Ganging up for forced-labor unionism

News organ prints mug shots of union officials involved

Key union leaders who fired a salvo Wednesday in the controversial right-to-work ballot battle include a former state representative and several career labor officials. Collectively, their unions represent more than 100,000 members in Colorado.

They will share the spotlight in labor's fight against a business-backed coalition aiming to ban compulsory union membership in Colorado. Labor interests said they filed a lawsuit in Denver District Court on Wednesday alleging that the right-to-work group committed fraud in collecting signatures to put the measure on November's ballot.

"The fraud on the 'right to work for less' side was unbelievable," said Mitch Ackerman, president of Service Employees International Union Colorado.

Ackerman claims to have video of signature-gatherers copying voter information from unrelated initiatives onto right-to-work petition forms.

Right-to-work proponents have called the fraud allegation a smokescreen.

In addition to Ackerman, other labor leaders involved in the fight include Steve Vairma, secretary-treasurer and principal executive officer for Teamsters Local 455; Ernest Duran Jr., president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7; and Mike Cerbo, executive director of Colorado AFL-CIO.

Ackerman, 39, started as an organizer for SEIU 18 years ago after receiving a bachelor's degree in Third World studies from Oberlin College in Ohio. He has served as president of SEIU Colorado for eight years. The union represents about 10,000 workers in the state and has contributed nearly $700,000 to the group fighting the right-to-work measure.

Duran, 52, is a tenacious, lifelong union official. He started UFCW Local 7's first in-house legal department in 1984. He was elected president in October 1991, returned to his position as legal counsel after the term ended and was re-elected president in 1997.

"The sole purpose for our existence is to fight for workers," Duran states in a message to members on Local 7's website. "I have dedicated my working life to the United Food and Commercial Workers union."

Vairma, 49, has led Teamsters chapters through several labor disputes, including a UPS workers strike in 1997. During that strike, he joined a picket line to personally congratulate workers after a tentative deal was struck. He has worked for the Teamsters for 30 years.

Vairma's Local 455 is leading the fight against right-to-work for the Teamsters, contributing $250,000 to the effort.

Cerbo, 54, joined the AFL-CIO eight months ago after representing central and west Denver for more than four years in the Colorado legislature. He has a law degree from the University of Denver and has more than 20 years of labor-union experience.

The seasoned labor leaders will clash with a business coalition led by Jonathan Coors, a 28-year-old fifth- generation member of the conservative brewing family.


Big Conflict: Union control of gov't

The real 'two Americas'

Few would dispute the benefits unions have brought to society, especially through about the middle of the last century. But the inspirational work of leaders from Mary Harris Jones to Cesar Chavez is used to obscure the reality in the 21st century - that in most states in America, unions in the public sector now exercise nearly absolute control over elections, politicians, and policy, and this is happening at all levels; state, county and municipal.

In California, the reality of union control over state politics became obvious during Governor Schwarzenegger’s 2005 ”year of reform.”

After fruitless attempts to negotiate, Schwarzenegger supported four initiatives: (1) to extend to five years from two the time required before public school teachers gain tenure, (2) to eliminate gerrymandering by creating a non-partisan board to govern redistricting, (3) to increase the ability of the Governor to reduce expenditures to balance the budget, and (4) to give public employees the right to decide individually whether or not their union dues are used for political activity.

While these initiatives were seen as a partisan threat to Democrats, and were cast as an errant act by an out-of-control Governor, these initiatives should have been seen as a bipartisan necessity. These initiative reforms were the first steps in a process that, supposedly, voters had elected Schwarzenegger to implement. But they failed because public employee unions, using taxpayers money - if their dues are mandatory, and they usually are, then this is taxpayer’s money - spent hundreds of millions of dollars to demonize Schwarzenegger and defeat the initiatives.

Now California is in precisely the fiscal predicament those initiatives were intended to help prevent. And Governor Schwarzenegger - once one of the only politicians to openly defy the public sector unions in recent history - has now become one of the “girlee men” he once mocked, refusing to state the problem plainly as he once did - public employee unions control California.

It is important to again emphasize that unions, per se, are not necessarily a bad thing. After all, in the globalized private sector, unions either are reasonable or they destroy entire industries. Much of America’s manufacturing sector has been destroyed because unions took too long to recognize the threat of global competition. Since then unions in the private sector have become more reasonable and realistic in their expectations. Now the most powerful unions operate almost exclusively in the public sector, however, where there is no competition, and revenues are guaranteed through taxes. For more on the principles that should underlie reform and regulation of public sector unions, read “Unions, Ideals vs. Reality.”

When unions no longer negotiate with the government, but are the government, elections become a travesty. The injustice and hypocrisy that attends this reality is so multi-faceted as to pretty much defy description. Every program, every cause, every campaign brought forth by government is suspect. Every candidate is a puppet. Every bureaucrat is a pawn. There is a shadow government that exercises the real power in California, and they don’t occupy the capitol building - but instead the various union headquarters across the country.

There are 3.7 million state, county and city employees in California, and nearly all of them pay union dues averaging about $1,000 per year. This means the unions have access to literally billions of dollars every year to pour into election campaigns. As a result, compliant politicians have granted concession after concession, so today public employees make 2-4x what private sector workers make (depending on whether or not you factor in the present value of their retirement benefits during the years they work), retire 10 years earlier than private sector workers, enjoy far more paid time off, and receive outrageously generous pensions and health care plans - while the rest of us have to either be rich to retire with financial security, or have to sell our homes via reverse mortgages and hope we die before the payments stop - with nothing to leave our heirs. This is the real “two Americas.”

For a long time unions weren’t able to exercise this level of control at the national level, but that is quickly changing. Just last week the U.S. Senate voted, with a veto-proof majority of 69 Senators, to send to the Senate floor a bill that will require every city or county government in the United States to engage in mandatory collective bargaining with national unions representing public safety workers. This bill already sailed through the House of Representatives with an overwhelming majority. That the unions have now mustered the power to intimidate 69 U.S. Senators into accepting this legislation is testimony to the fact they have consolidated their power at the state level, and is a harbinger of what is to come. One of the reasons we don’t hear much about this is because today Republicans are on the run, fragmented, lacking any mission, instead falling over themselves to be more Democratic than the Democrats. But Republicans provide balance, at least as long as they remember their principles, and America will not be better off as a one-party nation. Again, this is a bipartisan issue, or should be.

