Stalled contract talks impact dozens of CSEA union workers

Source: News 12, May 14, 2018

Stalled contract talks are affecting dozens of union workers in Middletown. Middletown CSEA workers have been without a contract since 2014. City officials say the sticking points are money and a cost-saving plan to privatize its Sanitation Department. Union representatives say members won’t agree to “sell out” co-workers for a raise, but Mayor Joe DeStefano says the union already came to an agreement with the city months ago but hasn’t brought it for a vote. …

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Middletown, sanitation union clash over privatization
Source: James Nani, Times Herald-Record, June 25, 2017
 
Major changes to city sanitation services are unlikely to materialize this year after negotiations between city and union officials to privatize waste-hauling reached an impasse. The city and the CSEA union, that represents more than 100 city workers and about 14 city sanitation workers, had been negotiating a new contract since late 2014. … CSEA Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo has claimed that the costs of outsourced sanitation have “spiraled out of control in many communities after initial lowball bids” and that outsourcing means surrendering control on prices, scheduling and other factors that can affect price and inconvenience residents. Jessica Ladlee, a CSEA spokeswoman, said members do not want to trade negotiating people out of their union for salary increases.

Middletown explores outsourcing waste hauling
Source: James Nani, Record Online, May 2, 2017

Middletown officials are in negotiations with the union representing city sanitation workers as the city explores outsourcing waste hauling, a move that could eliminate the 14-member department. The talks with the union come as Middletown considers two options to reduce the cost of city sanitation services: either privatizing the services or downsizing and automating part of the department. … But under a push by Alderman Joe Masi, the city last released a request for proposals on the costs of private waste haulers to take over all waste services. As part of the request, any private hauler who wins a contract with the city would have to hire all city sanitation workers for one year. The move has met with resistance by the CSEA, which represents city sanitation workers. …

Kansas agency chief on no-bid contracts: ‘It’s all public record’

Source: Jonathan Shorman, Wichita Eagle, May 11, 2018
 
Kansas lawmakers voiced frustration this week that they were unaware the state’s revenue agency had entered into no-bid contracts worth millions, including one to outsource dozens of employees. But the agency’s chief said Friday they had been properly informed. “We’ve reported to the legislative committees on every phase of this where we were supposed to, that we followed the law the way we were supposed to follow it, that it’s all public record what’s been done,” said Revenue Secretary Sam Williams. … Sarah LaFrenz, president of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said there is a difference between posting a public notice online and talking openly about what is going to happen under the contract. “That’s the transparency when people are going to lose their jobs — that’s what people are looking for,” LaFrenz said. … LaFrenz said to her knowledge employees last fall likely understood that the agency would be contracting but did not know that they would lose their jobs. …

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Outsourcing at Kansas Department of Revenue could mean dozens of layoffs
Source: Associated Press, May 9, 2018
 
The Kansas Department of Revenue will lay off nearly 60 employees as it moves its information technology service to CGI Technologies, which was given no-bid contracts worth nearly $60 million despite criticism of its operations in the rollout of the federal health care website in 2013. The 56 workers losing their jobs will be allowed to apply for CGI jobs in Topeka or could be matched with other jobs in the revenue department or other areas of state government, department spokeswoman Rachel Whitten said Wednesday. …

Charter schools cost three California school districts more than $142 million, think tank claims

Source: Lisa Fernandez, KTVU, May 9, 2018
 
Three California school districts, including two in the Bay Area,  lost a total of  $142.5 million to public charter schools during the 2016-17 school year, according to a report conducted by a think tank that critics claim is politically biased. The Oakland Unified School District lost $57.3 million and San Jose’s East Side Union High School District $19.3 million, according to In The Public Interest, a nonprofit centered on ” privatization and responsible contracting.” The report, “Cost of Charter Schools for Public School District,” published Tuesday, compared the school districts’ 2016-17 budgets to what they could have been if 15,487 students in Oakland’s charters and 4,811 in East Side Union’s charters enrolled in traditional public schools instead. The report also found that the San Diego Unified School District lost $65.9 million by the “unchecked expansion of privately managed charter school.” …

