North Jersey towns reassess tax-exempt status for hospitals after key ruling

Source: Lindy Washburn,, November 23, 2015

Around North Jersey, more than $700 million worth of property goes untaxed because it is owned by non-profit hospitals. That includes hospital campuses on nearly 90 acres in Ridgewood, Hackensack, Teaneck, Englewood, Paterson and Wayne. And it also includes hospital-related properties, such as portions of medical office buildings in Wayne and Paramus, parking garages in Hackensack and an assortment of lots in Paterson. That property, and the potential revenue it could produce if it were assessed property taxes, is getting a close look by leaders of the state and local governments after a precedent-setting Tax Court decision and recent settlement in a case between Morristown and the non-profit Morristown Medical Center. … Morristown Medical, he said, was not entitled to its property tax exemption. It was up to the Legislature to update the 1913 tax law to spell out the conditions that a modern hospital must meet to maintain its exemption, his opinion said. The Legislature appears poised to take up the challenge, possibly before the end of the year. Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Sen. Joseph Vitale, chairman of the Health Committee, are among those who say they are working on legislation to address the issue.


Not-for-profit hospital will pay up in tax dispute as exemptions draw widespread heat
Source: Lisa Schencker, Modern Healthcare, November 11, 2015

In a closely watched case, a New Jersey hospital has agreed to pay $26 million to the town where it’s located to end a dispute over the hospital’s property tax exemption. The settlement between Atlantic Health System, which owns Morristown Medical Center, and the municipality of Morristown comes after a New Jersey tax judge ruled in June that the hospital should not be exempt, concluding that if all hospitals operate the same way, “then for purposes of the property-tax exemption, modern nonprofit hospitals are essentially legal fictions.” … Under the agreement approved by the town’s council on Tuesday, Morristown Medical Center will pay the town $15.5 million, including $5.5 million in penalties and interest over the next 10 years. Also, starting next year, the medical center will start paying about $1 million in annual taxes on 24% of its property, for the next 10 years.

How N.Y.’s Biggest For-Profit Nursing Home Group Flourishes Despite a Record of Patient Harm

Source: Allegra Abramo and Jennifer Lehman, ProPublica, October 27, 2015

Charlie Stewart was looking forward to getting out of the nursing home in time for his 60th birthday. On his planned release day, in late 2012, the Long Island facility instead called Stewart’s wife to say he was being sent to the hospital with a fever. When his wife, Jeanne, met him there, the stench of rotting flesh made it difficult to sit near her husband. The small wounds on his right foot that had been healing when Stewart entered the nursing home now blackened his entire shin. … Doctors told Stewart the infection in his leg was poisoning his body. To save his life, they would have to amputate above the knee. Stewart had spent about six weeks recovering from a diabetic emergency at Avalon Gardens Rehabilitation & Health Care Center on Long Island. The nursing home is one of several in a group of for-profit homes affiliated with SentosaCare, LLC, that have a record of repeat fines, violations and complaints for deficient care in recent years.

Despite that record, SentosaCare founder Benjamin Landa, partner Bent Philipson and family members have been able to expand their nursing home ownerships in New York, easily clearing regulatory reviews meant to be a check on repeat offenders. SentosaCare is now the state’s largest nursing home network, with at least 25 facilities and nearly 5,400 beds. …

The decision maker in these deals is the state’s Public Health and Health Planning Council, a body of appointed officials, many from inside the health care industry. The council has substantial leverage to press nursing home applicants to improve quality, but an examination of dozens of transactions in recent years show that power is seldom used. Moreover, records show that the council hasn’t always had complete information about all the violations and fines at nursing homes owned by or affiliated with applicants it reviewed. That’s because the Department of Health, which prepares character-and-competence recommendations for the council, doesn’t report them all. … Thirteen of SentosaCare’s homes (though not Avalon Gardens) have Medicare’s bottom score for nurse staffing. Inspection reports also show that at least seven residents have wandered away from the SentosaCare affiliated facilities in recent years — including one who froze to death in 2011. Inspectors and prosecutors have found that staff falsified records in some cases. Dozens of patients at SentosaCare homes have experienced long delays before receiving necessary care; some ended up in hospitals.

Ambulance Response Times Benchmark Met, Operator Told Council

Source: Alexander Nguyen, Times of San Diego, November 12, 2015

Officials with American Medical Response said Thursday they’re now meeting the city of San Diego’s benchmark ambulance response times, following months of shortfalls by predecessor Rural/Metro Corp. At a meeting of the City Council’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee, AMR Operations Manager Mike Rice said five ambulances have been added to their San Diego fleet. AMR, which recently completed its purchase of Rural/Metro, became compliant with the city’s response time goals Wednesday, Rice said. The times vary depending on the zone. … The firm is required under a five-year contract with the city — that it assumed after the Rural/Metro buyout — to meet certain response times in four zones 90 percent of the time. However, data from July, August and September showed that the benchmarks were met between 84 percent and 87 percent of the time. Rice told committee members that they haven’t been able to fill all the regular shifts in San Diego, even by offering overtime to employees, so medics were brought in from other regions to fill the void. Those unfamiliar with protocols particular to San Diego are being paired up with employees with experience in the city, he said.


