The Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike

Source: Stuff You Missed in History Class, Podcast, February 7, 2018 (audio)

Memphis sanitation workers stayed off the job starting January 12, 1968 in a strike that lasted for nine weeks. This was the strike that brought Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis, Tennessee, where he was assassinated on April 4 of that year.

Here’s the “I Have Been to the Mountaintop” speech.
Here’s a link to The Root’s series of videos on the strike.

Tracy’s Research: ….

Supreme Court: Union Retiree Health Benefits Weren’t Vested for Life

Source: Allen Smith, SHRM, February 22, 2018

Draft language in CBAs and benefits documents thoughtfully.

Retiree health care benefits end when a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between a company and a union expires, unless the CBA provides otherwise, the Supreme Court ruled Feb. 20. The decision underscores the importance of giving careful thought to all language proposed and agreed to at the bargaining table, said David Pryzbylski, an attorney with Barnes & Thornburg in Indianapolis. Make sure the language in the CBA clearly expresses the parties’ intent, he stated. Benefits documents should as well, labor relations attorneys say. ….

Libraries Are a Space Where Everyone Belongs

Source: Sue Halpern, The Nation, March 19-26, 2018

No wonder the Trump administration is gunning for them.

Among the disappeared in Donald Trump’s fiscal-year 2018 budget was something most of us didn’t notice at first: the dissolution of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Take that away and virtually all federal support for public libraries disappears. While the institute doesn’t represent a massive amount of money—by one accounting, its $230 million was 0.006 percent of the federal budget in 2016—it has been crucial for sustaining libraries, especially those in struggling urban neighborhoods and rural areas…..

Milliman Analysis: Public pension funded ratio surges to 73.1% in Q4

Source: Rebecca A. Sielman, Milliman, February 2018

From the summary:
In the fourth quarter, there was a $60 billion improvement in the estimated funded status of the 100 largest U.S. public pension plans as measured by the Milliman 100 Public Pension Funding Index. From the end of September through the end of December, the deficit shrank from $1.392 trillion to $1.332 trillion. As of December 31, the funded ratio stood at 73.1%, up significantly from 71.6% at the end of September.

Related:
Milliman analysis: Corporate pensions’ $61 billion funding gain in January may cushion early February market slide
Source: Charles J. Clark, Zorast Wadia, Milliman, February 2018

From the summary:
In January, the funded status of the 100 largest corporate defined benefit pension plans improved by $61 billion as measured by the Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index (PFI). As of January 31, the funded status deficit narrowed to $221 billion due to investment and liability gains incurred during January. As of January 31, the funded ratio rose to 87.2%, up from 84.1% at the end of December. January’s impressive funded status improvement was greater than that seen in any of the prior months of 2017.

The market value of assets grew by $13 billion as a result of January’s investment gain of 1.20%. The Milliman 100 PFI asset value increased to $1.505 trillion from $1.492 trillion at the end of December. The projected benefit obligation decreased to $1.725 trillion at the end of January.

Over the last 12 months (February 2017-January 2018), the cumulative asset returns for these pensions has been 11.88% and the Milliman 100 PFI funded status deficit only improved by $50 billion. The funded ratio of the Milliman 100 companies has increased over the past 12 months to 87.2% from 83.8%.

Stopping Sexual Harassment

Source: Camille Colatosti & Elissa Karg, Labor Notes, February 23, 2018

This article is adapted from Stopping Sexual Harassment: A Handbook for Union and Workplace Activists, published by Labor Notes in 1992.

While some things have changed since then, we’ve found much of the book’s advice is still quite relevant. ….

…. It’s hard enough to confront workplace sexual harassment when it’s coming from management. But what about harassment between co-workers?

It’s a more difficult issue—but one that has to be addressed if the union is worth its salt.

The most important step is confronting co-worker harassment head-on, even if some argue that the union should not “choose sides.”

…. Unions that shy away from dealing with co-worker harassment may find themselves with new problems and divisions. Women may turn to management, and some co-workers may blame them for getting co-workers in trouble. ….

10 Years Later: The Financial Crisis State by State

Source: Joe Valenti, Center for American Progress, February 22, 2018

…. In case members of Congress have forgotten what families dealt with during the financial crisis, Table 1 shows unemployment levels and bankruptcies, as well as the number of borrowers 90 days or more behind on their mortgages and credit cards in every state for 2009 and 2016, the most recent year all of these data are available. ….