Union officials play politics, divide members

Hillary Clinton's union allies in the AFL-CIO unsuccessfully tried to change the rules to give her a boost, a move that presages more fighting in the house of labor, which is divided between her and Barack Obama. Before the New York senator's comeback victories in Texas and Ohio this week, Gerald McEntee, head of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, pitched AFL-CIO union leaders and President John Sweeney about relaxing the two-thirds vote requirement for an endorsement.

Opponents said that would split the AFL-CIO's 56 member unions, weakening their clout. McEntee was forced to back off.

"We didn't have the so-called magic number," McEntee said. "We are pressing for individual unions to endorse her and provide soldiers, boots on the ground."

Harold Schaitberger, general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, an AFL-CIO affiliate, was among those who opposed lowering the threshold.

"Beyond those unions who initiated the discussion, there was zero appetite among the AFL-CIO's executive council to change the federation's long-standing endorsement policy in order to jam an endorsement for a candidate," he said.

Change to Win, a rival labor federation, is putting financial and organizational muscle behind Obama. That's rekindling some of the animosity left from when Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern led the charge to form Change to Win three years ago after a dispute with Sweeney.

McEntee noted Obama lost in the three states last week where Change to Win had a presence.

"It was their first run out of the gate and it looked like they got stuck," he said.

The 2008 presidential race continues to shatter turnout records. Democrats have set primary voting highs in 19 states so far, and Republicans set records in 11 states, according to Curtis Gans, director of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate at American University in Washington.

While Republican interest ebbed since Super Tuesday on Feb. 5, when John McCain took a commanding lead for the nomination, Democrats still are heading to the polls in unprecedented numbers as Clinton, 60, and Obama, 46, fight it out.

Republicans may step up in November if Clinton is the nominee. "She tends to mobilize Republicans," Gans said.

A total of about 28.7 million Democrats have voted so far and Clinton and Obama are virtually tied in the popular vote. About 17.4 million Republicans have turned out.

McCain is working on what allies and adversaries alike regard as his biggest weakness: the economy.

"He's not as strong an expositor as he could be, and that's something he, quite frankly, would like to improve on," said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, McCain's senior economic policy adviser.

Adviser Charlie Black argues McCain already has a "fairly specific tax cut program" and will "flesh out some other economic ideas as we go."

That includes getting rid of the alternative minimum tax, cutting corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 25 percent and making a tax credit for research and development permanent.

Aides are researching how to pay for those. Eliminating congressional earmarks, a longtime McCain cause, "gets you in the neighborhood of $20 billion a year," and there are savings to be had by reforming Pentagon purchasing, Black said.

"We've talked about the possibility of means-testing the prescription drug benefit," he said.

McCain, 71, an Arizona senator, said yesterday he is having conversations "with smart people" about his economic platform.

"It's pretty obvious that the economy is most on people's minds now," he said in Atlanta.

Obama is on the offensive after taking blows from Clinton.

"You set the terms of the debate, and you got to live by the terms of the debate," said David Axelrod, the Illinois senator's chief strategist.

The entire campaign is diving in. Obama adviser Susan Rice, a former assistant secretary of state under President Bill Clinton, accused Hillary Clinton of "deception" by overstating her involvement in diplomacy as first lady.

"It's hard to know what she's referring to when she says she has this unparalleled foreign policy experience," she said.

Some punches are too hard. Another Obama foreign policy adviser, Samantha Power, resigned yesterday after she was quoted in a Scottish newspaper calling Clinton "a monster."

Clinton's advisers say her wins in Ohio and Texas provide a road map for Pennsylvania, the next big state to vote. They regard the "3 a.m. phone call" television ad run in Texas as particularly effective. It depicted a ringing White House phone and asked voters who they would want to handle the call.

Senior spokesman Mo Elleithee disputed the notion that amounts to negative campaigning. "That's totally within bounds," he said. "We see a much more negative edge coming out of the Obama campaign."

A long, multistate campaign takes its toll. Obama, who spent 20 minutes shaking hands with people at Johnny J's diner in Casper, Wyoming, ordered up a vanilla milkshake and a piece of coconut cream pie and walked outside. "It's really nice in Wisconsin," he said, hesitating for a beat, "and Wyoming."