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Bill passes in Senate that avoids strike of group home workers

Source: Rick Lessard, Fox61, May 5, 2018
 
Senate passed a bill Saturday afternoon that will raise wages non-profit group home workers, which prevented a worker strike that was scheduled for May 7. The bill would provide a $14.75 minimum wage and a 5% increase for workers above $14.75 effective January 1, 2019.  This wage increase will cover 18,000 union and non-union workers who care for the disabled. …

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Without new workers contract, costly strike preparations loom for state
Source: Emillie Munson, CT Post, May 1, 2018
 
The state will commence costly strike preparations on Thursday if the General Assembly does not act in the next 36 hours on a new contract for workers who care for disabled people, House Democrats warned Tuesday. Some 2,400 unionized workers have threatened to strike on May 7, two days before the end of the legislative session. They are pressing for a contract that would impact thousands of employees in privatized homes and day programs for the disabled. Many of these workers have not received raises in years. Strike preparations involve hiring replacement workers and security to work while striking employees are protesting. Each day of the strike might cost the state close to $1 million, said House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, on Tuesday.

Connecticut Nonprofits Support Strike of Their Caregiver Workforce
Source: Ruth McCambridge, NonProfit Quarterly, April 30, 2018

Even as news stories proliferated over the weekend on the crisis in the caregiver workforce serving people with disabilities, in Connecticut, 2,400 employees of nine nonprofit agencies voted to authorize a strike that will begin in the early morning of May 7th. Supporting the strike are not just the agencies employing the workers but also the state’s nonprofit alliance (join yours today). … “We’ve reached a crisis of underfunding in the care our state provides people with disabilities and the workers who care for them,” SEIU 1199 spokesperson Jennifer Schneider said. “When privatized group homes and programs are shuttering and workers are forced to work 80 hours a week just to make ends meet, something has to change. …

Amid National Uprising, Teachers Just Took a Major Step Toward Organizing Charter Schools

Source: Rachel M. Cohen, The Intercept, May 2, 2018
 
The fight over charter schools is often just as much a battle over unions. Charter school operators and funders take relatively clear anti-union positions, and the absence of organized labor is often a selling point for charters, which boast flexible hours and pay schedules as paths toward quality education. Teacher unions, meanwhile, tend to oppose charter schools as a drain on needed resources for traditional schools and as centers of educator exploitation. In the 2016-2017 academic year, just 11 percent of charter schools were unionized. Yet in Los Angeles, teachers just took a big step toward reversing that trend. … On Wednesday morning, a legal representative for a majority of teachers at three of the network’s 25 campuses filed union authorization cards at the state’s Public Employment Relations Board. Once the signatures are verified, the new Alliance Educators United union will be official. …

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Calif. Charter Network Can’t Block Union Organizers, Emails, Judge Rules
Source: Stephen Sawchuk, Education Week, June 8, 2016

California’s labor-relations board for public employees issued a mixed ruling on whether a major California charter management organization illegally tried to quash a unionization drive at its schools. The battle over unionization at the 27-campus Alliance College-Ready Public Schools has been ongoing for more than a year, ever since teachers submitted a “mission statement” outlining their intent to unionize last March. … Judge Kent Morizawa ruled that Alliance officials impermissibly blocked union organizers from schools, and interfered in the drive by redirecting emails from United Teachers Los Angeles into teachers’ “spam” folders. And in one instance, the PERB ruled, an Alliance employee talked about a teacher’s evaluation and employment status in a conversation about the teacher’s support for United Teachers Los Angeles. … But the ruling sided with the Alliance on other matters. For instance, the PERB ruled that many of the Alliance’s other communications to teachers and parents—including statements suggesting that unionization would result in a loss of flexibility and autonomy at the schools—were not coercive or threatening. …