AMR Pledges To Boost San Diego Ambulance Response Times
Source: Steve Walsh, KPBS, November 6, 2015

American Medical Response said it is bringing experts from inside the company to assess why Rural Metro was not meeting the requirement that its ambulances be on scene within 12 minutes at least 90 percent of the time. The new company has already brought in five additional ambulances to serve the city. … Rural Metro had submitted a plan to correct problems to the city on Oct. 16, before the sale was finalized. AMR plans to submit a correction plan to the city. At the moment, the new company does not plan to combine operations with any of its suburban operations.

City didn’t track ambulance complaints
Source: Jeff McDonald and Lauryn Schroeder, San Diego Union-Tribune, November 4, 2015

Under its contract, Rural Metro is required to report complaints like Miranda’s to the San Diego Fire Department every month. The idea is for city officials to track the number of dissatisfied customers — and monitor how the company responds. Section 7.5 of the agreement is titled “Monthly Records,” a paragraph that calls for Rural Metro to provide records detailing the company’s clinical and operational performance within the first 15 days of the next calendar month. … Deputy Fire Chief Colin Stowell said the department does not enforce that provision of the agreement — and hasn’t asked for complaint records or responses in years. After being asked to explain why the city is not enforcing the contract, Stowell said the city would begin collecting the information.

Rival buys Rural Metro ambulance company
Source: Jeff McDonald, San Diego Union-Tribune, October 28, 2015

The sale of Rural Metro Corp., which has a city contract to provide ambulance services in San Diego, closed on Wednesday. The Scottsdale, Arizona, company was sold to the parent company of rival American Medical Response, or AMR, based in Greenwood Village, Colorado. The sale price was announced as “approximately $620 million.” The company said Rural Metro generates $590 million in annual revenue, and the buyer expects operating savings of up to $28 million through 2017 by integrating the two services. …

Ambulance firm seeks better response times
Source: Jeff McDonald, San Diego Union-Tribune, October 26, 2015

Fined $230,000 earlier this month for failing to meet required response times, San Diego’s ambulance provider said Monday it plans to offer double-time pay to current employees and $3,000 signing bonuses to qualified applicants to reduce delays in service. Rural Metro Corp. also will add 800-plus unit hours per week, for a new total of 5,453 hours a week, so more paramedics and emergency medical technicians are available to transport patients. … Rural Metro likely could have been sanctioned for failing to meet response standards between January and June except a glitch in the city’s computer system incorrectly recorded times for 911 calls and the resulting dispatches and arrivals.

City Fines Ambulance Company for Missing Response Time Goals
Source: Wendy Fry, NBC San Diego, October 21, 2015

The city of San Diego is fining its ambulance contractor, Rural Metro, $230,000 for failing to meet emergency response-time requirements, according to a city compliance report. The company’s contract with the city requires its ambulances to arrive at high-priority medical emergency calls within 12 minutes at least 90 percent of the time. Documents released to NBC 7 Investigates show Rural Metro has not met that 90 percent mark during the last three months. According to the report, ambulances arrived within the 12 minute time window 87 percent of the time.

Editorial: Ambulance delays must be reduced
Source: San Diego Union-Tribune, October 16, 2015

The Rural/Metro explanation is a plausible explanation for some of the problems with ambulance delays, but it is not an acceptable one for a matter involving public safety. Fixing this problem shouldn’t just be a top priority for Mainar. It should be for Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the City Council as well. With Rural/Metro having secured a new five-year contract with the city in June, the company might not be inclined to address this issue with the urgency it deserves.
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Rural/Metro to pay $50,250 in fines for slow September response times

Source: Hailey Holloway, WATE, November 13, 2015

The latest compliance report for Knox County’s ambulance provider, Rural/Metro, shows multiple performance issues that resulted in a $50,250 fine, bringing the total up to $185,750 so far this year. WATE 6 On Your Side has pulled the performance reports every month since March, and September’s report shows more Level 0s than ever before. Level 0 is when the ambulance company doesn’t have any ambulances available to respond to an emergency, and another company has to step in. In September, Rural/Metro had six Level 0s, resulting in $26,000 in fines. … Another chunk of the September report is for Level 3 notifications, where Rural/Metro only has three ambulances available to respond to emergencies and has to call other counties and agencies. In September, there were 109 Level 3 notifications as Rural/Metro got to Level 3 every day but two. Dr. Buchanan said the response time problems boil down to not having enough employees.


Rural/Metro faces additional penalties from Knox County for slow response times
Source: Hailey Holloway, WATE, October 21, 2015

New compliance numbers show Rural/Metro has another month of performance issues with Knox County. … Even though the August numbers show compliance, they also show Rural/Metro is have to call Mutual Aid more than ever. In August, there were 108 Level 3 notifications where Rural/Metro only had three ambulances available in Knox County to respond to emergencies, and had to call other providers. The contract, which is overseen by the Knox County Health Department, requires Rural/Metro to call Mutual Aid when it gets that low on ambulances. The August report shows that happened every single day, sometimes as many as seven times in one day. … The August compliance report also shows Rural/Metro reached Level 0 once. Level 0 means Rural/Metro did not have any ambulances available to respond to emergencies and had to rely on another provider to step-in. … August marks the third month in a row that Rural/Metro has had a Level 0. As WATE 6 On Your Side has previously reported, the contract says the agreement between Rural/Metro and Knox County can be terminated if “The Contractor has failed to satisfy the response time requirements for a period of three (3) consecutive months.” … In 2015, total fines paid to Knox County are $135,500 so far.

