7/6/08

Unionist rival pulls Pelosi to the Left

Opponent's labor agenda is second to none

Antiwar Activist Cindy Sheehan is running to unseat the leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives. Unlike Nancy Pelosi, Sheehan is a working class mother, whose son Casey was killed fighting this rich man's war. Here is the program Cindy Sheehan will fight for as a member of Congress.

CINDY'S LABOR PLATFORM

Cindy Sheehan recognizes the historic significance of unions in building a strong working/middle class in America. Courageous union activists and organizations have brought about the end of child labor and the advent of the 40-hour week, benefits and living wages, among other positive changes.

Restore Workers' Rights to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The right to organize unions, bargain freely and strike when necessary is being destroyed by employers and their representatives in government. Today, nearly 1 out of 10 workers involved in union organizing drives is fired illegally by employers who wage a campaign of fear, threats and slick propaganda to keep workers from exercising a genuinely free choice. That is why union membership is declining. And as union membership falls so do the wages of all working people, union and non-union alike.

I support the repeal of all laws that prevent unions from organizing new members and bargaining collectively. All employees of federal, state and local governments must have full collective-bargaining rights.

Repeal Taft-Hartley, Restore the Right to Strike

The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 severely restricts the activities of unions in favor of the employers. It was initially vetoed by then-president Harry Truman (D-Mo.). More Democrats joined Republicans in voting to override the veto than voted against the act. Yet most labor unions and labor leaderships continue to support Democrats.

I will work actively to repeal Taft-Hartley because coming from a working-class background, I believe it is a basic human right to be able to use collective strength and will at the bargaining table as workers need to be protected from the avarice of employers and the government.

The right to strike of all workers in the United states -- including local, state and federal employees -- is a fundamental principle of the workers' movement that must be safeguarded. The right to withhold one's labor is a basic human right that our government should guarantee to all working people, including to those in the military.

All scabbing must be banned, and no workers should be fired without just cause.

Repeal All "Free Trade" Agreements

Another international and national workers' struggle that I support is the struggle to repeal "free trade" agreements. Such trade treaties are designed to depress wages and oppress workers in every country that are signed parties to these agreements.

Fair trade that respects the rights of workers and enforces these rights through unions and binding collective-bargaining agreements -- along with enforceable and sustainable environmental protections -- must be put into place. A worker who make shoes, cars or any other goods should receive the same livable pay and benefits in whatever country he or she is employed. Wages and working conditions should be equalized to the highest standards, not the lowest common denominator.

For Single-Payer Healthcare and Affordable Housing

Issues that affect the working-class population of the 8th District and the nation are healthcare and affordable housing. I support H.R. 676, which takes the insurance companies out of the healthcare equation and creates a universal, single-payer healthcare system.

Affordable housing is being destroyed from New Orleans to San Francisco's Bayview/Hunter's Point neighborhood -- and the resulting gentrification is pushing our neighbors of color out of the city, which threatens the dynamic diversity of San Francisco. The current price of fuel and food makes it difficult for working-class and poor residents to sustain a reasonable standard of living. They must not lose their homes to real estate speculators. Moreover, if one lower-income home is destroyed, it must be replaced with another comparable home.

I support the passage of any bill guaranteeing a one-for-one replacement, and I urge more help for people under a certain income level who are losing their homes and who were victims of predatory lenders. Unemployment benefits and food-stamp benefits should also be extended in this precarious economy.

For Immigrant Workers' Rights

As a person whose ancestors immigrated to the United States from Scotland and Germany to give their families and succeeding generations the opportunity for economic equality, I believe in compassionate and humane treatment of immigrant workers.

Immigrant workers should have the right to join unions regardless of their legal status. All undocumented immigrants, whether employed or not, should have a swift and expedited path to legalization in the form of Green Cards. The Guest Worker programs introduced in recent years with bipartisan support are designed to make indentured servants out of our brothers and sisters from Mexico, Central and South America and to benefit employers unwilling to pay a living wage or benefits to employees.

