Q&A for union members: Financial Core Status

Here are some questions asked by writers who were considering going financial core.

What happens if I resign from the WGA?
After you resign from the WGA, you will be considered a “financial core” member of the WGA, which means that your only obligation to the union is to pay uniform union dues and initiation fees during the term of the WGA Agreement. In that case, the WGA cannot fine or coerce you for working during a strike. Moreover, you will not lose any rights under the Minimum Basic Agreement, including residuals and pension and health benefits. The WGA must also continue to represent you fairly in bargaining and grievance handling whether or not you are a full WGA member. As a “financial core” member, you may not be able to engage in certain union activities such as attending union meetings and voting in union elections or ratifications.

Can the WGA prohibit me from resigning during a strike?
No. The National Labor Relations Act provides that you may resign at any time by giving written notice to your union.

After a strike, can the WGA prevent me from working if I resigned?
Absolutely not. The National Labor Relations Act guarantees that if you resign from the WGA and go to “financial core” status you have the right to continue to work and your only obligation will be to pay those union dues and initiation fees which are uniformly imposed on all workers during the term of the Minimum Basic Agreement.

How does someone resign from the WGA?
The WGA Constitution provides the following procedure: “[The resignation must be] tendered in writing, signed by the member, and personally delivered to and receipted for by an officer or employee of the Guild or mailed by certified or registered mail to the Board of Directors.” (Article IV(F)). You should be aware that your resignation does not become effective until it is received by the union. It makes sense to keep a receipt for your records and protection.

If I am not a WGA member and write during a strike, am I banned from working in the WGA jurisdiction forever?
WGA may deny, in the future, full membership to non-members who work during a strike. However, they may not deny “financial core” membership. As a member who went “financial core,” you are entitled to all the benefits of the collective bargaining agreement, including the exact same WGA representation in any grievance and the exact same pension and health plan rights. Also, as a “financial core” member, the WGA cannot fine or coerce you for working during a strike.

More on Financial Core

What does "FINANCIAL CORE" status mean? One actor explains:

I hold Financial Core membership in both AFTRA and SAG, and am fully covered by union contracts and benefits when doing union jobs. "Financial core status" talent pays the portion of dues that covers the "financial core" of union activities, but not the portion covering any political activities the unions may undertake.

Since Financial Core members do not carry a union card, vote in union elections or run for union office, we can also accept non-union work as well. While Financial Core status is not yet widely known, it is becoming more so. Its legality is recognized in accordance with the United States Supreme Court decision, "CWA v. Beck," of June 29, 1988, and applies to all unions, not just AFTRA and SAG.


Employee-owners act to decertify UFCW

Hearings over the legitimacy of a petition to decertify the union that represents workers at the employee-owned Woodman’s Food Markets in Janesville, Beloit and Janesville will continue next week. In late January, the National Labor Relations Board had an initial hearing on the petition to decertify United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1473 as the employees’ bargaining unit.

To move to the NLRB, the petition needed signatures from at least 30 percent of the 900-plus union workers at the four stores. The hearing will continue Tuesday, Feb. 12. “The union said it needed more information,” said Woodman’s President Phil Woodman. “We said come and get it.” Woodman said the union asked for records and files on each of the 2,100 or so employees at the 11 Woodman’s stores in Wisconsin and Illinois.

Once the NLRB concludes its hearings, it will decide whether or not the petition is valid. If it’s ruled valid, the petition could lead to a vote to decertify Local 1473 as the bargaining unit for the employees, whose contract expires in March.

“We’re going to do what the employees tell us to do,” Woodman said. “We’re going to do what’s in the best interests of the employees.”

The Janesville, Beloit and two Madison stores were the first for the Janesville chain. Stores in Onalaska and Appleton also are unionized, but those employees are on a different contract cycle.

After those six stores, Woodman’s opened non-union stores in Kenosha, Green Bay, Rockford, Carpentersville, Ill. and North Aurora, Ill.

Woodman’s will open its 12th store in April in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek. It, too, will be non-union.

Woodman said store employees decide whether they will have union representation.

But several Woodman’s employees commenting on The Janesville Gazette’s Web site, www.gazettextra.com, have said Woodman’s management carefully selects employees to transfer to new stores, slanting the field away from union representation.

They’ve also expressed concern that a decertification vote for the Janesville, Beloit and Madison stores could be swayed by employees at the two Madison stores, one of which was the supposed birthplace of the current decertification efforts. Employees at those stores, they said, tend to be shorter-term with less loyalty to the union.

