Category Archives: Unions

Seattle to offer employees 12 weeks of paid parental leave

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Progressive Seattle Mayor Ed Murray

Guess who is vying for re-election?

Update: This was unanimously approved by the council, of course.

From Seattle Times: The Seattle City Council is set to vote Monday on whether to offer city employees up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave, rather than the four weeks they are offered now.

Mayor Ed Murray is asking for the change. It was less than two years ago that the council approved the existing benefit for new parents, making Seattle the first city in the Pacific Northwest and one of the first cities in the country to offer paid parental leave.

Employees would become eligible for 12 weeks after working for the city for six months. The benefit would apply not only to births but also to placements of children into homes through adoption, foster care and legal guardianship.

When Councilmember Kshama Sawant proposed 12 weeks of paid parental leave last year, her proposal was voted down.

Monday’s legislation would also give city employees a new benefit — up to four weeks of paid leave to care for family members with serious health conditions. The four weeks would be available every 12 months and employees would need to first use some sick leave and vacation leave.

Extending the parental-leave benefit to 12 weeks would cost the city an additional $2.6 million per year, according to the legislation’s fiscal note. Offering the new family-care benefit would cost an additional $436,000 per year, for a total of about $3 million.

Rather than refer Murray’s legislation to a committee for review and discussion, the council has chosen to take action on it immediately. Seattle has more than 11,000 employees.

DCG

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School teacher compares student’s ‘Build the Wall’ shirt to a swastika

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The “offensive” t-shirt Jack wore to school

From Tri-City Herald: A Kennewick middle school teacher landed in hot water when she pulled aside a student wearing a “Build the Wall” shirt. The language arts teacher at Chinook Middle School compared the shirt’s message with wearing a swastika.

Now, the young teen’s mother is hoping her son’s experience shines a light on political bullying. “It does happen,” said Michelle Fischer. “I think (politics) should be taught in our schools, but only in a two-sided positive way.”

Fischer posted her outrage over the teacher’s handling of the issue on Facebook and the story went viral. Conservative talk show host Sean Hannity shared her story to his 2.8 million followers, contributing to more than 100 comments on Fischer’s original post.

Fischer said she hoped her seventh-grade son’s experience makes it easier for other children to talk about feeling bullied for their political views.

Her son Jack told her that the teacher had appeared opposed to Donald Trump since the beginning of the school year, including the way she’d handled discussions of the presidential election and candidates in class.

Jack had worn other pro-Trump shirts to school but it wasn’t until he wore the “Build the Wall” shirt on Inauguration Day that the teacher pulled him aside. “She asked, ‘How would you feel if someone wore a T-shirt with a swastika on it?’ ” Fischer told the Tri-City Herald. “He said, ‘You can’t compare my shirt to wearing a swastika. They aren’t the same thing.’ ”

Fischer said the teacher asked Jack to stay in her class during lunch to talk about the shirt. Kennewick School District officials said the boy wasn’t forced to stay in the classroom during lunch as some social media reports said.

During the lunchtime conversation, the teacher reportedly told Jack it wasn’t appropriate to wear clothing with a political message. Jack noted that he’d seen a math teacher wearing a shirt with Barack Obama on it.

After school, when Jack shared what happened with his mother, she was upset and posted her concerns on Facebook with a picture of her him wearing the shirt along with a message that his teacher “compared my shirt to wearing a swastika.”

Later, Fischer spoke with Chinook’s Principal Kevin Pierce, and was told there wasn’t anything wrong with the shirt.

“My goal is not to get this teacher into trouble,” Fischer said. “I made it clear to him. She’s a nice person. I just haven’t agreed with the way she’s taught the class.”

On Friday, school district officials said in a statement that Pierce investigated the incident and took appropriate action. Details were not released because it’s a personnel issue.

The district said students expressing themselves is an important part of education in a democratic society. District policy allows them to express their opinions as long as it doesn’t disrupt the education of others.

“I think most parents would agree with me,” Fischer said. “If this was the other way around, I guarantee there would be some parents that were pretty upset.”

