Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas To All Employees And Employers

Merry Christmas to all employees and employers. Maybe now is a good time to explain a little something so that people know where Hudson Valley Labor Report is coming from throughout the year. There are many employers in the Hudson Valley who are good employers. They treat their people well and with respect. Some may not be union employers either and that's ok.

(Here comes the but) ......but if they truly are good and caring employers they would allow their employees - when the employees chose to - to organize to bargain collectively in regard to the rules at their workplace. When that happens, the employees are doing the exact same thing that their employer does - joining an organization to "network" and "expand" their "opportunities".

The most important part of all of this is that the employees would have a better relationship with their employer. A more constant, upfront, specific and steady relationship. The employers business relationship with the employees would now be just like every other business relationship the employer has - it would be in writing.

I can already hear it - the "employee handbook" takes care of that. Not true. The handbook does not create the same business relationship the employer has with everyone else they do business with. Does anyone in the class know why?

The employee handbook is exclusively created, maintained and can be changed unilaterally by the employer. There is no other business or other business man that would agree to "work" under that type of agreement. Both parties need to have their concerns addressed and access to a method to fairly work out any kind of disagreement in the relationship.

The great part of the relationship is that when you have a contract both parties actually AGREE on it before it can go into effect. The unfair characterization of this arrangement is that somehow when employees want a contract in their business relationship with their employer they dictate what that contract contains. That is not true.

It is exactly like any other business relationship. We sell our labor and we prefer to have a written and fair contract just like those who sell objects and services.

Unfortunately, many employees were fired this year for wanting this.

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pearl Rivers Pfizer Finally Notifies NYS About Layoffs

Pfizer of Pearl River, NY is a major private employer in the Hudson Valley that employs 2,931 employees, as many as 800 commute from Orange County and the vicinity around it.

The company has been in progress on some large layoffs and restructuring lately. But as usual, the labor law has been slightly ignored in the process. There is a LABOR LAW called the the "WARN ACT"- Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act - that requires companies with 50 or more employees to give 90 days' notice of layoffs to the state and workers who will lose their jobs.

Pfizer had apparently laid off 90 to 100 workers in an apparent violation of the law.

Workers there said that Pfizer had moved ahead with layoffs without notifying the state. In meetings with employees, managers told workers that at least another 600 employees would be laid off in waves during the next 12 months. When asked, though, managers told employees that WARN didn't apply to them.

Interestingly enough, Pfizer notified the state Tuesday that more workers would be laid off here in mid-March. That's on top of 200 layoffs Pfizer announced two weeks earlier.

Documents filed by Pfizer say 91 workers will lose their jobs. In another contradiction the same filing identifies 95 positions that will be eliminated: 49 union, 46 non-union.

The recent WARN filings appear to be an effort by the company to correct and distance themselves from their previous statements. The company filed the most recent WARN notices after a local newspaper reported that Pfizer appeared to be in violation of state law.

It seems that workers rights are always on the bottom of the list in too many corporate plans. While we don't expect them to be their number one concern - these laws and peoples rights should at least be on the screen. At the very least - don't brush it to the side by telling people it doesn't apply when it does.

Pay attention people - nobody is going to do it for you - except the unions, that is.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Kingston Budget, Alderman Comments and the CSEA

Looks like it is time to comment on the Kingston Budget but in particular about the CSEA. I read another blog bashing them for not renegotiating their contract. I would respectfully ask Alderman Madsen to report on what other contracts the city has renegotiated.

I don't mean the police and fire contracts - I mean with businesses who do business with the city and have existing contracts. For example, did you go to the office supply person and renegotiate with him? Maybe you could have had him lower the price of paper by 25%. You know the answer to that one. What about the oil company? The gasoline stations? The electrical power company?

What about every other business who has contracts with the city? Of course you didn't - you wouldn't even consider that and neither would they.

No - you go after labor. They are the easy target. They also can take the heat off of you and your fellow Alderman. It's the unions, you say - they won't give anything back.

Not saying they couldn't or wouldn't do their share IF it would make a difference. In the case of the CSEA - they couldn't make a dent. So - to your untrained eye - they were unreasonable and you bash them. You are wrong.

Opening the contract would have a longer lasting and more devestating effect on bargaining for decades and possibly forever. It is not their fault the jobs are being lost - it's yours. You and the Alderman got your end of the bargain during contract negotiations. Concessions were made in bargaining and increases in employee health costs were had in return for a pay raise. Now you can't balance your books and you come to the well. You take the easy road.

You claim the union doesn't care for its members - you're wrong. The union is thinking AHEAD for the good of ALL of the members. Fortunately, they had the entire membership in mind when they considered this situation - not just the 14 you point to. If the gap could have been reached they would have done what they could have. They proved that with last years budget.

What you wanted from the CSEA this year was - excuse my french - equivilent to pissing up a rope - know what I mean?

Making up $1.2 million was impossible. So that being the case, they had a choice - insist on the contract staying intact or allow themselves to be whored out forever and during EVERY CONTRACT from now on.

So ease up on the CSEA - they hated losing those jobs more than you ever did. They did the right thing in the BIG PICTURE though. In comparison, so did the police and firefighters. The difference was those two unions goal was possible and reachable.

One message to the CSEA - you guys should be looking to bring back Ashdown next election. It's only gonna get worse from here boys and girls. You need somebody whose been around and who will stand up and be counted.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Follow The Money

Legislative Issues From The Building and Construction Trades Department and the AFL-CIO

Today, we are in the midst of an economic crisis that has affected every American. We have felt it at work, in our homes, and in our communities. The burden has fallen disproportionately on middle-class and low-income workers, and it has meant tremendous sacrifice for many hard-working Americans. In the construction industry alone, this economic slowdown has cost more than 800,000 jobs. Even for those who have managed to keep their jobs, wages aren’t keeping up with the cost of living, and job security, health care and the promise of a secure retirement are vanishing.

From this crisis has emerged an opportunity to put this country back on track. Our futures, our children’s futures and the future of our nation depend on the path that our lawmakers choose to take today. Right now, the U.S. Congress is working on several pieces of legislation that will not only transform the economy, but improve the lives of working Americans for generations to come.

If passed, these measures – which include Clean Energy legislation; the Employee Free Choice Act; and Health Care Reform – would help re-build an economy that works for everybody.

The Clean Energy bill could jumpstart entirely new industries, as well as re-vitalize our American manufacturing base. In the process, it would create hundreds of thousands of new well-paying jobs and bolster communities – both urban and rural – all across America.

The Employee Free Choice Act would put the power to choose a union and bargain for a better life back in the hands of workers.

Health care reform would have the effect of improving the affordability, availability and quality of health care for all Americans, while also leveling the playing field for responsible employers who currently provide health care coverage for their workers (and which, in many cases – such as unionized construction contractors – places them at a competitive disadvantage with their non-union counterparts).

Each of these bills, however, has been met with staunch opposition from Republicans and big business groups who want to preserve the status quo, in which our economy works for the benefit of the few…at the expense of the many. Simply put, the preservation of the status quo will have devastating effects on America’s future.

This is all driven by money. It is very easy to understand - those that have it - don't want to see you have it - because it may mean less for them. When you see or hear or read articles against these bills - it is not the working class or poor who are paying for that message to be broadcasted or put in print - it is those who have the money already who are paying to sway your mind.

Like they always say - follow the money.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Little National Labor Relations Board Insight

Over the past few years, if I was a lawyer advising a new employer on federal employment laws, I would tell them not to worry about violating the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). When an employer violates any of the three major federal employment laws covering minimum wage, discrimination, or safety, they must at least pay fines or damages. Yet, there are many times when no penalties are assessed on employers who commit unfair labor practices under the NLRA.

Of course, it hasn't helped that the board has been three members shy of a full deck - they normally have 5 members sitting on the board - all through the Bush years, they had two. Two anti- worker members by the way.

Things may start to change now because the board is now fully staffed, balanced and has both business and workers interests represented.