I oppose the militarization of the border and the funding of ICE and other governmental agencies set up to terrorize immigrant workers, who are driven to the United States by the "free trade" and "structural adjustment" policies implemented by Democrats and Republicans. All these policies are aimed at privatizing the economies of the immigrants' countries of origin in the interests of the multinational corporations. Peasants driven from their lands and workers laid off from their jobs in the public sector or in nationally owned industries are forced to flee to the United States in a desperate quest to feed their families.

For Free and Quality Education

Free and quality education is a basic human right from infants in day care to students in universities. Working parents should be entitled to safe and stimulating day care for their infants and, as in most industrialized countries, university education should be free for those who qualify for and want to avail themselves of it. Until we institute such a program, all university students should be given very liberal repayment terms for their student loans that come with very low interest rates.

In lieu of university education, which not every student qualifies for, or desires, there should be support of apprenticeship programs and state and federal job training for those who want to learn a skill that doesn't involve putting on a U.S. military uniform and learning how to kill other people.

We should bring our troops home from all countries where our troops are deployed to promote occupation, corporate greed and empire.

No Child Left Behind -- a Democratic as well as Republican plan -- should be repealed, and teachers, schools and school districts should be free to respond to the needs of their classrooms and communities and not be limited to teaching to stringent performance-based tests in order to receive federal money.

NCLB is also a recruiting tool for the U.S. military, as it allows military recruiters into schools and permits the schools to administer the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test, which is a military competence test. NCLB does not prepare our children for university. It is aimed at privatizing poorly performing schools while also funneling students directly to the military.

For Job Creation

For decades, making tools of war or paying for wars of aggression has consumed most of our federal budget, many times long after the wars have ended. Little has been invested in the basic infrastructure of our country, where our bridges and levees are failing. Students attend crumbling schools, and there are potholes the size of bathtubs in our roads.

The budget of the Pentagon must be slashed and the trillions of dollars being poured into the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan must end and a federal job-creation program similar to the WPA must be put into place. The workers in these jobs must be paid the prevailing wage, and the jobs must be created in partnership with relevant unions.

Deregulation of airlines, telecommunications, media, energy, banking, insurance and other industries has created a dangerous and unhealthy environment for working people and for our entire society. The deregulation of these industries has allowed the corporate profiteers to destroy proper oversight and health and safety regulations.

Regulate the Media

The deregulation of the media and telecommunications industry has not only cost hundreds of thousands of jobs, it has intensified the monopolization of the media. The media conglomerates (Fox, Murdock, Clear Channel and others) are able to manipulate the media and destroy local programming. This has prevented the public from getting independent news and information, particularly on the effects of deregulation, privatization and war.

I will oppose multiple ownership of newspaper, cable, broadcast, internet and all other media operations.

I will require that all license holders of commercial television and radio stations carry and promote local programming, with stiff penalties, including loss of licenses, if they violate these rules. I also will support revoking their licenses if they have a record of violating local, state and federal labor laws by illegally firing and discriminating against workers for union activities.

I also support federal funding for public labor-community broadcast and internet systems, including Wi-fi and other technologies, to allow the use of these new communication technologies for all working people, especially for low-income workers.

Stop Deregulation and Privatization

The present financial crisis has been fueled by the elimination of all financial regulatory measures, particularly by the repeal in 1999 of the Glass-Steagall Act (GSA), which in 1933, in the immediate aftermath of the Great Depression, had separated investment and commercial banking activities. The repeal of GSA -- which was demanded by the corporate elite -- was supported actively by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and other leaders of the Democratic Party.

The Federal Reserve System does not represent consumers, workers or the public. I support elected community-labor boards in which there will be accountability from those running our financial system.

The drive to privatize and contract out jobs is a threat to our workforce. It undermines standards -- including the merit system -- and has replaced them with nepotism and corruption. It has become a norm today for contractors to pay off Congresspeople to obtain contracts.