It isn’t our charter to editorialize continuously about politics - our charter is to report on clean technology and the status of species and ecosystems. Similarly, it isn’t our charter to report on global warming alarm, but because global warming alarm is being used opportunistically by virtually every powerful vested interest in the world to further their special agenda, and because the policies attendant to this alarm are going to undermine our property rights and economic opportunities more than anything since the great depression, we have to spend time on that, too. And the connection between the rise of public employee unions and global warming alarm is quite interesting:

Rather than face inevitable financial insolvency due to pension and health care obligations too expensive to possibly be met, the public sector understands that global warming alarm will facilitate huge transfers of wealth into the public sector without officially enacting new taxes. Using California as an example, here’s how:

(1) Public agencies can impose fees to mitigate for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, then redefine existing public sector jobs to address GHG challenges.

(2) Public agencies intend to regularly auction GHG emission allowances to industry, using the billions in proceeds in ways yet unspecified.

(3) Zoning laws will require more draconian “in-fill” than ever, creating ultra high density housing and ruining semi-rural neighborhoods everywhere, then the public agencies will calculate the alleged annual GHG emission tonnage savings vs. “business as usual” and sell these reductions as emissions credits to industry. AB 2596 sets the stage for this activity.

(4) Public agencies will assess fines and launch lucrative civil suits against any industry that fails to sufficiently reduce their “carbon footprint.” For more on global warming read “Environmentalist Priorities.”

Everything coming out of Sacramento so far relating to global warming mitigation suggests that it is viewed as a huge windfall revenue opportunity by the public agencies. And so this will be, ironically enough, the real “endless war,” this futile attempt to reduce GHG emissions based on flawed logic. But it may very well bring enough revenue into the public sector to delay reforms for a generation.

Instead of fleecing the consumer and undermining the economy, here are some basic reforms that should apply to public sector unions and finance - and given sufficient public awareness, these reforms can be accomplished either via citizen’s initiatives or through bankruptcy court:

(1) All future public employees will recieve social security and medicare, just like the rest of us. This will mean the same baseline retirement and health security formula will apply to all voters - if reform and upgrades to social security and medicare is ever to occur, this is how we’ll get it done. This will also prevent public employees from being slaves to their pensions - afraid to ever take a chance in the private sector.

(2) Current public employees will participate in both their current benefits or the new system according to a formula based on their years in the workforce. If they are 90% completed with their working years, then they will get 90% of what they would have gotten through their old pension plan, along with 10% of what they would get if they had been social security participants their entire career. If they are only 10% completed with their working years, those proportions would be flipped, and so on.

(3) Public employee unions will be forbidden from engaging in political activity, if not banned altogether. There are compelling reasons why government organizations should not allow their members to belong to a union - the job of the government is to look out for everyone, not just their own. The lack of competitive checks on government organizations, the guaranteed revenue, and the enormous power wielded by public bureaucrats creates too many conflicts of interest. The results of those conflicts of interest should be clear by now to anyone who’s paying attention.


SEIU plans to crush dissenters at convention

Anti-democratic amendments would concentrate power and money at the top of SEIU

The following are some of the most important and problematic of the constitutional amendments and resolutions being proposed to the SEIU 2008 Convention by the International Executive Board and various allies of the Stern Administration.

All of them, in different degrees, concentrate more power and money in the hands of top International Union officials as part of or consistent with the “Justice for All” plan. Several appear to be specifically aimed at crushing the dissent of UHW and other opposition.

Proposed Constitutional Amendments and Resolutions [.pdf]

UHW Analysis of Problem Amendments Being Proposed at SEIU Convention [.pdf]


Cancel your newspaper today!

NLRB smacks down Teamsters news unionists

In a big win for the Santa Barbara News-Press, a federal judge this month denied immediate reinstatement for a group of eight reporters fired by the daily newspaper. The judge said that reinstating the reporters would infringe on the First Amendment rights of the News-Press to protect itself against union efforts. The win for the newspaper is perhaps its biggest court victory to date in its ongoing struggle against the Teamsters Union.

This decision affects only the injunction request filed in March 2008 by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). It does not overturn another judge’s finding that the News-Press violated federal labor laws in firing the eight reporters. That December 2007 decision was immediately appealed by the News-Press’ attorneys, which led the NLRB to file this injunction, in hopes of getting the reporters their jobs back soon rather than having to remain unemployed during the potentially lengthy appeals process. That attempt was denied in this May 22 decision by Judge Stephen Wilson.

In his 33-page decision, Wilson agreed with the newspaper’s central argument, that union activity “committed by the employees in this case was in large part directed at limiting [News-Press management’s] exercise of its editorial discretion.” Because of this, Wilson wrote, the “proposed injunction in its entirety fringes” on the paper’s right to maintain its editorial discretion. “The proposed injunction,” continued the judge, “would prove a fairly severe hardship on [the newspaper] balancing the hardship that would be visited on the Union and discharged employees were equitable relief denied.” He also noted in his opinion that rehiring the reporters would force newspaper management to release current reporters and reorganize the department.

Melinda Burns, Anna Davidson, Tom Schultz, Dawn Hobbs, Melissa Evans, John Zant, Barney McManigal, and Rob Kuznia — some of whom had been at the paper for decades — all were fired within several weeks of one another. According to paper management, two of the employees had been fired because of biased reporting, while the other six were terminated for hanging a banner from a highway pedestrian bridge which read, “Cancel Your Newspaper Today!” The board’s position had been that the eight weren’t fired because of their actions, but for being supporters of the union. Newsroom employees at the paper had been attempting to join the Teamsters Union since July 2006, when several top editors left because of owner Wendy McCaw’s management of the paper. Since then, more than 80 employees have been fired, laid off, or quit, and the newspaper has experienced one of the most precipitous readership declines in recent history. Meanwhile, the paper's management and the unionized newsroom employees continue to hash it out at the bargaining table.

On December 26, 2007, Judge William G. Kocol opined that the eight had been wrongly terminated, and ordered that they be reinstated with back pay. News-Press management elected to appeal that decision, but the NLRB filed an action against the paper in the Central District of the United States District Court in hopes of having the Kocol’s order enforced immediately while the appeal process played out. The two sides met in court in March to argue their case in front of Wilson. Wilson, in his opinion, decided that Kocol “failed to adequately consider” First Amendment issues.