Rural/Metro questions remain
Source: Gerald Witt, Knoxville News Sentinel, September 28, 2015

Ambulance response times now have the attention of Knox County Commission. In Monday’s regular meeting, commissioners asked the county Law Director Richard “Bud” Armstrong to draft a letter asking the county’s ambulance provider, Rural/Metro, to answer some questions on service. Dr. Martha Buchanan, director of the Knox County Health Department, answered some of the questions about response times, fines the county levies for long waits and accreditation for mutual aid ambulances, but the detailed responses commissioners wanted may end up with Rural/Metro staff being called before the elected body. … The questions came up during a discussion over Rural/Metro, which has been scrutinized in recent months after reports were made showing when the ambulance provider had long response times and some instances when no ambulances were free to respond for calls.

Rural/Metro faces $112,500 fines in 2015 for Knoxville contract violations
Source: Hailey Holloway, WATE, September 4, 2015

Rural/Metro faces $112,500 in fines for 2015. The compliance report for the ambulance company’s July numbers shows another month of contract violations. … Another chunk of fines is due to non-emergency response times, which were higher in July than they have been in at least the last two years. There were 57 calls where response times took longer than 45 minutes, with one taking almost four hours. That brought on a $14,250 fine, bringing July’s total to $30,500.

CSEA sues to block Summit Park closing

Source: Robert Brum,, November 13, 2015

The union representing workers at the Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Care Center has filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of Rockland County Executive Ed Day’s efforts to close the ailing facility by Dec. 31. The suit accuses Day of violating the County Charter by moving ahead without approval from the county Legislature. By announcing the impending closure Day is lessening the facility’s value, according to legal papers. It also claims the County Charter would have to be amended to allow the Legislature to close the facility — something it says can only be done through a public referendum. … Summit Park is proceeding toward shutdown under a state-approved closure plan after a private buyer backed out of a $32 million sale at the last minute. Subsequent efforts to restart negotiations collapsed between the buyer — Sympaticare — and the local development corporation handling the sale. …


Summit Park buyer asks lawmakers to get him more time
Source: Robert Brum,, October 8, 2015

The man who pulled out of the $32 million deal to buy the Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Care Center told Rockland lawmakers on Wednesday night to step in to give him more time to continue negotiating. … Braunstein said before Wednesday’s meeting of the Rockland County Legislature that his company, Sympaticare, was ready to take over Summit Park’s operations pending the sale “so the county stops the bleeding.” He said such an arrangement, which he called a receivership, would need state Department of Health approval but had been done elsewhere in New York. … Braunstein canceled the deal just hours before he was supposed to have closed on the sale, citing ongoing litigation and claiming the county had not given him what he needed for Sympaticare to take over the ailing facility by Sept. 30. He also said the county had not maintained the facility during the sale process. … The county said it cooperated fully with Braunstein and said Summit Park’s operations remained essentially the same. Day has placed blame for the deal’s collapse squarely on Braunstein, who Day said had more than a year to prepare for the purchase. The county is awaiting approval from the state health board for its closure plan.

Rockland’s Summit Park deal falls through
Source: Robert Brum,, October 1, 2015

The sale of Rockland’s troubled Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Care Center, considered crucial to the county’s financial turnaround, fell through at the 11th hour and officials said they intend to close the property at the end of the year. County Executive Ed Day said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon that the planned private buyer, Sympaticare LLC, informed the county Tuesday night that it was terminating the $32 million deal. … A total of 432 positions were set to be abolished at Summit Park, including clerical staff, nurses, pharmacists and physical therapists. Some had been interviewed by Sympaticare about staying with the facility, while others had the possibility of moving into other county positions.

Rockland Lawmakers Take Steps to Protect Summit Park Workers
Source: Baruch Horowitz, Monsey, September 20, 2015

Rockland County Legislators announced they are taking action to protect county workers, patients and residents at Summit Park Hospital And Nursing Care Center, approving several measures designed to help county workers who face layoffs once the center is sold. … A total of 458 people will be affected by the pending sale, including more than 250 who are eligible for retirement, county Personnel Commissioner Joan Silvestri told Legislators Wednesday. … Civil Service rules require positions to be abolished before the process of workforce reduction can occur. Part of the process includes providing information to workers about their possible benefits, including details about pensions, health care and other county job opportunities. Workers have been in a state of limbo not knowing when their jobs might be eliminated as the Rockland County Health Facilities Corp., the local development corporation handling the $32 million deal, works to close the pending sale of Summit Park Hospital, a 57 bed Long Term Acute Care Hospital, and Summit Park Nursing Care Center, a 321-bed nursing care facility with a premier Alzheimer’s Unit. …

As Summit Park hospital sale nears, Rockland workers await word on jobs
Source: Robert Brum,, August 28, 2015

Many of the employees, including clerical staff, nurses, pharmacists and physical therapists, are waiting to learn whether they’ll be hired by the Ramapo hospital’s new owner. About 38 workers have “bumping” rights to positions in other county departments, and others likely will opt for retirement. The Rockland County Legislature on Tuesday night could discuss a resolution to abolish a total of 432 positions, most of them represented by the CSEA.