I oppose all privatization of federal jobs and will require that all funds disbursed by the federal government go only to government agencies, not to private contractors.

I support the U.S. Postal System and oppose all efforts to privatize it through contracting-out operations, including joint ventures with private corporations. I will support Congressional investigations, with managers and workers placed under oath, to examine the health and safety conditions in the USPS that have led to the "going postal" incidents across the country, including in San Francisco.

I support legislation making it illegal to force workers into jobs with independent contractors in which employers such as FedEx use the "independent contractor" status to prevent unionization and to transfer the costs of unemployment, social security and workers' compensation to the individual worker.

I also will investigate and eliminate the massive cost-shifting by the insurance industry of workers' compensation costs. Millions of injured workers are now forced to go on SSI and State Disability or to publicly funded hospitals, thereby shifting these costs to the state. I will initiate and organize Congressional hearings on these issues and put employers, insurance executives and workers under oath to expose and change these schemes. I also support criminal penalties for the conspiracies to shift such costs to the federal government.

For a National Energy System, For a Mass Transit System

The growing environmental and energy crisis cannot be solved under private ownership of the energy companies. We need a mass transportation system administered by public-labor-community boards throughout the United States.

This will be financed by the nationalization of the oil, gas, and other energy companies -- all of which have thwarted mass transportation to keep profits flowing to their corporate stockholders.

The United States must build a system of bullet trains linking all parts of the country. The auto assembly plants could be converted into plants that build the trains and infrastructure needed for transforming qualitatively our energy and transportation systems and for rebuilding our country.

I support federal funding for local community-based solar and wind systems where feasible to provide an alternative to fossil fuels, and will oppose the use and subsidy of nuclear energy. When elected, I will submit legislation that will require that all federal funding of energy projects provide for prevailing wages and allow full unionization of workers.

For Civil Rights and Privacy Protection

I oppose terrorism in the workplace. The constant harassment and discrimination against union members and unorganized workers by the corporations and multinationals who own and control all the wealth in the United States and around the world should not be tolerated.

Workers are subject to heightened discrimination when they are injured on the job. Many injured workers are fired illegally by the employers. The use of the Transport Workers Identification Credentials (TWIC) Act to discriminate against transportation workers with previous criminal records must be stopped.

I am opposed to the organized destruction of our privacy and civil rights. I support the repeal of the so-called "Patriot Act" and other "anti-terrorism" acts that were supported by both the Democratic and Republicans parties -- and by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, in particular.

I am committed to defending the right of workers to privacy and condemn spying by employers on their private lives. I oppose the special identity cards for transportation workers and all forms of electronic information-gathering used to discriminate against union organizers, injured workers or workers with disabilities.

I will work to eliminate the massive intrusion into our lives by the drug-testing industry. Using arbitrary drug tests, hundreds of thousands of workers have been fired, and many have suffered retaliation for union activity.

Use of private drug-testing companies should be eliminated. There needs to be strict regulation of any testing of workers on the job.

I oppose the use of criminal drug laws to jail millions of working people. The use of drugs by individuals is a public healthcare problem that will not be resolved by spending billions of dollars on the prison industry. The corporatized and privatized prison industry holds untold numbers of workers who have been incarcerated because of their race, sexual orientation or nationality. This prison system warehouses millions of working men and women for the sake of profits for the prison industry and in repayment for their contributions to the Democratic and Republican parties.

(indybay.org)

SEIU serves up a threat to taxpayers

Measure would boost jumbo union's dues revenue

Two ballot initiatives likely to qualify for November would compound an already gloomy budget situation if approved by voters, possibly pushing Washington state’s shortfall past $3 billion. The campaign for Initiative 1029, a home-care worker training measure backed by the powerful Service Employees International Union, believes its measure would cost taxpayers at least $23 million during that time. That number’s based on a nonpartisan analysis of similar measures before the Legislature this year.

