Category Archives: Unions

Chicago Public Schools to force staffers to take four unpaid furlough days

chicago-public-schools

Chiraq is so full of problems. Gee, I wonder why…

From MyFoxChicago: Staring down a $215 million budget hole it blames on the governor, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced Friday it’ll make all staffers take four unpaid furlough days this spring on dates when children aren’t scheduled to be in class, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

The move, which CPS also imposed for three days last year to conserve cash, is estimated to save the state’s largest district $35 million. It’ll impact union and non-union employees alike who will be furloughed on February 3, April 7, June 21 and June 22.

CPS banked on $215 million in pension money from Springfield that was allocated in legislation Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed in December. The money was supposed to be tied to “pension reform.” But when a compromise couldn’t be reached, Rauner pulled the plug.

District officials have said they’ll try to plug the funding gap in the least disruptive manner possible to schools, which have already seen their budgets slashed and their reserves spent during last year’s similar budget woes.

“As we address CPS’ financial challenges, we have two goals: minimize classroom disruptions and restore funding,” CEO Forrest Claypool said in an email. “Since Gov. Rauner is denying fair funding to Chicago students, we are forced to make cuts that will create new challenges for schools that are working to build on their academic gains. But make no mistake, any additional cuts we are forced to make would fall squarely at the governor’s feet.

Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly chided CPS for budgeting money it didn’t have but said the governor would consider the legislation again if the General Assembly were to pass statewide “pension reform” measures.“Continuing to blame the governor, who has been in office two years, for decades of fiscal mismanagement and bad decision-making is getting old,” she wrote in an email. “CPS willingly chose to budget for money they had not received and knew was contingent upon real pension reform.”

Last year, CPS also passed a budget it considered balanced despite banking on $450 million in pension help from state lawmakers. By January 2016, when that money hadn’t materialized, CPS cut school budgets for the second semester, too. It later furloughed employees for three unpaid work days.

If principals hadn’t planned so carefully from the beginning of the financially-troubled year, teachers would surely have been among the 200-plus staffers cut in the middle of the school year.

The Chicago Teachers Union is livid at what amounts to a 2 percent pay cut. “It’s the second year in a row they shortened the school year and cut our pay,” said Jesse Sharkey, the union’s vice president, angry that CPS leaders still won’t seek new revenue sources. Sharkey said the days off were to allow teachers to complete grades at the end of each quarter, work he assumes will still have to be finished and handed in.

“I’m hearing hearing from teachers who are outraged because they see this as a reduction of pay without a reduction of work,” he said. “We’re looking into whether it’s wage theft.”

Meanwhile the ratings agency Moody’s advised that CPS shore up its finances with another property tax increase of $400 million, a notion district officials have rejected.

DCG

#MAGA: Ford cancels Mexico plant, expands U.S. factory and adds 700 jobs

maga

From USA Today: Ford Motor announced Tuesday that it would cancel plans for a $1.6 billion Mexico plant and launch a Michigan expansion in a move that may be viewed as a capitulation to Donald Trump.

Ford CEO Mark Fields said the company would spend $700 million and add 700 jobs to “transform and expand” its Flat Rock, Mich. manufacturing plant to make autonomous and electric vehicles. “Make no mistake about it — Ford is a global automaker but our home is right here in the United States,” Fields said at a press conference.

The move marks a sharp reversal for Ford, which has defended its production in Mexico even as Trump has assailed the company for expanding there. “This is a vote of confidence for President-elect Trump and some of the policies he may be pursuing,” Fields said.

To be sure, Ford acknowledged that it would still move production of the next-generation Focus sedan to Mexico, as previously announced. But it will be built at an existing plant in Hermosillo, Mexico, not at a new facility.

The United Auto Workers hailed the decision. “We’ve seen our jobs go overseas,” UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles said. “It’s evident today that Ford is rewarding us for our hard work.”

Others will view the move as a bid to satisfy Trump, who has cited Ford’s Mexico expansion as a key example of how the North American Free Trade Agreement has weakened American manufacturing.

Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford called Trump this morning to inform the president-elect of the decision, and Fields called incoming Vice President Mike Pence. “Automakers are facing a situation where they have to consider the political consequences” of all their decisions, AutoTrader.com analyst Michelle Krebs said.

Ford’s expansion will convert 700 temporary jobs at the Michigan plant into permanent positions, adding to an existing hourly staff of about 3,600. Fields said the automaker will add about 200 jobs at its plant in Hermosillo, Mexico, to make the Focus but did not say how much it would invest.

The Michigan expansion plans are part of a broader $4.5 billion investment in electric vehicles and hybrids, including 13 new models over the next five years. Those vehicles include a small, electric sport-utility vehicle with 300 miles of battery range, which will be exported overseas, and a “high-volume autonomous vehicle designed for commercial ride-hailing or ride-sharing,” Ford said in a statement.