Ira Gottlieb, a Los Angeles attorney representing the employees, said in an e-mail he was “extremely disappointed” by the ruling, which he believed was “incorrectly decided.” Gottlieb explained, “We hope that the NLRB will appeal the decision, and with a successful appeal, restore the deference to [Kocol’s] decisions and respect for the protection of [National Labor Relations Act] rights to organize that the Act…was enacted to protect, and restore the proper balance between First Amendment rights, which are not properly utilized as a sword to injure workers who are trying to gain a voice in the workplace, and the organizational rights of employees. We remain optimistic that the NLRB will uphold Judge Kocol's decision, and that any court considering that decision will also uphold it in its entirety.”

News-Press attorney Barry Cappello issued a written statement. “As the News-Press has always asserted, a careful review of the constitutional issues would result in upholding all the actions it had taken,” Cappello said. “The union position has been completely discredited. Some apologies are in order for the hysterical remarks of various media pundits.”

The appeal of Judge Kocol’s December decision still sits in the hands of the full NLRB, which will render its decision on the News-Press appeal.


'Change You'll Have to Pay For'

Union subsidies raise the cost of everything

Free trade is a difficult concept for politicians to advocate, in large part because of the concentrated costs/dispersed benefits problem. While comparative advantage and competition can be exlained, there's a long-standing maxim in politics: if you're explaining, you're losing. But today's Wall Street Journal - in a story with the great title, "Change You'll Have to Pay For" - makes a point that should be emphasized much more often in the trade debate.
Here's one "change" presidential candidate Barack Obama apparently believes in: higher prices. Witness his letter last week urging President George W. Bush not to submit the U.S.-South Korea free-trade agreement to Congress for ratification. Mr. Obama's objection, as stated in his letter, is that the deal "would give Korean exports essentially unfettered access to the U.S. market and would eliminate our best opportunity for obtaining genuinely reciprocal market access in one of the world's largest economies." In other words, ordinary American consumers would get too good a deal.

For an idea of how good, look at automobiles, about which Mr. Obama professes particular concern. The free-trade agreement would eliminate America's 2.5% tariff on most Korean car imports. Even better, it would phase out the 25% tariff on pick-ups and light trucks. Overall, the Korean trade deal would boost the U.S. economy by $10 billion to $12 billion. Mr. Obama thinks this benefit to U.S. consumers isn't worth the risk that South Korea might not live up to its promise to eliminate its own 8% tariff on U.S. autos and cut its bewildering array of nontariff barriers, such as arcane safety standards. This despite the fact that the deal includes enforcement provisions if Korea backtracks.
Obama is offering a subsidy to Unions, paid for by higher consumer prices. Needless to say, Obama is supported by quite a few powerful Unions...whose election-year financial and mobilization support is essentially crucial to Democratic Party success. Incidentally, as the WSJ points out, Obama "inserted a statement opposing the Korean trade deal into the Congressional record only days before securing the endorsement of the powerful Teamsters union."

But only a small percentage of the US labor force is unionized - meanwhile, 100% of the US labor force are also consumers. That Obama endorsement was awfully expensive for you and me.

That's a point we should make more often. As McQ once wrote, Unions are opposed to free trade because their "priority isn't the consumer." Their priority is maintaining their own advantage, and "if the consumers suffer because of that, well, you know - tough."

It's difficult for politicians to make that case because it requires a bit of explanation, but pro-trade advocates and politicians should do more to emphasize these two points:

(1) Opposition to free trade is opposition to consumers.

(2) Opposition to free trade is opposition to freedom.

(3) Free trade is the world's greatest anti-poverty program - both abroad (where it lifts people out of desperate, wretched poverty) and at home (where benefits mostly accrue to average Americans) - and some of its greatest foes are the relatively wealthy benefactors of the Democratic Party....which purports to be deeply concerned with poverty and consumers. Until it jeopardizes their own wealthy contributors.


Minnesota's labor-backed, anti-union A.G.

Mike Hatch didn't leave the attorney general's office until May Day 2007, the last time cannons were fired at the Capitol. It may have been only coincidence, but cannon fire was echoing through the air as Hatch, the former attorney general who lost to Tim Pawlenty in the 2006 governor's race, finally quit as adviser and helpmate to his successor, Lori Swanson.

It is time to wheel those cannons back into position.

Attorney General Swanson -- a frequent Grand Avenue lunch companion of her old boss, Mad Mike -- has bollixed up her office, big time. Turmoil and terminations are the order of the day in a demoralized office that is supposed to serve the public, not brawl in public.

Ironically, the mess in the attorney general's office involves an attempt by Swanson's assistants to organize as a union. I say "ironically" because Swanson won office with union endorsement and the backing of the DFL, the "L" in which stands for Labor.

Or used to.

According to the union, 50 of 135 assistant attorneys general have been fired or forced out under Swanson. The latest -- hastily fired Tuesday -- was one of the leaders of the unionizing effort.

Swanson canned Amy Lawler after a report -- commissioned by Swanson -- exonerated Swanson of charges she had acted improperly in filing two lawsuits and found Lawler had been wrong to make her complaints public.

But the firing came before a more impartial report on the matter -- this one from the legislative auditor -- could be completed. The appearance that resulted was that Lawler's dismissal was intended by Swanson and her erstwhile mentor, Hatch, to muzzle the lawyers in the A.G.'s office.

That appearance was etched indelibly by Hatch, a former chair of the DFL, as well as its most recent standard bearer. He told the online news journal MinnPost.com that the unionizing effort was led by a "cabal" of "disgruntled" "mud throwers" and that a union would undermine the authority of the attorney general with "a jamboree of chickadees chirping."

That unfortunate phrase was insulting to the chickadees.

"Union busting is disgusting," said Eliot Seide, executive director of AFSCME Council 5, the union that represents 19,000 state employees and is seeking to represent the assistant attorneys general.

AFSCME endorsed Swanson in the 2006 election, largely because of her support for unions and the opposition to unionizing by her Republican opponent. Today, Seide is wondering which candidate won.

"The DFL platform says all workers have a right to organize," he said. "The workers want dignity and respect and to be treated as professionals. But Swanson is using every anti-union tactic in the playbook.

"She is firing state attorneys the way Alberto Gonzales [former attorney general in the Bush administration] fired U.S. attorneys. That's why I sometimes call them Demicans and Republocrats."

