White House Pulls Planned Nominee for Key Employment Post

Source: Ben Penn, BNA Labor & Employment, October 11, 2017
 
Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta’s choice to run the Employment and Training Administration, Mason Bishop, has been blocked by the White House for an unknown reason, Bishop confirmed to Bloomberg BNA Oct. 11.  Bishop’s removal from consideration for the job after White House vetting has sent the Trump administration back to square one for finding a nominee to head the agency charged with implementing the top item on Acosta’s policy agenda: an initiative to expand public-private apprenticeships.  “All the White House informed me was that at this time they weren’t going to be able to nominate me and they would not give me a reason why,” Bishop, who is now resuming his consultancy business, told Bloomberg BNA. Bishop said he spent the summer filling out White House paperwork for a planned nomination after being told that Acosta had selected him for the position. …

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You’re Hired: Trump Plans to Build U.S. Workforce With Apprenticeships
Source: Eric Morath, Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2017

President Donald Trump next week will make expansion of apprenticeship programs the center of his labor policy, aimed at filling a record level of open jobs and drawing back Americans who have left the workforce. … The administration is committed to “supporting working families and creating a pathway for them to have robust and successful careers,” Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and assistant, said Friday. “There has been great focus on four-year higher education, and in reality, that is not the right path for everyone.” …

Trump Labor secretary tells G-20: More apprenticeships in US
Source: Laurie Kellman, Associated Press, May 18, 2017
 
U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta is making public-private apprenticeships his debut issue as President Donald Trump’s point man on matching American workers with specific jobs. … The declaration, and a new campaign of tweets on the subject, represent the first indication since Acosta’s swearing-in three weeks ago that apprenticeships are at the core of the Trump administration’s plans to train a new generation of workers.  The discussion of apprenticeships is a relatively new one for Trump, who campaigned for the White House on promises to restore manufacturing jobs that he said had been lost to flawed trade deals and unfair competition from China, Mexico and more. But it’s not new to policymakers of either party or the private sector, whose leaders have for years run apprenticeship programs. … There’s also evidence of rare bipartisan agreement, at least on the value of apprenticeships, which generally combine state and federal government money with support from universities and companies looking to train people for specific jobs. In some cases, students split their time between school and work, and the companies pay some portion of wages and tuition. The budget compromise funding the federal government through September passed this month with $95 million for apprenticeship grants, an increase of $5 million — in part to increase the number of women apprentices. …

County board to get first look at proposal for sale of nursing home

Source: Tom Kacich, News-Gazette, October 10, 2017
 
Champaign County Board members will get their first review tonight of the proposal for the sale of the county-owned nursing home.  The agenda for the board’s committee-of-the-whole meeting includes an item calling for the release of a request for proposals for a privately owned firm to buy the 12-year-old facility in east Urbana. If the board approves the RFP this month, the sale of the home could be completed this winter. … The proposed request for proposals for the sale of the facility carries a number of stipulations: … That the purchaser assume the existing collective bargaining agreements at the home with the AFSCME employee union. …

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Patient advocates back county ownership of nursing home
Source: Debra Pressey, The News-Gazette, March 29, 2017

Selling the Champaign County Nursing Home could lead to staff reductions, poorer care and service cuts, a group of advocates for medical patients and retirees contended. Gathering less than a week before voters will be asked to weigh in on two public policy questions — whether they support selling or disposing of the financially ailing nursing home or a tax increase to help keep it going — the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans, Champaign County CARE, Champaign County Health Care Consumers and others Wednesday urged voters to get behind the option that will keep the nursing home in the county’s hands. Research from Center for Medicare Advocacy, Kaiser Family Foundation and others have demonstrated that nursing home ownership matters when it comes to patient care and staffing levels, said Champaign County Health Care Consumers executive director Claudia Lennhoff. … “For-profit facilities, particularly those owned by multistate chains, are more likely to reduce spending on care for residents and to divert spending to profits and corporate overhead,” the Medicare center said in a report. … A 2011 analysis of the 10 largest for-profit nursing home chains found they had the lowest staffing levels and highest levels of deficiencies between 2003 and 2008, Lennhoff said. She also said a new owner — especially a larger and/or for-profit one — who would fill more beds at the nursing home, even increasing the Medicaid census in the process, could be a “recipe for disaster.”

