because there is no competition. We don’t put government out of business. There is no pressure to constantly innovate and constantly control cost."

Trumbull County Human Resources Director James Keating argues, though, that compensatory time makes sense because it gives individual departments leverage in how they pay their employees.

"Some things are better in the private sector, but the reverse is true too ... If you’re paying out overtime as cash and you’re cash-poor, that’s a detriment to the entire county budget," Keating said.

Employees in the Warren Police Department can accrue a maximum of 480 hours of compensatory time, while other departments max out at 240 hours, according to the Ohio Revised Code. Any additional time is considered lost.

Warren city Auditor David Griffing said employees do have the option of cashing out their compensatory time and all time off must first be approved by their department head.

"There are clauses in the contracts that prevent everyone from taking off at the same time," Griffing said.

Warren Operations Director Frank Tempesta, whose department is regularly called out for overtime, said the decision when to take time off is made on a case-by-case basis, but said there are restrictions on the number of employees allowed off at one time.

"It’s their time and they can take it whenever they want to as long as we don’t have too many people off that day and it doesn’t interfere with the operation of the department," he said.

Trumbull County departments also have controls on the amount of compensatory time employees can carry.

Under AFSCME Local 2493’s contract, employees are capped at 60 hours for the year, which wipes clean at the end of the year. With the Board of Health, employees can carry only up to 40 hours at one time. The county Engineer’s Department doesn’t allow employees to convert their saved compensatory time into a cash payment.

And some employees, such as those working at Trumbull County 911, have the option of cashing in their hours. Under 911 contracts, employees can cash in up to 80 hours each year.

Hubbard’s Villano said collective bargaining has played a significant role in the development of carry-over hours and compensatory time.

"Generally, that’s the trend in the public sector. Over time, the police department gets X, then the service guys bargain and say they want the same thing. It evolves over a long history," he said.

While collective bargaining exists in the private sector, it does not hold the same weight as it does for public employees, Creatore said.

"Collective bargaining units again in the private sector are only as good as the profits of that company. The better the product, the better the profit and the more those employees can benefit from their hard work. In the public sector, it seems that raises are given automatically and they are not based on job performances. My problem with that is raises in the public sector should be based on job performances, not on collective bargaining unit automatic raises that are funded by the taxpayer," he said.

The ability to carry-over earned sick and vacation hours from year-to-year is another practice mostly unique to the public sector.

In Warren, vacation and sick hours are supposed to max out at 960, or 24 weeks, even though many city employees carry hundreds more.

For example, Warren fire Chief Ken Nussle has 2,847 hours of sick time accrued, meaning he could take off almost a year and half and still get paid.

Marc Titus, president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 204, said the union acknowledges the hazards associated with their jobs by encouraging new employees to save their sick time for when it is really needed.

"It’s like an insurance policy. Sometimes you use it, and sometimes you don’t, but it helps protect us," Titus said. "We have a minimum manning of 17, and once we go below that number, we have to go to overtime, so it actually saves the city money."

(tribune-chronicle.com)

Excessive gov't hiring helps unions, harms economy

Warren and Youngstown residents working in manufacturing have seen the number of their jobs decline by nearly 29 percent since 1990, but during that time, the number of people holding government jobs in this area has increased by more than 12 percent, labor statistics show.

With the help of strong growth in the service sector, or jobs generally found in restaurants or retail establishments, overall employment in private companies saw a decline by only about a thousand jobs, or about a half percent. Still, government grew by about 3,500 jobs.

The imbalance in rate of job growth is cause for concern, according to Reid Dulberger, vice president of the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber, one of the agencies that works to bring new private business and jobs to the Mahoning Valley.

"More money spent on local government means less money available to grow the economy and less disposable income for people to spend at existing businesses," Dulberger said last week, adding that he believes the large number of local government jobs is keeping the economy stagnant.

While jobs are jobs — whether private or public — Dulberger said he thinks the only way to grow the local economy is to bring money in from outside the Trumbull-Mahoning market.

"If the public jobs are primarily federal such as the Youngstown Air Reserve Station, post office or federal courts, it would have the same effect as a private industry selling its goods or services outside the Valley," he said.

But most of the government jobs in the Youngstown-Warren area are local — 23,500 of about 32,500 — meaning they are supported by local tax dollars, and points out when local residents spend money on local government services such as police, fire, roads and education, that leaves them less disposable income to spend on retail and other activities that boost the local economy.

That opinion may not be a popular one among the government officials and workers in nine Trumbull County communities that are asking voters this November to raise their taxes.

In Bloomfield, for example, trustees are seeking to combine three fire levies into two with an increase of less than a half-mill. Trustee Roger Peterson Jr. said the Fire Department’s budget is $33,000 annually and $22,000 is paid to Bristol for ambulance service.

"That leaves us with $11,000 for gas, equipment, repairs. Show me a fire department that can operate on $11,000 a year," Peterson said.

He said the $60,000 generated by the replacement levies would be used to replace its aging fleet, put a new roof on the fire station and purchase new gear.

Peterson said the general fund is supported by a 0.7-mill levy passed in 1953 and the township would like to replace it next year so it can collect on current property values. He said the only paid township employees are one full-time and one part-time road worker.

"And we can’t even afford to give them benefits," he said.

Peterson said the township’s finances are further strained by the fact that one-third of its land is owned by the state in the form of wetlands, waterways and wildlife preserves. He said since that land is not taxable and there is no industry in the township, Bloomfield has no way to generate more funds.

In northeastern Trumbull’s Vernon Township, Trustee Walter Emrick said a 0.5-mill police levy is being sought to free up money in the general fund. He said the township has contracted with Hartford for police protection for the past three years and the most Vernon officials have been able to come up with is $10,000.