The law could be changed

The 1973 Public Employees Labor Relations Act gave state employees a right to organize, and AFSCME already represents support staff in the A.G.'s office. But the law was amended in 1980 to exempt the assistant attorneys general, and Swanson and Hatch -- who seems to believe he is top dog -- point to that exemption in justifying efforts to thwart the union. But the law could be changed, if Swanson agreed.

The union says nothing stops Swanson, if she chooses, from recognizing the desire of her subordinates to join a union (twice, Seide says, a majority have signed cards saying they wish such representation).

Swanson is free to "meet and confer" with her workers about working conditions. More important, she could ask the Legislature to change the law to allow the attorneys to unionize. Just as they already do in Oregon, Illinois and many Minnesota counties.

It should be an easy commitment from an elected official who had "Labor Endorsed" on her lawn signs.

But Mad Mike says no.

For 150 years, Hatch says, Minnesota has not allowed assistant attorneys general to join unions. True, although it should be noted there were no unions or union employees in state government for much of the state's history.

It's also true that the state didn't allow women to vote for 62 years, let alone become lawyers or attorney general.

Hatch-Swanson say the unionizing efforts have created "a spectacle" in the attorney general's office. He/she is right that there is a spectacle. But she/he/they are wrong about who created it.

For the answer to that one, they should look in the mirror.


Unions rally against SEIU's Puerto Rico raid

Related story: "SEIU ready to solve Puerto Rico decert snafu"
Related story: "SEIU official eyes dues bonanza in Puerto Rico"

SEIU Perpetrates Hostile Take Over

A broad coalition of activists will gather Wednesday, May 28 in New York City to express support for Puerto Rico's embattled teachers and schoolchildren, to protest the decision of SEIU's leadership to launch an attack on the existing teachers union and to exhort SEIU to cease this activity.

Rafael Feliciano Hernandez, President of the Federacion de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR -- the Puerto Rican teachers' union) will be joined at the event by members of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), CUNY's Professional Staff Congress (PSC), SEIU, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) and other local labor leaders, along with the National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC), community and religious organizations, local student activists, and concerned relatives of Island students.

WHAT: News Conference Insisting SEIU Cease Attacks on Teachers Union
WHO: Puerto Rican, Labor, Education, Religious and Progressive Activists
WHEN: Wednesday, May 28, 10:30 am
WHERE: Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, 475 Park Avenue South
at 32nd Street

SEIU -- facing a well-publicized internal battle -- begins its Convention in Puerto Rico next week in the shadow of its attempt to take over the Island's 42,000-member teachers' union. SEIU's "raid" comes on the heels of sustained efforts by the Puerto Rico Teachers Union (FMPR) -- united with parents and students -- to fight against:

-- horrific educational conditions
-- privatization of schools
-- the negative effects of "No Child Left Behind"
-- government assaults on democratic school leadership committees
-- repressive labor laws
-- abysmal salaries -- monthly average of $1600 with living costs higher than those in the US.

After nearly three years of working without a contract, the teachers unanimously voted to strike in a mass union meeting of over 7,000 members in November 2007. While negotiations continued, sources report that SEIU leader Dennis Rivera was meeting with Puerto Rico Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila.

According to the New York Daily News, the Governor told Rivera that the teachers' union is "yours to take." Previously El Diaro-La Prensa reported that Rivera had discussed the teachers union with Acevedo in addition to possible SEIU monetary support for the Governor, who has recently been indicted on corruption charges.

The Puerto Rican government declared the teachers' strike illegal, based on the vote alone -- the actual strike was not called until late February 2008 -- and moved to decertify FMPR. Almost simultaneously, SEIU announced that the Island's union of school principals and supervisors was affiliating with SEIU -- and would attempt to take over the teachers' union.

In the aftermath of the 10 day strike that paralyzed the nation's public schools with unprecedented support and participation from teachers, students and parents, FMPR continues its work as the representative of the Island's teachers, negotiating with the government over school conditions while fighting for recognition as the bargaining unit.

The Delegate Assembly of New York City's United Federation of Teachers (UFT) declared solidarity with the Puerto Rico teachers and voted unanimously to "support the Puerto Rican teachers in their struggle to be treated with dignity." CUNY's Professional Staff Congress (PSC) resolved to "participate in strike support efforts and solidarity with the striking teachers of the FMPR." The struggle was discussed at NYC's Central Labor Council, and the California Federation of Teachers, having sent funds already to support FMPR, plans to urge the AFT to do so as well.

SEIU leadership is in the midst of a tremendous internal struggle with sectors within the union advocating for greater member democracy. As these members engage President Andy Stern and other leaders inside the Convention Hall -- ironically to be held in Puerto Rico -- FMPR teachers will surely protest what they view as SEIU's sabotage of the struggle for quality education on their island nation. SEIU leaders' apparent collusion with the government/employer of teachers in Puerto Rico echoes similar accusations of what critics characterize as a recent trend toward "sweetheart deals" with employers in the private sector on the mainland.

Here in NY, 1199/SEIU, one of the international's locals with an exemplary reputation as a progressive union, recently launched a series of attempted raids against the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), which represents Registered Nurses. These raids occur as NYSNA's nurses battle hardened employers who are attempting to diminish nurses' power as they advocate for quality care for their patients, further escalating the inter-union wars on the mainland.

Rather than destabilizing already difficult situations faced by unions -- particularly in a nation such as Puerto Rico that has its own particularities -- SEIU's leaders need to focus on their members as they grapple with the difficult questions that face trade unionists today.


Small business group issues card-check warning

The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) warns state lawmakers across the nation that passing state-level versions of a labor union "card-check" bill would raise costs for businesses, and be a negative for their states' competitiveness and economies. This will be reflected in the forthcoming 2008 edition of SBE Council's "Small Business Survival Index."

(Hawaii lawmakers passed a check card bill this legislative session, which ended May 1. Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed the legislation, and while the Senate overrode her veto, the House could not get enough votes to do so, so her veto stands.)

Specifically, if states pass a "card-check" bill it will be counted as a negative on the 2008 edition of the "Small Business Survival Index." The Index, which is an annual report compiled by SBE Council, ranks the states according to their public policy climates for entrepreneurship and small business.