… Lennhoff said Champaign County doesn’t have to look any farther than neighboring Vermilion County to see what can happen when a county disposes of its nursing home. After the county sold its Vermilion Manor Nursing Home to FNR Healthcare Group in 2013, the county was caught by surprise when 39 employees were cut by the new owner, she said. Now called Gardenview Manor, the Danville nursing home was hit by the Illinois Department of Public Health in January for two “type A” violations, which mean “a substantial probability that death or serious mental or physical harm will result or has resulted” in the past three months.

Consultant: BRF lacks cash, experience to adequately manage hospitals

Source: KTBS, October 10, 2017
 
Biomedical Research Foundation’s lack of cash could cause the state to lose funding for free and low-cost health care at the former public hospitals the foundation operates in Shreveport and Monroe.  Documents obtained by KTBS through an open records request show state officials are concerned the hospitals could lose Medicaid funding. That federal money helps cover the cost of treating poor people without insurance at the hospitals BRF operates as University Health through a wholly-owned subsidiary.  In September, state officials put BRF on notice it had breached its contract to operate the hospitals, in part because BRF has failed to pay doctors at LSU Medical School in Shreveport for treating patients. BRF also owes the state for a lease on the hospital property. …

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$135M boost going to LSU hospital managers under new deals
Source: Melinda Deslatte, Associated Press, October 27, 2016

The private operators of LSU’s charity hospitals and clinics are in line for a $135 million boost in their payments as part of new deals struck by Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration, and the university’s medical schools will benefit from some of the new money. State lawmakers are being asked Friday to increase financing for the privatization deals to nearly $1.3 billion in the current budget year, only four months after lawmakers were told the previous level of funding was sufficient. … The money for the hospital and clinic operators is part of a larger budget adjustment requested by the Louisiana Department of Health at Friday’s meeting of the joint House and Senate budget committee. Jeff Reynolds, chief financial officer for the health department, said $135 million is a financing increase for the private managers that have taken over LSU’s hospitals, clinics and patient services. He said the additional payments are part of the renegotiated deals recently worked out by the Edwards administration. … The renegotiated privatization deals crafted by the Edwards administration included provisions in which some of the hospitals will be paying more money for the services of LSU’s doctors who work at the hospitals. … Henry said he wanted to know why the dollars weren’t available when lawmakers were crafting the budget in June, when they were told the previous level of agreed-upon financing was sufficient for the privatization agreements. …

Negotiating over, Edwards makes offers on LSU hospital deals
Source: Melinda Deslatte, Associated Press, September 7, 2016

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration will make its offer Thursday to the operator of LSU’s hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe for a renegotiated contract with the state, as the governor pushes to rewrite all the LSU hospital privatization deals. Edwards’ lead negotiator on the contracts, Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, said Thursday’s presentation to the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana is the last offer to be made. … Dardenne wouldn’t provide details about what changes are being sought in the north Louisiana hospitals’ deal — or any others. But he said negotiations are over and hospital operators can either take or leave the reworked arrangements offered. … Former Gov. Bobby Jindal privatized nine LSU-run hospitals and their clinics through no-bid contracts, with the earliest deal starting in April 2013. In most instances, the management company of a nearby hospital took over operations. Three contracts closed an LSU hospital — in Baton Rouge, Lake Charles and Pineville — and shifted its services to private hospitals. The Edwards administration says the deals were too hastily slapped together, with terms that aren’t favorable to the state. … LSU System President F. King Alexander described the arrangement to have the foundation, known as BRF, run the Monroe and Shreveport hospitals as dysfunctional from its start in October 2013. Alexander said the research foundation, which runs the two hospitals as the University Health System, doesn’t have the resources or experience, isn’t paying bills on time and isn’t providing enough support to the LSU medical school in Shreveport. BRF and University Health leaders say Alexander’s accusations are untrue and LSU’s Shreveport medical school has financial problems of its own making. They say the research foundation’s hospital management has improved health care. …

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Phoenix To Outsource Low Income Housing Program

