Category Archives: Unions

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

Please follow and like us:

Share and Enjoy !

0Shares
0 0
 

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

Please follow and like us:

Share and Enjoy !

0Shares
0 0
 

New York City has scandalous bureaucrats overseeing its struggling schools

Shocker, not. If the kids in schools can get away with doing bad things (See the new discipline code launched by Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Education) then why shouldn’t the teachers?
deblasio
Via NY Post: The city Department of Education has stocked the office that oversees the city’s lowest-performing schools with bureaucrats who were ineffective and tainted by scandal in previous school jobs.
Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña launched the Renewal program two years ago to boost 94 struggling schools. Independent Budget Office figures show they plan to spend $887 million through 2019. But some of the 114 educrats who oversee the 86 schools now in the program were reprimanded by courts, oversight boards and parents, a Post review found.
Parents charge that the program has become a place to reward cronies and dump the unfit. “The DOE has many former principals still working who should have been fired,” said a member of the Brooklyn Community Education Council. “The bad news is that they are now the ones in positions telling others how to teach, and that’s not right.”
Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate Center education professor David Bloomfield said the city must make better personnel decisions. “These schools are behind the eight ball,” Bloomfield said. “The de Blasio administration has to make the case that these are the best people for these jobs — and they haven’t.”
ny-schools-hires
Among the questionable hires was Elif Gure, an executive director and second in command to Renewal Executive Superintendent Aimee Horowitz. Gure created a “hostile, race-based work environment” as principal of PS 316 in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, and called a parent coordinator the N-word, a federal judge ruled in March 2014. A jury awarded the coordinator $110,000.  Gure makes a $171,601 salary in the Renewal program.
Eileen Coppola, executive director of Renewal high schools, left her post as principal at the Secondary School for Journalism in Park Slope, Brooklyn, awash in problems. The school’s PTA president said students failed Regents exams despite getting A’s and B’s in class. A petition by 24 kids complained they didn’t get most of the earth-science labs required by the state. Coppola makes $144,824 in her new job.
Joelle Mcken, a Renewal director in District 17 making $141,765, was principal at PS 73 in Brownsville, Brooklyn, a school later phased out for abysmal performance. In 2003, the city Conflicts of Interest Board fined her $900 for having an employee chauffeur her kids.
Mary Nelson, who earns $134,994 as Renewal director in District 14, was principal at PS 236 in Mill Basin, Brooklyn, where parents said that she failed to report violent incidents. Then-Councilman Lew Fidler joined a drive to push her out.
Lisa Lauritzen was an assistant principal at Science Skills Center HS in Downtown Brooklyn before being appointed a Renewal “instructional coach.” A DOE investigation found she urged teachers to re-score failing Regents exams. She now makes $136,010.
DOE spokeswoman Devora Kaye defended the hires. “Turning around a struggling school does not happen overnight, and it requires dedicated, experienced administrators who know how to work with and support school staff,” she said.
DCG

Please follow and like us:

Share and Enjoy !

0Shares
0 0
 

California State government’s largest union is edging closer to a strike

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000 president Yvonne Walker speaks at a rally for democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Sacramento City College on June 5, 2016. (Photo by Mack Ervin III)

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000 president Yvonne Walker speaks at a rally for democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Sacramento City College on June 5, 2016. (Photo by Mack Ervin III)


From Sacramento Bee: SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker has called for a strike vote of the union’s 95,000 members beginning next week, according to a statement on the union website.
The union is trying to get a bigger raise than the 2.96 percent pay hike Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is offering. Brown’s proposal would raise SEIU salaries by 12 percent over four years, but also require its members to begin paying a contribution toward their retiree health care costs.  “We still believe the state can do better,” Walker wrote in a message to SEIU members.
SEIU represents workers in nine different bargaining units. Its contracts for nurses, administrative employees and information technology workers are among the 14 state labor agreements that expired this summer.
SEIU's best buddy...