Preliminary audits: County in the black, Summit Park less in the red
Source: Michael Riconda, Rockland Times, August 27, 2015

…At the same time, losses sustained by the facility appear to be diminishing. According to the audit, the facility lost $7.2 million in 2014, down from a $16 million loss in 2013 and a $27 million loss in 2012. The major reason for this appears to be intergovernmental transfer revenue (IGT), money from the state which spiked revenues. … Summit Park’s Hospital and nursing care center have cleared almost all regulatory hurdles for sale, including lawsuits from the Civil Service Employees Association and Northern Services Group, a failed bidder for the facility. According to DeGroat, the county is ready to close the book on the facility and it is expected that the lease will be transferred to Sympaticare sometime within the next year.
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New Nashua alderman: Stop privatization talks, start talking to custodial union

Source: Kimberly Houghton, Union Leader, November 15, 2015

Alderman-elect Ben Clemons suggested to school officials this week that they stop exploring privatization and instead begin negotiating with the district’s custodial union. On Thursday, the day the Board of Education appointed a committee to review proposals and qualifications to potentially hire a private cleaning crew, Clemons told the Board of Education that now is the time to stop discussions on privatization. … In an effort to save money, the Board of Education voted several weeks ago to terminate its contract with the custodial union, Local 365/Council 93 AFSCME, on June 30, 2016. Although 101 school district custodians may be without jobs next summer if the board hires a private firm for cleaning services, the local union still has some future options, according to James Durkin, legislative counsel for the group.


Union Activists: Give Laid-off Nashua School Custodians Their Jobs Back
Source: Jason Claffey, Nashua Patch, October 6, 2015

Union activists are demanding that Nashua school officials reverse its decision to fire 101 custodians. The Nashua Board of Education last month voted 7-1 to end its contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents the Nashua custodial workers. The board said they are looking to hire a private cleaning company instead. … The Nashua Labor Coalition balked at the move. Chairwoman Deb Howes said the board should have gathered more input from the community before making its decision.

Nashua custodians protest board of education privatization proposal
Source: Adam Sexton, WMUR, September 29, 2015

Union members in Nashua turned out in force Monday night to rally against the proposal to privatize the district’s custodial staff. On top of layoffs, more than 100 custodians are upset that the school board decided to proceed with the plan behind closed doors. The first that custodians learned of the proposal was when they received a written notice in their paycheck. … The Nashua Board of Education approved exploring the idea of laying off the district’s custodians earlier this month in a closed-door meeting with no notice.

Nashua Custodial Staff Could be Laid Off By School District
Source: Ted Siefer, New Hampshire Public Radio, September 28, 2015

Custodians in Nashua and their supporters are expected to hold a rally Monday evening ahead of a school board meeting to protest the board’s decision to end their union contract. … About 100 custodians could be out of a job at the end current school year if the district follows through with the decision.  That of course is a big concern for the workers and their union, AFSME Council 93 — but in the eyes of Jim Durkin, the union’s political affairs director, there’s another concern: who would replace the laid-off janitors. … Finances aside, Durkin insisted that officials need to seriously consider the risks of outsourcing labor, especially in schools. He points to several reported cases of misconduct by employees of a custodial contractor in the Massachusetts town of Chelmsford — including one who was arrested for stealing computers from a school.

Nashua school board votes to replace union custodians with private company, September 20, 2015

The city’s board of education has decided to hire a private company for custodial work starting in next July, a move expected to put more than 100 unionized custodians will be out of work. … The district is midway through a contract with the union, and the 101 positions will remain through June 30, 2016. The school board will issue a request for proposals from outside cleaning companies to assume custodial duties as of July 1, 2016

Unions react to school board decision
Source: Tina Forbes, The Nashua Telegraph, September 22, 2015

Union officials and Nashua teachers reacted Monday to the Nashua Board of Education’s surprise announcement last week it would not continue a contract with union representing more than 100 custodians’ at the end of the school year. Jim Durkin, communications director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees of Council 93, which includes AFSCME units in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont, said the union had no word from the school board prior to the vote on Wednesday. …

Senate Democrats Scold Capitol Worker Food Company

Source: Bridget Bowman, Roll Call, November 13, 2015

In the latest push for higher wages for Capitol food service workers, Senate Democrats are going to the source, calling on the food service vendor’s parent company to raise wages and allow for collective bargaining. Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., led a majority of the Senate Democratic Caucus, including members of leadership such as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, in sending a letter to the CEO of British company Compass Group, which is the parent company of Restaurant Associates, the vendor that operates food services in the Capitol Visitor Center and the Senate. … The lawmakers asked Compass Group to commit to an agreement with the union looking to organize the workers, fire any manager who engages in unlawful conduct, not pressure workers to refrain from organizing, and allow workers to form a union by a majority signing union authorization cards.