On the other hand, Tim Eyman’s traffic congestion measure – Initiative 985 – would save state taxpayers about $290 million during the next two-year budget cycle and the rest of the current one. [N.B. Journalists count this as a cost, not a savings, to the state.]

Campaigns for both measures turned in more than 300,000 signatures last week, providing an ample cushion for the 225,000 valid signatures from registered voters needed to qualify for the Nov. 4 ballot.

Last week, nonpartisan staff from the Senate Ways and Means Committee released a new six-year budget outlook projecting that legislators face a $2.7 billion budget hole.

Add the two initiatives to that estimate and the projection reaches $3 billion, representing somewhere near 9 percent of the amount the state spends on general programs.

And that does not assume starting the working family tax credit, which is a sales tax break for the poor that was adopted but not funded this year.

Kate Lykins Brown, a spokeswoman for the state Office of Financial Management, said final reports outlining initiative costs won’t be completed before September.

There are still several quarterly economic forecasts to go before lawmakers settle on the revenue projections they’ll actually use in writing the budget, and in that time the picture could brighten. Or things could get worse.

“I don’t expect any of the news to be very good,” said Sen. Margarita Prentice, a Renton Democrat and chairwoman of the Senate’s budget-writing committee. “It’s more of a question of how bad are things going to get.”

Though lawmakers have found creative ways in the past decade to push off such decisions, budget gaps are generally plugged by cutting spending or raising taxes.

“We’re probably going to whack away at the things we’ve got in place,” Prentice said. “It’s belt-tightening time.”

“No one wants to be raising taxes,” she said. “People are really hurting.”

But trimming something on the order of $3 billion would be no easy task. For instance, operating the entire system of state community colleges and universities during the current two-year budget cycle is expected to cost $3.6 billion.

Eyman’s measure, in part, would direct 15 percent of all taxes collected on the sale of new and used vehicles into an account that would support programs to synchronize traffic lights, open car-pool lanes and pay for more highway crews to clear accidents.

That money currently goes into the state’s general fund to pay for an array of state programs.

Eyman said he’s comfortable paying for the measure by cutting whatever the Legislature decides are the lowest priorities. He said that’s better than raising taxes to relieve traffic congestion, and that lawmakers siphon money out of the state transportation budget anyway by collecting taxes on the construction of highway projects.

“It doesn’t matter how much money you put into a pot. If it’s got a hole in it, it’s never going to be enough,” Eyman said.

The home-care measure aims to boost training and set certification standards for home-care workers and is based on legislation introduced but not approved this year in Olympia.

Worries about its costs don’t stand up to its benefits, campaign manager Jeff Parsons said.

“How can we not afford to take care of our seniors?” he asked. “They need to have the best care we as citizens of the state of Washington can afford to give them.”

(thenewstribune.com)

Union dues question on labor-state ballot

How much union politics should state government pay for?

Yesterday was the deadline for initiative sponsors to file petition signatures with the Oregon Secretary of State's office. Thus far, five initiatives have qualified for the November 4 general election. Election officials have until August 2 to decide if the other five initiatives that have been submitted will qualify.

Also appearing on the ballot will be four measures submitted by the legislature. Those measures would allow 18-year-olds to vote in school board elections, allow legislators to finish their terms if they get drawn out of their districts, remove the double majority requirement from property tax measures and provide treatment and lengthy prison sentences for persons convicted of property crimes.

The five qualified initiatives would allow Oregonians to deduct their federal taxes on their state income tax return, prohibit students from being taught in a language other than English after two years, lift building permit requirements for improvements under $35,000, prohibit public resources from collecting union dues for political purposes and establish mandatory minimum sentences for persons convicted of property crimes.

The five initiatives yet to be qualified would establish merit pay for teachers, set aside 15 percent of state lottery proceeds for public safety, punish lawyers for filing frivolous suits or motions, allow open primary elections and limit lawyers' contingency fees.