SEIU finally over-reaches in Olympia

After years of success at passing laws that allowed tens of thousands of low-wage, service-sector workers to unionize, labor groups hit a wall — or at least a speed bump — this year in the Legislature. Democratic leaders in the Senate last week pulled the plug on a bill that would have extended collective-bargaining rights to some 12,000 day-care-center workers. Lawmakers also shot down bills that would have allowed many of the state's foster parents and about 4,000 adult-family-home workers to unionize.

"There seems to be a general uneasiness among many people about the concept of collective bargaining in these nontraditional areas," said Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, chairwoman of the Senate Labor, Commerce, Research and Development Committee.

In the past six years, unions have added more than 65,000 members by pushing through new collective-bargaining laws.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has led the way. Under the new laws, the SEIU has organized nearly 40,000 state-paid home-health-care and child-care workers, helping it become the state's largest union. The Washington Federation of State Employees also added thousands of members by winning new bargaining rights.

The rapid growth — adding millions of dollars in additional dues — has vastly expanded the unions' political clout. That, in turn, has led to hundreds of millions of dollars in increased wages and benefits for the newly unionized workers.

"You have to hand it to the unions," said House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam. "They're giving people a voice that they never had before."

Kim Cook, president of SEIU Local 925, said her union's effort this year to win collective-bargaining rights for day-care workers fell victim to an aggressive lobbying effort by opponents. Though the YMCA and large child-care chains, such as KinderCare, were exempt from the unionizing bill, they worked hard to kill it.

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown agreed that was a major factor. But she said there is also a growing concern that lawmakers have been giving up too much control over key budget and policy decisions.

"There's definitely a tension over how much is being turned over to the collective-bargaining process," said Brown, D-Spokane.

Under the bargaining laws approved in recent years, the unions negotiate directly with the governor over wages and benefits or subsidy rates. Lawmakers have no say over the details; they can only approve or reject the contracts.

"I'm very much concerned that we're going much too far," said Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Margarita Prentice, D-Renton. "I think everybody should slow down and take a look at what it means for the state."

Meanwhile, a few Democrats are pushing back at what they see as a power grab by unions like the SEIU.

"People are finally starting to give this stuff a hard look," said Sen. Ken Jacobsen, a Seattle Democrat and outspoken critic of SEIU tactics in Olympia.

The SEIU has not been shy about attacking Democrats who don't back the union's causes, and supporting Republicans who do. And Jacobsen contends they are doing it with taxpayer-funded dues.

"We're going to end up having just an SEIU caucus," Jacobsen said. "The only legislators down here will be the ones who agree with SEIU."

But many Democrats, union leaders and human-service advocates argue the union proliferation has been a good thing.

"This is really just about the poorest kids and workers in this state figuring out a way to come together and have a voice down here," Cook said. "It's helped them incredibly."

Lonnie Johns-Brown, a longtime human-services lobbyist, said the move toward unions might not be happening if the state had done a better job at providing adequate funding for those who care for the frail, elderly and disabled.

Johns-Brown said SEIU's home-care workers are a classic example. Since they unionized, home-care workers have won health-care benefits and seen their wages grow nearly 40 percent, to $10 an hour.

"It's clear that when you look at the home-care workers, it has forced the Legislature and the governor to attend to issues that in the past were pretty easy for them to brush off," she said.


Unions trash privatization

Proposed plans to privatize sections of Calgary, Alberta's recycling program may as well be thrown in the trash, says one member of the industry. City council will vote today on whether to allow private recycling companies to bid on city contracts in five zones. But according to Steve Tisshaw, president of the Curbside Recycling Association of Southern Alberta, it's too little, too late.

"I really don't care about the vote," Tisshaw said. Even if the city decides to privatize the program, the terms of the contract for small businesses are unattainable, Tisshaw said. "For the small private guy that's been around for 15 years, we don't have millions of dollars to put in a bid on even one-fifth or one-third of the city," he said.

"To make a bid requires that you purchase five of the city's trucks for $350,000 each, and then you need somewhere to safely store them, and the city wants a performance bond.

"Unless they're willing to make special considerations, the vote makes no difference to me."

The contract was drawn up in favour of the city, says Ald. Ric McIver, and that's where the problem lies.

"It was designed to exclude anybody but the city from getting the contract," he said.