SBE Council President & CEO Karen Kerrigan explains: "Card-check, which eviscerates the current right employees have to cast a private vote regarding whether they want union representation or not, enables abusive organizing tactics. This mandated approach to union organizing - where everyone in the workplace would know how each individual feels about union representation - will only serve to establish an environment that is ripe for harassment and underhanded tactics. This unfair, turn-key approach to forced unionization will be especially burdensome and costly for small businesses."

At the federal level, the U.S. Congress is debating the so-called "Employee Free Choice Act," H.R. 800, which not only replaces the employee's right to a private vote with the card-check scheme, but also imposes binding arbitration on small firms. If a small business owner cannot agree to contract terms within a 90-day window with their employees' new union representatives, government will be called in to help fashion the agreement - or, dictate the terms of the contract. The agreement would be binding for two years, which ties the business owners' hands regarding cost and other operational decisions. Of course, business owners need flexibility and control in making critical decisions in the fast-moving and uncertain global economy. (H.R. 800 passed the U.S. House in mid 2007, but is tied up in the U.S. Senate.)

SBE Council chief economist Raymond J. Keating added: "The ‘card-check' bill would boost the level of unionization, increase costs, and restrain productivity. That, of course, means that businesses become less competitive. Of course, in the long run, both business owners and employees would suffer."

The "Small Business Survival Index" is perhaps the most comprehensive gauge available of how state and local policymakers treat entrepreneurs and small businesses. The measurements covered include taxes, various regulatory costs, government spending, property rights, health care and energy costs, and much more. The 2007 Index considered 31 major government-imposed or government-related costs affecting small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Some governors have had the opportunity to act on state card-check bills involving private employers, and the outcome has been generally positive for small business.

"California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle deserve credit for their vetoes of state-level versions of the labor union ‘card-check' bill. Both these Governors understand what the bill would do to harm worker privacy and their states' competitiveness," said Kerrigan.

She also noted that Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty wisely vetoed a state legislative resolution urging Congress to pass the ‘Employee Free Choice Act.'


Sen. Frank Lautenberg - New Jersey DINO

Related story: "Public opinion survey on card-check"

Democrat wants to end secret-ballot union elections

Communications Workers of America Locals 1040, 1081 and 1082 today announced they are endorsing Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg for re-election, citing his years of work on behalf of New Jersey's working families in the United States Senate.

"CWA Local 1040 supports Senator Frank Lautenberg because he fights for working families. As early as the 1980s Senator Lautenberg was instrumental in abating toxic waste at one of our worksites in Vineland. He was there for us then and he continues to be with us now. On the contrary, the opposition candidate never returned our calls. He [Rob Andrews] talks a good game, but doesn't deliver. Senator Frank Lautenberg is the best man for the job," said CWA Local 1040 President Carolyn C. Wade, whose Union represents more than 9,000 members across New Jersey.

"CWA Local 1081 is proud to support the reelection of Senator Frank Lautenberg. His dedication to fighting for working people is well documented, and he richly deserves the opportunity to continue his public service," said CWA Local 1081 President David Weiner, which has more than 500 members across New Jersey.

"CWA Local 1082 is proud to support Senator Frank Lautenberg because he stands strong and makes a real difference for New Jersey's working families," said CWA Local 1082 President Linda J. Smith, whose Union represents more than 500 members across New Jersey.

"I have always been proud to stand strong with our hard working families in the labor movement and across our state, so I am honored to have the support of CWA Locals 1040, 1081, 1082 and its members. The Bush Administration has been no friend to labor, but these men and women know that they will always have a friend and ally in Frank Lautenberg. I will keep fighting for your right to join a union, and will not stop until the Employee Free Choice Act becomes the Employee Free Choice Law. And I will keep fighting to make sure you receive the fair wages, affordable and accessible health care and retirement security you earned," said Sen. Lautenberg.

To date, Sen. Lautenberg has been endorsed by more than 170,000 Union members across New Jersey. The Senator has been endorsed by the Atlantic Council IFPTE; the Transport Workers Union of America; United Transportation Union; Amalgamated Lithographers of America Local One; Communications Workers of America District One and Locals 1031, 1032, 1037, 1039, 1040, 1081, 1082 and 1089; United Food and Commercial Workers Local 464A; Health Professionals and Allied Employees; Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union Local 108; American Federation of Government Employees District 2, and other Unions.


School unions face big dues hit in Florida

Just a few years ago, Volusia County (FL) Schools couldn’t get enough teachers to fill vacant positions, even with job fairs and recruitment trips. Now, some teachers hired in recent years may be saying goodbye to their jobs, as will other members of the school-district staff. “This is an unprecedented shift,” DeLand-area School Board Member Candace Lankford told The Beacon.

The school district is looking at cutting 384 of the district’s 4,900 instructional positions, plus 83 paraprofessional and school-staff members, and another 192.6 positions at the district level. That adds up to a total of 659 positions, full-time or part-time, cut from the district’s employee roster of about 8,800 employees.

Related video: "School unions protest Florida cuts"

The cuts will save $29 million in employee pay and benefits, according to district figures. Put together with some cuts to instructional services and athletics, the district is looking at total savings of $31.72 million.

Even with all these cuts, Volusia County Schools expects to still have a budget shortfall of about $4.2 million.

“The district staff is taking a 10-percent cut in personnel and a 2-percent salary cut at Level 9 and above. No one else has been asked to take a pay cut,” Lankford said May 28, the day after the third in a series of budget workshops. “We are not just targeting teachers. This is across the board.”

The cuts apply to a variety of workers in administration, and includes top-level officers.

As the School Board members met May 27 inside Volusia County Schools’ administrative headquarters on North Clara Avenue in DeLand, about 250 teachers and other school workers protested outside.

Carrying signs and speaking with the news media, they argued the School Board has cut too deep in eliminating workers, and has underestimated the money that will be saved by teacher retirements.

Inside at the workshop, Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Peromnia Grant was complimented by one School Board member for her gentleness in outlining the school district’s problem.

She told School Board members, “Except for Madison County, at 3.9 percent, we took the hardest hit in the state.”

That hit came from the Florida Legislature, Lankford explained. Volusia Schools took a 3.91-percent cut in its state funding.

That’s one of the three key factors precipitating the budget crisis, Lankford said.

The other two are the District Cost Differential and the “unprecedented” drop in student enrollment.