The board is supposed to see to it that employees have their right to organize protected, they can't be fired or discriminated against for attempting to form a union, they can't be rejected for employment because of their union affiliation among other related issues.

Our country needs strong labor unions. Even the people outside of the unions need strong labor unions. Many are too ignorant or too brainwashed against the unions to understand that, but it is true.

In a country where money controls everything, we need a strong National Labor Relations Board that will be fair, efficient and protect the peoples rights. We also need to know that there are penalities for those that ignore those rights. Let's face it, if you are a rich business owner I don't think that a $400.00 fine for violating a workers rights is going to effect you that much.

Soon we will begin to see some decisions come out of the Board that will set the stage for the next 100 years of labor law. Let's hope that they rule fairly and with the people of this country in mind.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Message from Uncle Sam

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Harp & Whistle Employees Fight Back

The Harp & Whistle, a bar and restaurant in Newburgh is a popular place for many to gather on Fridays after work and to have dinner every once in awhile. People who went there became close with those who worked there as waitresses, waiters and barmaids. Well, the place was sold and the new owners were taking over last week. Problem was - as is usual in the business world - nobody let the employees know anything.

They found out that after showing up for work one day last week that they didn't have jobs. One woman already began working her shift and the new owner told her to leave - she didn't work there anymore. She was also told not to bother to come back and apply for a job. In fact, all of the longtime employees were told that.

Funny how when they went to the newspaper and said they were going to - oh my, yes - PICKET the place - things began to change. Imagine that NON UNION WORKERS PICKETING and standing up for their rights.

The day after that hit the paper the new owner contacted all of the workers and explained that they all misunderstood. They could have their jobs back. They didn't have to reapply or anything.

Reminds me of the Godfather movie a little - the rent stays the same.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mayor Sottile - That's A Lot Of Garbage

Hey, what's that smell? Oh, it's Mayor Sottiles new garbage program. He used to have the crew start early and haul ass along with the garbage. Then politics got involved. Retaliation got involved. He was going to fix those CSEA union guys - no more stint work.

By the way, the union gave up stint work years ago - the Mayor kept using it. The idea was to get those trucks OFF the streets and out of everybodys way. However, it also became a convenient way to make believe that it was now somehow the union taking advantage of the taxpayers. That was political bullshit in a political season.

It is not about him running for office this time. It's about making himself look like he is doing something for the taxpayers - when he is really not.

Now the Mayor claims he has received at least 50 complaints this week about garbage not being picked up as it used to be.

We bet a few of those compalints were, "Hey, I'm stuck behind these dam trucks that were never in the way before!"

So he runs to the paper, tells us when he was born - which was at night - which also explains why he is so in the dark on everything - and bashes the union. He, along with his anti-union sidekick Barney Fife aka Robert Senor. Who by the way, is a staunchly non union mumbling windbag anyway.

“I will not tolerate” the continued delays in pickups said the Mayor. Nice sound bite. What he needs to also say is he will stop his supervisors from cramming extra rules down the workers throats. Can't drive over 10 mph or you will be suspended. Hurry up and drive 10 mph doesn't seem to go right - does it? And if I catch you driving 11 mph you can go home for 30 days. Hmmmmm, that would slow me down in this economy too.

Bart Robins, president of the Kingston unit of the Civil Service Employees Association, said he is aware of the delays in trash pickup but said they are unavoidable and that this is just a poorly thought out plan. This is not by any means a calculated effort on the part of the union to slow down the process.

Anyone with a little common sense can clearly see that starting later in the morning - which means less time to get to the transfer station - and getting threatened with suspension for going over 10 mph are two issues that are surely adding to the problem at hand.

A real Mayor would get his City of Kingston provided boots on and ride those trucks to see what was going on.

This is the exact situation he claimed he needed the CITY TAXPAYERS to buy WORKBOOTS for him and the other office girls inside of City Hall.

Let's go Jimmy - grab your friend Barney and hit the back of the truck - then come back and tell us what's wrong and how easy it is. Remember, 10 mph or you go home for 30 days. No cheatin now.

Maybe Paul Kirby can follow you both and do a story on it for us.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Think It's Real This Time?

If you read the papers today or watched the news they are talking about the Casinos again in Sullivan County. In a nutshell, there is a movement to get the Federal Government to approve off reservation casinos on an individual basis. Across the country, there are politicians who want them and there are politicians who don't.

The problem is any decision in the past had to cover all of the possible locations in the whole country. So it never could pass. Changing that to approve them on an individual basis is a smarter way to look at it. Some places could actually be improved with the addition of casinos.

Can anyone deny that we need the jobs now? If it is crime that people are worried about - I think we kind of have that already, don't we? Most of it is probably because of the lack of jobs. The rest of it is because of a lack of "brung up". That slang phrase - if you never heard it before - means a lack of morals because no one taught you any better.

Let's give the casino approach a try. They have talking about them for the Catskills since the seventies and Sullivan County has been on the downslide since the seventies.

It's time to try something new. - Let's create a job for a change of pace.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Anti-Union Democrats - A Great Political Lesson

Enough is enough with this guy.

Mayor James Sottile claims that city residents are feeling intimidated by police officers who are asking for signatures on petitions that oppose police department layoffs.

Union members of the Police Benevolent Association are going door to door to explain to residents that cuts to the police force will adversely affect the ability of their peers to protect the people of Kingston.

The blatantly anti-union Sottile, who always seems to relish having issues with unions in general, runs to the paper and claims there is intimidation going on.

Mayor Sottile is the perfect example of why local political endorsements and decisions by Organized Labor CANNOT BE MADE STRICTLY BY PARTY AFFILIATION. He is the poster boy for that as an ANTI-UNION DEMOCRAT.

This is an EXAMPLE OF WHY many union political funds WILL NOT SUPPORT THE DEMOCRATIC COMITTEE. We wouldn't want any of our HARD EARNED dollars supporting another anti-union candidate through the DEM pipeline.

Sottile stated that “My office has received calls that people felt intimated to sign a petition, and that is a wrong tactic to take.” What he doesn't say is that there is ALSO MUCH SUPPORT FOR THE POLICE.

He is trying to spin this his way because he is against unions in general and it is now the police unions turn in his barrel.

He also said he hopes members of the Police Benevolent Association are not pressuring people into signing. Cut it out Mayor. Just say you hate the unions because they give their members a voice that you have to listen to. They prevent you from being a little Hitler.

The Police Benevolent Association absolutely denies that ANYONE has or would intimidate a resident and if they come upon a resident who does not want to sign they thank them and move on. Remember- they protect the people. It is ridiculous to even say that they have intimidated one of the residents.

So kiddies, when you recieve your union endorsements in the mail and you see a larger mix of Republicans and Democrats - you will understand why we ENDORSE THE PERSON AND NOT THE PARTY. Sometimes even a Donkey turns out to be a pig or a nasty elephant.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Stint Work - Smart Move or Jerk Move?

Kingston Mayor James Sottile has made a big splash with his latest move - to discontinue "stint work shifts" among City sanitation workers as of November 1

“Stint work shifts” allow those workers to leave work early if their tasks are completed but still get paid in full.

Let's examine this a little deeper.


Everything in a contract evolves from a previous situation. I would BET that the origin of the "stint work shift" was the following:


In short, it most likely was the business community who screamed at a previous Mayor to get those smelly, large, dirty, obnoxious GARBAGE TRUCKS AWAY FROM MY BUSINESS DURING PEAK BUSINESS HOURS. It doesn't go well with lunch or my pretty little boutique. The trucks also make for a nice CLOG in front of our stores between 12 noon and 4pm.

I can hear them screaming right now in my time machine, "Oh, Mr. Previous Mayor - can you not do something to get those dirty trucks and dirty men away from our customers, parking spaces and buildings? YOU ARE COSTING MY BUSINESS MONEY!"

Have no fear business people - Mr. Previous Mayor has a solution. I will get those dirty men and smelly trucks off of the street before it can effect your business.

I will make them a deal, start early, hustle your ass, finish up and beat it.
Case solved.