The company will also manufacture a hybrid version of the F-150 pickup truck by 2020 at the Dearborn, Mich., plant, where the F-series lineup is currently manufactured.

DCG

Trump-hater California college prof. Olga Cox has a sex slave

Do you remember my post of December 14, about Olga Perez Stable Cox, a professor of human sexuality at Orange Coast College in southern California, who was captured on video ranting in her class on human sexuality about the Nov. 8 election being “an act of terrorism” and calling Trump a “white supremacist”?

According to two students, Cox also demanded that students who had voted for Trump stand up before the class so that other students know whom “to watch out for and protect yourself from”.

After a student posted the video to Facebook, Cox allegedly received hate messages and went into hiding, according to Rob Schneiderman, president of the Coast Federation of Educators/American Federation of Teachers Local 1911. Schneiderman described Cox as a “lesbian Latina”. (See “Calif. college professor goes into hiding after calling election of Trump ‘white supremacist terrorism’”)

It turns out Olga Cox is so much more than a mere lesbian Latina.

olga-cox

In 2005, as president of the Western US region, Cox was at the 4-day conference in Australia of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality.

As reported by Australia’s ABC News on May 7, 2005, the theme for the conference was “Unstudied, Understudied And Underserved Sexual Communities.” Presentations ranged from autoerotic asphyxiation or “breath play,” to zoophiles or bestialists, to more mainstream topics like sex motives of dating partners. Cox explained her attendance to ABC News: “These couples have problems that I didn’t know how to deal with. You have to understand the culture, otherwise you’re an outsider, and you don’t get it.”

But Cox is more than a lesbian Latina professor of human sexuality!

olga-cox-and-sex-slave-boi-blu

Stephen Frank reports for California Political Review, Jan. 2, 2017, that Professor Olga Cox, who earns $160,000 a year from California taxpayers, is a leading proponent of bondage and sex slavery:

  • She’s a leader of Los Angeles Radical and Wicked Women (LARAWW), a Southern California-based BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism) group.
  • She was co-chair of the Leather Leadership Conference VI and a Threshold officer. Leather Leadership Conference describes itself as “an organization dedicated to strengthening the Leather/BDSM/Kink/Fetish community through the development of the leadership skills of community members and fostering a greater sense of connection between and within community groups.”
  • Cox even has her own sex slave — a man who goes by the slave name boi blu. The two have a “24/7 Master/slave relationship” and are co-owners and co-producers of DESIRE Leather Women Unleashed, “a play and educational weekend event for women interested in BDSM/Leather” held annually at a gay Palm Springs Resort.

Orange Coast College, that institution of “higher education,” must be so proud.

Here’s Orange Coast College’s contact info:

Dr. Dennis Harkins, President
Ph: (714) 432-5712
Email: dharkins@occ.cccd.edu

~Eowyn

Fear of Trump Triggers Deep Spending Cuts by SEIU

seiu-obama

SEIU: Say goodbye to your best buddy…

Imagine my distress…

From Bloomberg: In a clear sign that labor unions are bracing for lean times under Donald Trump, the massive Service Employees International Union is planning for a 30 percent budget cut over the next year, according to an internal memo reviewed by Bloomberg Businessweek.

“Because the far right will control all three branches of the federal government, we will face serious threats to the ability of working people to join together in unions,” SEIU President Mary Kay Henry wrote in an internal memo dated Dec. 14. “These threats require us to make tough decisions that allow us to resist these attacks and to fight forward despite dramatically reduced resources.” After citing the need to “dramatically re-think” how to implement the union’s strategy, Henry’s all-staff letter announces that SEIU “must plan for a 30% reduction” in the international union’s budget by Jan. 1, 2018, including a 10 percent cut effective at the start of 2017.

SEIU, which represents nearly 2 million government, health-care, and building-services workers and wields an annual budget of $300 million, is the nation’s second-largest union and arguably the most politically significant. In the past few years, SEIU has mounted organized labor’s most effective political intervention with the “Fight for $15,” a campaign that’s dragged Democrats—from city council members to presidential candidates—further left on the minimum wage. At the same time, it cultivated close ties with President Obama, played a key role in passing Obamacare, and worked hard to elect Hillary Clinton.

Asked about what the memo could mean for its current campaigns, SEIU didn’t offer specifics. “As we prepare to fight-back against the forthcoming attacks on working people and our communities under an extremist-run government, we know we must realign our resources and streamline our investments to buttress and broaden our movement to restore economic and democratic opportunity for all families,” said spokeswoman Sahar Wali. “As part of this process, we are currently looking at possible ways to improve our budgets.”

SEIU, like most of its peers, was already in a state of slow-motion crisis before Trump’s victory. Things will only get worse after inauguration, when organized labor will find itself without a friend in the White House. Unions will instead be up against unified Republican control of the federal government and of half the nation’s state governments, where labor organizers have already suffered some severe blows.

