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Archive → May 29th, 2016

AFSCME battle to increase wages at taxpayer expense

The state’s largest government-worker union has no strike fund, but refuses to agree to a contract taxpayers can afford.

The union-backed arbitration bill failed, but Illinois’ largest government-worker union is still without a contract.

Now that House Bill 580 is out, the focus on the state’s negotiations with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees shifts to the impasse proceedings pending before the Illinois Labor Relations Board. Should that board determine that the two parties are at impasse, Gov. Bruce Rauner could implement his last offer to AFSCME – and AFSCME could go on strike.

Following the failure of HB 580, AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynchindicated that an AFSCME strike is a possibility: “If [Rauner] imposes those demands, public service workers will be forced to work under his terms or go out on strike.”

Since July 2015, AFSCME and the state have entered into three tolling agreements, which bound the union and the governor to continue negotiating in good faith until either a contract is reached or impasse occurs. According to the agreements, if the parties disagree on whether impasse, or stalemate, has been reached, either side could submit the issue to the Illinois Labor Relations Board.IPI160213asusual

Negotiations came to a halt in January, when AFSCME’s lead negotiator said to the governor’s representatives: “I have nothing else to say and am not interested in hearing what you have to say at this point – carry that message back to your principals.” Thereafter, Rauner asked the labor board to determine that the parties have reached impasse under the state’s labor laws.

What’s next

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Should the board agree that the parties are at an impasse, the governor could implement his last and best offer. AFSCME, in turn, could decide to strike. On the other hand, if the board concludes that the two sides have not reached impasse, negotiations will continue.

Despite the fact that AFSCME has no strike fund – and the average employee would lose$8,000 in salary and benefits for each month of a strike – Lynch’s comment indicates that she may direct AFSCME’s workers to go on strike should the board determine the parties are at impasse.

AFSCME’s refusal to consider contract provisions that could ease the financial burden on the state’s taxpayers stands in sharp contrast to at least 18 other unions that have already ratified contracts that bring labor costs more in line with what taxpayers can afford.

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For example, on May 17 the Illinois Federation of Teachers, representing educators at the Illinois School for the Deaf, ratified a collective bargaining agreement that includes provisions that will help address the state’s ongoing financial crisis, including a four-year temporary wage freeze, implementation of merit pay for conscientious workers, and changes to the state-provided health insurance program that allows employees to keep their current premiums, maintain their current coverage, or mix and match to best suit their needs.

The Teamsters reached an agreement with the state in August 2015. That agreement includes a four-year wage freeze, continuation of a 40-hour workweek, and the implementation of a bonus system for employees meeting or exceeding expectations.

Yet AFSCME has repeatedly rejected similar provisions, continuing to demand guaranteedfour-year wage increases, platinum-level health insurance coverage at little to no cost to union members, and a workweek that includes overtime for workers after 37.5 hours.

It could be months before there is final resolution on the question of an impasse and, therefore, before AFSCME could legally go on strike. Hearings before an administrative law judge, or ALJ, began in April and are scheduled through May 27. The parties will then submit post-hearing written arguments. Because the timetable will depend on the parties’ schedules, it could be four to eight weeks before the parties submit these final briefs – meaning, at the earliest, the parties will submit their briefs toward the end of June.

Once the ALJ has reviewed the record and the parties’ final written arguments, the ALJ will issue a decision. That decision will be binding on the parties unless one party appeals to the five-member panel of the Illinois Labor Relations Board. But the appeals process does not end with the board; the party disputing the board’s ultimate decision can then appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court, and then to the Illinois Supreme Court. Even if the state courts expedite the appeal, the appeals process would add weeks or months to the impasse timeline.

But the longer the timeline, and the longer AFSCME clings to its unreasonable demands, the easier it is to see that AFSCME stands apart from other unions in the state – and against the taxpayers. Other unions have recognized the state’s financial limitations. It’s time for AFSCME to do the same.