SEIU’s best buddy…


Walker wrote to union members that SEIU has been in negotiations with the state for the past six months. In July, union leadership voted to authorize a strike vote. The next step toward a strike would be a vote by union members. A vote to strike would not necessarily lead to workers walking off the job.
Before workers strike, the union likely would have to declare an impasse in negotiations and participate in mediation with the state. That process could take months. But surveying members on their willingness to strike could strengthen SEIU’s position at the bargaining table.
Last year, the California State University sweetened a contract offer for the union that represents its faculty after professors voted to strike. As a result, professors received a 10.5 percent pay raise over three years rather than 2 percent raises the state university had been offering.
The Brown administration has been offering raises of about 3 percent a year to most unions. The state’s correctional officers accepted that agreement. Other unions representing attorneys, engineers and scientists are getting bigger raises this year.
All of the new contracts call on state workers to begin to making contributions toward retiree health care. So far, most employees with new contracts are paying about 1.3 percent of their salaries toward retiree health care, with the portion rising to greater than 3 percent over time.
Walker has led the union since 2008. Her union and several others without contracts argue that they sacrificed during the recession to help the Schwarzenegger and Brown administrations resolve budget gaps.
With a better economy, they contend, the state should reward its workforce. “Now that the state’s coffers have significantly improved, we strongly feel that state employees deserve a robust improvement from pre-recession cuts. But the situation has turned bleak and sluggish in contract negotiations,” four union leaders wrote in an Oct. 10 letter to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León. Those unions include two AFSCME bargaining units, a group that represents operating engineers and one more that represents psychiatric technicians.
SEIU conducted a series of surveys recently that showed its members are worried about the rising costs of housing and child care. The union says 39 percent of its members could not afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment in their communities.
CalHR spokesman Joe DeAnda said the Brown administration looks “forward to continued negotiations with SEIU, and hopes to secure an agreement that both reflects the contributions of our hard-working state employees and maintains the integrity of the state’s current budget stability.”
DCG

Please follow and like us:

Share and Enjoy !

0Shares
0 0
 

Seattle teachers organize Black Lives Matter day

blacks protesting black-on-black crimes
From MyNorthwest.com: Seattle teachers are organizing a Black Lives Matter demonstration next week.
The demonstration will simply be teachers wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts on Oct. 19. The teachers are planning their demonstration during the kick-off event for Seattle Public Schools’ effort to close the achievement gap between black and white students. The plan is separate from the effort.
The scenario is familiar to last month when teachers planned to wear Black Lives Matter T-shirts during an unrelated event. The demonstration was received as controversial by some and was ultimately cancelled. The annual Black Men Uniting to Change the Narrative event at John Muir Elementary School was canceled as well — the same day teachers planned to wear Black Lives Matter T-shirts — after there were threats against the school.
KIRO 7 reports that about 1,000 teachers in the district have ordered Black Lives Matter T-shirts ahead of time. And that Hamilton Middle School teacher Sarah Arvey organized the demonstration in response to the threats directed at John Muir Elementary.
black-lives-matter-ferguson
An email was sent from Seattle Public Schools to families on Oct. 7 explaining the school district’s plans, and the teachers’ demonstration. It explains that the district is starting an effort to close the achievement gap between its white students and students of color.
“While Seattle Public Schools outperforms like districts academically and is considered a high performing urban district, we still have unacceptable opportunity and achievement gaps. We have the 5th largest academic achievement gap in the nation between black and white students.”
As a result of that gap, the Seattle district is debuting a campaign called “Close the Gaps.” The district is starting the effort with events during Oct. 16-22.
The email also notes that during the kick-off week, the district is promoting Oct. 19 as a “day of solidarity to bring focus to racial equity and affirming the lives of out students — specifically students of color.” The district points out that the Seattle Education Association — the teachers union — is organizing the Black Lives Matter demonstration.
“In support of this focus, members are choosing to wear Black Lives matter t-shirts, stickers or other symbols of their commitment to students in a coordinated effort.”
The email ends by saying the teachers union is leading the t-shirt effort and “working to promote transformational conversations with staff, families, and students on this issue.”
Ferguson looter
Additional information from Q13Fox:
Throughout the week, they’re encouraging teachers to have race-related lesson plans and they’re offered resources to guide the conversation.
From the TV screens to social media to the classrooms at Garfield High, students are talking about racial injustices and Black Lives Matter.
It’s important for us to know the history of racial justice and racial injustice in our country and in our world and really in order for us to address it.   When we’re silent, we close off dialogue and we close the opportunity to learn and grow from each other,” said Arvey.
I would say that it’s not a political agenda. I would say we’re here to support families. We’re here to support students. As Rita from the NAACP said, when black lives matter, all lives matter,” said Avery.
DCG