The District Cost Differential means the state pays Volusia County 96 cents on the tax dollar in funding. The state’s theory is Volusia County, with its beaches and other amenities, is a magnet for teachers and other workers; therefore, staff should be willing to accept smaller paychecks than teachers in less desirable areas.

Lankford has been a long and vocal opponent of the cost differential, arguing beaches bring no reduction in living expenses such as groceries and rent.

The decline in student enrollment is the third factor in the budget crisis, Lankford said.

Superintendent Margaret Smith told School Board members Volusia County has had the fourth-largest enrollment decline among Florida’s 67 counties.

The state pays school districts based on the number of students enrolled, and Volusia County’s enrollment dropped by 1,100 in the past school year.

“We still have to meet the mandates of the classroom-size-reduction amendment,” Lankford said.

That’s the reason high schools went from a block period, with four 1.5-hour periods a day, to a seven-period day. That allows for smaller classes with fewer teachers, she said.

The class-size amendment requires schools to trim overly large classes, giving districts a number of years to reach the goals. Requirements vary by school grade.

All of this means, even with previous budget cuts and the decision to close smaller schools such as Boston Avenue Elementary and Starke Elementary in DeLand, the budget must be cut more, if painfully, Lankford said.

Unions see it differently

Along with 250 or so teachers and support-staff members, union leaders stood outside the administrative building in DeLand to protest.

They included Volusia Teachers Organization President Andrew Spar, Volusia Education Support Association President Bobbie Reedy, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 850 President Tom Wenz, and Florida Education Association Vice President Joanne McCall.

The union leaders didn’t like the school district’s math.

Spar pointed out, at an April 22 workshop, the district announced cuts of 312.5 full-time positions, including 271.5 instructional positions at a cost savings of just over $11 million. Spar calculated the savings would actually be $13 million.

Also, he said, the district’s calculations used the lowest teacher pay, while 70 teachers have already announced their retirement. These teachers are at the highest points on the salary scale. This adds several million more to the savings.

Spar anticipates around 350 teachers will leave the district due to retirement, resignation or performance. That’s 150 more than the 200 estimated by the district. He based his figures on averages from the past five years, Spar said.

“Based on how the district is handling these cuts, it is likely that many employees will be sent home at the end of the year without a job, but the district will end up hiring teachers as we approach next year,” Spar said.

Wenz said the district laid off 50 bus operators May 9. “They’ve already asked them if they would return as substitutes,” he added.

Spar said the school district is making cuts “deeper than they need to. They’re using inaccurate figures, to our mind.”


Worker-choice scheme picks up endorsements

Law would reduce labor-states to 27

Amendment 47, which will be on November's ballot, would make it illegal to force nonunion workers to pay union dues in Colorado.

The Colorado Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business and four other business groups endorsed Amendment 47, Colorado's Right to Work Amendment. Also endorsing the measure are the Western Colorado Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors, the Grand Junction Area Realtor Association and the Western Colorado Contractors Association, all based in Grand Junction. The Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs also backs the amendment as does the Brush Chamber of Commerce.


Union rejected soundly at Delta Airlines

Workers decide not to enjoy collective bargaining

Union activists suffered a setback Wednesday when a majority of Delta Air Lines flight attendants rejected union representation. But labor activists predict that a union will represent attendants brought together under a Delta-Northwest Airlines merger.

For 79 years, Delta's attendants have worked outside of the organized labor movement, but 40 percent of them voted in recent weeks to join a union.

"Those supporters, combined with strong union support at Northwest, will clearly be enough for the flight attendants to win union representation after the merger with Northwest is finalized," Patricia Friend, president of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), said in a prepared statement.

Friend and other union supporters are using simple math to project that they will have enough votes to keep Northwest attendants under the union umbrella and to bring Delta employees into the fold.

The National Mediation Board reported that 5,306 of Delta's 13,382 flight attendants voted in favor of union representation. If a substantial majority of Northwest's 7,500 attendants join forces with the Delta attendants who now want a union, they would have enough votes to ensure that labor leaders negotiate a contract for them under the merged Delta.

In 2002, only 29 percent of Delta's attendants voted in favor of joining a union.

Mollie Reiley and Danny Campbell, former Northwest labor union officials who advised the Delta attendants, said that they expect the two attendant groups ultimately will be blended into an AFA unit. Reiley and Campbell were leaders of the organizing drive that brought the AFA to Northwest in 2006.

If the Delta and Northwest attendants forgo union representation, they would be "subject to whatever management deems is appropriate for cost efficiencies," Reiley said. She also noted how union support at Delta has grown since the last election.

Delta management waged an extensive campaign to encourage its attendants to reject the union.

"It was important to get the facts out there," Sandy Gordon, a Delta vice president of inflight services, said after the vote results were released. She said that AFA supporters had spread "a lot of misinformation" about the prospect that Delta would outsource jobs. Instead, she said that Delta has been hiring U.S. citizens with foreign language skills.

Campbell, who led the Northwest attendants when they were represented by the Teamsters, said that the outsourcing issue was legitimate, because when Northwest was in bankruptcy, management proposed shifting work to foreign attendants.

Delta CEO Richard Anderson, who frequently met with labor leaders when he was the top executive at Northwest, praised the Delta attendants for choosing to preserve Delta's work culture and management's direct relationship with its attendants.

"Delta continues to be the best advocate for its people, and our employees recognize the benefits of working together to enhance their careers," Anderson said.

But Kevin Griffin, president of the Northwest branch of AFA, said that Delta management had used "intimidation and coercion" to fend off the union.

Delta circulated a DVD to its attendants, which featured Delta executives and flight attendants talking about the positive aspects of their relationship. Gordon said attendants could watch the video "in the privacy of their own homes."

After the vote, Delta managers released a memo to attendants that said they had listened to employee input over the past year and "made more than 40 significant changes that benefit flight attendants and our operation."

Northwest attendants have engaged in considerable political infighting in recent years, as they broke with the Teamsters, created the independent Professional Flight Attendants Association and then joined the AFA, a large union affiliated with the AFL-CIO.

Now Griffin is trying to rally attendants from all of those camps to preserve union representation for his members.

If the Department of Justice approves the Delta-Northwest merger later this year, Griffin estimates the two attendant groups would vote on union representation in 2009.

John Budd, a human resources professor at the University of Minnesota, said Wednesday's election results put flight attendants at both airlines in a "holding pattern." The union issue likely will remain a major distraction at both carriers until the next election, he said.