DCG

President Trump fulfills more promises: build wall, defund sanctuary cities, rebuild infrastructure & manufacturing, work toward energy independence

On his first full day of work as President of the United States of America, Donald Trump fulfilled three of the promises he had made to us:

  • End government funding of International Planned Parenthood and other overseas pro-abortion groups.
  • Withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which immediately won Trump unanimous approval and support from labor unions.
  • Freeze all hiring in the federal work force.

Today, January 25, on his third full day on the job in the White House, President Trump fulfilled more campaign promises — those concerning the wall and illegal immigration.

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Reuters reports that during an appearance at the Department of Homeland Security, now under new management of retired General John Kelly (gone is Obama’s Jeh Johnson, hooray!), President Trump signed two executive orders:

  1. An executive order on building a wall along the roughly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border. In an interview with ABC News on Wednesday, President Trump said planning for the construction will begin immediately; construction would start within months; and that Mexico would pay back to the United States “100 percent” of the costs.
  2. An executive order to strip federal grant money from “sanctuary” states and cities, e.g., San Francisco, often governed by Democrats, which violate federal immigration laws by shielding illegal migrants, including those with a violent criminal history. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said, “The American people are no longer going to have to be forced to subsidize this disregard for our laws.”

For a more detailed account of the above two executive orders, see “U.S. bishops oppose President Trump on border wall and illegal immigrants“.

Yesterday, his second full day on the job, President Trump fulfilled his promises on rebuilding America’s infrastructure, restoring manufacturing jobs, and achieving greater energy autonomy by signing:

  1. An executive order expediting environmental reviews and approvals for high priority infrastructure projects, such as improving the U.S. electric grid and telecommunications systems and repairing and upgrading critical port facilities, airports, pipelines, bridges, and highways.
  2. A presidential memorandum streamlining permitting and reducing regulatory burdens for domestic manufacturing so as “to support the expansion of manufacturing in the United States”.
  3. A presidential memorandum regarding construction of American pipelines, “under which all new pipelines, as well as retrofitted, repaired, or expanded pipelines, inside the borders of the United States, including portions of pipelines, use materials and equipment produced in the United States, to the maximum extent possible and to the extent permitted by law.”
  4. A presidential memorandum regarding construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline: “In accordance with Executive Order 11423 of August 16, 1968, as amended, and Executive Order 13337 of April 30, 2004, the Secretary of State has delegated authority to . . . issue a Presidential permit for any cross-border pipeline project that ‘would serve the national interest.'” Accordingly, pursuant to the authority vested in him as President “by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America,” President Trump hereby invites “TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. (TransCanada), to promptly re-submit its application to the Department of State for a Presidential permit for the construction and operation of the Keystone XL Pipeline, a major pipeline for the importation of petroleum from Canada to the United States.”
  5. A presidential memorandum regarding construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline: Believing that “construction and operation of lawfully permitted pipeline infrastructure serve the national interest,” President Trump hereby directs the Secretary of the Army to “instruct the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers . . . to review and approve in an expedited manner, to the extent permitted by law . . . requests for approvals to construct and operate” the 1,100-mile Dakota Access Pipeline, more than 90% of it is completed, which would “carry approximately 500,000 barrels per day of crude oil from the Bakken and Three Forks oil production areas in North Dakota to oil markets in the United States.”

In the coming days, President Trump is also expected to take action to secure U.S. national security by blocking the issuing of visas to “refugees” from Muslim-majority Middle Eastern and North African countries including Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Yemen.

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God bless President Donald John Trump.

Please pray for his safety.

Please pray for America.

~Eowyn

Toyota Pledges U.S. Jobs as Trump Meets With Detroit’s Auto CEOs

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From Yahoo: President Donald Trump hosted a meeting with the leaders of Detroit’s Big Three automakers Tuesday, keeping the focus on the car industry amid a push to create American jobs.

General Motors (NYSE:GM) CEO Mary Barra, Ford (NYSE:F) CEO Mark Fields and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE:FCAU) CEO Sergio Marchionne joined Trump at the White House, where regulatory reform, corporate taxes and trade were topics of discussion.