Source: Christina Estes, KJZZ, October 9, 2017
 
Phoenix is looking to outsource daily operations of its most popular low-income housing program. The move will lead to an annual contract worth up to $1 million.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sends cities money to cover administrative costs for the Section 8 voucher program.  Phoenix Housing Director Cindy Stotler said after years of overfunding, HUD has spent the last seven years reducing the money it sends. She told council members it’s no longer enough to cover the cost of 34 full-time positions. … Frank Piccioli, president of AFSCME Local 2960, thinks outsourcing is a bad idea.  “When you start giving away such control from public servants to a private corporation, you change that basic goal,” he said. “The goal becomes profit and not service.”  Currently, 27 city employees and seven temporary agency staff handle the program. The Housing Department said it will work with affected staffers to fill vacant positions throughout the city. …

They thought they were going to rehab. They ended up in chicken plants

Source: Amy Julia Harris and Shoshana Walter, Reveal News, October 4, 2017
 
Across the country, judges increasingly are sending defendants to rehab instead of prison or jail. These diversion courts have become the bedrock of criminal justice reform, aiming to transform lives and ease overcrowded prisons.  But in the rush to spare people from prison, some judges are steering defendants into rehabs that are little more than lucrative work camps for private industry, an investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has found.  The programs promise freedom from addiction. Instead, they’ve turned thousands of men and women into indentured servants.  The beneficiaries of these programs span the country, from Fortune 500 companies to factories and local businesses. The defendants work at a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Oklahoma, a construction firm in Alabama, a nursing home in North Carolina.  Perhaps no rehab better exemplifies this allegiance to big business than CAAIR. It was started in 2007 by chicken company executives struggling to find workers. By forming a Christian rehab, they could supply plants with a cheap and captive labor force while helping men overcome their addictions.

… At some rehabs, defendants get to keep their pay. At CAAIR and many others, they do not. Legal experts said forcing defendants to work for free might violate their constitutional rights. The 13th Amendment bans slavery and involuntary servitude in the United States, except as punishment for convicts. That’s why prison labor programs are legal. But many defendants sent to programs such as CAAIR have not yet been convicted of crimes, and some later have their cases dismissed. … CAAIR has become indispensable to the criminal justice system, even though judges appear to be violating Oklahoma’s drug court law by using it in some cases, according to the law’s authors. … The program has become an invaluable labor source. Over the years, Simmons Foods repeatedly has laid off paid employees while expanding its use of CAAIR. …

Ige applauds work in progress at rental car hub

Source: Brian Perry, Maui News, October 6, 2017
 
The governor also expressed support for a Senate bill — now pending before state lawmakers — that would create the Hawaii Airport Corp. as an entity to consolidate the ownership, control and management of the state’s airport system. It would take that responsibility from the state’s Transportation Department, although that department would be administratively attached to the corporation. Senate Bill 658 advanced to a conference committee this year, but lawmakers were unable to achieve final passage of the measure supported by the Department of Transportation. Next year, legislators may pick up where they left off .Referring to the Kahului rental car facility’s construction, Ige said Transportation Department Director Ford Fuchigami and his team “have done a terrific job in moving the project forward, but we are pursuing the airport authority because we believe even with the work that has been done we can do better.” … Funds for construction of the consolidated rental car facility come from a pool of money generated by customers who pay $4.50 a day to rent vehicles in Hawaii. Funds for the airport corporation would come from fees paid by airlines and other airport vendors.Hawaii Government Employees Association Executive Director Randy Perreira submitted testimony opposed to the bill. …  “The bill advances the notion that such a corporation addresses delayed decision-making and inefficiency resulting from multiple agencies involved in the planning, development and operation of Hawaii’s airport infrastructure,” Perreira said. “We assert that multiple agencies, each with their own area of responsibility, are rightly involved to collectively protect the public interest.”