(kajo.com)

Union operatives amplify Barack's message

Candidate barely heard above unions' pleadings

Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama have talked about waging a more respectful, positive campaign for the presidency. We’re still waiting. Even on a slow day in the typically slow Fourth of July week, the first real quiet period in this marathon campaign, on a day when the presumptive Republican nominee wasn’t even on the campaign trail, the campaign war rooms work overtime.

Dozens of dirt diggers and professional “message” shapers from both campaigns, plus countless other political groups, wage an endless battle to score points in the 24/7 news cycle, while also trying to rev up supporters and shake money loose from donors.

Consider a sampling of messages from a single, slow day, Wednesday, July 2:

7:08 a.m.
John McCain interview on ABC’s Good Morning America, from Colombia. He talks up the Colombia Free Trade Agreement and brushes off the suggestion that he has downplayed his own expertise on the economy: “I said that I am stronger on national security issues because of all the time I spent in the military and others. I’m very strong on the economy. I understand it. I have a lot more experience than my opponent.”

7:31 a.m.
E-mail from the Obama campaign on McCain’s trip: “This is more of the Washington politics that has left American working families struggling to compete in a global economy by putting the lobbyists and special interests first. Just yesterday, the New York Times reported that John McCain’s top adviser, Charlie Black, made $1.8-million lobbying for Colombia’s leading oil exporter on energy and trade issues — including the free trade agreement that McCain is now headed to Colombia to promote.”

9:34 a.m.
E-mail from the Democratic National Committee: The headline reads, MCCAIN WATCH: JOHN MCCAIN VS. AMERICAN JOBS. “While John McCain travels to Colombia and Mexico this week, he’ll be talking about how trade creates jobs. What he won’t mention is that the trade deals he has favored have created jobs overseas, not here at home.”

10:32 a.m.
E-mail from the Republican National Committee: “In a stunning act of hypocrisy, Barack Obama has broken his pledge to accept public financing for the 2008 general election. … There’s only one way John McCain and our candidates can counter the Obama Democrats’ massive haul of campaign cash … and that’s through your generous support of the RNC.”

11:10 a.m.
DNC conference call with reporters: On the line are DNC vice chairwoman Linda Chavez-Thompson and Mark Levinson, chief economist for the labor group Unite Here. “We have seen that now, from every indication, Sen. McCain is going to follow George Bush’s failed economic policies. We can’t afford that.”

12:05 p.m.
McCain news conference in Cartagena, Colombia: He talks about drug interdiction, the benefits of lifting tariffs on Colombian exports, and denies the recently publicized recollection of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., that on a 1987 diplomatic trip to Nicaragua, McCain had manhandled an associate of President Daniel Ortega.

12:11 p.m.
Conference call with reporters by the Service Employees International Union: The group touts its $85-million voter mobilization effort in key states. “We want to make it really clear to voters if they want to vote for John McCain, it’s as good as voting for George Bush,” said secretary-treasurer Anna Burger.

12:46 p.m.
E-mail from American Political Action Committee (AmeriPAC): The group bashes Obama on gun rights: “The gun-control views of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama are an ‘obamination’ of the Second Amendment.”

1:05 p.m.
McCain campaign conference call featuring Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, on Obama and Iraq: He says he’s “concerned” that a top surrogate for the Obama campaign said Obama hasn’t changed his views on the need to leave Iraq. “I just believe that raises serious questions as to the sensibility of that position given what’s going on in Iraq right now — what’s going on on the ground.”

1:20 p.m.
Obama speech in Colorado Springs, Colo., promoting national service: “This will not be a call issued in one speech or one program — this will be a central cause of my presidency. We will ask Americans to serve. We will create new opportunities for Americans to serve. And we will direct that service to our most pressing national challenges.”

1:40 p.m.
E-mail from Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor: “Instead of questioning Barack Obama’s consistent call for a new direction in Iraq and Afghanistan, John McCain should explain why he is offering nothing more than four more years of a failed foreign policy that has … failed to bring Osama bin Laden to justice for over six years.”