Senate Staffers Rally Behind Capitol Food Workers
Source: Bridget Bowman, Roll Call, October 28, 2015

A group of Senate staffers are organizing in solidarity with Capitol food service workers, joining the workers’ push for a union and higher wages. More than two dozen staffers, donning stickers that read “Senate Staff Solidarity,” took up two tables in the Dirksen Senate Office Building cafeteria Wednesday afternoon. The “brown bag boycott” sought to bring attention to the plight of Senate workers and show support for the workers’ push for union representation. … Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, also stopped by the boycott. Brown has been one of the Democratic senators pushing for the Senate Rules and Administration Committee to utilize ongoing contract negotiations with the food service vendor, Restaurant Associates, to pressure the company to pay higher wages and allow for collective bargaining.

Sodexo Takes Over the House
Source: Bridget Bowman, Roll Call, August 11, 2015

… Sodexo, an international food vendor, officially took over the House dining services Monday, causing a number of areas to close for construction while posting new signs and decorations in the cafeterias that remained open. …. Sodexo took over for New York-based Restaurant Associates, which had run House dining services since December 2007. Restaurant Associates still runs services in the Senate and Capitol Visitor Center, though low wages have sparked a series of food service worker strikes. The workers in the Senate and CVC have also been fighting to be unionized, though House workers are already represented by Unite Here Local 23.

Senate Democrats Seek Raise for Workers in Their Cafe (Subscription Required)
Source: Ben Penn, Daily Labor Report, August 6, 2015

Nearly the entire Senate Democratic Caucus asked the chamber’s Rules and Administration Committee leadership Aug. 6 to consider the treatment and pay of Senate cafeteria and catering workers when negotiating a new contract with a private food service company. In a letter with 41 signatures, the senators urged committee Chairman Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and ranking member Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to consider the “numerous” employee complaints of low wages and poor working conditions when the committee oversees negotiations this year with Restaurant Associates for the Senate contract expiring in December. … Among the worker complaints documented in the letter, the Democratic caucus mentioned a rough transition for the 36 workers who formerly worked directly for the Architect of the Capitol before transferring to Restaurant Associates when the contract began in 2008. Those veteran employees as well as newer workers have “registered ongoing complaints about reduced work hours and an intimidating work environment,” the senators wrote. The contractor has also assigned schedules that hinder workers’ opportunities to find a second job and has scheduled fewer workers at catering events, the letter stated.

Senate Cafeteria Contractor Settles Labor Charges (Subscription Required)
Source: Ben Penn, Daily Labor Report, August 5, 2015

A federal contractor operating cafeterias at the Capitol Visitor Center and Dirksen Senate Office Building July 31 settled two unfair labor practice charges filed by a labor coalition that’s been pressuring the White House to mandate improved wages and working conditions for contracted workers.
The informal settlements followed a National Labor Relations Board regional director’s finding of merit in allegations that Restaurant Associates management at the two locations threatened retaliation, changed work schedules and interrogated employees who participated in an April strike (77 DLR A-11, 4/22/15) or were otherwise involved in the campaign. … Under the CVC settlement, Restaurant Associates agreed to post a work-site notice informing workers of their right to form a union and assuring them that management will neither interfere with those rights nor prevent workers from speaking with organizers. At the Dirksen cafe, the contractor agreed to post a notice that lists union rights and promises not to ask employees about protected concerted activities or warn them of negative consequences of joining a union.

Do federal contractors save the government money?
Source: Nancy Marshall-Genzer, Marketplace, July 31, 2015

Groups of federal contract workers have been walking off the job and holding protests every few months. It’s part of a campaign called Good Jobs Nation, backed by organized labor. It’s pushing for a $15 an hour minimum wage for federal contract workers and union representation. …. That’s led to a backlash against privatization, and assertions that it doesn’t save the government money. Tara Young is an organizer with Good Jobs Nation. I met Young in the park with the Senate cashier, Sontia Bailey. Young says the contractor employees make so little, they end up on government programs for the poor. Bailey is on Medicaid. “Workers are on Section 8, they use food stamps,” she says. “So we’re paying workers extra money, really, to help them with their low pay.” Young says taxpayers get hit up twice: once to pay for the contract workers’ salaries and again to pay for government programs they need to get by.

I work at the US Capitol and KFC. Colonel Sanders pays me more than Uncle Sam
Source: Sontia Bailey, The Guardian, July 21, 2015

Not many lobbyists enjoy as much access to US Senators as I do. I’m a cashier at the cafe inside the US Capitol….Even though I work full-time at the US Capitol, I only earn $10.59 an hour. Because the federal contractor that operates the cafe pays me so little, I had to pick-up a second job at KFC to make ends meet. It may be hard to believe, but Colonel Sanders actually pays me more than Uncle Sam does: I make $11 an hour at my fast food job….One of the presidential candidates recently said that people like me “need to work longer hours.” Well, there aren’t any more hours left in my day to work. I want the senators I serve to know that working two poverty-wage jobs has taken a terrible toll on my body and my health.

Three weeks ago, I lost my baby boy. I had a miscarriage in my home at 3am. I don’t remember much – I lost so much blood that I had to have several transfusions – but I do remember waking up in a hospital and learning that my son was dead.