Comments about wages and bonuses paid to Woodman’s employees also have been a common thread on the Gazette’s Web site.

While Woodman said there isn’t much difference in wages for union and non-union employees, he declined to address differences in annual bonuses paid to the two employee groups.

Woodman’s is employee-owned

If Woodman’s employees are Woodman’s owners, why are they considering efforts to bag the union that represents them?

In reality, the situation comes down to degrees of ownership and day-to-day control.

“We are 100 percent employee-owned,” said Phil Woodman, president of the company and a member of the grocery store chain’s founding family.

Technically, Woodman is correct, and the chain’s employee ownership has become a hallmark of its advertising campaigns.

But ownership of the company doesn’t necessarily equate with its management.

Woodman said his family owns 35 percent of the company, and the family members all are Woodman’s employees.

Other employees, he said, own the remaining 65 percent through an employee stock ownership plan that shares profits and dividends with employees.

Top management includes Woodman family members a few non-family members that together control more than 50 percent of the company, some Woodman’s employees have speculated.


UAW still on strike

Members of United Auto Workers Local 2069 continued to strike outside Volvo Trucks North America in Dublin on Monday, while inside, the plant sat quiet. "Everything's going good so far," UAW Local 2069 Vice President Tim Barnes said Monday morning. "We have people out there 24 hours" a day.

More than 2,460 of the plant's 2,900 employees are members of UAW Local 2069, and union officials said all members would be taking their place on the picket line in coming days. Volvo spokesman Jim McNamara confirmed the plant was not in production Monday, but declined to talk about when - or how - production might resume.

The plant produces all Volvo trucks sold in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

UAW Local 2069 first went on strike about midnight Thursday after its bargaining committee failed to reach a tentative contract agreement with Volvo.

Contract negotiations between the two groups first began in early January, and union members voted Jan. 28 to authorize a strike in the event an agreement could not be reached by the time the current contract ended.

In a letter outlining union members' reasons for striking, UAW Local 2069 President Lester Hancock blamed "unreasonable proposals that would erode the wages and benefits that we've fought so many years to achieve and protect" as well as efforts "to dismantle many of the most basic health and safety protections found in our current agreement."

Hancock said Monday that the union is willing to negotiate with Volvo at any time.

"We're just still waiting for the company to contact us," he said.

While the picket line continued in Dublin, two politicians campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination weighed in with their own thoughts about the strike.

In a news release sent Saturday, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama said, "I stand with the workers who are striking Volvo. The union's demands -- job security, health benefits and safety protections -- are basic guarantees that all workers should expect and that UAW members deserve."

U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton offered a similar response.

"I fully support the working men and women of United Auto Workers Local 2069 at the Volvo Plant in Dublin in their ongoing efforts to organize and bargain collectively for a safe workplace, skills training, fair wages and meaningful health and pension benefits," she said in a release.


Gov't union machine propels Mrs. Inevitable

Members of unions that have endorsed Hillary Clinton for president turned out in force for a campaign rally Sunday in Minneapolis. Clinton spoke to a crowd of several thousand late Sunday at Augsburg College. It was one of several campaign stops as she crisscrossed the country in advance of "Super Tuesday," when Minnesota and 21 other states hold caucuses and primaries.

Clinton was introduced by Eliot Seide, director of AFSCME Council 5, the union representing 43,000 public and non-profit workers in Minnesota. "Hillary is a true champion of working families," Seide said. "I know because I worked with her in New York. She's brilliant, compassionate and passionate. She's a bold, strong leader with experience we can trust on day one."

Other unions that have endorsed Clinton include the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades and the United Transportation Union.


Unions' sick-day state-mandate lies in wait

The leader of Ohio's Senate signaled little interest Monday in moving forward with an initiative that would require many businesses to provide their employees with paid sick days.

Senate President Bill Harris said top lawmakers hadn't discussed the proposal, which was submitted to the Legislature about a month ago after receiving the necessary number of signatures to put it before lawmakers.

Frustrated supporters of the policy — which would require businesses with 25 or more employees to provide them with at least seven paid sick days a year — vowed they would gather enough valid signatures to place the proposal on the November ballot if the Republican-controlled Legislature doesn't act.

If it is not approved in roughly the next 90 days, the proposal could have ramifications for the presidential election. It is heavily supported by organized labor, whose members tend to vote overwhelmingly Democrat.