Until 2009 that is.

Mayor Sottile has now decided that those days are over and has even been quoted saying that, “It just doesn’t make sense.”

This should be good. I just hope that they don't forget to wash up before lunch. Maybe now they can even dine in one of those fine restaurants with the rest of the lunch crowd.

Know history or you are doomed to repeat it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Forget the PROMOTION - I'm Stickin With The Union!

Acting Newburgh City Manager Richard Herbek has hired former deputy chief Michael Vatter to assume the job of Fire Chief of City of Newburgh. He will start is new job on November 2, 2009.

Vatter retired in 2000 after working more than 20 years for Newburgh in the Fire Department.

The former Chief, Christopher Barrett retired in the beginning of September. That left an opening for many of the current Fire Fighters to fill.

The job has been vacant since.

Why you ask? Why would NOT ONE of the Fire Fighters apply for or accept an offer to apply for the Chief position??

Even the Departments Assistant Chiefs all turned down the chance to apply.



This PROVES something - There's POWER in THE UNION.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ring a Ling Ling - Back To Class

The Onteora School District and the teachers association have reached an agreement on a new contract. The parties negotiated in a marathon session and finally came to a mutual understanding.

It is interesting to note that the impasse that plagued the negotiations was aided by an attorney who was hired to "help" the district negotiate. Sometimes an attorney or a consultant thinks that their job is to stonewall the negotiations in order to "earn" their money. This is quite common. In reality, their job should be to ensure that a fair negotiation is held according to the law and to advise their client so THEY don't break the law.

A lesson for school districts in this case and other parties who negotiate is that sometimes the people involved can actually can do a better job negotiating without the hired guns. Regular people involved in the everyday processes of the business or school district know their situations best and have the uncanny ability to resolve them so no one loses.

The teachers have been working without a contract since July 2008. The union had reached the point of breaking the stalemate with a strike.

"We're all glad to resolve this before it got really divisive for our community," said school board President Laurie Osmond.

Congratulations to the teachers and the district.

Now someone explain the logic behind the "double pay" for the people who would have "filled in" during the strike. After that explain how that issue was decided on in an instant. What budget did that raise come out of?

That part still bothers me.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pencils Down.

The Onteora Teachers Association has scheduled a vote for this Tuesday to decide on whether or not to call a strike.

They have been without a new contract since June 2008, when a five-year contract negotiated in 2003 expired.

They began negotiating for a new contract in the fall of 2007 — that was two years ago.

It does not take two years to negotiate a contract if everyone is being reasonable. The teachers began picketing Board of Education meetings last month.

Hundreds of picketers turned out at last Tuesdays meeting. Joining the Onteora Teachers Association in solidarity were the Onteora Non-Teaching Employees Association, neighboring school district teachers unions and even some retired teachers.

The board stayed in executive session for a abnormally long time which made it look like the board did not want to face the picketing teachers. Teachers union official middle school teacher Corey Cavallaro said in response that the board and administration have “absolutely zero respect for us.”

A letter was sent by the union to all parents explaining that the teachers may strike.

In response, the Onteora school board held an emergency meeting at which it agreed to double the pay for substitute teachers and staff in the event of a strike.

Wow! Look how fast they negotiated that! Bammmmm. Let's double the pay! What kind of sense does that make? It seems that there should be some questions raised in regard to that decision. First one should be, is this board negotiating in good faith with the Teachers? Why has it taken two years (so far)?

Listen, believe it or not - unions don't strike at the drop of a hat. Someone, on the district side - is playing games at the bargaining table. That's what this is all about.

......and it shouldn't get to this point.

But the last agreement was made in 2003 and that contract has already been expired two years!

District Superintendent Dr. Leslie Ford - better step in and be a MEDIATOR or hold on to your little mortarboard hat.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Could There Really Be Union Retaliation In Kingston?

Mayor James Sottile has transferred two union city employees active in union affairs into unwanted positions in what could be retaliation for their efforts as union leaders or criticism of his administration.

The mayor says it’s only about trying to get jobs done more efficiently in the city Department of Public Works.

It sure looks very suspicious to anyone who has been following this administrations track record in employee relations.

“This is about coming up with better ways to serve the public,” Sottile said. “It is amazing to me that these same two employees keep complaining whenever they are forced to work.”

Love to hear how that serves the public better in more than just a soundbite in the newspaper.....and what does he mean by complaining?

Does he really mean representing the workers in the bargaining unit when they had to?

Bart Robins,president of the local unit of the Civil Service Employees Association, and Troy Ashdown, a former vice president, are the two employees being transferred to other positions.

Ashdown and Robins said that these moves by the mayor will not save any taxpayer money at all or make services any more efficient. The say Sottile is getting back at them for defending the rights of city workers over the years.

Both Labor leaders were involved in exposing the city for storing and stockpiling chemicals in the DPW and exposing Sottile appointed, former DPW Supervisors who were wasting taxpayer money buying things such as $60 dollar pens. They both also exposed the unfair treatment and chastising of a female city employee for "stealing air" to fill up her flat tire after work one night.

Add this to claims of sexual harrassment against the city, sexual objects being tossed at women worked under the Sottile administration, coupled with these two union representatives putting their political foot in the door when Sottile wanted to lay off workers last year and you have the possibility of Sottile not feeling comfortable around these two becoming a reality.

“Everyone knows we have been the loudest and most ardent critics of the mayor and his dysfunctional policies regarding our department,” Ashdown said.

Let us not forget that the CSEA did not back Sottile for his re-election for mayor last election.

Ashdown noted that “out of a pool of six laborers” at the sewer annex on Wilbur Avenue, only he and Robins were moved.

Ashdown has been reassigned to the city’s wastewater treatment plant on East Strand, while Robins is being moved to the public works barn on Hasbrouck Avenue.

In a letter by Public Works Superintendent Michael Schupp we have this talking head explanation to go by:

“In an effort to continue a satisfactory level of service and maintain infrastructure and health and safety standards under the department’s responsibility to the residents, businesses and visitors to Kingston, some staffing organizational changes must be implemented.” ( Their lawyer obviously wrote that excuse for them )

That's bullshit.

I challenge the new superintendent to put that in words that really mean something that he can justify.

The mayor did make one very telling comment, “I think the public is getting pretty tired of these individuals complaining when all we are asking them is to do what they get paid for.

This move was all about the "complaints" which were all legitimate concerns that they raised on behalf of fellow workers- it has nothing to do with efficiency or the taxpayers money.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dutchess County Executive Bill Stienhaus: Anti-Union Scum At Its Best

Dutchess County Executive Bill Stienhaus is at it again. This man lives to bash the unions. At least he doesn't hide it though. He is proud to be against anything that will help a working person advance or make a better living. Every time his own county employees have a contract coming up - he starts with his anti union diatribe. He tormented the Dutchess County LOOP Bus drivers last year.

He vetoed the Electrical License because he saw it as a "union issue" although it was pushed heavily by the non union contractors association. He vetoed it calling it a favor for unions by Democrats. The non union contractors had a fit. The good news was after reading his "I want to beat the union" reasons for his veto - the Legislature of Dutchess County overrode his veto. So, like the spoiled child he is - Bill Stienhaus then just refused to fund it. Again , calling it a union issue.

He is a sick man. Was his mother a coal company boss in the 30's or something?

His new target is project labor agreements. The Legislature passed a resolution stating that they would CONSIDER a pla on projects that cost over $3.5 million dollars. He vetoed it. But before he vetoed it, republican sources say that he made his rounds throughout the REPUBLICAN PARTY threatening certain relatives county jobs and to withhold funding for fellow republicans future campaigns if any of those republicans voted for the pla. Some were original sponsors.

So I ask, is this governing? Is this how we elect leaders and want them to decide whether a law is worth supporting?

Project Labor Agreements do NOT prohibit non union contractors or workers from working on the PLA project.

That is all propaganda and a deliberate and outright LIE. By the way, Orange County Community College and Marlboro schools in Ulster County are both building under a pla as we speak.