No mother should have wake up to say “Goodbye sweetie” to the baby in their arms. My fiancé and I were devastated but I couldn’t even afford to grieve – I had to get back to work so I could pay for a decent funeral for my son….I know that once the senators read this they will offer me their condolences. But I don’t want sympathy – I just want them to make sure the contractor I work for at the US Capitol pays a living wage. This is the most important thing women like me need to fulfil our responsibilities to those we love.
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Pa. House OKs new GOP liquor privatization plan; would sell off state stores

Source: Mark Scolforo, Associated Press, November 19, 2015

A divided state House on Thursday sent a new proposal to privatize Pennsylvania’s government-run liquor system to the Senate, a plan not much different from a Republican-backed bill that Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed in June. The House voted 110-86 for the measure, which was billed as a step forward in broader, closed-door negotiations to resolve the state’s budget stalemate, currently in its fifth month. House Republicans have made it a priority to privatize the state-controlled wine and liquor system, and some form of it could win approval as part of a budget deal. … The bill, sponsored by Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, would result in the closing of all of the about 600 state wine and liquor stores and create 1,200 new permits to sell wine and liquor. Beer distributors would get the first opportunity to buy the permits on a sliding price scale based on the size of their counties, from $30,000 for wine and $52,500 for liquor in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, to $7,500 for wine and $30,000 for liquor in the least populous areas. After six months, the remaining permits would be auctioned off. The wholesale system would be leased to a state-licensed importer for a decade, after which it would be given a permit to operate the system for a fee of 5 percent of the gross receipts.


Liquor privatization revived amid ongoing budget negotiations
Source: Wallace McKelvey, Pennlive, November 16, 2015

Legislation that would privatize Pennsylvania’s liquor distribution system has been resurrected as negotiations continue between lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf. … On Monday, the House Liquor Control Committee passed House Bill 1690 in a party-line vote. The bill is similar to legislation, also sponsored by House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, that Wolf vetoed earlier this year. Most officials say HB 1690 will serve as a placeholder for an eventual compromise struck between Wolf and the Republican majorities in the Legislature. The actual content of that deal remains unknown.

New liquor privatization bill makes its entrance in Pennsylvania
Source: Andrew Staub,, November 13, 2015

House Speaker Mike Turzai on Thursday introduced another privatization bill extracting Pennsylvania from the hooch business, but there’s no promise it will be the final iteration of liquor reform included within a broader state budget agreement that’s starting to take shape. While liquor reform is part of the framework of a budget deal between Gov. Tom Wolf and state lawmakers, Turzai’s latest booze bill is not the product of any current agreement, said Jeffrey Sheridan, Wolf’s press secretary. … Wolf wants the starting point of liquor talks to center on his previous proposal to lease the state’s wholesale and retail liquor operations to a private manager, Sheridan said, calling it a “very significant free-market reform.” Sheridan also said the liquor system is “an asset that we can make stronger.” “The state would still be running the system, but they would be leasing it out,” Sheridan said. “That is privatization.” … His newest privatization bill would close the about 600 state-owned wine and liquor stores and create 1,200 permits that would allow for the sale of beer, wine and spirits under one roof. That would create the one-stop shop Pennsylvanians have lacked since the fall of national Prohibition.

Key state labor leader isn’t fighting Wolf’s liquor reform proposal, and that’s one hurdle cleared
Source: Charles Thompson, The Patriot News, September 28, 2015

As renewed talks on the framework of a late Pennsylvania budget deal intensify, Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf has scored a significant early-round win for his latest liquor reform compromise. It is that Wendell Young IV, president of the union representing the largest group of workers in the state-owned liquor store system, is not at this point opposing Wolf’s pitch to out-source its management. … Young, one of many public-sector union officials who sees a political ally in Wolf, said his comfort level with the liquor plan has everything to do with his confidence that Wolf won’t sign off on a deal that hurts state employees. …

Penn. Food Merchants Association reviewing governor’s latest liquor privatization proposal
Source: Pennsylvania Business Daily, September 23, 2015

The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA) is examining Gov. Tom Wolf’s most-recent proposal calling for partial privatization of the state-owned liquor store system, a recommendation made last week as part of an effort to end the state’s budget impasse. … That proposal would have created permits allowing the to-go sale of liquor and wine by beer distributors and holders of restaurant liquor licenses, including some grocery stores. At the same time, as these private sellers began operating, the state Liquor Control Board would have been required to start closing nearby state liquor stores and then Pennsylvania’s wholesale operation eventually would have been sold. Wolf vetoed the GOP proposal in June.

Wolf’s plan would outsource state liquor system to private manager
Source: Jan Murphy, The Patriot-News, September 16, 2015

After months of hearing Gov. Tom Wolf show no interest in Republican-backed proposals to privatize the state’s liquor system, the Democratic governor has come up with an idea that would move the state in that direction. His plan would stop short of moving the system out of the liquor business but instead would retain ownership and hand over management to a private company. … On Wednesday, as part of a broader state budget offer that also included elements of the Republicans’ pension reform plan, Wolf proposed leasing out the management of the retail and wholesale liquor system through a competitively bid process. … He said the contract with the private manager would be for a term of between 10 and 25 years and give the manager free rein over the number and location of stores, expand hours to seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., and flexibility in pricing. …

Opinion: Modernize, don’t sell, Pa. liquor system
Source: Wendell W. Young IV, The Morning Call, August 25, 2015