Government mandates for sick days are strongly opposed by the business community, which is a core Republican constituency.

"The truth is we've heard nothing that indicates that this is moving forward," said Dale Butland, spokesman for Ohioans for Healthy Families, the coalition pushing the sick-day policy. "We certainly hope that the leaders of the Legislature will not ignore 270,000 Ohioans who signed this petition."

Harris, an Ashland Republican, said there had been no discussion of taking up the initiative, while Republican House Speaker Jon Husted of Kettering has not yet decided whether to address it, said spokeswoman Karen Stivers.

The initiative has not been assigned a bill number, and lawmakers have a full plate of complex issues to deal with in an election year, including a comprehensive energy bill and proposed changes to Ohio's voting systems.

Butland discounts accusations that there is a partisan drive behind the issue, saying support for mandatory paid sick days cuts across party lines. He also said the coalition would prefer that the Legislature act so the group doesn't have to try to get the measure on the ballot.

The coalition turned in 268,000 signatures to Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, who determined that roughly 154,693 were valid. The group needed 120,683 valid signatures to have the proposal submitted to the Legislature. It would need 120,683 additional valid signatures to place the proposal on the November ballot if lawmakers fail to act.

The coalition said polling shows 72 percent of Ohioans support the initiative. Forty-two percent of the state's work force — or 2.2 million Ohioans — have no paid sick days, Butland said.

The business community has fought the proposal, saying the mandates would hurt Ohio's already poor economic climate. Businesses want the flexibility to provide their own benefit packages to employees.

"This is not a proposal that would be conducive to creating jobs and turning Ohio around," said Ty Pine, state legislative director for the National Federation of Independent Business-Ohio.

Pine said the federation has communicated with legislative leaders and rank-and-file lawmakers that 94 percent of its 25,000 members don't support the sick day initiative.


Unionized city workers go out on strike

With the threat of freezing rain forecast for late in the day Monday, about 400 CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employee) Local 855 took to the picket lines. Talks between the City of Kawartha Lakes and union broke off just after 10 p.m. Friday night.

Both sides had hoped a resolution could be reached, but Lyn Edwards, president of CUPE Local 855 told The Post the two sides "weren't even close." City officials, many of which spent the weekend in meetings inside city hall, had hoped local union officials would present the city's final offer to its membership in hopes of avoiding a strike.

Jane Lunn, CAO for the city said in a press release she was disappointed the members of CUPE Local 855 weren't given an opportunity to vote on the city's offer, which included, among other things, a 10 per cent wage increase with benefit enhancements over three years.

"We are disappointed that the union did not provide their members the opportunity to vote on our offer," said Lunn. "We feel that it is a fair and reasonable deal."

Also in a release, Lyn Edwards, Local 855 president said the strike would move forward to prevent the city's "repeated attacks on public services".

"We are taking a stand to stop this employer from completely dismantling public services and crushing the pride and spirit of municipal employees," she stated.

"We've been bargaining for months and yet the city came back with nothing substantial to address serious issues that affect our work and our working conditions."

The union said the city's "contracting out agenda" and management that "demoralize" workers led to the strike.

According to CUPE Local 855 outstanding issues include:


-Attacks on public services - management's determination to continue and expand the contracting out of public services to private, profit-seeking companies;

-Discriminating against older workers by taking away their benefits when they work past the age of 65;

-Targeting occupational groups where women workers are in the majority, by eliminating flexible working hours that have been in place for 16 years, preventing workers from balancing their work/family life;

- Denying overtime to winter maintenance workers who are asked to start work before 7 a.m.

-Perpetuating the wage gap as local workers earn significantly less than their Peterborough counterparts.

During council's meeting last Tuesday, council members reiterated their position and provided their mandate to the negotiating team.

With their final offer on the table Friday night the union's negotiating team walked away from the table.

The striking workers provide services, including roads maintenance, snow removal, parks, water and waste treatment, landfill, accounting, administrative, library, customer service, by-law enforcement, social services and others.

The city has implemented a contingency plan that will offer reduced services to the public. There will be no interruption to emergency 911 services, water and wastewater plants and garbage and recycling curbside pick-up. Snowplowing will continue at reduced levels.

"We regret this situation and ask for the public's patience and understanding through this difficult time," McGee said.