"And what makes it worse is the city department that bid on the contract sat in on the writing of the terms. It doesn't stand up to any form of scrutiny in the regards of fairness."

Now, Tisshaw wants compensation from the city that let him down.

"It's just like appropriating my house," Tisshaw said.

"They're taking my customers ... and they're taking away my entire family's livelihood. They should be doing something for me. I'm demanding compensation from the city and if I don't get that, I'm gonna be pissed."

The recycling association was started in 1992, after the city conducted a residential recycling pilot project, but ended up instituting drop-off style recycling depots.

Now, with five members and roughly 30 employees, recycling is a $3.5-million-a-year industry in Calgary, one the city should be supporting, Tisshaw said.

"This move says the city is not pro-business, they're pro-government and pro-union," Tisshaw said.

With the future of the curbside recycling program undecided, Tisshaw has no choice but to continue working, waiting and voicing his concerns.

As for the outcome of the vote, McIver is trying to be optimistic.

"I think it'll be close, but if everyone that said they would support this does, it should pass."


Unions give you what you deserve

"If you have a union, you deserve it!" These are the words of Robert Townsend, who as president of Avis Rent a Car in the early 1960s turned the company completely around. Townsend wrote these words in his 1984 book, "Further Up the Organization." I agreed with Townsend then and still do. Your leadership determines whether or not employees become motivated to unionize; if you demonstrate lousy leadership, you deserve what you get.

For the casinos in Wisconsin, I suspect this is a grave issue right now.

The Teamsters are working to organize and possibly get certified to represent casino employees collectively. Frankly, if there is enough interest to get the Teamsters to put up a trial balloon, it's probably too late; the damage is done.

Clearly, for the Teamsters to be courted there must be a number of disenfranchised employees who think a union can improve their working conditions.

Please understand I am not arguing the value of unions — if you have one, there is a good reason for it — my argument is about treating people in a way that unionizing is simply unnecessary.

The way to keep unions out is to never give them a foothold, never give people a reason to believe that somehow a union can get them something they don't already have or can't get on their own.

A classic example of a non-union company is Fort Howard (Georgia Pacific). How is it that in the tough, highly unionized paper industry the Fort was able to keep the union out?

The answer is simple: it operated in such a way that employees never had a reason to unionize.

It already had more than a union could possibly provide.

If you make the most important, dynamic and powerful asset within your company a top priority by leading them effectively, then a union doesn't have a chance.

People vote for unions because they feel powerless in dealing with management. The key is to never let that happen ... ever!

Next week: Is your union really looking out for you?


Carpenters in ugly 'shame-on' picketing

Bob Winston has picketers outside his business, but his employees aren't the ones with the beef against him. Neither are his customers. And he doesn't have organizers pressuring him to unionize his mortgage business. Instead, he's being picketed because he chose Kirtley-Cole Associates of Everett to construct a new building for his business.

Since 2006, the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, a labor union, has been publicly unhappy with Kirtley-Cole over the pay and benefits its employees get. Instead of directly picketing Kirtley-Cole, however, the union has sent people to hold banners and distribute fliers at the offices of Kirtley-Cole's clients.

"Bob Winston Financial Hurts our community," the sign reads, adding "labor dispute" on the side. It's being held up outside Winston's business office on Everett Mall Way, far from where his new building is going up.

Winston says the tactic is unfair, especially because the banner in front of his office has his name on it, but doesn't even mention the union's real target. Winston said he would understand if picketers hung around the site of his new building, just east of I-5 near the 128th Street SE exit, but not at the building he shares with other businesses.

"They're barking up the wrong tree in this process," Winston said.

He's not the only one feeling heat from the union. Its representatives also have been picketing outside the new home of Trinity Lutheran College .

Mark Lewinski, Kirtley-Cole's president and chief operating officer, said the tactic is unfair to the company's customers.

"Since the time Kirtley-Cole's been in business, over 35 years, we've never seen the client base attacked like this, when the client is not the subject of the dispute," he said. "This is really unfair to our clients."

The Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters claims Kirtley-Cole does not give its workers the same pay and benefits as other contracting companies. Eric Franklin, communications director for the carpenters union, said the "public information campaign" simply educates people about their stance.

"The crux of it is they are a non-area-standards contractor. They don't pay what the area standard is," Franklin said, adding that gives Kirtley-Cole a price advantage over competitors when it bids for construction projects. "When you're bidding on the backs of workers, we have an issue."