Please follow and like us:

Share and Enjoy !

0Shares
0 0
 

NYC Teachers are juicing their pensions, and it cost taxpayers $1B

teaching
Via NY Post: A little-known pension perk available only to New York City teachers cost taxpayers an astonishing $1.2 billion last year, a watchdog group reported Wednesday.
The sweet deal guarantees that teachers who sock away money for retirement in a special Tax Deferred Annuity (TDA) receive a 7 percent annual return. In stark contrast, banks currently pay depositors just 1 percent or less on most savings accounts.
And city taxpayers are the de facto guarantors for the high rate of return — on the hook to make up the difference if the annuity falls short of the guarantee.
Knowing a good thing when they see it, increasing numbers of teachers are stashing their cash in the no-lose annuity, the Citizens Budget Commission found.
It said that there are now 137,000 participants in the plan, including 51,000 retirees. But only 3,000 are drawing on their funds. The rest, according to the commission, are watching their nest eggs grow at a fixed rate available to no other city employee.
And that’s over and above the teachers’ regular pensions.
“You don’t get a guaranteed rate of return with your 401(k). But teachers do” in that special annuity, said CBC research director Charles Brecher.
“It’s a good, positive math lesson for teachers. It’s a bad, negative math lesson for taxpayers. The teachers get this huge taxpayer subsidy. The city should treat the teachers like everyone else.”
Former city labor director James Hanley said the guaranteed 7 percent — which he negotiated down from 8.25 percent in 2009 — is indefensible. “Nobody else has such a system. This is a little ridiculous. It’s tough to sustain in the long term,” Hanley warned.
The annuity is a voluntary program to supplement traditional government pensions. Other city employees have them — without the guaranteed 7 percent return.
The sweet deal kicked in when the state Legislature in 1988 allowed teachers to designate all or part of their pension contributions to the fixed-return fund, which at that time was paying 8.25 percent, then close to the return of federal government bonds.
After the 2008 stock-market crash, the fixed-rate option grew in popularity. In 2007, the annuity fund stood at $7.4 billion. Last year, it held $18.7 billion. Taxpayer subsidies have also grown, from $238 million in 2007 to $1.2 billion last year.
The CBC urged the city to end the 7 percent guarantee, particularly for new hires. The CBC pointed out that while government pensions are protected by the state constitution, the annuity isn’t.
Any changes would require taking on the powerful teachers union.

Union boss Mike Mulgrew

Union boss Mike Mulgrew


Mike Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, argued that taxpayers have actually come out ahead. “The CBC report neglects to mention that over the last 25 years, the city has actually made a profit from this fund, since its investment returns over that period have exceeded the guaranteed rate of return promised by the TDA,” he said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office had no immediate comment.
DCG

Please follow and like us:

Share and Enjoy !

0Shares
0 0
 

Federal judge declares ‘black lives matter’ during hearing over Seattle police reform

Judge Robart

Judge Robart


Via Seattle Times: U.S. District Judge James Robart, pointedly reacting to the Seattle police union’s rejection of a tentative contract, said Monday he would not let the powerful labor group hold the city “hostage” by linking wages to constitutional policing.
“To hide behind a collective- bargaining agreement is not going to work,” Robart said during a dramatic court hearing he opened by laying out a path for police-accountability reform and closed with an emotional declaration that “black lives matter.”
Robart, who is presiding over a 2012 consent decree requiring the city to adopt reforms to address Department of Justice allegations of excessive force and biased policing, called for major changes that would directly affect the union’s membership: streamlined appeals of officer discipline and internal investigations conducted by civilians rather than sworn officers.
Kevin Stuckey