On Friday, CUPE Local 53 reached a tentative contract with the Town of Whitby preventing a strike that could have also started Monday. They had been without a contract since last spring. A ratification vote to be held later this week.

With fewer than 90 non-union employees remaining to operate the city of 75,000, several services have been suspended and reduced. No new talks have been scheduled between the two sides.


Mrs. Inevitable uses strike to gin-up class-warfare

Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton supports the striking auto workers in Dublin. Clinton released a statement Monday about the strike:

"I fully support the working men and women of United Auto Workers Local 2069 at the Volvo Plant in Dublin in their ongoing efforts to organize and bargain collectively for a safe workplace, skills training, fair wages, and meaningful health and pension benefits.

I am proud to stand with the organized labor movement as it continues to fight for the rights of all working families and for the growth of a strong and prosperous middle class in this country. The right to organize and bargain collectively to ensure a voice at work is a fundamental right and one worth defending for all workers in this country. I hope for a quick return to the bargaining table where negotiations can resume in good faith and an agreement that benefits all sides can be reached as soon as possible."

Workers went on strike midnight Thursday. They say they are not striking about money, but about basic safety and health protections.


Union-only thuggery obscured by racial quota

Kudos go out to Niagara Falls (NY) Mayor Paul Dyster and City Administrator Bill Bradberry on recognizing the need for more diversity in the workforce here. The new administration is emphasizing that need with a promise to vigorously enforce a project labor agreement for the city's new public safety complex on North Main Street that requires subcontractors to hire 10 percent minority workers and another 5 percent women.

That said, however, much more needs to be done. To accurately reflect the city's complexion, at least 50 percent of the workforce should be made up of minorities and women. And as long as we're going to impose standards on private contractors doing work for the city, why not hold the city itself to the same standards?

Currently, only around 8 percent of the city's employees are minorities, which is nothing short of disgraceful.

"Our objective here is to try to counter those forces that are creating the prevailing mindset here where people don't believe that it's possible to make our way out of poverty," Bradberry told the Buffalo News last week.

But that's only a part of the problem. A bigger one, in our view, is a "prevailing mindset" here that has allowed the minority population to descend into a bottomless pit of public housing, welfare and ghetto life.

Most black city workers labor at the various branches of what used to be called the Department of Public Works until former mayor Vincenzo V. Anello destroyed it in an attempt to provide as many patronage jobs as possible for those who helped him in his 2003 campaign.

About a dozen black men work in the forestry, streets and parks departments, with half that number having decades of training and experience behind them. With one lone exception -- a short-timer who circulated petitions for Anello last year -- none of these workers has ever been given the opportunity for a management position.

Why is that? Is it their fault?

We don't think so.

As long as there are decision-makers in this community like former DPW director Dick Lucinski -- who now edits the Niagara Gazette and recently penned an idiotic column suggesting that the pacifist, Nobel Peace Prize-winning American hero Martin Luther King Jr. would today be a member of the war-crazy Republican Party -- the basic problem of race here won't be addressed seriously.

And the city of Niagara Falls needs to get its own sadly neglected house in order so that it can seize the moral high ground in addressing that problem.


Labor-state Teamsters to take dues hit

A grocery distribution warehouse in Central Islip (NY) that services Waldbaum's and A&P stores throughout lower New York state will close March 28, according to a union official negotiating severance terms for workers.

The facility, which initially operated decades ago as a Waldbaum's warehouse, employs approximately 400 people, said Kevin McCaffrey, president of Teamsters Local 707, which represents 220 warehouse workers. Another 90 unionized workers, including truck drivers, and about 80 non-union management and support staff also will be affected, he said.

The facility is operated by C&S Wholesale Grocers, a Keene, N.H.-based company that in 2005 took over warehousing and distribution functions for the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., the Montvale, N.J. company that owns Waldbaum's and A&P stores. A&P closed warehouses in Edison, N.J. and the Bronx when C&S took over distribution in 2005. At the time, A&P said it planned to focus on retail operations, primarily in the Northeast, and it divested its Midwest presence.

Spokespersons for A&P and C&S did not return numerous calls seeking comment.

McCaffrey said C&S officials notified workers and the union last week of the plan to shutter the Central Islip warehouse, saying it would save the company some $7 million annually. The unions and C&S had been negotiating a new contract at last year's end.

One long-time employee said workers took the news hard. "We were in shock," said Joe Mullady of Holtsville, who worked at the facility for 27 years, most recently as an inventory checker. Mullady said he will retire, but most co-workers "are scrambling to find jobs in a dying industry."