Lewinski said his company's pay is "competitive, if not in some cases, higher than the union wage rates." He and Linda Browning, who heads Kirtley-Cole's human resources department, said they also offer a full range of medical insurance and other benefits to the company's roughly 60 employees.

In regard to the picketing, Franklin said those holding the union's banners -- union workers, spouses and relatives, and hired workers -- aren't doing anything wrong.

"As long as you don't slander someone or make false accusations, we can exercise our free speech rights," Franklin said.

But Winston argues that being compared to a rat in fliers being handed out by the union seems to be "bordering on slander."

"I've got employees here who are being hassled by these guys," Winston said.

John Stamm, president of Trinity Lutheran College, can sympathize. Ever since Kirtley-Cole began remodeling the Port Gardner building in downtown Everett, picketers with a banner denouncing Trinity have shown up most days.

"It's not the type of thing we usually get embroiled in," Stamm said. He's trying to get out word that the college has no dispute directly with anyone, as the banner doesn't make that clear.

"These assertions are wrong, misleading and deceptive," Stamm said.

As at Winston's business, Stamm said picketers have passed out fliers targeting him and including his phone number. Two people holding the union's banner outside the Port Gardner building last week declined to comment on their presence, referring questions to the union's office.

The picketing at Trinity's future home -- the college plans to move in by mid-August -- is now the subject of a National Labor Relations Board complaint. An attorney for Kirtley-Cole filed the complaint last week against the carpenters union, alleging unlawful threats and unlawful picketing by the union.

"We feel strongly about those charges," Kirtley-Cole's Lewinski said.


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Curbing non-union labor in Nevada

The Southern Nevada Water Authority unanimously approved an expansion of the Project Labor Agreement to cover construction projects related to the development of groundwater resources in Clark, Lincoln and White Pine counties. The new pact extends an agreement already in place with the Southern Nevada Building and Construction Trades Council to a statewide agreement that includes the Northern Nevada council.


Union cash colors Colorado elections

Labor unions and independent political groups in Colorado already have raised several million dollars to conduct battle for the state's open U.S. Senate seat and control of the state legislature. A Rocky Mountain News review of campaign filings leading up to this pivotal election year found that:

* Union-related small donor committees collected about $1.2 million during 2007, an off-election period. That's four times the amount all other small donor committees have raised combined.

The strength of these committees is that they can donate 10 times the campaign limits to state candidates - as long as all of their donations are $50 or less.

Maximum donations to legislative candidates are set at $400 this year, while small donor committees can donate $4,250 to each candidate - as long as they adhere to the $50 rule.

* Independent political groups known as 527s, which have been responsible for many of the negative ads in recent elections, collected almost $1.5 million last year. The committees - so named for a section of the tax code that regulates them - can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on elections as long as they don't coordinate their efforts with candidates or political parties.

So far, Republican Party-oriented 527s have raised three times as much as their Democratic Party counterparts, reversing the trend of past years. Oil and gas companies have accounted for about a sixth of the donations to Republican groups.

That the 527s are reloading so early could portend "the ugliest campaign you have ever experienced," said Kenneth Bickers, chairman of the Political Science Department at the University of Colorado at Boulder. "They are in a sense unaccountable. They don't have to worry about their brand."

In addition, the 527s will be joined this year by another new political vehicle capable of funding anonymous campaign attacks.

Social welfare nonprofits

C4 groups, shorthand for the 501c4 IRS code for social welfare nonprofits, can spend up to 50 percent of their money for political purposes, said Tara Malloy, attorney for the Washington, D.C.-based Campaign Legal Center.

Union small donor committees and 527 groups have substantially impacted state elections in the past six years, and were instrumental in the Democrats taking control of the House and Senate in the state legislature.

The largest nonunion small donor group is composed of Realtors, who have raised $101,000.

Mike Cerbo, executive director of the Colorado AFL-CIO, said the union intends to spread its money around. "We're going to be raising money for every race this year," he said.

In addition to funding congressional and legislative races, Cerbo said unions will be battling proposed right-to-work ballot measures.

Republicans are at a disadvantage because they don't have large-membership organizations that can raise funds through small payroll deductions.

"They are going to dominate forever," said Republican consultant Scott Shires about the Democrats.