Emrick said the township would continue to supplement the police contract from the general fund, but the $8,800 generated by the levy could be used for other services. He said the township’s general fund budget is $100,000, which pays for roads, snow removal, the volunteer fire department and ambulance service.

"Small government funds all have been cut. We’re doing the best we can, but we need a little more," he said.

But Thomas Finnerty, associate director for the Center of Urban and Regional Studies at Youngstown State University, who studies development, believes one way to beat rising costs and government size is consolidation.

Finnerty said there is no doubt the Mahoning Valley needs more private sector jobs.

"The public sector jobs stick out more as private sector jobs decline. Consolidation is the answer, but this area is not in favor of consolidating. Yes, we need safety forces. But do we need 100 police chiefs and 100 fire chiefs in the tri-county area? Probably not," he said.

Finnerty said an aging population also is contributing to the stagnant nature of the local economy.

"We have a lot of senior citizens in this area who are on a fixed income. They are unable to pay more taxes, so they don’t vote for most of the levies. When the levies do pass, seniors take the biggest hit. And because they don’t have as much disposable income, they’re not spending their money on goods and services. They’re spending it on utilities and medicine," he said.

Finnerty thinks higher education is the key, but keeping college graduates here is vital to growing the economy.

In addition to federal jobs, Dulberger said jobs funded by the state such as the Ohio Department of Transportation, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, state-level courts and prisons also help grow the economy, while local government jobs simply recirculate money that is already flowing in the area.

"While that recirculation is important to stabilize the economy, it doesn’t help grow it and economic growth is what this area needs. If a person has $100 to spend, the majority of that will go to government services rather than consumer spending. And as the number of private sector employees declines because of manufacturing losses, there is a snowball effect," Dulberger said.

Finnerty agrees that there are too many local government jobs and not enough private sector employees to support them. However, he said the problem is a regional one that applies not only to the Youngstown-Warren area, but also to Akron, Cleveland and Canton.

"Obviously, we need government jobs, but things can be streamlined," Finnerty said.

He said public school employees are considered government workers, further adding to the number of local government employees.

On the flip side, workers at YSU, Kent State University and other state educational institutions bring money into the local economy. However, those employees are not enough to grow the economy when compared with the number of locally funded positions.

"That’s why levies are failing all over the place. There is not enough of a tax base to support all these public workers," Finnerty said.

In addition to Bloomfield and Vernon, voters in November also will see ballot issues for new or replacement levies in Bazetta, Brookfield, Fowler and Liberty, according to the Trumbull County Board of Elections.

In all, more than 30 taxes and other issues will appear on the November ballot countywide.

Finnerty noted, though, that all government employees — not just private sector employees — pay taxes.

"It’s a double-edged sword. These government workers shop here, spend money at our local restaurants and buy tickets to entertainment events just like the private sector does. It’s more a matter of that money recirculating, but if public employees stop spending their money, the economy would take a big hit," he said.

"Growing your own business is the trend and that’s what places like the Youngstown Business Incubator are for. Local startups will be the answer to increasing the number of private sector jobs because locally grown businesses tend to stay longer than big companies. Local businesses have an investment in this area, while big companies come here to take advantage of cheap labor," Finnerty said.

However, he cautioned against driving away big companies even if the jobs they provide are only temporary.

"A job is a job. We should take what we can get."

(tribune-chronicle.com)

Our system of government-politics explained

Democracy: Two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.

Representative Democracy: Two thousand wolves and one thousand sheep electing two wolves and a sheep who vote on what to have for dinner.

Constitutional Republic: Two thousand wolves and one thousand sheep electing two wolves and a sheep who vote on what to have for dinner, but are restricted by a Constitution that says they cannot eat sheep. The Supreme Court then votes 5 wolves to 4 sheep that mutton does not count as sheep.

(oregoncatalyst.com)

OSHA levies hefty fine on Kansas Union

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration last month handed out $9,000 in fines to the Kansas Union.

The fines stem from three violations — two of them described as serious — of the administration’s training and documentation policies. Pat Beard, director of building services, said KU and union officials didn’t think the union fell under OSHA regulations because it is affiliated with KU.

As a state agency, KU is not subject to OSHA rules, but its affiliated corporations are. Those corporations include the union, the KU Endowment Association and the athletics department.

“We feel we didn’t have any safety violations, but just violations of procedure and documentation,” Beard said. “OSHA is all about procedures and documentation.”

OSHA said union employees were not trained in and familiar with safety-related work practices — specifically electrical work, such as replacing light switches or resetting control panels. The union also failed to provide documentation of a lockout/tagout procedure. Lockout/tagout involves ensuring equipment being maintained cannot accidentally be turned on.

The union, according to OSHA, also failed to complete an analysis of whether employees needed personal protective gear to do their work.

Beard said OSHA recommended the union take part in an informal hearing to see about getting the fine reduced. It’s something the union is considering, Beard said.

“We’ve taken this very seriously, now that we know we are under OSHA compliance,” Beard said. “We don’t think we’ve ever put our employees in danger, but we’re developing the procedures and documentation OSHA requires.”

Judy Freeman, OSHA’s area director in Wichita, said the inspection was driven by a worker complaint. Neither the union nor any of the other affiliated corporations have been inspected before.

“This is not a priority industry,” Freeman explained. “Inspections in this industry are all complaint-driven.”

Rosita Elizalde-McCoy, senior vice president for communications and marketing at the Endowment Association, said the association has always complied with all OSHA standards to provide a safe working environment.

“Because we’re a white-collar environment, we have no training requirements,” she said. “We actually go above and beyond their requirements and provide individual ergonomic training.”

Associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said the athletic department complies with all state and federal regulations, including those provided by OSHA.

(ljworld.com)
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