Legislature Orders Audit of LA Charter Chain for Spending Taxpayer Funds to Block Union Drive
Source: Steven Rosenfeld, Alternet, May 26, 2016

The Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC), composed of members of the Assembly and Senate, voted 8-3 Wednesday to authorize the audit of Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, which has 11,000 students in 27 schools. The audit comes after a Los Angeles County Court issued a temporary restraining order against the taxpayer-funded but privately run school to stop its anti-union actions, which include not only intimidating and threatening teachers but also working with the California Charter School Association (CCSA) to recruit parents and alumni to fight the union drive. … The chain has received hundreds of millions in public funds. How much was spent fighting the union drive, including hiring consultants, legal fees, producing media, running phone banks and other outreach activities will be investigated by the state’s auditor. … In March 2015, when teachers and counselors at the chain began a unionization campaign—which is legal under state labor law—the charter school chain responded with aggressive tactics, including illegal surveillance, interference with union meetings, phone calls to parents attacking teachers involved in the campaign, blocking teacher emails and retaliation against organizers. …

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Proos and MDOC spar over prison budget

Source: Cheyna Roth, WNMU, April 30, 2018
 
A Republican Senator is sparring with the Michigan Department of Corrections over privatizing prison services. The department is already trying to end one type of privatization – and they don’t want a new one.  This year, the DOC asked the Legislature to give it enough money to stop outsourcing food services to a private contractor. The Legislature appears to be on board, but now Senator John Proos wants to have a private contractor put in charge of employing the prisons’ nurses. … The Department of Corrections says it’s already having a hard time filling open nurse positions. Paying them less and without state benefits – which they say would happen with a private contractor – would make filing positions even more difficult. …

Putting the Public First in Public-Private Partnerships

Source: Gabrielle Gurley, The American Prospect, April 26, 2018
 
… More than a decade later, the Port of Miami Tunnel is the marquee example of a public-private transportation infrastructure partnership. … But the tunnel’s success is deceptive, since the unique factors that converged in South Florida cannot be replicated everywhere. For every Port of Miami Tunnel, scores of ill-conceived projects dot the American landscape. The United States lags behind not only in basic maintenance of existing assets at the end of their life cycles but in building the next generation of roads, bridges, rail, tunnels, and aviation projects. With public funds scarce in a climate of tax-cutting and budgetary austerity, the risk is that the contactor/partner pays the up-front costs but sticks future generations of taxpayers and rate-payers with exorbitant charges. … But states and municipalities can learn to appreciate the differences between partnerships that put the public first and the rip-offs that erode public confidence in government and drain public coffers.

… The Trump administration’s version of an infrastructure initiative relies heavily on private financing, which may or may not materialize. … But the Trump framework is only an exaggeration of recent trends. At best, new fiscal pressures can lead public officials to get creative, seeking private partners who may bring superior engineering, financing, and legal expertise, and better attention to maintenance and operations. But private-sector involvement does not automatically mean a better outcome. Citizens and public officials often forget that the private sector’s prime motive is profit, not philanthropy. If a firm cannot clear a good return on an investment, either the deal will not materialize or the terms will be onerous to the public. Public debates can be marred by false expectations, and confusion or obfuscation of what distinguishes a good partnership from a rip-off. …

Day-care worker charged with sexually assaulting children

Source: Justin Jouvenal, Washington Post, April 23, 2018

An assistant teacher with a popular day-care chain in Northern Virginia has been charged with sexually assaulting children at a Bristow location, Prince William County police said. Taylor Keith Boykin, 27, of Nokesville, Va., is facing eight counts of aggravated sexual battery and indecent liberties by a custodian in connection with alleged touching of four children over the course of a year at Minnieland Academy, police said. … The case follows other trouble for the chain, which has been operating since the 1970s and has more than 30 locations across the outer Virginia suburbs of the District. Two other Minnieland workers at the Woodbridge facility were convicted in 2016 of running what prosecutors called a “baby fight club.” …

Mayor Curry ‘will not submit JEA privatization plan to Council’