However, even more money is flowing into 527s, and is expected to rise dramatically in the current reporting period.

"I think there's a lot more money out there," said Pat Waak, chairwoman of the Colorado Democratic Party. "Because they are 527s, I can't deal with them. I turn a blind eye."

Two years ago, 527s raised $17 million for state races, with about two-thirds of the money going to Democratic-leaning groups.

So far this election cycle, the Republicans are ahead in fundraising, collecting about $1.1 million vs. $344,000 for Democratic groups.

Shires, who manages of one of the Republican 527s, the Senate Majority Fund, said the group hopes to raise about $2 million for the state Senate races. The Democrats now hold a 35 to 30 lead in the Senate.

About 15 percent of the Republican 527 money on file came from oil and gas interests.

The industry is unhappy with several bills passed by the Democratic-controlled legislature last year that changed the composition of the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which could lead to more regulation of the industry.

"I think the fact that more money has been given to Republican 527s is telling," said Doug Hawk, spokesman for Encana, a leading North American natural gas producer that donated about $30,000 last year to the Republican groups. "The oil and gas industry is certainly concerned about what we perceive as a level of uncertainty surrounding the business climate in Colorado."

On the Democratic side, about a half-dozen 527s have registered with the state, but have raised little money so far.

Political officials expect fundraising to pick up, though, with wealthy donors contributing millions of dollars. During the 2006 election, philanthropists Pat Stryker and Tim Gill contributed about $3 million combined. So far only Stryker has made any donations, and they total less than $50,000.

A memo from a Democratic consultant obtained by the Rocky earlier this year described how Democratic groups would raise $12 million to influence the race for president, the open U.S. Senate seat in Colorado and the 4th Congressional District seat now held by incumbent Republican Marilyn Musgrave.

Negative advertising

Bickers and others expect the large amounts of money flowing into 527s to generate negative advertising, which could turn off independents from voting, while enticing die-hard Republicans and Democrats to the polls.

"One of the things that attack ads do is raise the turnout ever so slightly among partisans and tends to suppress the turnout of independents," CU's Bickers said.

Republican political consultant Katy Atkinson said the ads also can influence independents who do vote but who wait until the final days to make up their minds.

"If someone hasn't heard of a candidate and the first time they hear about them is from a 527 ad, that kind of defines that candidate," Atkinson said.

Among the new C4s, one called Common Sense Issues already launched an attack ad last year taking on Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mark Udall and his stance toward Cuba.

Malloy of the Campaign Legal Center said contributions to the groups are not public record, even though they are reported to the IRS on tax filings. That makes overseeing their political activities difficult.

"C4s in theory should only be spending up to 50 percent of their money on election-related matters," Malloy said. "How does one discern what is political and what is not with so little reporting?"

Political fundraising


* Public Education Committee $200,000
* United Food & Commercial Workers Local 7 $196,000
* Colorado Professional Fire Fighters $160,000
* Denver Classroom Teachers Association $114,000
* Jefferson County Education Association $97,000


* Republican

Colorado Leadership Fund $480,000
Senate Majority Fund $403,000

* Democrat

Twenty-First Century Colorado $140,000
Accountability for Colo. $80,300
Citizens for Colorado $38,000


Jumbo gov't-union fights privatization

Dozens of Pinckney (MI) Community Schools custodians — and their supporters — filled Pathfinder School last week to protest the potential privatization of the district's custodial services next school year. Custodians pleaded for their jobs, while teary-eyed parents spoke of their children's bonds with the district's 27 custodians at the Board of Education meeting.

The district hasn't made a decision on the privatization question. The district could, however, save as much as $430,000 through privatization, though there hasn't been any progress in contract negotiations, Superintendent Dan Danosky said.

Many protesters wore yellow T-shirts that read "Coalition Against Privatization." Signs to the same effect can be seen throughout the Pinckney area.

There was a strong showing of fellow Michigan Education Association members, some of whom picketed outside the school before the meeting.

"I work for you all, and I think we do a pretty good job every day," said Jeff Hammon, head custodian at Country Elementary School, addressing the board.

"I love my job. I love my kids," Hammon added.

District parent Deb Whitus said her daughter's life was saved by a Country Elementary custodian. Whitus said the custodian was aware of her daughter's severe allergy to peanuts, and disinfected an area where a peanut butter snack was consumed.