2:08 p.m.
Obama campaign conference call: On the line to discuss Latin America policy is former Assistant Secretary of State Robert Gelbard and Latin America expert Dan Restrepo: They dismiss McCain’s Colombia trip. “It is a photo op,” one says.

2:18 p.m.
E-mail from McCain campaign announcing new Spanish language radio ad in Florida: “This is Tony Villamil speaking, ex-director of Tourism, Commerce and Economic Affairs of Florida. … Remember who stands for prosperity in Florida, our country and our hemisphere. His name is John McCain.”

2:24 p.m.
DNC news release responding to McCain’s ABC interview earlier in the day: The DNC disputes McCain’s claim that he never said he wasn’t an expert on the economy, providing a list of YouTube video clips of McCain saying just that.

“Apparently John McCain’s campaign thinks the voters haven’t already noticed that he was right when he admitted he doesn’t understand the economy as well as he should.”

3:43 p.m.
E-mail from the liberal group MoveOn.org: “It’s become pretty clear that pundits love John McCain. ‘We’re his base,’ MSNBC host Chris Matthews famously said. So if you’re looking for some, er, straight talk on Sen. McCain — where’s a person to go? That’s why we’re launching McCain Watch — a zippy e-mail with the presidential news you most need to know (but won’t hear elsewhere) about Sen. McCain.”

4:15 p.m.
RNC conference call: It declares that Obama is out of step with voters in North Dakota, where Obama was to campaign the next day.

4:30p.m.
McCain campaign news release: The “in case you missed it” release touts an Associated Press story headlined “Bipartisanship Marks McCain’s Senate Tenure.”

4:42 p.m.
National Jewish Democratic Council news release: The “fact sheet” charges that McCain has “flip-flopped” on issues ranging from offshore drilling to Social Security privatization to abortion rights.

(tampabay.com)

Editor: Curb prevailing wage law

Ending union subsidy can solve labor-state ills

Michigan lawmakers have nearly completed a budget with considerably less drama than last year, when wrangling over a tax increase brought Lansing to a standstill and seriously eroded citizen faith in state leaders. This year's reasonable, timely decisions on revenue sharing and education point to a more rational and functional government.

However, the new budget, for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, continues a familiar pattern: tinkering with the externals of state government without delving into its broken machinery. Again this year, the budget lacks serious reforms in insupportable government structures. That just kicks problems down the road for future lawmakers. Gov. Jennifer Granholm and legislators owe the state, and its children, better.

This year's $44 billion budget included a $400 million shortfall that had to be made up. The deficit was driven in part by tax incentives for film production, but also a dragging economy. Proposed increases in funds for local governments and schools had to be trimmed back. Cities and townships will see a 2 percent jump in revenue sharing instead of the governor's proposed 4 percent hike. State universities will receive a 1 percent bump instead of 3 percent. Still unfinished is the budget for K-12 education. The governor and Legislature are haggling over her $300 million proposal for smaller high schools, which would provide more individual attention to students who need it. Lawmakers should incorporate that proposal into their final plan. Still, not enough of the hard work was done.

Ms. Granholm last year proposed saving prison costs by reforming sentencing guidelines. The idea has gone nowhere. Ms. Granholm should be pushing the Legislature to get off the dime. Corrections took a $39 million cut this year, but that doesn't begin to trim the $2 billion total that is spent on prisons -- 20 percent of Michigan's general fund. Michigan continues to incarcerate more people than other midwestern states, primarily because it keeps them longer behind bars.

Dealing in a serious way with that issue will require courage that is evidently lacking. No lawmaker wants to appear soft on crime. But this isn't about releasing hardened felons likely to assault, murder or rape again. Locking bad actors behind bars must remain a priority for the community and the budget, and a core function of state government. Continuing to imprison people who pose no real threat to society, however, makes no sense. If lawmakers are serious about trying to avoid the yearly spending squeeze, this is one area of savings they must attack, and soon.

