AFSCME Local 749

From the Desk of the Executive Director

Executive Director's Delegate Report

Thank you for being here on a beautiful hot Summer night.

For those of us returning from the National convention, we are left with different messages to bring home.

For many of us, we were not happy with the way the nominations and many of the floor fights were handled and many of us were not happy with the outcome of the elections; but I was exceedingly proud of my union in that there were debates among the top 2 officers, something I do not believe I've even heard of in any other union.
President Saunders was elected and he deserves and will get our support.

There was though a story that overshawdowed the election.
The big story was that Connecticut seemed to be alone among our AFSCME Councils in not getting hammered. Yes, we are experiencing lots of difficulties getting decent contracts for our members, and while we are experiencing threats of lay offs and threats to our benefits, our brothers and sisters in other states were getting bruised, battered and beaten on every side and from every direction.

In just our hotel, Council 94 Rhode Island was dealing with pension cuts to both active and retired members. Council 62, (Indiana Kentucky) saw membership decrease by 75% in Indiana thanks to the RtWork legislation and in Kentucky, whole swaths of state employees taken off of a pension system into no retirement systems at all. To Council 82 in New York who complained they now must pay 39% of their medical insurance costs. And Council 61, Iowa who is currently at war with their governor over Health Care costs and raises and layoffs.

Outside our hotel in CA, AFSCME, there were dozens of court closings in L.A. County with all the layoffs that that caused as well as 5% wage give backs being requested at the bargaining table from the state employees and change of pensions. Many unions did give back 5% of their wages.

Yesterday, CA: Brown issues furloughs for last two labor unions
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS,   07/12/2012 01:01:59 AM PDT
Gov. Jerry Brown issued a furlough order Wednesday for more than 11,000 California workers whose unions have yet to reach a deal for a 5 percent wage cut. Brown's order forces employees to take one day of unpaid leave a month, which amounts to a pay cut of about 5 percent.

Wisconsin, where the unions are decimated by Scott Walker.
In Illinois where raises in retirement age to age 67 as well as lower pensions and across the board layoffs were being fought as well as prison closings.

Michigan where the emergency manager (dictator law) overrides elections.
MI: Judge: City, cops don't have to bargain
The city of Detroit is not required to bargain with the Detroit Police Officers Association, whose contract expired June 30, a judge ruled Monday. The decision by Circuit Judge Paula Manderfield means the union's 2,130 members have no idea how much they are being paid.

Today's news: MI: Financial board OKs Mayor Dave Bing's plan to slash pay, benefits for union workers
July 13, 2012  |   By Matt Helms and Suzette Hackney, Detroit Free Press
In its first major action on 'righting the city's finances', Detroit's financial advisory board approved Mayor Dave Bing's plans Thursday for $100 million in cuts to the city's unionized workforce that his administration is expected to impose without negotiations. Included are a 10% pay decrease, higher out-of-pocket health care costs and limits on overtime.  … Union leaders called the proposal an attack on labor.

Even in Ohio where they just beat back SB 5, there is right to work legislation pending. I don't mean to beat it to death but the attacks are both everywhere and varied:

A San Bernardino bankruptcy is the third California city and would follow Stockton, a community of 292,000 east of San Francisco, which on June 28 became the biggest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy. Mammoth Lakes, a mountain resort of 8,200, filed for protection from creditors on July 3 saying it can't afford to pay a $43 million judgment, more than twice its general-fund spending for the year. They are blaming pension and OPEB costs. Though the union took huge concessions the last two years there, the WSJ writes yesterday: Wall Street Journal: Editorial - As San Bernardino Goes . . . Another city goes bankrupt, thanks to rich union contracts.