Whitus said it's essential to have custodians who are known and trusted.

"She took initiative and went above and beyond her job to ensure the safety of the child," Whitus said of the custodian.

Other audience members suggested that administrators, rather than custodial staff, be eliminated to balance the district's budget.

The comments preceded the board's vote to close Hamburg Elementary School — a move that will save the district roughly $350,000 toward a $1.9 million budget shortfall next school year.

With that decision made, custodial services are now at the forefront of a list of potential cuts, Danosky said.

Under a private contract, the district would only pay for the service, and save benefit, retirement and other costs custodians receive as district employees.

"We've got to get the savings somewhere," Danosky said.

The district recently sent requests for proposals to four private custodial services, and received bids from two companies that met the district's conditions.

The proposals have been reviewed by the custodial union at the bargaining table, Danosky said.

The district will next meet with the union on Thursday.

"They're fully aware of the fact that we don't want to privatize," Danosky said.

"We have a solid group of people that we really appreciate. We know that we'll be losing some quality, the question is where is the break even point?" he added.

An agreement with the custodial union must be reached by June 30, showing savings either through privatization or by keeping custodians district employees, Danosky said.

State Sen. Valde Garcia, R-Marion Township, discussed school financing after audience members expressed frustration about the district's financial crunch. Garcia said the Pinckney district is among 300 of the states' least-funded districts.

"We're all in this same boat together. This struggle is occurring all across the state," he said.

Kelli Dockett-Ender, a Hamburg Elementary School parent, said the district shouldn't have to make such divisive decisions to keep operating.

"This is ripping my guts out," Dockett-Ender said.

Hammon, meanwhile, said he'll continue to fight for his job.

"We are a family. Don't bust the family apart," he said.

"As God as my witness we are going to get this straightened around," he added.


UAW still out on strike v. Amerian Axle

American Axle workers remain on the picket lines in Detroit despite the snowy conditions over the weekend. The strike has triggered parts shortages, which has forced the GM plant in Moraine to shut down temporarily. Officials said about 3,600 United Auto Workers at five American Axle plants went on strike after contract talks broke down over wages and other issues. The plant closures have affected more than 3,700 hourly workers in Ohio, Michigan, Maryland, New York, Indiana, Virginia and in Canada.


Union-only County official undeterred

NY State Supreme Court Judge Ferris Lebous has ruled against Broome County’s Project Labor Agreement for the George Harvey Justice building reconstruction project. The judge shot it down on the basis that the bid documents for the project were incomplete.

Despite the ruling, County Executive Barbara Fiala “remains committed to the concept of a project labor agreement as a device to promote jobs.” She said, however, that she would recommend to the county legislature for it to procedure with this specific project as soon as possible.

“Now that we have a ruling, we need to move this project forward without a PLA to avoid financial penalty,” she said. “In November, 85 percent of the tobacco settlement funds must be committed or the county could be forced to rebate interest or face other IRS sanctions. It is important for us to begin construction and get people working.”


School Board reneges on AFSCME

About 30 school custodial workers will find out if the Dover (NH) school department plans to privatize staff during a School Board meeting tonight. The board is scheduled to vote on a bid for the Massachusetts-based company UNICCO to take over all janitorial, maintenance and grounds work for the district's elementary schools and middle school.

Dover High School's custodial work was privatized last fall. The proposal has been promoted as a $185,000 cost-saving measure to help the department meet budget limitations under the newly enacted tax cap.

The vote follows and lengthy and often tumultuous debate about the change, which began last May when Superintendent John O'Connor sent a letter notifying the union about the district's intent to privatize.

Since then, the city approved a collective bargaining agreement with the custodial union in October and then voted in December to not award the outsourcing contract.

But on Jan. 21, the board rescinded their vote to further discuss the option of outsourcing.

Ken Hall, president of the AFSCME Local 2932 Custodial, Maintenance and Grounds, has been an outspoken critic of outsourcing the jobs since discussion of privatization first began.

He said outsourcing would cause irreparable damages for several of the union workers, many whom are more than 60 years old.

O'Connor said the possibility of UNICCO hiring existing custodial workers has been a major part of negotiations.

The School Board will also discuss a revamped proposal for an all-day kindergarten program, which would offer the program for about 52 percent of the more than 200 incoming kindergartners.