Come out from behind your desk Bill Stienhaus- there is no boogie man but you.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

President Obama Addresses The AFL-CIO - Finally a United States President Who Supports The Advancement Of The American Workforce!

It is about TIME.

New Beginning For The AFL-CIO - TRUMKA

The American Labor Movement will be moving to the front of the stage once again and will be heard and seen with newly elected President Richard Trumka. He promises to bring new hope and new ideas and exposure to the plight of the American Workers.

It is about TIME.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Remember What Labor Day Is Really About

An American President who acknowledges that working people, labor,unions and the creation of jobs are and should be top priorities in this country.

Which Side Are YOU on?

Here is a little Labor history lesson:

Joe Hill - Google him kids:

Did anyone notice that the local newspapers barely mention what Labor Day is really about? Do you think that is done by design?

I do.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Daycare Center Has License Suspended

A daycare center at 14 Pond Street in the Town of Poughkeepsie has had their daycare license suspended. The owners were both arrested for endangering the welfare of a child.

The owners were LICENSED to operate the residential daycare facility.

On August 18, a four-year-old nearly drowned in a pool there. The child was taken to the hospital, treated and later released and is recovering at home.

An investigation revealed they did not have a waiver for the pool from the State Office of Children and Family Services and did into provide adequate supervision for the children.

As a result, their LICENSE was SUSPENDED. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

So this means that because they needed a license to operate this business (that could harm the public or kill someone) and because they did not follow the rules and regulations - they are now shut down because of the licensing law.

Wow! What a good idea.

But who needs licenses? Their license probably cost them around $200-$300 dollars a year. Imagine how much of that $200-$300 dollars a year their customers had to pony up? I bet each one of their customers probably paid $2 dollars or $5 dollars or even maybe $10 dollars over the course of ONE YEAR! - if they only had thirty customers.

So now, someone explain why licensing certain businesses isn't a good idea? Act as a danger while you are plying your business - and you are out of business or at least suspended. Take away the need for a license and these business can't be stopped.

Now go out and hire that electrician to wire your mothers house. You know, the one in the white van with no markings on it and Connecticut plates.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ulster Contractor Licensing Proposed

Talk about a segment of business that NEEDS licensing! The construction and remodeling industry is definitely one! It is comprised of many different types of people - some legit, some not. There are many different sizes of companies and a wide array of owners from all walks of life. Most of these companies are legitimate but some are definitely not.

There are a great number of construction projects in Ulster County and other counties that "fly under the radar".

No one would ever know they are being done, many are not inspected and it is on those "under the radar" projects the customer sometime falls victim to less than skilled or honest contractor.

How many stories are out there about people who give large down payments for work only to never see the contractor again? Or who pay large sums of money for unfinished or shoddily installed work?

Unfortunately, when there is no license required and no inspection is done - there are very few avenues a customer can take to remedy their sitiuation.

Look around and see how many construction vans in Ulster county ride around unmarked with no company name on them. There is a reason for that. And it is never a good reason.

Legitimate business owners put their company and contact info on their trucks. They don't mind being identified by the public. They carry the proper insurances. They have their work inspected.

Contractor licensing is something that is inexpensive and pays for itself. It does that by ensuring that we, the people who hire contractors, are protected. For a $200 or $300 licensing fee, all contractors are and can be identified and held accountable to the public......and that is at a cost of less than $1 dollar a day to the contractor or any customer.

After Ulster adopts contractor licensing for basic general construction - we need to adopt an electrical license for those contractors who are installing electrical wiring in our homes, business and schools.

The installation of electrical wiring requires the contractor to prove that they are knowledgeable and capable by PASSING AN EXAM. There are no excuses for the avoidance or rejection of that fact.

If a contractor cannot prove that they know the electrical code and can install wiring safely - they should not be allowed to ply that trade in this county.

Let's see how far the contractor and electrical licensing goes this time.

Election years and election seasons bring out the best ideas - don't they?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Just The Facts

Read the area papers and you are hit with the hard facts. Unemployment is up in the Hudson Valley. The amount of unemployment in NYS as a whole has actually declined. Like everyone else out there in reality land - we need more jobs. And we need good jobs. You really can't point your finger at any one group and say it is their fault though.

But there are some points that have to be made. When we move forward and the powers that be use the public fisc to "attract" jobs, let's hope that they really take a hard look at doing the right thing in the future- now that the bottom has dropped out.

Don't give financial assistance to projects that don't promise - and produce - good jobs ever again.

That public money or loans or whatever form of assistance you want to call it, is worth a great deal. Use it to everyones advantage.

Build projects with local labor - get tax breaks and financial assistance.

Hire people at wages that you can actually feed a family of four on - then you can get nice tax breaks and financial assistance.

Give those kind of companies the "shares" of those who can't promise that.

Give more to those - who give more to the community. Sounds like a logical idea, doesn't it?

With over 8% of people unemployed in the Hudson Valley it is time to think about what really matters - creating good jobs so people can live here.
We let this ball drop in the past - let's regroup and all work together for a change.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

President Obama Speaks About The Health Care Debate

Monday, August 10, 2009

Do The Math

The weekly cost of feeding an Ulster County family of four is $198.99 for the week ending August 7, according to the county Consumer Fraud Bureau.

That is a decrease of $3.20, or two percent, since the last survey was taken for the week ending July 24.

The decrease is primarily due to sale items in the meat and fish category.

The marketbasket survey is intended to provide consumers with information regarding fluctuations in the local cost of retail foods.

So if I get one of those $10 dollar an hour jobs that everyone is so happy to create, I would earn a gross pay of $400.00 per week and net somewhere near what? $300? $320?

That would leave me around $120.00 or $480.00 a month for rent, the electric bill, a telephone, car maintenance, car insurance and oh yea - gas. Nothing for clothes, cable, kids, school supplies or anything else that could possibly be thought of.

Make it $15 dollars per hour and I am still struggling here in Ulster County.

The point is that the next time we hear our politicians bragging that the jobs that are coming in will pay at least $10 dollars per hour - (we see them fight like hell against $12 dollars an hour in most cases)- we need to remember what that really gets the employee who earns it.

Not suprisingly, the politicians who think these are great wages are also the ones who are against unions.

Smarten up people. Do the math.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Few Thoughts Worth Thinking: Better Duck - Here Comes A Snowball

Kingston city union members better hold onto their wallets and start paying attention to the buzzwords being put forth by Mayor Sottile and the newly, reborn Alderwoman DiBella.

Anybody else noticed how ballzy the anti-union DiBella is getting now that she is a political lame duck?

She has always exuded a certain disrespect for the workers of the city with her crappy attitude but now she is going to make sure nobody can dispute that fact. Make no mistake about it, she will be a willing volunteer to throw the snowballs for Jim Sottile in this upcoming budget season. There will be some layoffs this time, you can feel it.

....And this is just part two in the plan. Part one was to meddle in the CSEA election to weaken the union by helping to remove Troy Ashdown as Vice President. Ashdown was just about the only thing that stood in the way of the Mayor riding rough-shod over the city employees. That cannot be disputed. No disrepect to the current officers there now but lets face it - the Mayor has a free ride now.

DiBella - the snowball thrower - has a nasty disposition when it comes to all unions anyway and she is going to go out swinging. She was quiet for months after plowing into the side of a building after a late night "dinner". They name guardrails after people like her.

This should be a lesson to all of our union political committees out there - the "democrats are ALL for the union workers" theory is a bunch of bullshit. They prove that best in the city of Kingston.

The truth is that LOCALLY, unions should look at the individual candidate - no matter what their party is - any other way is a waste of your molecules.

Another point. Can somebody name even ONE large project that the Mayor has backed where he has insisted that LOCAL WORKERS be hired to build it? Don't strain yourself - there were none. And there will never be. He is afraid to do that.

So when you read about how Sotille is pushing for projects (and he does push certain ones it seems) think of all of the JOB OPPORTUNITIES and job creation he squanders by not caring enough to promote his own local workers who construct buildings and "projects" for a living.