Source: Jim Piggott, News4Jax, April 26, 2018
 
Months into a political firestorm over the prospect of the city selling the JEA, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry issued a statement Thursday morning, writing, “I am choosing to state unequivocally that I will not submit any JEA privatization plan to the City Council.” … While Curry has been consistent in his public statements that he is not pushing the agenda, members of City Council and the council auditor believe that his administration was working behind the scenes to valuate the electric/water/sewer utility for possible sale. …

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JEA names private investor, a utility newcomer, interim CEO 
Source: David Bauerlein and Nate Monroe, Florida Times-Union, April 17, 2018

The JEA board of directors named a 38-year-old private investor with little experience managing a large utility the agency’s interim chief executive officer Tuesday, rejecting a bid by the finance chief to remain in the top spot, and marking a major departure from the kind of leaders JEA courted in the past. Aaron Zahn immediately assumed the interim CEO role and refused to take questions after the board meeting. The move to hire Zahn was contingent upon making a push to retain Melissa Dykes, the agency’s chief financial officer, as a high-level executive to run the day-to-day operations of the agency. Dykes, whose own bid to remain the interim CEO only garnered two votes from the five-member board, said she was open to staying but it’s not clear whether she will. …

Opinion: JEA union leaders explain opposition to sale
Source: Kathleen Crowe, Valerie Guiterrez, Rick Lehman, Ronnie Burris, Randy Hilton, April 15, 2018

Question: Would a private utility better serve the city of Jacksonville and the JEA ratepayers of Northeast Florida better than JEA? Answer: It is the official position of the JEA union leadership that a privatization of JEA would have severe, harmful and long-term detrimental economic impacts on all stakeholders. … While we have attempted to counter much of the noise regarding the privatization of JEA, there is a very simple reason for not selling JEA that overcomes all the noise. Any company or entity willing to buy JEA, whether it is $1 billion or $20 billion, must have the resources to ensure the price it pays will definitely be paid back in full with interest. This is not like selling your house for a premium and walking away with no further commitment to that house. The customers of JEA will still be on the hook for the premium paid in the initial purchase price, as well as the interest or earnings above and beyond that premium paid to the city. …

Jacksonville utility unions pan potential JEA sale as ‘harmful’
Source: A.G. Gancarski, Florida Politics, April 6, 2018
 
Even as well-connected lobbyists for major utility companies hover over Jacksonville’s JEA ahead of a potential sale, five utility unions combined in opposition to any moves Friday. Per a statement from the five unions: “It is the official position of the JEA Union Leadership that a privatization of JEA would have severe, harmful, and long term detrimental economic impacts on all stakeholders.” … Signatories include American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Jacksonville Supervisor Association, Labors International Union of North America, and the Professional Employees Association. …

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Private Prison Company Made Detainees Work For Toilet Paper, Lawsuit Alleges

Source: Betsy Woodruff, Daily Beast, April 18, 2018

A private prison company forced immigrant detainees to work for as little as $1 per day if they wanted toilet paper, toothpaste, and safe lodging, according to a new lawsuit filed on Tuesday. The class action suit, filed in federal court for the Middle District of Georgia, pits three plaintiffs––Wilhen Hill Barrientos, Margarito Velazquez Galicia, and Shoahib Ahmed––against CoreCivic, the nation’s largest private prison company. Barrientos and Velazquez Galicia are both currently detained in the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga. Ahmed was previously detained there before giving up his asylum claim. The three allege that CoreCivic is violating a federal anti-human trafficking law with the work program that it oversees. …

… This isn’t the only suit targeting private prison companies over work programs, and CoreCivic isn’t the only company facing this kind of litigation. Last year, a federal judge in Colorado granted class certification to a similar lawsuit, letting thousands of current and former detainees join on to a lawsuit against GEO Group, the country’s second biggest private prison company. These lawsuits have drawn the attention of lawmakers. Earlier this year, 18 Republican members of Congress wrote a letter defending forced labor practices under the justification that work programs are good for morale.