McCaffrey said the company will service New York stores from warehouses in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. He said the replacement distribution facilities use non-union workers.

McCaffrey said given economic conditions and the job market he doesn't expect displaced workers will easily find new jobs. "I don't see them going anywhere," he said. "It's not like there's 200 jobs out there."

Great Atlantic & Pacific, with annual sales of $9.4 billion, operates 456 stores under the A&P, Waldbaum's, A&P Super Foodmart, The Food Emporium, Super Fresh, Pathmark and Food Basics banners. In addition to New York, the stores are located in Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.


City of racially-imbalanced union brothers

One in five members of local construction unions belongs to a minority group, according to numbers released yesterday by the unions in the lead-up to City Council's vote to move ahead with the $700 million Convention Center expansion.

City Council had threatened to hold up the expansion if unions did not increase minority participation. However, more than half of the 4,442 minority union members come from Laborers International Union of North America Local 332 - a predominantly African American union.

"There are [minority] numbers from some of these unions that by any standard are quite low," said Paul Clark, a professor of labor studies at Pennsylvania State University in State College.

"That's surprising to me, given the labor movement as a whole has been getting increasingly diverse."

Although 12 out of 15 unions provided statistics, some of the largest did not. Among the missing were the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Metropolitan Regional Council, which has 12,762 members, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98, which has 4,543 members.

Electricians chief John J. Dougherty said officials should look at numbers over the last 10 years.

"Does Michael Nutter want to be judged on John Street's record?" Dougherty offered by way of analogy.

Dougherty said he would cooperate with a new advisory commission on diversity in the construction industry that Mayor Nutter established yesterday, but refused to give numbers to City Council, because, his spokesman said, Council is too political.

The unions provided information on how many of their members were from Philadelphia, and how many were African American, Hispanic, Asian, other, and female.

Nutter said the numbers were an important benchmark but not an excuse to beat up on the unions.

"This is not an exercise in fingerpointing or who did what to whom in the past," Nutter said.

Nutter asked the 15-member advisory commission to establish the availability of minority workers and create long-term plans for increasing their participation in the industry.

Federal statistics show that building-trades unions in the Philadelphia region are only 8 percent minority, but that includes the whole region.

A recent Inquirer analysis of statistics from the city's Office of Housing and Community Development on publicly funded projects in Philadelphia showed that 80 percent of the union workers were white and 70 percent lived outside the city.

Only one union, the Laborers, had the majority of its members from Philadelphia. Most had less than one-third.

In their responses, many union leaders pointed out that they draw their membership from wide geographic areas, which could have an effect on their statistics.

"Our council covers 26 counties in Pennsylvania, the entire state of Delaware and South Jersey," wrote Harry T. Williams, business manager for District Council 21 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.

Membership in the painters' union totaled 5,463. Of those, 105 were African Americans, 244 were Hispanic and three were Asian. Of the 5,463, 1,147 were from Philadelphia.

Union leaders say their members earn enough money that they can live where they choose.

"What if we say that nobody from Philadelphia can work in Montgomery, New Jersey and Bucks?" asked Patrick Eiding, who heads the Philadelphia AFL-CIO, an umbrella organization.

Public-relations executive A. Bruce Crawley, a veteran of minority-inclusion battles, said the numbers were important "because when we say unions are going to do their best effort, we need to know what the total capacity and availability [of minority workers] are."

Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. said he understood why some unions had been reluctant to give their numbers. He compared it to an unwanted trip to the doctor, "because they have to get naked and exposed to some of their inadequacies," Jones said. "But that's the first step in getting well."


City of San Diego workers authorize strike vote

Each of the employee unions in San Diego city government has begun or is fast approaching contract talks – never an easy prospect, but one complicated this year by continued budget deficits and a June election.

The outlook has darkened to the point that the 1,900 city employees in one union have authorized their negotiating team to hold a strike vote if talks prove unfruitful.


Contracts for the city government's five unions expire June 30. Here is the recent wage history for the four largest groups, under current and prior deals, by fiscal year.