A little sound advice to the Kingston city workers - pay close attention to who is speaking what words. The new union leaders should start rounding up the troops and circling the wagons RIGHT NOW because anyone who reads the papers can see they will be gunning for you guys big time in the next budget. You have some big shoes to fill in regard to holding back the attack.

If you need us, we are there for you.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

For The Workers At The Nevele Who Had No Union To Explain This For Them

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act
A Guide to Advance Notice of Closings and Layoffs


The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) was enacted on August 4, 1988 and became effective on February 4, 1989.

General Provisions

WARN offers protection to workers, their families and communities by requiring employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs. This notice must be provided to either affected workers or their representatives (e.g., a labor union); to the State dislocated worker unit; and to the appropriate unit of local government.

Employer Coverage

In general, employers are covered by WARN if they have 100 or more employees, not counting employees who have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months and not counting employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week. Private, for-profit employers and private, nonprofit employers are covered, as are public and quasi-public entities which operate in a commercial context and are separately organized from the regular government. Regular Federal, State, and local government entities which provide public services are not covered.

Employee Coverage

Employees entitled to notice under WARN include hourly and salaried workers, as well as managerial and supervisory employees. Business partners are not entitled to notice.

What Triggers Notice

Plant Closing: A covered employer must give notice if an employment site (or one or more facilities or operating units within an employment site) will be shut down, and the shutdown will result in an employment loss (as defined later) for 50 or more employees during any 30-day period. This does not count employees who have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months or employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week for that employer. These latter groups, however, are entitled to notice (discussed later).

Mass Layoff: A covered employer must give notice if there is to be a mass layoff which does not result from a plant closing, but which will result in an employment loss at the employment site during any 30-day period for 500 or more employees, or for 50-499 employees if they make up at least 33% of the employer's active workforce. Again, this does not count employees who have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months or employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week for that employer. These latter groups, however, are entitled to notice (discussed later).

An employer also must give notice if the number of employment losses which occur during a 30-day period fails to meet the threshold requirements of a plant closing or mass layoff, but the number of employment losses for 2 or more groups of workers, each of which is less than the minimum number needed to trigger notice, reaches the threshold level, during any 90-day period, of either a plant closing or mass layoff. Job losses within any 90-day period will count together toward WARN threshold levels, unless the employer demonstrates that the employment losses during the 90-day period are the result of separate and distinct actions and causes.

Sale of Businesses

In a situation involving the sale of part or all of a business, the following requirements apply. (1) In each situation, there is always an employer responsible for giving notice. (2) If the sale by a covered employer results in a covered plant closing or mass layoff, the required parties (discussed later) must receive at least 60 days notice. (3) The seller is responsible for providing notice of any covered plant closing or mass layoff which occurs up to and including the date/time of the sale. (4) The buyer is responsible for providing notice of any covered plant closing or mass layoff which occurs after the date/time of the sale. (5) No notice is required if the sale does not result in a covered plant closing or mass layoff. (6) Employees of the seller (other than employees who have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months or employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week) on the date/time of the sale become, for purposes of WARN, employees of the buyer immediately following the sale. This provision preserves the notice rights of the employees of a business that has been sold.

Employment Loss

The term "employment loss" means:

(1) An employment termination, other than a discharge for cause, voluntary departure, or retirement;

(2) a layoff exceeding 6 months; or

(3) a reduction in an employee's hours of work of more than 50% in each month of any 6-month period.

Exceptions: An employee who refuses a transfer to a different employment site within reasonable commuting distance does not experience an employment loss. An employee who accepts a transfer outside this distance within 30 days after it is offered or within 30 days after the plant closing or mass layoff, whichever is later, does not experience an employment loss. In both cases, the transfer offer must be made before the closing or layoff, there must be no more than a 6 month break in employment, and the new job must not be deemed a constructive discharge. These transfer exceptions from the "employment loss" definition apply only if the closing or layoff results from the relocation or consolidation of part or all of the employer's business.


An employer does not need to give notice if a plant closing is the closing of a temporary facility, or if the closing or mass layoff is the result of the completion of a particular project or undertaking. This exemption applies only if the workers were hired with the understanding that their employment was limited to the duration of the facility, project or undertaking. An employer cannot label an ongoing project "temporary" in order to evade its obligations under WARN.

Who Must Receive Notice

The employer must give written notice to the chief elected officer of the exclusive representative(s) or bargaining agency(s) of affected employees and to unrepresented individual workers who may reasonably be expected to experience an employment loss. This includes employees who may lose their employment due to "bumping," or displacement by other workers, to the extent that the employer can identify those employees when notice is given. If an employer cannot identify employees who may lose their jobs through bumping procedures, the employer must provide notice to the incumbents in the jobs which are being eliminated. Employees who have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months and employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week are due notice, even though they are not counted when determining the trigger levels.

The employer must also provide notice to the State dislocated worker unit and to the chief elected official of the unit of local government in which the employment site is located.

Notification Period

With three exceptions, notice must be timed to reach the required parties at least 60 days before a closing or layoff. When the individual employment separations for a closing or layoff occur on more than one day, the notices are due to the representative(s), State dislocated worker unit and local government at least 60 days before each separation. If the workers are not represented, each worker's notice is due at least 60 days before that worker's separation.

The exceptions to 60-day notice are:

(1) Faltering company. This exception, to be narrowly construed, covers situations where a company has sought new capital or business in order to stay open and where giving notice would ruin the opportunity to get the new capital or business, and applies only to plant closings;

(2) Unforeseeable business circumstances. This exception applies to closings and layoffs that are caused by business circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable at the time notice would otherwise have been required; and

(3) Natural disaster. This applies where a closing or layoff is the direct result of a natural disaster, such as a flood, earthquake, drought or storm.

If an employer provides less than 60 days advance notice of a closing or layoff and relies on one of these three exceptions, the employer bears the burden of proof that the conditions for the exception have been met. The employer also must give as much notice as is practicable. When the notices are given, they must include a brief statement of the reason for reducing the notice period in addition to the items required in notices.

Form and Content of Notice

No particular form of notice is required. However, all notices must be in writing. Any reasonable method of delivery designed to ensure receipt 60 days before a closing or layoff is acceptable.

Notice must be specific. Notice may be given conditionally upon the occurrence or non-occurrence of an event only when the event is definite and its occurrence or nonoccurrence will result in a covered employment action less than 60 days after the event.

An employer who violates the WARN provisions by ordering a plant closing or mass layoff without providing appropriate notice is liable to each aggrieved employee for an amount including back pay and benefits for the period of violation, up to 60 days. The employer's liability may be reduced by such items as wages paid by the employer to the employee during the period of the violation and voluntary and unconditional payments made by the employer to the employee.

An employer who fails to provide notice as required to a unit of local government is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $500 for each day of violation. This penalty may be avoided if the employer satisfies the liability to each aggrieved employee within 3 weeks after the closing or layoff is ordered by the employer.


Enforcement of WARN requirements is through the United States district courts. Workers, representatives of employees and units of local government may bring individual or class action suits. In any suit, the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party a reasonable attorney's fee as part of the costs.


General questions on the regulations may be addressed to:

U.S. Department of Labor
Employment and Training Administration
Office of Work-Based Learning
Room N-5426
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20210
(202) 219-5577

When the local paper called it the "Warren" act - We knew this information wouldn't be part of the story. Start counting employees.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Turn Things Around - Join A Union

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Study Shows Wages In the Hudson Valley Declining In Recent Months

The Washington think tank,the Brookings Institution released a study last week that stated that the Mid-Hudson Valley is among the top five U.S. metropolitan areas with the most severe wage declines in recent months.

The study found salaries of those employed by companies in the Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown area fell an average of 1.4 percent from the last quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009, ranking the region fifth hardest hit by falling wages.

The good news in this is that the Mid-Hudson unemployment rate of 7.8 percent was below the national average of 9.0 percent.