Also on Tuesday, Toyota made a separate announcement that its factory in Princeton, Ind., will add 400 jobs under a $600 million investment. The money will be used to modernize the facility and meet growing demand for the Highlander SUV, according to Toyota. The project will begin in the fall of 2019.

“We have a very big push going to have auto plants and many other plants…built in the United States,” Trump said, adding that reducing taxes and unnecessary regulations are priorities.

Trump, who also met with CEOs of manufacturing heavyweights on Monday, has pressured automakers to invest in U.S. factories. General Motors, Ford and Toyota (NYSE:TM) have faced Trump’s ire for expanding production in Mexico. Automakers have sought to smooth relations with the new president, headlined by Ford’s decision to cancel the construction of a Mexican factory.

Mark Fields, the CEO of Ford, said the industry is encouraged by Trump’s economic proposals. “We just had a great conversation with the president, and he is very focused on policies that will grow investment and jobs here in America and American industry and, of course, the automotive industry,” Fields said as he left the White House. “I think as an industry, we’re excited about working together with the president and his administration on tax policies, on regulation and on trade to really create a renaissance in American manufacturing.”

Barra echoed those sentiments. “There’s a huge opportunity working together as an industry with government…to improve the environment, improve safety and improve jobs creation and the competitiveness of manufacturing,” Barra added.

In a statement released after Tuesday’s meeting, Marchionne said Fiat Chrysler shares President Trump’s desire to build a strong manufacturing base in the U.S. “I appreciate the President’s focus on making the U.S. a great place to do business,” he said.

Fields also applauded Trump’s move on Monday to officially withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that Trump often criticized on the campaign trail. The deal didn’t meaningfully deal with currency manipulation, which Fields called “the mother of all trade barriers.”

See also:

DCG

Trump fulfills 3 promises in first day of work as POTUS, including defund International Planned Parenthood

A year ago, his ex-wife Ivana told us Donald Trump keeps his promises.

In both his GOP nomination acceptance speech and in his presidential inauguration speech, Trump said to the millions of Americans who had voted for him, “I will never let you down”.

And he isn’t.

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Today, in his first full day of work as President of the United States of America, Donald John Trump has already fulfilled three of the promises he had made.

(1) End taxpayer funding of overseas pro-abortion groups

A day after the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Trump signed an executive order today reinstating the “Mexico City Policy” banning government funding of organizations that perform abortions overseas or lobby for legalizing them in foreign nations, such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

First enacted by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 and maintained by President George H.W. Bush, the Mexico City Policy was rescinded by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The policy was reinstated by President George W. Bush, only to be reversed by Barack Obama upon entering office in 2009.

At the first official White House press conference this afternoon, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said that reinstating the Mexico City Policy illustrates to the people of the United States “and to people of the world…what a value we place on life.” He said it is consistent with Trump, who campaigned as a “pro-life president” and who “wants to stand up for all Americans including the unborn,” and ensure taxpayer funding is ”reflecting American values,” including the respect for life.

(2) Withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Trump calls the TPP, Obama’s signature trade deal, a bad deal for American workers. Obama had never submitted the TPP for Congress’ approval, fearing that a defeat in Congress would be worse than leaving the deal in hibernation. Under the TPP, the U.S. and 11 other nations along the Pacific Rim, including Canada, Mexico, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Australia, would create a free-trade zone with lower tariffs for about 40% of the world’s economy. Critics say the pact would benefit wealthy corporations at the expense of American workers and the environment.

(3) A hiring freeze in the federal work force

The hiring freeze drew immediate fire from J. David Cox Sr, the president of American Federation of Government Employees union. It is curious why Cox is on the war path since almost a third of federal works — 28% — had said they “will definitely or possibly consider leaving after Jan. 20 when Trump is sworn into office and becomes leader of the executive branch,” according to new survey conducted by Government Executive. The same survey also found that almost two-thirds of federal employees had voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. 

Aides also signaled that President Trump may move quickly on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which critics blame for lost jobs and lower wages. Trump has scheduled meetings with the leaders of Canada and Mexico, the two main partners in NAFTA, which was first negotiated by George H.W. Bush and pushed through Congress by Bill Clinton.

~Eowyn

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

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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

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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