O'Connor said if passed, the program would likely be offered to children on a need basis.

The board had previously approved the all-day program for all kindergartners, but the board discussed cutting the program to save more than $647,000 from this year's budget.

The board will also take its final vote of the school department's almost $43 million budget Monday night.

Past budget workshops have resulted in votes to cut 12 department positions and numerous requests for books and supplies in an effort to slash more than $1.6 million from the proposed budget.

The School Board will meet tonight at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers.


Publicly-funded labor-activism in Detroit

The Labor Studies Center at Wayne State University is a comprehensive labor education center committed to strengthening the capacity of organized labor to represent the needs and interests of workers, while at the same time strengthening the University's interdisciplinary research and teaching on labor and labor relations issues.

The Center's primary areas of research and practice include: training and technical assistance to unions on labor relations and workplace issues; an undergraduate Labor Studies major and internship program; interventions to increase the organizational effectiveness of unions; the development and diffusion of constructive labor-management relations practices, particularly in the public sector; the formation and institutionalization of labor-community coalitions; and the impact of lean production systems on workers and labor relations practice in the North American auto industry.

Unions and Democracy
Whether it's shipyard workers in Poland, hospital workers in America, or coal miners in South Africa, democratic unions are an essential bulwark of a democratic society. Nations that favor corporate elites or state power at the expense of workers and their unions are nations that weaken the foundations of political democracy.

Mission: The Labor Studies Center is a comprehensive labor education center committed to strengthening the capacity of organized labor to represent the needs and interests of workers, while at the same time strengthening the University's research and teaching on labor and workplace issues. The Center's primary areas of research and practice include:

* Training and technical assistance to unions on labor relations and workplace issues.
* An undergraduate Labor Studies major and internship program.
* Interventions to increase the organizational effectiveness of unions.
* The development and diffusion of constructive labor-management relations practices, particularly in the public sector.
* The formation and institutionalization of labor-community coalitions and regional power building strategies
* The impact of lean production systems on workers and labor relations practice in the North American auto industry.

Programs & Classes for Individuals
Workshops: Present union skills and strategies and in a concentrated format. Workshops generally run 2.5 hours long but can vary dependihttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifng on content and needs of participants.

Short Courses: Designed to provide union leaders and activists with the skills and knowledge critical to operate effectively. On-campus classes range from four to seven weeks long meeting once per week. Courses can be tailored to meet the particular needs of a Local union and held off-campus at a location convenient to local membership..

The Labor School: A comprehensive leadership development program for workers that can be completed in two years by coming once a week or one year if twice a week.

Labor Studies Major

Educational Programs for Unions
On Site Classes for Members, Leading the Union, Building the Union

Labor-Management Programs
Interest-Based Bargaining, Steward-Supervisor Training, Labor-Management Committees, Grievance Mediation, The New American Workplace, Participative Work Redesign, Union Strategies for Joint Programs

Consulting & Technical Assistance for Unions
Contract Campaigns, Steward System & Grievance Handling, Strategic Planning, Political Education, Organizing, FMLA, Managing Diversity, Privatization, Membership Surveys & Focus Groups

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Journalism in the hands of labor unions

“We are uncomfortable with the term ‘citizen journalism,’” said Todd Wolfson, 35, a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the organizers of the Media Mobilizing Project in Philadelphia. “We prefer the term ‘community journalism.’”

Citizen journalism has become the faddish name for the effort to encourage regular folk to use the Internet to report the news directly, but Mr. Wolfson had a point: many of the people whom his organization and an immigrant rights group, Juntos, are teaching to make video reports for streaming on the Internet are not citizens. Many are not even legal residents.

The hope, however, is that they can be journalists.

The classes are supported by a $150,000 news challenge grant from the Knight Foundation in Miami, which is donating a total of $25 million over five years “for innovative ideas using digital experiments to transform community news.”

Gary Kebbel, the administrator of the Knight Foundation news challenge grants, said the promise of wider access to the Internet means there “should be good content for communities, by the communities.”

“We live in, work in, pay taxes in, and democracy is organized around where we live; we don’t vote for virtual presidents or pay virtual taxes,” he said. “Democracy, the way we practice it, is geographically based.”


SEIU official fights proposed dues hit

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