Local housing prices fell 6.2 percent, while dropping 6.3 percent nationally and 6.9 percent in the 100 metropolitan areas.

Howard Wial of the Brookings' Metropolitan Policy Program stated that he was not really sure why the local wage decline was so severe.

"It could be higher-paid workers are getting laid off, and regular workers are being replaced by temps," or "Another way it could happen is if people's hours are cut. We've been hearing of that happening."

Wial also stated that the Brookings' study was "fairly broad-based, reflecting not just a few industries," and cautioned against drawing long-term conclusions.
"It's something to keep an eye on," he said. "It's just a one-quarter change."

It truly is something to keep an eye on in regard to the affect it will have on wages in the near future. As the economy improves lets hope that wage rates will also improve for local working people.

One of the most effective ways for workers to get those raises is to be organized and working under a contract with their fellow workers. Raises are fewer and far between when the workforce is fragmented and bargaining individually.

Translation: Union workers have more of a chance to get better pay raises.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Sunday, June 28, 2009

NYS Labor Law Payment of Wages

Schools In................

Frequency of payments.

1. Every employer shall pay wages in accordance with the following provisions:

a. Manual worker.--- (i) A manual worker shall be paid weekly and not later than seven calendar days after the end of the week in which the
wages are earned; provided however that a manual worker employed by an
employer authorized by the commissioner pursuant to subparagraph (ii) of
this paragraph or by a non-profitmaking organization shall be paid in
accordance with the agreed terms of employment, but not less frequently
than semi-monthly.
(ii) The commissioner may authorize an employer which has in the three
years preceding the application employed an average of one thousand or
more persons in this state or has for one year preceding the application
employed an average of one thousand or more persons in this state and
has for three years preceding the application employed an average of
three thousand or more persons outside the state to pay less frequently
than weekly but not less frequently than semi-monthly if the employer
furnishes satisfactory proof to the commissioner of its continuing
ability to meet its payroll responsibilities. In making this
determination the commissioner shall consider the following: (A) the
employer's history meeting its payroll responsibilities in New York
state or if no such history in New York state is available, other
financial information, as requested by the commissioner, which will
assist the commissioner in determining the likelihood of the employer's
continuing ability to meet payroll responsibilities; (B) proof of the
employer's coverage for workers' compensation and disability; (C) proof
that there are no outstanding warrants of the department of taxation and
finance or the department of labor against the employer for failure to
remit state personal income tax withholdings or unemployment insurance
contributions; and (D) proof that the employer has a computerized record
keeping system for payroll which, at a minimum, specifies hours worked,
rate of pay, gross wages, deductions and date of pay for each employee.
If the employers' manual workers are represented by a labor
organization, the commissioner shall not grant an employer's application
for authorization under this subparagraph unless that labor organization
consents thereto.
Upon notice to the employer and an opportunity to be heard, the
commissioner may rescind such authorization whenever the commissioner
has determined, based upon the factors enumerated above, that the
employer is no longer able to meet its payroll responsibilities as
previously authorized.
b. Railroad worker.--- A railroad worker shall be paid on or before Thursday of each week the wages earned during the seven-day period
ending on Tuesday of the preceding week; and provided further that at
the written request and notification of address by any employee, every
railroad corporation, with the exception of those commuter railroads
under the jurisdiction of the metropolitan transportation authority,
shall mail every check for wages of such employee via the United States
postal service, first class mail.
c. Commission salespersons.--A commission salesperson shall be paid the wages, salary, drawing account, commissions and all other monies
earned or payable in accordance with the agreed terms of employment, but
not less frequently than once in each month and not later than the last
day of the month following the month in which they are earned; provided,
however, that if monthly or more frequent payment of wages, salary,
drawing accounts or commissions are substantial, then additional
compensation earned, including but not limited to extra or incentive
earnings, bonuses and special payments, may be paid less frequently than
once in each month, but in no event later than the time provided in the
employment agreement or compensation plan. The employer shall furnish a
commission salesperson, upon written request, a statement of earnings
paid or due and unpaid. The agreed terms of employment shall be reduced
to writing, signed by both the employer and the commission salesperson,
kept on file by the employer for a period not less than three years and
made available to the commissioner upon request. Such writing shall
include a description of how wages, salary, drawing account, commissions
and all other monies earned and payable shall be calculated. Where the
writing provides for a recoverable draw, the frequency of reconciliation
shall be included. Such writing shall also provide details pertinent to
payment of wages, salary, drawing account, commissions and all other
monies earned and payable in the case of termination of employment by
either party. The failure of an employer to produce such written terms
of employment, upon request of the commissioner, shall give rise to a
presumption that the terms of employment that the commissioned
salesperson has presented are the agreed terms of employment.
d. Clerical and other worker.--- A clerical and other worker shall be paid the wages earned in accordance with the agreed terms of employment,
but not less frequently than semi-monthly, on regular pay days
designated in advance by the employer.
2. No employee shall be required as a condition of employment to
accept wages at periods other than as provided in this section.

3. If employment is terminated, the employer shall pay the wages not later than the regular pay day for the pay period during which the
termination occurred, as established in accordance with the provisions
of this section. If requested by the employee, such wages shall be paid
by mail.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Project Labor Agreements Explained

Almost every organization has a written business plan to make sure goals are achieved in a timely manner.

Project labor agreements (PLAs) are much like business plans for construction projects. A PLA is a contract between the project manager, the various craft unions, and the contractors on the project. They have proven to be an effective way to manage and maintain time schedules and budgets by standardizing and stabilizing wages and benefits, starting times, overtime rules, holidays, and other related matters.

PLAs differ from standard collective bargaining agreements in that they include all the parties working on a specific project, not just a single union and contractor. A PLA takes precedence over all pre-existing collective bargaining agreements between contractors and unions. The PLA binds the involved parties only to the terms of a specific project.

They insure that all the workers on the job work under the same work rules, including the same dispute procedure, with the exception of wages and fringes. Thus, the owner and/or project manager is only dealing with a single set of rules for every worker, there are no work stoppages (even if a given trade is on strike against their own management group!), and if there is a dispute everybody knows exactly how it will be handled.

Since the 1930s, public and private entities have successfully employed PLAs to increase harmony and productivity on jobsites. Widely recognized projects that utilized PLAs include: Hoover Dam, Grand Coulee Dam, Shasta Dam, St. Lawrence Seaway, Disney World, Cape Canaveral, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, and the
Seattle Seahawks Stadium. Major businesses such as General Motors, Ford Motor Company, British Petroleum, Toyota, Humana, and United Parcel Service, have utilized PLAs for vital projects.

PLAs are used on both public and private construction. PLAs can provide a project with the stability and increased value needed to attract funding. Lenders look favorably on projects utilizing such agreements, since they greatly increase the likelihood that the project will be completed on-time and on-budget.

Efforts to outlaw the public use of PLAs only undermine a federal agency’s ability to exercise administrative discretion in choosing the best contracting methods and performance requirements for individual construction projects. Non-union workers are not excluded from work on public PLAs and in fact, such discrimination would be illegal. Non-union workers may register with the union hall for a PLA project, and are referred for work through the union.

They are not required to join the union to be referred for work, and do not need to pay union dues that fund collective bargaining representation. PLAs encourage fair competition among contractors by standardizing labor conditions. PLAs can streamline negotiations for complex projects, reducing costs along the way. Long-term, complex projects often involve several local collective bargaining agreements.

A consultant hired by the New York Thruway Authority determined the four-year refurbishment of the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York would require 19 separate agreements among the trades and their workforce and have cost more than $6 million extra if the project had been negotiated without a PLA.

Also, the local agreements would have required renegotiation throughout the life of the project, allowing opportunities for potential future dispute. Because of the convenience of one long-term agreement through a PLA, it is a time- and money-saver for the owner or construction manager.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Schools in - Age Discrimination In Employment Act Exceptions

Everyone knows that there are laws protecting employees from age discrimination. Employees are protected under the ADEA.