… An analysis of privatization by Public Financial Management that was commissioned by former Gov. Tom Corbett found that privatizing the agency would result in at least $1.4 billion in transition costs over five years. PFM also said that the state would have to come up with $408 million in new revenue each year to make privatization fiscally neutral. This is a national firm hired by Gov. Corbett, an ardent privateer. Yet some continue to insist that the state will actually make money if the system is dismantled. … PFM also found that at least 2,300 employees who work for the PLCB will go on unemployment. Big-box and large grocers, drug stores and small retailers will not hire scores of new employees, PFM found. Instead, they will simply clear some shelf space next to the chips and start selling vodka. …

House speaker links liquor overhaul to new taxes for budget
Source: Mark Scolforo, Associated Press, July 27, 2015

A leading proponent of liquor privatization in the Pennsylvania Legislature said Monday that selling off the state stores must happen for any type of tax to be increased, with budget talks deadlocked nearly a month into the state’s new fiscal year….Turzai also indicated lawmakers may resolve the budget standoff by overriding Gov. Tom Wolf. Wolf, a Democrat, vetoed the budget legislation, a liquor privatization plan and public pension cuts after they passed without a single vote from his party.

How much would privatizing liquor sales really help?
Source: Drew Cranisky, Pittsburgh City Paper, July 22, 2015

“Generally speaking, the big issue with privatization is figuring out how to maintain the revenue stream that our existing system generates for the state government, and then being able to say with a straight face that retail prices aren’t going to skyrocket,” explains Nathan Lutchansky, bar manager at Lawrenceville’s Tender Bar & Kitchen and a longtime close observer of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

Any analysis of the most recent bill (known as HB 466) involves considerable speculation, and supporters of privatization rally around cries of better selection and pricing. But according to Lutchansky, this bill would likely have had the opposite effect, due to sizable fees imposed on retailers and wholesalers, and additional fees to register new products for sale. When Washington state privatized in 2012, for instance, prices shot up and selection began to erode.
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Aramark Educational Services LLC in Lubbock, Texas, settles charges of gender and race discrimination with US Labor Department

Source: Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, November 23, 2015

Following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, Aramark Education Services LLC has entered into a conciliation agreement to resolve claims of systemic hiring discrimination. OFCCP found that the contractor discriminated against 335 male and African-American applicants for food service worker positions with Aramark, a federal contractor in Lubbock. … The agreement concludes an investigation from Aug. 16, 2008 through Aug. 16, 2010, by OFCCP that Aramark failed to comply with Executive Order 11246, which prohibits race and sex discrimination by federal contractors that do business with the government. Under the agreement, Aramark will pay $165,000 in back wages, interest, and benefits to the affected class members. The company, while not admitting liability, will also make 53 job offers to original applicants as positions become available. Finally, the company will review and revise its selection process and provide better training to its hiring managers to eliminate practices that result in gender and race stereotyping.

Bend distillers say privatizing liquor would cripple business

Source: Joseph Ditzler, The Bulletin, November 15, 2015

Talking while he worked, Hale said the proposed ballot initiative filed Oct. 28 by a coalition of grocers seeking to privatize liquor sales in Oregon is a worrisome development. Cascade Alchemy, a 3-year-old startup, ships its six varieties of bottled spirits to about 100 liquor stores in Oregon. The stores, all run by contractors under a state-controlled system, afford small distillers a level, transparent playing field in a marketplace dominated by big labels, Hale and other distillers said. The grocers’ initiative would end the role played by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission as a warehouser, distributor and market regulator, but it would cripple small distillers and set back even those with several years experience, local distillers said. … Along with state involvement in selling liquor, it would end the revenue stream the OLCC collects from those sales. The six-page initiative says nothing about replacing that revenue, other than that sales of state properties and savings on future spending should go toward “enhancing public safety and preventing the sale of distilled liquor to minors.” …

Oregon grocers once again seek liquor privatization with proposed ballot measure
Source: Jeff Mapes, The Oregonian, October 28, 2015

Oregon’s grocery industry on Wednesday launched a new effort to grab a share of the state’s lucrative liquor market by privatizing sales of these alcoholic beverages. The industry filed a proposed initiative for the 2016 ballot that would end Oregon’s system of allowing sales only through a limited number of state-licensed stores overseen by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. … One of their major political issues was that Washington voters privatized liquor sales starting in June of 2012, and studies show it has tended to increase — not lower — prices.  In large part, that’s because the privatization initiative included taxes aimed at producing as much revenue as the state made when it acted as the state’s sole liquor retailer. … Sponsors will need to collect 88,184 valid signatures by next July to qualify for the general election ballot in November of 2016.

Group files measure to privatize liquor sales
Source: Gordon Friedman, Statesman Journal, October 28, 2015

Oregonians for Competition filed the measure Tuesday. The group will need more than 80,000 signatures to qualify a ballot measure for the November 2016 election. The state of Oregon regulates the price, marketing, distribution and sale of liquor through the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. If passed, the ballot measure would privatize liquor sales in Oregon. The measure would ban liquor sales at gas stations. … Oregonians for Competition has attempted in previous election years to pass similar measures. PACs run by Oregonians for Competition have spent millions of dollars to promote liquor privatization measures. According to campaign finance records from the Secretary of State’s office, funding for those efforts came primarily from grocery stores and associations, including hundreds of thousands of dollars from Safeway, Fred Meyer and the Distilled Spirits Council.