In Michigan, for example, Republicans in 2012 passed a private sector “Right to Work” law that let workers decline to fund the unions representing them, a public sector law doing the same for government employees, and a third law stripping University of Michigan graduate student researchers and home-health aides of their collective-bargaining rights. Afterwards, SEIU’s Michigan health-care local lost most of its membership.

With Republican dominance in Washington, the threats to SEIU will get more grave: Everything from slashing health-care spending to passing a federal law extending “Right to Work” to all private-sector employees could be on the table. One of the most widely expected scenarios is that a Trump appointee will provide the decisive fifth vote on the Supreme Court’s labor cases. The court already ruled in 2014 that making government-funded home health aides pay union fees violated the First Amendment, and a future case could apply the same logic to all government employees, effectively making the whole public sector “Right to Work.” SEIU was bracing for such a ruling earlier this year, in a case called Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, but got an unexpected reprieve when Justice Antonin Scalia’s death left the court tied, four to four. With several similar cases brought by union opponents already making their way through lower courts, it may not last for long.

The Dec. 14 internal memo from SEIU’s president doesn’t specify which threats necessitate planning for a 30 percent cut or how particular programs could be affected. It does reference the next congressional and presidential election cycles, saying the union needs to “focus our resources and energy on the fights that position us to retake power in 2018, 2020 and beyond,” as well as position itself “to take on the forthcoming attacks, absorb the short-term losses and strengthen ourselves to win big in the future.”

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

California SEIU contract includes 9 to 19 percent raises for many workers

California Gov. Jerry Brown is surrounded by unidentified SEIU workers after signing a bill creating the highest statewide minimum wage at $15 an hour by 2022 at the Ronald Reagan building in Los Angeles, Monday, April 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

California Gov. Jerry Brown is surrounded by unidentified SEIU workers after signing a bill creating the highest statewide minimum wage at $15 an hour by 2022 at the Ronald Reagan building in Los Angeles, Monday, April 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

From Sacramento Bee: A proposed contract for state government’s largest union includes dozens of special pay raises for certain workers that could increase their salaries by as much as 19 percent next year, according to new details released this week by the bargaining units.

The biggest gains would go to financial experts working for departments like CalPERS, as well as workers with specialized training in competitive career fields.

Most actuaries next year would receive a 15 percent salary bump on top of the standard 4 percent raise that all workers represented by SEIU Local 1000 would gain. In general, they’re financial planners working for CalPERS who earn between $7,300 and $10,000 a month.

In total, the proposed SEIU contract would raise their salaries by 19 percent next year. Many vocational nurses would receive an 11.25 percent wage hike on top of the union’s 4 percent general salary increase.

Other job classifications, from tax auditors to environmental planners, would receive a 5 percent special salary hike next in addition to the general SEIU raise. Custodians, too, would gain 3 percent on top of the standard raise.

The state and its unions regularly conduct salary surveys, and special salary adjustments are intended to keep certain careers competitive with the private sector. A 2014 state salary survey showed that many SEIU workers had fallen behind their peers outside of state government.

Since then, the union and the state have studied how to offer better incentives for those high-demand workers.

SEIU Local 1000 Vice President Margarita Maldonado

SEIU Local 1000 Vice President Margarita Maldonado

“A lot of this came out of the state’s inability to recruit or retain” for competitive career fields, said SEIU Local 1000 Vice President Margarita Maldonado. “The work they do is really good quality work. As soon as (other employers) find out, (the workers) are getting a lot more money” and job offers.

SEIU Local 1000 members will vote on the contract between Jan. 4 and Jan. 17. It published the tentative agreement this week, and it has been hosting meetings for its members to learn more about it. The union’s advisory commission endorsed it last weekend.

SEIU Local 1000 was on the brink of a strike over the contract two weeks ago, arguing that its members deserved better than Gov. Jerry Brown’s initial contract offer. Brown had proposed a series of four annual raises of about 3 percent each, offset by rising employee contributions for retiree health care.

In broad terms, SEIU’s tentative contract looks similar to Brown’s proposal, although it delays and reduces the retiree health care contributions. It provides a $2,500 bonus this year, a 4 percent raise in 2017, a 4 percent raise in 2018 and a 3.5 percent raise in 2019.

Some of its members were angered when they saw that outline. One state worker even created a contract calculator online where SEIU members could compare Brown’s offer to the one SEIU negotiated.

But the new details reveal that thousands of SEIU members across a broad range of careers stand to gain significantly more money than the initial outline suggested. Maldonado characterized the base wage increase of 11.5 percent over four years as the floor of the agreement, with some workers gaining as much as 27 percent through 2019.