Northwest's workforce is highly unionized. At Atlanta-based Delta, only the pilots and dispatchers are union members.

The ground workers, including customer service agents and equipment service employees, constitute the largest union group at Northwest. They are represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).

Joe Tiberi, an IAM spokesman, said that his union has been conducting an organizing drive among Delta ground workers since late 2006.

"There's absolutely no doubt that Delta's plan is to remain largely nonunion if this merger takes place," Tiberi said. "If the merger occurs we want to make sure that not only Northwest members retain representation, but that the Delta workforce finally gets to enjoy the benefits of a union contract."


UNITE-HERE authorizes strike v. Aramark

Local police back union over company

Workers at the Aramark Laundry in Madison (WI) have voted unanimously to authorize a strike against the company over what the union contends are unfair labor practices. The dispute between the company and its workers has heated up in recent weeks as the company called police to have union representatives tossed from the company, which police declined to do.

The strike vote authorizes the Unite Here Local 229 to call a strike over unfair labor practices.

The union alleges the company denied the union's health and safety expert access to gather information relevant to potential grievances, and says the company has made unilateral modifications to the existing bargaining agreement to keep union representatives out of the building.

The union also contends Aramark has "threatened and attempted to intimidate employees based on their union and concerted activities."

Rosie Reml, Local 229 president and a shop steward, said management left a meeting with the union bargaining committee Wednesday and held what she called a "captive audience meeting at the plant."

"Hours after the captive audience meeting, Aramark workers walked next door to the Teamsters Union Hall where we voted unanimously to give the Unite Here Local 229 bargaining committee the authority to call a strike over unfair labor practices," she said.

Aramark officials could not be reached for comment on the unions vote or its allegations.


Meet New York's Staunchest Union Ally

At the nerve-center of labor-state lawmaking

The lawmaker behind the latest effort in Albany to sweeten public employee pensions is a 59-year-old of Brooklyn who collects toy trains, writes restaurant reviews, and aspires to run for Congress. Even at a time when state fiscal watchers warn of pension bombs, billions of dollars of unfunded liabilities, and untenable growth of government, Assemblyman Peter Abbate Jr. has quietly thrived as Albany's steady ally of public employee unions.

As a legislator, Mr. Abbate, the son of a letter carrier and a department store worker, has cultivated two distinct profiles.

To his Dyker Heights constituents, the Democrat is "Assemblyman Pothole." His relationship with his district — an elderly and Italian demographic — is personal, typified by the Memorial Day barbecue he throws every year at his home. Over the holiday weekend, his staff and volunteers walk around the neighborhood and give invitations to residents who hang American flags outside their homes.

The sidewalk glad-handing, the community board meetings, the neighborhood festivals (such as last week's "senior citizen prom") encompass what Mr. Abbate says are his favorite parts of the job. When he's not working, Mr. Abbate tends to his Lionel model train collection, which numbers more than 100 cars, and occasionally tosses off a restaurant review for a local paper.

His middle-class credentials and strong standing within the county party apparatus have made him a leading possible contender to take on scandal-damaged Rep. Vito Fossella in the 13th congressional district. "A lot of people have spoken to me about it," the assemblyman said.

In Albany, Mr. Abbate's role is less personal and more functional. His Capitol office serves as the primary receptacle for hundreds of pieces of legislation drafted by labor unions.

Each year, Mr. Abbate, the chairman of the Assembly's committee on governmental employees, introduces hundreds of bills — the great majority of which are drafted almost in their entirety by public sector labor unions.

At the behest of labor lobbyists, Mr. Abbate has attached his name to the most costly bills before the Legislature: pension sweeteners, early retirement provisions, collective bargaining enhancements, and expansions of health benefits. One early retirement bill he introduced this year would alone cost taxpayers $200 million a year, according to New York City officials.

More than a dozen of his measures have drawn protests from Mayor Bloomberg, whose Albany lobbying office late last month sent a memo to lawmakers to try to put a stop to them.

"We believe the enactment of any of the following bills ... would violate the spirit of no new unfunded mandates," the memo stated. Mr. Abbate was the prime sponsor of 13 of the 16 bills that were flagged by the Bloomberg administration.

Among his other bills is a measure that would permit public employees to go on strike "after the collective negotiation process has been exhausted," and one that would that would allow employees to strike without having their pay docked.

"I don't think he's ever introduced a piece of legislation opposed by a union," a fiscal analyst for the Manhattan Institute, E.J. McMahon, said.

In an interview, Mr. Abbate said his job is to protect an important segment of the state's working population that he says is under constant attack by business interests.

"If you left it up to business, they wouldn't be doing anything for anyone," he said. "I don't look at it like I'm doing something for the unions. I look at it as if I'm doing something for the working men and women in the state."

Public employee pensions and health benefits consume $3 billion of the more than $120 billion the state spends each year. "That would be a great percentage for a business," he said.

His critics say they can't see the bargain. Said Mr. McMahon: "He represents a minority of people, the people who belong to the public sector unions. They already have people representing them. It's called the unions."

Mr. Abbate has more than $400,000 in his campaign coffers, an amount that is on the high end for state assemblymen. Most of his money comes from organized labor groups (such as the International Longshoremen's Association, 1199 SEIU, the Civil Service Employees Union, and the New York City Central Labor Council) and a variety of uniformed officer associations.

Public employee labor unions, he says, approach him with bill proposals, and most of the time he introduces them.

The unions take care of the language and the preliminary fiscal analysis. As the New York Times reported last week, the actuary who prepared the Assembly's fiscal bill notes is a paid union consultant.

The public, Mr. Abbate says, has a misperception about legislation. To him, a bill is nothing set in stone, but a piece of paper with an idea. Mr. Abbate said it might have his name on it as a sponsor, but he doesn't necessarily think it's a smart idea.

"I don't feel it's my role to do a bill to do something for people," he said. When it comes to complicated pension and health benefit legislation, the unions are the experts, not him, Mr. Abbate said.

Most of the time, the bills stay put in his committee. Several dozen bills each year graduate to the Ways and Means Committee for a further review and are passed by the Assembly. The Legislature approves about a half-dozen significant public employee union bills a year. The last two governors, George Pataki and Eliot Spitzer, vetoed most of them. Governor Paterson has suggested he would as well.

The winnowing of the legislation demonstrates the checks and balances in the system, Mr. Abbate says. The unions may author the bills, but Assembly staffers perform their own financial analysis on those that make it out of committee.