Fred Meyer donates $139,000 more to failed liquor privatization initiative: Oregon campaign finance
Source: Yuxing Zheng, Oregonian, June 23, 2014

The initiative campaign for liquor privatization is dead this year, but Fred Meyer still donated $138,524 to the effort on June 18. Campaign organizers pulled the plug June 4 after spending about $2.5 million on two possible initiatives. Organizers had faced the tough task of gathering signatures on a tight turnaround before the July 3 deadline after spending months wrangling over the ballot wording in court….

Abandoned liquor privatization campaign spent about $2.5 million this year
Source: Katherine Driessen, Oregonian, June 6, 2014

When liquor privatization backers called off their ballot initiatives this week, it wasn’t for lack of spending. This year, petition committees associated with the campaign recorded about $2.5 million in cash expenditures, on everything from signature gathering efforts to inter-campaign contributions. That includes a $200,000 check on Monday — just two days before backers dropped the initiatives — to Silver Bullet, a signature gathering firm hired to help the group meet an ambitious July 3 deadline.

Liquor privatization supporters drop 2014 ballot initiatives as signature deadline approaches
Source: Katherine Driessen, Oregonian, June 4, 2014

Liquor privatization supporters have dropped initiatives to put a measure on the November 2014 ballot to privatize sales and allow big Oregon grocery chains to stock liquor on their shelves. The announcement Wednesday came after months of legal debate over the ballot wording of two possible initiatives. While one was stuck before the Oregon Supreme Court, supporters had recently gotten the nod to start gathering signatures on a second, less preferred initiative. Just last week, supporters said they would move forward with that initiative. But privatization backers, who call themselves Oregonians for Competition, ultimately decided the first initiative was the strongest and the turnaround too tight to gather enough signatures for that one, with a July 3 deadline looming….

Oregon liquor prices not expected to change if privatized
Source: Associated Press, January 12, 2014

Oregon state officials say liquor prices are not likely to change if the system is privatized, as has been proposed in a ballot initiative.Oregon consumers would likely pay the same prices for alcohol because the fees are not going to change, The Statesman Journal reported Sunday. That money collected by the state of Oregon goes to cities, counties and the state general fund, bringing in $396.7 million during the 2011-2013 biennium. Liquor sales are the third biggest revenue generator for Oregon.If a ballot initiative qualifies for the November election, the only impact to consumers would be alcohol sales in grocery stores. Grocers would likely profit but the state would be forced out of the business….

Ore. grocery stores aim to privatize liquor sales
Source: Nigel Duara, Associated Press, December 27, 2013

A collection of grocery store interests is leading a push to drive government out of the liquor business, a move Oregon’s liquor commission says would threaten the state’s financial stability by delaying revenue collection. Battle lines are forming along a traditional labor-business divide, with a twist. Large private industry sees a pot of money guarded by an outmoded post-Prohibition-era bureaucracy; public-sector unions are concerned privatization would eliminate about 100 government jobs. Liquor wholesale distributors who stand to lose money are also likely to oppose privatization. But another group could join the fray: Oregon’s craft distillers. At least one of these small businesses saw its revenues tank when neighboring Washington state privatized liquor on a grocery store-funded ballot measure last year….

Oregon grocers want to sell liquor, file privatization measure
Source: Jonathan J. Cooper, Associated Press, December 16, 2013

A group led by Oregon grocery stores filed initial paperwork Monday that could lead to a ballot measure asking voters whether to privatize liquor sales. The organization called Oregonians for Competition said in a statement that it’s filed five proposed initiatives and will select one to move forward with. The initiatives differ in details, but all would allow liquor sales in stores that already sell beer and wine and are at least 10,000 square feet. Existing liquor stores would be allowed to stay open, and some smaller shops like wine specialty stores would be able to sell liquor. …

Oregon liquor agency faces troubling questions, inside and out
Source: Harry Esteve, Oregonian, March 6, 2013

…The internal struggles come at a time when the OLCC is under a higher level of scrutiny from state lawmakers and city of Portland officials, who think the agency has been less than responsive to complaints about problem bars. There’s also an underlying worry about the possibility of a ballot measure to privatize liquor sales, as happened last year in Washington. Currently, the OLCC is the third biggest revenue source for the state, behind income taxes and the Oregon Lottery. Over the past two years, profits from liquor sales sent $370 million into the state’s general fund, to cities and counties, and to drug and alcohol abuse programs. …

Liquor privatization issue still percolating in Oregon
Source: Jeff Mapes, Oregonian, January 24, 2013

After the bumpy start for Washington’s liquor privatization law last year — which included price hikes that led some consumers fleeing to stores across the border — you might think the issue is off the table in Oregon. It doesn’t appear to be the case. Both sides are preparing for a potential battle here. Oregon beer and wine distributors, which generally like Oregon’s current state-run system, recently spent $16,000 on a poll exploring public attitudes toward privatization. And the Northwest Grocery Association, which pushed privatization in Washington, is working on its own survey on public attitudes toward ending the state’s monopoly on retail liquor sales. …