However, there are cases in which the law does not apply. Here are a few of them for your notebooks:

Whe age is a bona fide job qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of a particular business (i.e. modeling clothes for teenagers).

When the differentiation is based on reasonable factors other than age, such as the use of stringent physical requirements necessitated by the nature of the work, ADEA prohibitions do not apply.

When differentiations are based on the terms of a bona fide seniority system or any bona fide employee benefit plan, such as a retirement, pension, or insurance plan, the actions are exempt from the ADEA.

Another exception to the prohibition on mandatory retirement at any age covers state and local governments with mandatory retirement ages for firefighters and law enforcement officers.

When an individual has, for a two-year period prior to retirement, been employed in a bonafide executive or high policy-making position, and is entitled to an immediate, nonforfeitable, annual retirement benefit from a pension, profit-sharing, savings, or deferred compensation plan which equals at least $44,000 then compulsory retirement at 65 is not prohibited.

When there is a bona fide apprenticeship program, which has been traditionally limited to training younger persons for skilled employment, the ADEA prohibitions do not apply.

Pencils down.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

ACME Bus of Middletown On The NLRB carpet

The NlRB is asking a Federal Judge to issue a "bargaining order" to bypass the actual election and allow Teamsters Local 445 to bargain with Acme Bus Co. in Middletown on the workers' behalf because it is that likely that Acme Bus engaged in union-busting activities "so serious and substantial" that workers were prevented from holding an election to unionize.

"This charge is so serious that the NLRB is saying there's going to be no election and wants to issue a bargaining order," said Local 445 Officer Adrian Huff. "This is something that happens very rarely. I've never seen one of these in my lifetime, and I don't think I'll ever see another one again."

"We're going to vigorously fight them," Mark Portnoy, Acme's lawyer said.

If the judge agrees with the NLRB and decides to issue the bargaining order, the workers would be unionized. Teamsters local 445 would then begin to negotiate, along with the employees for a written contract.

Local 445 filed a complaint on September 29, 2008 accusing Acme General Manager Charles Mazzei and two men known as "JJ" and "Cowboy" of threatening, interrogating and firing workers who tried to organize.

Additional charges were filed after that date concerning managers videotaping union representatives talking with workers, calling the police on union representatives, and prohibiting employees from discussing the union.

Where is Acme Bus - in Russia some place?

The complaints were backed up by a huge amount of the employees

"I'm all for the union," said one worker. "When Charlie found out I and a couple of others were helping the union out, he slowly got rid of each one of us."
She was fired by Acme in September.

"The union thinks they're going to lose," the lawyer chuckled.

.....He thinks the Labor Board likes wasting a federal judges time too.
65 of Acme's 100 employees signed authorization cards requesting a union election.

If the Employee Free Choice Act was law, those employees who were fired would not have been and the employees would already be bargaining for a written contract.

This type of illegal activity happens all over the country and even in our back yard many times a year.

Why shouldn't employees be able to have their rights and the rules at work in written form?

That is what a contract is. Is that so terrible? How much money does their attorney make? That money could have been available for the employees benefit.

Now the attorney will get rich holding the little people down and denying them their rights.

Pass the EFCA or any improvement to the way it is now. It is an absolute shame what happens in this country to American workers.

"We would have had the election in November," he said, "but terminations, interrogations and surveillance, prevented it. Acme poisoned the well by frightening the workers away from the union. People can't vote in an atmosphere of a police state, in an atmosphere of fear."

"Nonsense," Portnoy said. "These aren't stupid people; these are sophisticated people. If they go into a voting booth, they're going to vote their conscience. They think we're a good employer. We don't believe the union has any strength."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Unions and Workplace Protections

Part III -

An extensive array of labor laws and regulations protects workers in the labor market and the workplace. From the National Labor Relations Act and Social Security Act of 1935 to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, labor unions have been instrumental in securing labor legislation and standards.

However, beyond their role in initiating and advocating enactment of these laws and regulations, unions have also played an important role in enforcing workplace regulations. Unions have provided labor protections for their members in three important ways: 1) they have been a voice for workers in identifying where laws and regulations are needed, and have been influential in getting these laws enacted; 2) they have provided information to members about workers' rights and available programs; and 3) they have encouraged their members to exercise workplace rights and participate in programs by reducing fear of employer retribution, helping members navigate the necessary procedures, and facilitating the handling of workers' rights disputes

Unions have played a prominent role in the enactment of a broad range of labor laws and regulations covering areas as diverse as overtime pay, minimum wage, the treatment of immigrant workers, health and retirement coverage, civil rights, unemployment insurance and workers' compensation, and leave for care of newborns and sick family members.

Common to all of these rules is a desire to provide protections for workers either by regulating the behavior of employers or by giving workers access to certain benefits in times of need. Over the years, these rules have become mainstays of the American workplace experience, constituting expressions of cherished public values.

Less well recognized perhaps, is the important role that unions play in ensuring that labor protections are not just "paper promises" at the workplace. Government agencies charged with the enforcement of regulations cannot monitor every workplace nor automate the issuance of insurance claims resulting from unemployment or injury.

In practice, the effectiveness of the implementation of labor protections depends on the worker's decision to act.

This is done either by reporting an abuse or filing a claim. Unions have been crucial in this aspect by giving workers the relevant information about their rights and the necessary procedures, but also by facilitating action by limiting employer reprisals, correcting disinformation, aggregating multiple claims, providing resources to make a claim, and negotiating solutions to disputes on behalf of workers.

By organizing into bargaining units, workers are more apt to become educated and stand up for their rights in the workplace.

America needs strong unions.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Union wages, nonunion wages, and total wages

There are several ways that unionization's impact on wages goes beyond the workers covered by collective bargaining to affect nonunion wages and labor practices. For example, in industries and occupations where a strong core of workplaces are unionized, nonunion employers will frequently meet union standards or, at least, improve their compensation and labor practices beyond what they would have provided if there were no union presence. This dynamic is sometimes called the "union threat effect," the degree to which nonunion workers get paid more because their employers are trying to forestall unionization.

There is a more general mechanism (without any specific "threat") in which unions have affected nonunion pay and practices: unions have set norms and established practices that become more generalized throughout the economy, thereby improving pay and working conditions for the entire workforce. This has been especially true for the 75% of workers who are not college educated.

Many "fringe" benefits, such as pensions and health insurance, were first provided in the union sector

Union grievance procedures, which provide "due process" in the workplace, have been mimicked in many nonunion workplaces.

Union wage-setting, which has gained exposure through media coverage, has frequently established standards of what workers generally, including many nonunion workers, expect from their employers.

Until, the mid-1980s, in fact, many sectors of the economy followed the "pattern" set in collective bargaining agreements. As labor law enforcement decreased due to anti-union policies of political foes, their ability to set broader patterns has diminished. However, unions remain a source of innovation in work practices (e.g., training, worker participation) and in benefits (e.g., child care, work-time flexibility, sick leave).

The impact of unions on wage dynamics and the overall wage structure is felt most in the markets where unions are seeking to organize and the nonunion employers affected are those in competition with unionized employers.

Monday, May 25, 2009

How Unions Help All Workers - Part One

by Lawrence Mishel and Matthew Walters

Unions have a substantial impact on the compensation and work lives of both unionized and non-unionized workers. This report presents current data on unions' effect on wages, fringe benefits, total compensation, pay inequality, and workplace protections.

Some of the conclusions are:

Unions raise wages of unionized workers by roughly 20% and raise compensation, including both wages and benefits, by about 28%.

Unions reduce wage inequality because they raise wages more for low- and middle-wage workers than for higher-wage workers, more for blue-collar than for white-collar workers, and more for workers who do not have a college degree.

Strong unions set a pay standard that nonunion employers follow. For example, a high school graduate whose workplace is not unionized but whose industry is 25% unionized is paid 5% more than similar workers in less unionized industries.

The impact of unions on total nonunion wages is almost as large as the impact on total union wages.