The weirdest and craziest situation is in Scranton…

PA: Mayor Cuts Workers' Pay to Minimum Wage
By KRIS MAHER, Wall Street Journal, July 9, 2012, 7:21 p.m. ET
Unions representing city workers in Scranton, Pa., plan to ask a county judge to hold the mayor in contempt of court after he cut the pay of almost 400 municipal employees—including himself—to the state's minimum wage. Mayor Chris Doherty, a Democrat, temporarily cut the wages of police, firefighters and others to $7.25 an hour Friday, hours after a judge issued an injunction requested by three unions that represent most of the workers. One firefighter complained the kids in the ice cream shop were getting a dollar and a quarter more than him.

So …There was a huge sense in LA that somehow CT dodged a bullet, and some envy, there was also a sense that as the anomaly, CT is the next target.
And the infrastructure to destroy us is being put in place.

Supreme Court:
The Supreme Court shocked a lot of people when it voted to uphold the Affordable Care Act or what is called ObamaCare.
It also made a rational decision on the Arizona immigration Law.

But before we start shouting 'hurrah' that the Supreme Court is no longer a bastion of the right, let's see what else they did. They knocked down a 97 year Montana law that forbade corporate money into State elections. That's right, the Supreme Court, known for their strong belief in state's rights voted against Montana having a state law limiting the influence of corporation that was on the books since 1905 because of their fear that the copper mines would control that state.

The other thing the Supreme Court did is that last year's Citizen's United allowed corporations and unions to give unlimited amounts to campaigns. While it may have liked unlimited money by corporations, it made an additional fix in Knox vs. SEIU Local 1000 that limits money unions can put in super PACs without member's permission and sets up the unions to get whacked even further should there be another appeal.

California isn't even waiting for another appeal.
Today, Larry sent out an article CA: The War On Workers Comes to California, in Disguise
By: David Dayen Thursday July 12, 2012 7:10 am, FiredogLake
After the victory in Wisconsin, many wondered where conservative interests would strike next to finish off unions and permanently alter the power relationship between labor and capital. It appears the next step is California. In November, voters will decide on an initiative, Prop 32, that would "eliminate unions from having any voice in politics whatsoever," . …. The initiative has two parts. First, it bans direct political donations to state candidates from unions.  …. and "Political activities," incidentally, is so broadly defined, that it would include internal communications, i.e. unions talking to their own members and educating them about upcoming elections and legislative votes.

Sisters and brothers, if corporations don't want us giving money to politicians and they don't want us talking to our members, don't you think that's exactly what we should be doing?
We are tired of Corporations getting the best government they can buy.

Supreme Court Judge Louis Brandeis who served on with Oliver Wendell Holmes saw the choice starkly: "We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."

Last month, President Obama raised $71 million. Mitt Romney raised $106 million.

So what are we going to do about all this?
Yesterday, Council 4's Executive Board agreed to a plan to help this Council and our locals to gear up.
We need to build internal power in every Council in the country, in every local and in every chapter.
What use is it to build the capacity to get thousands of our members to be politically active AFTER we get screwed?
We need to start now to prevent us from getting screwed.
When I talk to members about these other states, sometimes they reply, 'well we're not Rhode Island or we're not Wisconsin" and I respond by saying, yeah, by 5,000 votes we're not.

Outside of helping with the Donovan phone banks, take a short break for a few weeks and then get ready to gear up.

In September, we will put together a mini conference and pursue our protecting the middle class plan and how we begin to push back the tide. It is our job and responsibility to educate our members about what's happening and what is coming at us. That is the least we are going to ask them to do as they help us help them from the assaults we know are coming. This includes helping to elect our friends and holding them accountable.

State Employees Health Care: If there continues to be doubt on how good the insurance is, you may have seen the front page article Waterbury Republican last week. Chris Shays said that because he was in the CT house as a rep. for 12 years, he's using the state health care because it is better than the Federal health care congress people and senators can get.

Regarding HEP, 365 people have not complied out of 48 thousand union and management. The costs next year will go up 0%. All of the medical services, annual physicals and screening costs were off set by a significant reduction in emergency room visits and Emergency room costs.

This concludes my report.

Sal Luciano,
Executive Director
AFSCME Council 4

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