SPOG President Kevin Stuckey


Kevin Stuckey, who recently became president of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) in a power shake-up and listened in court to the judge’s blistering remarks, said the union is prepared to sit down with the city and reach a deal.  “The judge has given us our marching orders,” Stuckey said, insisting the union’s vote this summer to reject the deal was not tied to money but to the leak of confidential contract details to The Stranger newspaper.
Guild members — officers and sergeants — voted 823 to 156 this summer to reject a contract containing a mix of wage hikes and reforms, an outcome one source attributed to too many giveaways without enough in return.
Other sources previously said former SPOG President Rich O’Neill, who in 2008 won big pay raises in exchange for reforms, led the campaign against the package.  O’Neill’s effort indirectly led to Robart’s tongue lashing, during which he said he might formally intervene if he concludes the guild is interfering with reform.
“The court and the citizens of Seattle will not be held hostage for increased payments and benefits … ,” Robart said, adding, “I’m sure the entire city of Seattle would march behind me.” (Oddly enough, no one ever holds the teachers accountable for “holding the kids hostage” when they routinely go on strike [illegally] in Washington State.)
Robart, at the same time, praised the city’s overall reform effort, saying the Police Department had adopted sweeping changes. It has become a national model for de-escalation tactics, he said, and put in place successful crisis intervention techniques, use-of-force reviews and added training on bias-free policing.
Seattle Police Chief O’Toole

Seattle Police Chief O’Toole


He said that the work is not done and that strong leadership is required. “I think we have the right person to do that in Chief O’Toole,” Robart said of Kathleen O’Toole, who listened from the audience.
Last week, Robart issued an order allowing the city to draft police-accountability legislation, as long as he reviews it before it is submitted to the City Council to make sure it does not conflict with the consent decree.
During Monday’s hearing, he provided a blueprint for what he would like to see in the legislation, based on various proposals produced by city officials, the Community Police Commission (CPC) and the court-appointed federal monitor, Merrick Bobb.
Beyond changes to appeals and internal investigations, Robart said he wants the position of civilian director of the Office of Professional Accountability, which handles internal investigations, to be strengthened. He said the city should create the position of inspector general, to be held by a civilian with broad oversight powers. O’Toole, Robart said, should retain the final word on disciplinary decisions.
City Attorney Pete Holmes, speaking for the city, pledged to complete legislation for Robart’s review by Labor Day. Holmes said the city would have to reconcile legislation prepared by Mayor Ed Murray with proposals submitted by the CPC, a temporary citizen-advocacy body created as part of the consent decree.
Robart has clashed in the past with the CPC over its attempt to become a permanent body and expand its powers, saying that can’t be done without the court’s approval. On Monday, Robart said he would not find the CPC in “contempt” over its release last week of a proposed police-accountability ordinance. But he said it went too far. “Some of your provisions cross the line,” he said, citing legitimate input versus management of the department.
Murray is expected to submit a framework for a community oversight panel, but it might be different from the body envisioned by the CPC.
In comments after the hearing, CPC member Isaac Ruiz said the commission was glad Robart established a path forward. “We’ll definitely take the judge’s words … to heart,” Ruiz said, explaining the proposed ordinance was only meant to be recommendations.
The Rev. Harriett Walden, the CPC’s co-chair, said the commission would work with the mayor’s office on drafting a package, with the hope Murray will recommend the CPC be made permanent.
Robart ended the hearing with deeply personal remarks, in which he noted a statistic that showed, nationally, 41 percent of the shootings by police were of blacks, when they represented 20 percent of the population.
“Black lives matter,” he said, drawing a startled, audible reaction in a courtroom listening to the words coming from a federal judge sitting on the bench.
He also said the recent shootings of police officers, including in Dallas, Baton Rouge and, in 2009, of four Lakewood, Pierce County, officers, reflected the importance of the work being done to heal police and community relations.
DCG

Please follow and like us:

Share and Enjoy !