The California Department of Human Resources and the Legislative Analyst’s Office have not yet released an estimate regarding the contract’s total cost.

DCG

US students are getting worse at math as science and reading skills stagnate

This is what happens when school administrators are concerned that everyone receives a participation trophy and coddle special snowflakes. Maybe they should focus more on real education instead of worrying about which bathrooms transgenders should use.

American Federation of Teachers union members wear "Obama, Biden 2012" shirts as they wait in line to hear U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speak during their AFT convention in Detroit, Michigan, July 29, 2012. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

American Federation of Teachers union members wear “Obama, Biden 2012” shirts as they wait in line to hear U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speak during their AFT convention in Detroit, Michigan, July 29, 2012. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

From Daily Mail: Americans students are having major math problems and have fallen behind the rest of the world, a new study has revealed. The latest global snapshot of student performance shows declining math scores in the U.S., while performances in science and reading stagnated.

The concerning findings were part of the 2015 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) study, which looks into the performance of more than 500,000 15-year-olds across schools in more than 70 countries. Just under 6,000 students took part in American schools.

The top performing country in all three categories was Singapore, while Hong Kong and Macau were second and third in mathematics. Japan and Estonia, and Canada and Hong Kong rounded out the top-three in science and reading, respectively.  The U.S. ranked 40th in math, 24th in reading, and 25th in science.

‘We’re losing ground – a troubling prospect when, in today’s knowledge-based economy, the best jobs can go anywhere in the world,’ Education Secretary John B. King Jr. said after the results were published. ‘Students in Massachusetts, Maryland, and Minnesota aren’t just vying for great jobs along with their neighbors or across state lines, they must be competitive with peers in Finland, Germany, and Japan.’

Education Secretary John King

Education Secretary John King

Math was a stubborn concern, the experts identifying the drop off the result of something that has been building for years. The U.S. average score was 470, below the international average of 490. Singapore topped the math chart with an average of 564. The American score was 12 points lower than it was in 2012 and 18 points lower than in 2009. The tests are based on a 1,000-point scale.

‘This pattern that we’re seeing in mathematics seems to be consistent with what we’ve seen in previous assessments – everything is just going down,’ Peggy Carr, acting commissioner at the National Center for Education Statistics, said.

Andreas Schleicher, director of education and skills at OECD, said the struggle of American students in math was in part due to their inability to solve more complex problems. ‘Students are often good at answering the first layer of a problem in the United States,’ Schleicher said. ‘But as soon as students have to go deeper and answer the more complex part of a problem, they have difficulties.’

Moving away from math, the study also found U.S. students were right around the international average in science and reading. Americans scored 496 in science, compared to a global mean of 493, and 497 in reading, compared to 493. Scores in both categories have remained flat since 2009. The study is the latest to document how American students are under-performing their peers in several Asian nations.

ATF President Randi Weingarten

ATF President Randi Weingarten

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) described the results as ‘disappointing but not surprising’. ‘They were predictable given the impact of the last 15 years of U.S. education policies combined with continuing state disinvestment following the 2008 recession. Thirty-one states still spend less per pupil than before the recession,’ AFT President Randi Weingarten said.

Judge Judy shakes head rolls eyes

National Center on Education and the Economy President Marc Tucker said the test proves the U.S. needs to look at what works for ‘smarter countries’ around the world and adopt those methods. ‘It is critical to look not only at their average high performance, but also at the strategies they use to achieve much greater equity across and within schools compared to the United States,’ Tucker said.

The test is coordinated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and conducted every three years. Schools included in each country are randomly selected.

DCG

Spike Lee sued for failing to pay union health contributions

Lee, a Bernie Sanders supporter, apparently couldn’t be bothered with the re-distribution of benefits for people who worked on his films.

Celebrities watch the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, NYC

From AP: Filmmaker Spike Lee and his companies are being sued by the directors of three union benefit plans who contend he didn’t make sufficient health and pension contributions.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday against Lee, Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks and Black Butterfly Productions. It claims an audit found nearly $45,000 in unpaid contributions between September 2007 and March 2010.

The suit said Lee controlled Black Butterfly, a signatory to collective bargaining agreements, and treated its assets, which include the 2008 film, “Miracle at St. Anna,” as his own while failing to pay its debts.

“Despite multiple demands, Black Butterfly has failed to pay the claims asserted by the Plans. Black Butterfly refuses, and continues to refuse, to pay the amounts due for unpaid contributions disclosed by the audit,” the lawsuit says.

The plaintiffs manage plans for the American Federal of Musicians, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Studio Transportation Drivers. They are seeking all unpaid damages, interest, audit costs and legal fees.

Lee is a writer, director and actor. His films include “Do the Right Thing,” and “Malcolm X.” His most recent movie, “Chi-Raq,” is about gun violence in Chicago.

A message left with Forty Acres wasn’t immediately returned.

DCG