Municipal Employees Association

Represents 4,200 white-collar workers

2008 raise: 4 percent

2007 raise: 0 percent

2006 raise: 0 percent

Police Officers Association

Represents 2,000 police officers

2008 raise: 9 percent

2007 raise: 0 percent

2006 raise: 0 percent

Local 127

Represents 1,900 blue-collar workers

2008 raise: 4 percent

2007 pay: 1.9 percent decrease

2006 pay: 1.9 percent decrease

Local 145

Represents 1,200 firefighters

2008 raise: 0 percent

2007 raise: 0 percent

2006 raise: 0 percent
“This is the first time we've even talked about it, but people are that adamant,” said Joan Raymond, president of Local 127 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Mayor Jerry Sanders has said the converging negotiations with the five unions offer him an important opportunity. He wants to secure broad concessions on city retirement and health care plans, changes he has sought during most of his term. Raises appear to be off the table for anyone but public-safety workers.

That's bad news for the city's largest union, the Municipal Employees Association, which took its case to the City Council last week. The union argued that its 4,200 members must receive raises of nearly 15 percent to catch up with rising expenses.

Lower costs for the city on some health care plans have resulted in costs being shifted to employees, said Ann Smith, the union's attorney. Therefore, she said, her shop will not support them.

“We ought not to mince words about it,” Smith said. “That's what it's all about.”

City financial officials are already projecting a $32 million deficit in the fiscal year that begins July 1, and that's without factoring in added labor costs.

Workers have resented the city's methods for dealing with the budget crunches San Diego has faced for most of the decade. The gaps can be attributed to the city's attempts to chip away at $3 billion in unfunded infrastructure needs and retiree obligations.

Wages were frozen or cut for the first two years of the last pacts agreed to by the white-collar union, the MEA, and the blue-collar union, Local 127.

Members were granted a 4 percent raise this year, the final year of the deals, but they also agreed to give up a bigger chunk of their paychecks to fund their retirement plans.

Police officers and firefighters had one-year contracts during the same period, receiving no raises and giving up the same pension perks.

Sanders' first round of contract negotiations took place two years ago, and he has adopted a tough stance ever since. He has called for holding the line on salaries, eliminating jobs and considering the privatization of others.

The mayor also has argued that the city should direct more funding for only the most vital services. He considers public safety one of them and granted police officers a 9 percent raise last year, while rejecting increases for firefighters.

Police officers had been leaving the city, attracted by better pay and signing bonuses in other jurisdictions. The city hasn't had the same retention problem with firefighters.

Council members, however, almost succeeded in forcing Sanders to grant firefighters a 2 percent raise last year.

“I'm not saying they're the highest paid, but they are still right about in the middle of the pack as far as the region, and that's one of the things we're looking at, is the market,” Sanders said last month.

The mayor also is exploring his pension options. The current fund is known as a defined-benefit plan, which gives recipients the ability to determine how much their retirement checks will be worth. That differs from a 401(k)-style plan, in which the contribution is set but not the eventual benefit.

Sanders favors a hybrid system, which he said would stabilize the city's upfront costs. Those expenses exceed $150 million annually, triple what the city paid six years ago.

The new system would be proposed for new, nonpublic-safety employees. Refusal to accept the plan is a dealbreaker for Sanders.

“We have to go to the wall on that,” he said.

Raises result in higher pension costs because salaries are one of three variables used to calculate benefits. The others are years of service and a multiplier that represents a portion of a worker's pay.

City Attorney Michael Aguirre, who has clashed with the unions over their pensions, fears council members are more open to raises than Sanders. Aguirre argued Friday that the council's role in negotiations should be sharply limited.

The council should review contract offers only if one side declares an impasse, and even then, Aguirre said, the mayor could dismiss the council's input and impose the city's final offer.

The argument about the council's responsibility in negotiations arose because of the establishment of a form of city government that granted the mayor new powers. Councilwoman Donna Frye is unwilling to weigh in on the new contracts until the question is settled, perhaps by voters.

“My guess is the public will have very strong feelings one way or the other, whether it's clearly for management or a shared role with the executive and legislative branch,” Frye said.


Labor-state AFSCME organizers shuffle

The largest public employee union in Manitowoc County (WI) has a new representative, the Herald Times Reporter learned Monday. Joseph Guzynski, 37, has replaced Neil Rainford as staff representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 40 Manitowoc District. The district has about 1,250 employees, Guzynski said.

Guzynski previously was a staff representative for AFSCME Council 25 in Michigan. He originally was hired as an AFSCME representative in 2001. Rainford, 38, who represented the Manitowoc district for seven years, has been hired as a representative in the Southwest District of AFSCME Council 40, Guzynski said. Rainford will be based in Madison, Guzynski said.


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