The most sweeping advantage for unionized workers is in fringe benefits. Unionized workers are more likely than their nonunionized counterparts to receive paid leave, are approximately 18% to 28% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance, and are 23% to 54% more likely to be in employer-provided pension plans.

Unionized workers receive more generous health benefits than nonunionized workers. They also pay 18% lower health care deductibles and a smaller share of the costs for family coverage. In retirement, unionized workers are 24% more likely to be covered by health insurance paid for by their employer.

Unionized workers receive better pension plans. Not only are they more likely to have a guaranteed benefit in retirement, their employers contribute 28% more toward pensions.

Unionized workers receive 26% more vacation time and 14% more total paid leave (vacations and holidays).

Unions play a pivotal role both in securing legislated labor protections and rights such as safety and health, overtime, and family/medical leave and in enforcing those rights on the job.

Unionized workers are more informed, they are more likely to benefit from social insurance programs such as unemployment insurance and workers compensation.

Unions are an intermediary institution that provide a necessary complement to legislated benefits and protections.

This is part one of a continuing series of articles on this subject.

Support your union - you will be helping yourself and all workers by doing it.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend: Remember What It Stands For

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Study Says Antiunion Tactics Are Becoming More Common


A new study by a Cornell University professor of 1,004 union organizing drives has found that employers threatened to close plants in 57 percent of the campaigns and threatened to cut wages and benefits in 47 percent.

The study also found that employers fired pro-union workers in 34 percent of the campaigns. And it asserted that management’s antiunion tactics had helped pushed down the unionization rate to 12.4 percent, from 22 percent three decades ago.

Titled “No Holds Barred: The Intensification of Employer Opposition to Organizing,” the report is likely to be heavily cited, quoted, praised and denounced in the debate over whether Congress should enact legislation that would make it easier for workers to unionize.

The study found that “the aspirations for representation are being thwarted by a coercive and punitive climate for organizing that goes unrestrained due to a fundamentally flawed regulatory regime.”

The author of the study, Kate Bronfenbrenner, is director of labor education research at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations and has often been criticized by business groups for her pro-union positions.

Ms. Bronfenbrenner said her research had been reviewed and approved by her peers.

“I am an objective scholar,” she said. “There are no neutrals in this field of academia. I used the highest, methodological standards possible.”

She said her study was based on a random sample of 1,004 unionization elections from early 1999 to late 2003 and relied on a review of National Labor Relations Board cases and documents, as well as surveys of 562 lead union organizers.

In 63 percent of the elections, the study found, supervisors used one-on-one meetings to interrogate workers about whether they or co-workers supported a union. (It is illegal under federal law to interrogate workers about such matters.)

In 54 percent, she found, supervisors used the meetings to threaten workers.

Her study found that employers used 10 or more types of antiunion tactics in 49 percent of unionization drives, up from the 26 percent she found in a similar study 12 years ago.

Why are business owners afraid to bargain with their employees as a group?
What are they afraid of?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Point of Order: Unions And Their Members Give Back To Their Communities Every Day

Organized Labor gives MORE back to their communities than most people realize. This goes on all over the country. The fact is that we just don't publicize it. There are hundreds of donations of money amounting to thousands of dollars to community, youth groups and schools. That is in addition to a massive amount of volunteer work done for the needy each year by all of the unions in the Hudson Valley and yet - you have some local people and even some politicians, who still attempt to discredit labor.

There are endless ways that we can all help each other in the Hudson Valley if we support each other.

Support the unions, support the middleclass and support good wages. The return on that support is the best investment you can make for the local community.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mayor Grinch Out of Control

Everyone knows the story of the Grinch. What is going on now in the City of Kingston is TRULY UNBELIEVABLE.
Jeanne Edwards, an employee of the Department of Public Works who filed a sexual harassment suit against the city last year has been laid off by Mayor James Sottile.

Ms. Edwards received the bad news in a letter on Friday from Kathleen Thomas, executive secretary in the city’s Civil Service Office stating that “Recent changes in the economy have forced us to make some difficult decisions here at the city of Kingston. “Therefore, it is with regret that I inform you that we are eliminating your position as code enforcement officer effective May 29, 2009.”

“I think that this is a disgraceful move coming from a mayor with a disgraceful history regarding his workforce,” said Troy Ashdown, the vice president of the CSEA local that represents city public works employees. “This mayor acts unstable at times, and once again we are seeing that.”

It sure looks like something is terribly wrong. If you have been following the history here - the Mayor tried to cut Edwards to part-time in his budget proposal last January.

The Common Council did the math and realized that the savings to taxpayers from cutting Edwards to part-time would amount to SAVING ONLY PENNIES.

Many residents spoke out in favor of keeping Edwards in a full time time position and in the end the Common Council voted to fund her position at full time in the budget they approved.

If the position was budgeted for - how can the Grinch steal Christmas again after the fact?? Something smells rotten here.

Edwards, Troy Ashdown and other union leaders of the CSEA are calling the action retaliatory and said that they will pursue legal action against Sottile for her being laid off.

Edwards is one of two city employees Sottile has laid off recently. The other was in the Parks and Recreation Department. A common practice in retaliatory layoffs is to combine or bundle the real victim in with another employee or employees.

“I am not looking at names,” Sottile said. “I am looking at positions. The task that she (Edwards) does will be done by somebody else.”

Ashdown said Edwards layoff may add fuel to the sexual harassment suit filed by her and two other women who worked for the Department of Public Works at the time. That is an additional cost that will far exceed the cost of the already budgeted position.

Does this really make any sense?
Oh and well,well,well - Sottile is on vacation this week, golfing in Florida.

According to the Kingston Freeman:

Alderman Thomas Hoffay said on Friday that he was not aware Edwards had been laid off and that he was under the impression the city’s retirement incentive and voluntary furlough programs had eliminated the need for job cuts.

This gives their (union) argument some credibility when it is just one person getting something in the mail,” said Hoffay, D-Ward 2.

Sottile, a fellow Democrat, responded by saying Hoffay “doesn’t understand the finances of the city.

“Unfortunately, all indicators are ... that (what has been done so far) isn’t enough,” the mayor said.

Alderman Michael Madsen, D-Ward 9, described himself as “speechless” when told Edwards had been laid off. Asked if he thought the move was retaliatory, he said: “How could any conscientious person think otherwise?”

Alderwoman Ann Marie DiBella, one of two women on the Common Council, declined to comment about the layoff. “I just as soon stay out of it,” the Ward 5 Democrat said.

That is NOT an acceptable answer.
Her mouth is always going about everything else. Let's hear it now. Speak up, step up and be heard - even if it means you must- God forbid - question the Mayor Grinch.

It is very well known how hard that is for YOU to do.

Where too are the rest of the members of the Common Council on this issue? The people expect an answer. Is this how Ms. Edwards would have been treated if you were in charge? If this involved your own sisters? Wives? Mothers?

Your silence is deafening.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Earth To Glenn

The Ulster County Legislature’s Ways and Means Committee has approved contracts for ancillary workers in both the Ulster County Sheriffs Department and the Ulster County Community College.

Committee Chairman Alan Lomita noted that the three and a quarter percent wage increases were already anticipated for and included in the County budget.

The number of workers involved was much smaller than other County employees units and the increases were right in line with what has been approved in the past for the larger groups.

To his credit, Lomita reasoned that, “I didn’t really think it was fair to use them as sacrificial lambs.”

The only committee member to vote against the increase was Republican Minority Leader Glenn Noonan. He stated that the County could not afford to give this group the three and a quarter percent wage increases given the current economy.

Earth to Glenn, the money was in the budget for this already.

It is easy to try to pick pocket the little guy for what probably amounts to a personal burden of .06 cents a year to each taxpayer and make believe you are a fiscal genius.

In a multi million dollar budget, we think you could save somehow, someplace and sometime without taking it out of the mouths of the working people - especially after the money was put aside for it.

Some of our "leaders" have only two talents - fighting with the other party and taking away from the working person.

......and both of those acts are getting old.