0Shares
0 0
 

Minimum-wage increase sinks Roseville bookstore, owner says

Yeah, #Fightfor15!
fight for 15
From Sacramento Bee: Bibliophile Kelley Ulmer closed her Almost Perfect Book Store on Wednesday after 25 years of business at Rocky Ridge Drive and Douglas Boulevard in Roseville, saying that the added expense from minimum-wage increases had made it impossible for her to continue operating.
“We used to joke that this was like the Hotel California: Once you got here, you’d never leave,” Ulmer said. “And realistically, it wasn’t a bad deal prior to the ever-increasing minimum wage. I had a profit-share with my employees, so at the end of the week, when they got their paychecks, whatever money didn’t go toward bills or whatever, I shared with them. They actually made more money at $7 an hour than they make at $10.
Small, independent bookstores have faced a huge challenge since Amazon.com rose to prominence in the late 1990s, brick-and-mortar chains consolidated to compete with the online colossus, and some used bookstores migrated to the web to be able to offer deep discounts. But a study by the Booksellers Association, a trade group for the U.K.’s independent booksellers, showed that the number of indie U.S. bookstores actually has grown by 27 percent since 2009. While Ulmer and other U.S. independents continue to decry tax incentives given to Amazon, a wave of minimum-wage increases nationwide has prompted the American Booksellers Association to make this topic the top item on its page listing small business issues.
Several customers stood outside the rambling used bookstore, which boasted 7,400 square feet of space, before it opened Wednesday morning. Ulmer was selling all books for a quarter, 27 cents with tax, as she told one customer. Her store is not affiliated with the store of the same name in Elk Grove, although each received a startup investment from the same investor.
Laura Laskowski, a customer of 22 years who became one of Ulmer’s best friends, dropped off cookies to cheer up the staff. She recalled Almost Perfect’s early days, when it had a much higher checkout counter. Customers began calling themselves “leaners” because they would lean against the fixture and talk for hours.
“Every book lover cherished that store,” Laskowski said. “I can’t prove it, but I suspect that for most people the first glance – used books as far as the eye could see – was accompanied by harp music.”
Ulmer said customers – and her daughters Stephanie and Victoria – have moved her to tears as she has prepared to close up shop, and she struggled to hold her composure as she shared their comments and stories with me. Victoria, who’s 17, told her: “Mom, you had a life before the bookstore. Stephanie and I never have.”
Ulmer’s six employees have worked for her for 10 years or more. Jeffrey “Scott” Singley, who has worked there for 24 years, said that he’s still in shock over the closure and that he’s angry with lawmakers. “I’m going to take advantage of the government’s largesse since they put me in this position, so it’s unemployment as of tomorrow,” he said. “Or, at least I’m going to file as of tomorrow.”
Read the whole story here.
DCG

Please follow and like us:

Share and Enjoy !

0Shares
0 0
 

The Fruits of Globalization: Income for 81% of U.S. households flat or declined 2005-2014

An article in the latest edition of The Economist, titled “The new political divide,” correctly points out that what we saw in the recently-concluded Democratic National Convention and the Republican counterpart a week before is “a new political faultline: not between left and right, but between open and closed” — nationalist vs. globalist.
That same faultline is also found across Europe:

“Across Europe, the politicians with momentum are those who argue that the world is a nasty, threatening place, and that wise nations should build walls to keep it out. Such arguments have helped elect an ultranationalist government in Hungary and a Polish one that offers a Trumpian mix of xenophobia and disregard for constitutional norms. Populist, authoritarian European parties of the right or left now enjoy nearly twice as much support as they did in 2000, and are in government or in a ruling coalition in nine countries. So far, Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has been the anti-globalists’ biggest prize: the vote in June to abandon the world’s most successful free-trade club was won by cynically pandering to voters’ insular instincts, splitting mainstream parties down the middle.”