TAGS: AFSCME: American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees

Source: Will County News

Memorial Day

Memorial Day
David A. Lombardo 5/29/2016
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Monday is Memorial Day, and few people have the vaguest notion of what that means. Memorial Day is a day for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. Those that have served don’t forget. All told, the United States has been involved in 78 wars or conflicts beginning with our own Revolutionary War through the present day Middle East conflicts.
The Civil War tops the list for killed and wounded at just shy of one million, forty thousand casualties and the Bombing of Libya is at the lowest end with two casualties. But in between those two extremes, those 78 events resulted in almost 1.4 million dead, 1.5 million wounded and almost 41,000 Americans missing in action. Reading off numbers is mind-numbing; people can’t relate if they’ve not been personally touched by a war, but for those that have, the numbers represent something very visceral, very deep and dark inside them.
In Vietnam everything happened very quickly. We walked down the airstairs from the TWA charter jet that brought us halfway around the world and got onto a bus. It was to transport us to the replacement center where personnel arriving in country were processed and given assignments. I casually asked the sergeant why there was chicken wire over the bus windows. “To prevent them from throwing a grenade into the bus,” he laughed.
Not a hundred yards off the airport, someone took a few shots at us, and a busload of kids in wrinkled, new uniforms piled on top of one another on the floor. That night they blew up an ammo dump a mile away, and it knocked down half the tents at the replacement center. Within my first week I’d come under fire three times. Two weeks later I was in the field on my first major military operation when I saw a young 2nd Lieutenant, sitting on the tailgate of an armored personnel carrier, get half his head blown off by an accidental discharge from a .30 caliber machine gun.
One of the most difficult things I have ever done was triaging the wounded as they arrived en masse at our mobile aid station. I had been in country for less than a month, and I was making choices of who lived and who died. I wasn’t even a medic; I was a medical administrator, but when you have 30 serious casualties coming in and 20 people to deal with them, everyone pitches in.
The best advice I’ve ever received came from our company commander, who was also the company’s senior doctor. “You can’t save everybody,” he told me. “Give me the ones that we can save, and do your best to comfort those we can’t.”
I reminded him I wasn’t a medic and had only the most basic medical training at Fort Sam Houston. “Don’t worry about it,” he said. “You’ll know which is which when you see them.” It was beyond surreal, and those that you left behind haunted you when you closed your eyes to try to get a few minutes of sleep.
In fairly short order I learned to debride, give blood, do cut-downs, give shots and a host of things a 20-year-old kid had no business learning to do. When Doc showed me how to suture someone up, he had me practice on an orange. When he was satisfied I could do it, he said I needed to do it on someone for real, and everyone within earshot quickly walked away. I gave myself a shot of lidocaine and practiced on my own arm.
I was never given someone whose life was seriously in jeopardy; rather they gave me routine tasks such as starting an IV or giving blood. They sent me the not-so-complicated wounds that just required cleaning and suturing. That was my territory: freeing up the professionals to work on those whose lives hung in the balance. I don’t care if you were Special Forces or a cook, no one in the military comes out the same as when they went in.
People keep thanking me for my service. It makes me uncomfortable; I didn’t do it to be thanked. Rather than thank a veteran, I’d ask that you’d respect what they’ve done in the hope it would make your life and our country safer and more secure. On this Memorial Day, say a prayer for those that paid with their lives and then commit to doing something to make our world a safer, more secure place to live.

Source: Will County News

Telemundo caught staging #NeverTrump Mexicans for camera shot

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EL BUSTED: Telemundo caught staging #NeverTrump Mexicans for camera shot

Filmmaker Andrew Marcus, on the scene for Rebel Pundit at yesterday’s anti-Trump protest in San Diego, caught a Telemundo cameraman red-handed as he was staging a camera shot with #NeverTrump protesters brandishing the Mexican flag (upside-down).

Marcus confronted the Telemundo journalist instructing the protesters to gather for a shot for his camera, and then telling them to change the position of the Mexican flag, which they were displaying upside down.

As for the protesters, they proceeded to harass Marcus, obstructing his camera and spitting on his face. One of the female protesters defended the spit by saying it was a minor who had done it.

Source: Will County News