Also necessary: an end to the prevailing wage law as it applies to school construction. The law currently requires that schools pay union-scale wages to workers. That adds 10 percent to 15 percent to the cost of doing business, an unnecessary burden for school districts. In addition, lawmakers should reform health care and pension costs for teachers and state employees. The costs continue to be a major drag on taxpayer wallets and eat up an increasing share of funds that could go more directly to classrooms and kids.

Those are the kinds of big changes lawmakers will need to make if they want to avoid the cyclic pain that defines state budgets. A recent report by the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council found that if tax and spending policies continue, Michigan will face a cumulative deficit of nearly $10 billion by 2017.

Nothing in Lansing's current spending plan addresses that long-term problem. Until lawmakers face Michigan's broken government head-on, the tired ritual of scraping for money for important programs will continue.

(mlive.com)

Worker-crime plagues public housing agency

Collectivized waste, abuse, inefficiency in gov't sector

The 400,000 New Yorkers who live in New York City Housing Authority buildings have plenty to worry about: Their landlord is going broke, rents may go up and services are slipping. Here's a problem they may not know about: Last year, 190 NYCHA employees got arrested - almost 1.5% of the agency's workforce. That was worse than in 2006, when 171 employees ended up in handcuffs.

The numbers don't indicate what the bulk of the workers were charged with, or what kind of jobs they did.

The authority says only six workers were arrested last year for offenses connected to their jobs. One was charged with forcible touching and another with aggravated harassment, both misdemeanors.

"These are serious allegations, and NYCHA is proceeding with disciplinary charges against these employees," spokeswoman Sheila Greene said of those two. "Beyond that, we cannot comment."

The numbers don't count four more, including an administrator nabbed late last month on charges of stealing $10,000 from the agency - cash and money orders that were supposed to pay for room rentals and summer camps.

The Housing Authority isn't the only agency whose bad apples might give New Yorkers pause, of course. The city's top crane inspector was charged last month with taking bribes, for example - though only seven Buildings Department employees were arrested in all of 2007.

"I don't think there's a problem with people working in the agency," said Gregory Floyd, head of Teamsters Local 237, which represents NYCHA employees. "Everything reflects society, no matter what agency you're in. Entertainment, police, judges, teachers - you always have a small percentage of people who get in trouble."

Floyd has a point: The arrests aren't just another element of the authority's woes. They're a symptom.

He represents thousands of workers making hourly wages - many of them lucky to gross $30,000 a year - at an agency that has been laying off and cutting back with no end in sight.

A rookie cop just scraping by has job security; the guy mopping the floor in a decaying Housing Authority high-rise does not.

Yet there's one place where the authority hasn't cut back. Last year, it paid $210 million to other city agencies for services - $66 million to the NYPD, $95 million for water, even $1 million for garbage pickups.

Compare that with NYCHA's $170 million deficit. The City Council scratched and clawed last month to get a measly $18million to plug that gap, enough to keep 75 senior and community centers open - but 205 more will have to close.

The landlord for 400,000 New Yorkers is barely getting by, and its employees deserve to get arrested for stealing, but what does the city deserve for taking $210million from it?

(nydailynews.com)

NJ's Office of Project Labor Agreements

Public official seeks out 'labor peace' deals like The Sopranos

Deputy mayors don't have set job descriptions. They carry out whatever duties the mayor delegates to them, said Jersey City (NJ) Clerk Robert Byrne. They are empowered to conduct weddings and stand in for mayors at various events, Byrne added. If the mayor leaves town or becomes incapacitated, deputy mayors cannot become the acting mayor. That designation, Byrne explained, is reserved for city officials whose mayoral appointments are confirmed by the City Council, like department directors, the clerk and the assessor.

Named by Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy as a deputy mayor last year, Kabili Tayari has focused on issues of equality and diversity as it relates to public and private hiring in the city. He played a key role in establishing the city's new "project labor agreement" that strives to put Jersey City residents to work on local construction projects.

(nj.com)

Barack accepts NEA nod

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