The article does not identify its author, which means it is an Economist editorial. From the editor’s choice of words — “open” vs. “closed” — you should have detected the magazine’s bias in favor of globalism, made more evident by the unnamed author calling Donald Trump’s Americanism “xenophobic” “anti-trade tirades,” and European political parties that champion national interests “ultranationalist” — a term used for fascist and Nazi movements.
Indeed, the article’s unnamed author makes clear his bias in favor of globalization, condescendingly lecturing to the readers that they must “Start by remembering what is at stake” — that globalization “has underpinned global prosperity for seven decades” and that “A world of wall-builders would be poorer and more dangerous.”
But is it really true that globalization — NAFTA, North American Union, open immigration, welcoming of refugees — has resulted in prosperity?
A recent report from McKensey Global Institute, the business and economics research arm of McKinsey & Company, says otherwise.

The report, “Poorer than their parents? A new perspective on income inequality,” by Richard Dobbs, et al., July 2016, found that instead of prosperity, the real incomes of most (65-70%) households in advanced economies like the United States had actually fallen or, at best, stayed flat in the years 2005 to 2014 — a decided contrast from the preceding period 1993-2005, when 98% of households in 25 advanced economies had seen real incomes rise.

As the bar-graph below shows, the situation in the U.S. is even worse. A whopping 81% of U.S. households’ real incomes fell or remained flat from 2005 to 2014.

% of households with flat or lower income 2005-2014

Here are the report’s other findings about those 25 advanced economies:

  • Between 2005 and 2014, the real incomes of more than 540 million people in 25 advanced economies were flat or declined.
  • The hardest hit are young, less-educated workers, which raises “the spectre of a generation growing up poorer than their parents.”
  • “While the recession and slow recovery after the 2008 global financial crisis were a significant contributor to this lack of income advancement, other long-run factors played a role—and will continue to do so,” including demographic trends of aging and shrinking household sizes.

The report warns that “Without action, this phenomenon could have corrosive economic and social consequences.” A survey conducted as part of the McKinsey Global Institute research found that a “significant number” of those whose incomes have not been advancing are losing faith in aspects of the global economic system. Nearly one-third of these people said they think their children will also advance more slowly in the future, and they expressed negative opinions about free trade and immigration.
Even worse, the report expects the situation to worsen, instead of improve:

“If the low economic growth of the past decade continues, the proportion of households in income segments with flat or falling incomes could rise as high as 70 to 80 percent over the next decade.

The report warns that even if the advanced economies see accelerated growth, leading to a 10-20% reduction in the number of low-income households, “the issue will not go away” because of robots — “a rapid uptake of workplace automation.”
The McKinsey Global Initiative report puts the lie to The Economist‘s crowing that globalization leads to prosperity. Globalization has benefited less-developed countries and multinational corporations at the expense of the middle and lower classes of the developed economies of the U.S. and Europe.
Lastly, if you’re a blue-collar worker or ex-worker, Hillary Clinton is the last person you should support, notwithstanding the labor unions’ fealty to her. Not only is she a Goldman Sachs whore, the just-concluded Democratic National Convention was dominated by big corporate lobbyists. In the words of Politico‘s Ben White:

Hordes of industry executives will descend on the city to celebrate Hillary Clinton’s nomination for president and renew close associations….
Goldman Sachs, which paid Clinton millions for private speeches, will be well represented in Philadelphia with executives Jake Siewert, a former Bill Clinton press secretary, making the trip along with Steven Barg, Michael Paese, Joyce Brayboy and Jennifer Scully, who was a major fundraiser for Bill Clinton in New York in 1992.
Blackstone, one of the nation’s largest private equity firms, will hold an official reception in Philadelphia on Thursday featuring its president, Tony James, sometimes mentioned as a possible Treasury secretary in a Clinton administration.
Hedge fund managers and top Democratic donors including Avenue Capital’s Marc Lasry and Boston Provident’s Orin Kramer will also be on the scene, as will Morgan Stanley executive and former top Clinton aide Tom Nides. Executives from Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and other large banks will also prowl the streets and barrooms of Philadelphia….
Republicans with ties to the financial industry will also be there, a sharp contrast to Donald Trump’s convention in Cleveland, which Wall Street largely shunned over fears of the GOP nominee’s populist agenda on trade, immigration and Wall Street reform.