The comptroller's office weighs in with its own review of the costs. The City Council must pass home rule resolutions on measures that have a substantial impact on city finances. Often, the mayor's office will lobby to block passage of the bills.

"I don't give the store away, and there are a lot of people looking over my shoulder," Mr. Abbate said.

Legislators, he said, are a bit like journalists. "You might start a story and do the research, and you find out that's not what you're looking for. Unless it's in front of you saying by law what it's going to do, then how would I know what it's going to do?" he said.

"It sounds like he considers himself a human file drawer," Mr. McMahon said.


Galveston's unruly police union

Union's sleaze proves need for a review board

My old friend John Bertolino and other members of the Galveston police union are at it again. They’re demonstrating — again — that, if they can’t win a fight on its merits, they’ll resort quickly to fighting dirty, to threats, intimidation and scare tactics. Like black separatist Malcolm X, their motto in a fight is, “By any means necessary.”

What they manifestly will not do is engage in an open, thoughtful dialogue when someone has the guts to criticize them.

This all comes up now because the newly seated city council in Galveston, confronted at its first meeting with charges of police brutality and racial profiling, is considering a civilian review board.

It’s high time; the police have been so charged scores of times in the past five years alone.

Of course, the police had a choice in how to respond.

They could have agreed to open up their records, discuss the issues and seek a compromise solution benefiting everyone.

Or, they could have taken the low road, employing smear tactics and irrelevant personal attacks on their critics.

The cops chose to take an approach that is sleazy, cowardly and irrelevant to the debate. When you think about it, it’s a good example of exactly why a civilian review board is needed.

The cops are behaving like a rudderless ship and have been for a long time. They admit no problems and they will fight dirty to prevent legitimate oversight.

The target of police attacks this time is newly elected city councilman Tarris Woods, an African-American and former city employee.

In the past, Woods has criticized the police for brutality and racial profiling. His first act as a councilman was to ask city staff to explore creation of a civilian police-oversight board.

Bertolino, a former president of the union, immediately sought public personnel and other records in an effort not to disprove Woods’ criticisms but to personally discredit the councilman and intimidate other critics.

Even if Bertolino is successful in digging up some dirt on Woods, the question is: What’s that got to do with a police department that has logged more than 55 police brutality charges during the past six years?

In the past, The Daily News also has called for a civilian review board and, in the past, we have called for a public vote to decertify the politically powerful police union.

Then, the cops began calling the employers of people who opposed them, threats clearly implied. Bertolino dug up what he saw as personally embarrassing information on his critics.

I know this to be true because he attempted to do it to me.

Then and now, the effort to embarrass and intimidate was just a way to distract Galveston voters from the real issue — the behavior of the police.

Galveston City Council and the people of the community must stand together to oppose this kind of sleazy behavior. Rejection of these tactics must be immediate and emphatic. Threats and intimidation should have no place in the debate.

Simply put, the people of Galveston deserve a better police department. That’s the issue, not Tarris Woods’ employment history.

- Dolph Tillotson is president and publisher of The Daily News.


Dellums proposes Oakland furloughs

Plan would protect union dues flow

Mayor Ron Dellums has proposed shutting down City Hall for 12 days in the next year to help fill a projected $15.39 million city budget deficit. Police and fire services would not be affected. But the closure of most city operations on days following city holidays would save $4.4 million in the 2008-09 fiscal year. Dellums' shutdown proposal would be combined with spending cuts of about 3 percent to all city agencies and departments, freezing open positions and smaller adjustments to fill the $15.39 million hole.

The mayor's package will go before the City Council at a 5 p.m. meeting today at 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza as the council faces a June 30 deadline to amend a two-year spending plan it approved last summer.

The proposals avoid layoffs and cutbacks of essential services, said David Chai, Dellums' chief of staff.

"There wasn't a scenario that didn't have some difficulties in terms of sacrifices we have to make," Chai said. "But in the end, it's clear that the mayor did not want to lay off workers and did not want to (cut) the critical services this city provides."

Dellums and council members alike have said public safety will remain a top priority. At the meeting today, the council will consider a $587,601 program under which the district attorney's office would "deputize" attorneys in City Attorney John Russo's office to prosecute misdemeanors.

Dellums released his budget proposal after telling council members the week of May 12 that he needed more time to put together his package. Both Chai and City Administrator Deborah Edgerly described the 12-day shutdown as one of the least painful options the city had.

Edgerly said the city took a similar course when faced with a pinch about five years ago and that an arbitrator sided with the city about the Service Employees International Union's objections. But Dwight McElroy, vice president of the Oakland chapter of SEIU Local 1021, said the union would oppose the idea.

"I'm sure that we're not going to be accepting of it," he said.

He said Local 1021 would like the chance to offer "concrete, positive input" on ways to fix the budget problems.

"We're kind of sorry that the mayor has not really looked at other alternatives," he said. "When you do such a thing, it has major impacts on city services."

Besides police and fire operations, Edgerly said other essential services such as Head Start programs would remain unaffected. But thousands of employees would not be paid for the 12 days City Hall would be closed.

The city's annual general fund budget is about $475 million. This year's budget woes are due largely to the drop in real-estate transfer taxes, with projections down $25.72 million compared with last year.

City number-crunchers did get a bit of good news last week when residents passed an increase to the Landscaping and Lighting Assessment District, a vote that could relieve the general fund spending by as much as $9.8 million.

The $15.39 million projection still might be on the bright side, however, in part because it is still not known how big a hit the city will take when the state passes its budget. Councilmember Jean Quan (Montclair-Laurel), head of the council's finance committee, expects the city will take a hit of between $2 million and $5 million once a state spending plan is adopted.

Council President Ignacio De La Fuente (Glenview-Fruitvale), who suggested at a previous budget meeting that city staff members' projections seemed sunny, said he would look at "the entire proposal" and make decisions to keep basic services unharmed.

Asked about the possibility of a 12-day shutdown, he said, "It's one of the options, no question about it. "... I think the mayor has the responsibility and we have the responsibility to balance this budget. I have no problem with any proposal on the table, to tell you the truth."

Quan said, "You either have to do layoffs or you have to do something" like shutdowns.

"The question is whether that's going to be enough or whether we're going to have to do other things too," she said.


School unions protest Florida cuts

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