See also:

H/t FOTM’s josephbc69
~Eowyn

Please follow and like us:

Share and Enjoy !

0Shares
0 0
 

Teamsters private pension near bankruptcy; benefits of 407,000 retirees may be 'virtually nothing'

America’s public (i.e, government) and private pensions are in trouble. The difference is that the government pensions don’t go bankrupt because Uncle Sam hits taxpayers to continue funding government retirees.
Now, one of America’s biggest private pensions — the Teamsters’ Central States Pension Fund that covers more than 1,500 companies across a range of industries — is nearly bankrupt.
The fund currently pays out $3 for every $1 it takes in.
If there’s no bail out by the federal government, the Fund will run out of money in 10 years, by 2026, at which time the pensions of some 407,000 people — most of whom are truck drivers — will be reduced to virtually nothing.
The above is stated in a letter sent to Central States’ workers and retirees on May 20, 2016, by the fund’s director Thomas Nyhan.
Katie Lobosco reports for CNN Money that was precipitated the Fund’s crisis was the Treasury Department’s rejection on May 6, 2016, of a last-ditch solution proposed by the Fund which would partially reduce the pensions of 115,000 retirees and the future benefits for 155,000 current workers. Although the proposed cuts were steep, as much as 60% for some, it still wasn’t enough. The Treasury Department rejected the proposed reduction because doing so would not actually head off insolvency.
The fund could submit a new plan, but decided this week that there’s no other way to successfully save the fund and comply with the law. The cuts needed would be too severe.
One of the reasons why the Central States Pension Fund is in trouble is because a lot of the fund’s companies went bankrupt after the trucking industry was deregulated in the 1980s.
Normally, when a multi-employer fund like Central States runs out of money, a government insurance fund called the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) kicks in so that retirees still receive some kind of benefit.
But there are problems — serious problems — with a rescue by PBGC:

  1. What PBGC could offer the retirees is even smaller than what they would have received under the Central States reduction plan.
  2. PBGC would offer pensions based on the number of years a retiree worked. A retiree would receive a maximum $35.75 a month for each year worked, which means that even retirees who had worked 30 years would receive only $1,072.50 a month.
  3. More worrisome still, PBGC itself is underfunded and isn’t expected to be able to cover all the retirees in the Central States Pension Fund. As Nyhan put it in his letter: “The fact that the … PBGC is also running out of money means our participants may see their pension benefits ultimately reduced to virtually nothing when the fund runs out of money.”

Nyhan said the problem can be fixed only with government funding, either to the Central States Fund directly or through the PBGC. Nyhan therefore is asking Congress to come up with a solution, a request that’s echoed by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew — he of the squiggly childlike signature.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew (right). That loopy-lop squiggle is his signature.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew (right). That loopy-lop squiggle is his signature.


Right now there’s only one piece of legislation on the table that could help — the Keep Our Pension Promises Act (KOPPA) that was introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders last year, but never moved out of committee. KOPPA would provide more funding for the PBGC, specifically for struggling multi-employer plans like the Central States Pension Fund. According to Sanders’ website, the money would come from closing a loophole in the estate tax and a tax break on sales of expensive art and other collectibles.
Elliot Blair Smith of MarketWatch writes:

The debacle unfolding at the $16.1 billion Central States fund in Rosemont, Illinois, is a cautionary tale for all Americans dependent on their retirement savings. Unable to reverse a decades-long outflow of benefits payments over pension contributions, the professional money managers placed big bets on stocks and non-traditional investments between 2005 and 2008, with catastrophic consequences [. . . of] 42% drop in assets—and a loss of about $11.1 billion in seed capital—in just 15 months during 2008 and early 2009.

To find out if you’re saving enough for retirement (based on your age, annual income, and savings per month), go here.
~Eowyn

Please follow and like us:

Share and Enjoy !

0Shares
0 0