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Effort to establish airports corporation advances
Source: Ivy Ashe, Hawaii Tribune Herald, March 24, 2017

Another attempt to consolidate management and planning for Hawaii’s airports is making its way through the state House of Representatives.  The measure was first brought to the Senate last year by the late Hawaii Island Sen. Gilbert Kahele. That legislation died during conferencing.  This year’s bill, Senate Bill 658, was introduced by Sen. Lorraine Inouye, D-Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, Kona, and would establish a Hawaii airport corporation comprised of a governor-appointed board of directors. … The measure has been opposed by labor groups such as the Hawaii Government Employees Association. In written testimony during Senate hearings, executive director Randy Perreira stated having multiple agencies involved in airport management was a way to “collectively protect the public interest.”  “The public benefits from the involvement of the Department of Health with respect to addressing environmental concerns, the Board of Land and Natural Resources with respect to protecting public lands and the Department of Human Resources Development with respect to enforcing the civil service law to render impartial service to the public,” he wrote. …

KOSE demands active shooter training following shooting at Dept of Revenue office

Source: Devon Fasibnder, KWCH, October 5, 2017
 
The Kansas Organization of State Employees is demanding active shooter training for all state employees following the shooting of Cortney Holloway at the Wichita Department of Revenue office.  The letter, written by KOSE President Lisa Ochs, demands a security review of all state government buildings, public or privately owned, to ensure all employees are protected.  “Sadly, all indications are that the private building that houses the Department of Revenue offices where Cortney Holloway was shot lacked security measures that might have prevented this incident,” the letter reads. … Though the shooting at the Department of Revenue office happened less than a month ago, the KOSE Union writes, “Long before this incident, state employees have felt vulnerable and KOSE members have complained to management that they fear for their safety. Nothing was done. Something must be done now.” …

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Privatization Moved State Workers to Unsecured Office
Source: Associated Press, September 21, 2017
 
The head of Kansas’ state employees union and a local lawmaker say a push by Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration to privatize state office space left employees vulnerable during a shooting this week at a Department of Revenue office in Wichita.  The workers were moved three years ago out of the now-vacant Finney Office building, which had guards and security, to a strip mall office that provided no security, The Wichita Eagle reported. On Tuesday, tax compliance officer Cortney Holloway was shot. … Robert Choromanski, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said the larger Finney building with armed guards likely would have deterred a shooting.  …

Privatization moved state workers to unsecured office where shooting occurred
Source: Dion Lefler, Wichita Eagle, September 20, 2017
 
Workers at the Wichita tax office where an employee was shot Tuesday were moved out of a secured state office building into an unsecured storefront about three years ago, as part of Gov. Sam Brownback’s program of privatizing office space.  A state senator and the head of the state employee union said they think Tuesday’s shooting probably would have been avoided had the Department of Revenue tax office still been housed in the now-vacant Finney State Office Building downtown instead of a strip mall at 21st and Amidon. … “I’m sure they would have been more secured at the Finney State Office Building,” said Robert Choromanski, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees. “There were guards, there was protection.”  He said there was no protection Tuesday when tax compliance agent Cortney Holloway was shot at the Revenue Department office. …

Pa. House GOP criticizes liquor sales earnings as price gouging

Source: Katie Meyer, Newsworks, September 28, 2017
 
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has posted this year’s earnings, and they’re higher than ever.  Despite overhead cost increases, the PLCB said the revenues are a sign the industry is healthy.  But House Republicans — who have long wanted to privatize liquor sales — said it just amounts to price gouging.  As lawmakers search under couch cushions for money to balance a stalled state budget, the PLCB’s been chipping in more and more cash. A record-setting $216 million last fiscal year was more than double the previous year’s contribution.  It’s slated to pay a little less this year, but the number is still high. …

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House approves bill to sell state’s liquor wholesale system
Source: Mark Scolforo, Associated Press, April 25, 2017

House Republicans on Tuesday pushed ahead a set of changes to how alcohol is sold in the state, moving to privatize wholesale wine and spirits sales and expand the retail outlets where booze is available. Lawmakers voted 105-84 in favor of the wholesale divestment proposal, sending it with other proposals to the Senate for its consideration. The House voted to allow more grocery stores to seek permits to sell wine, no longer restricting the permits to stores with seating capacity, and retailers would be able to buy wine from brokers in the private sector. …

Pennsylvania Republicans Set Up Push For Liquor Privatization
Source: Katie Meyer, WSKG, April 19, 2017

State House Republicans are attempting to chart a new course for liquor sales in Pennsylvania, pushing a traditionally state-run system further and further toward privatization. The as-yet-unknown revenue from that change is also expected to play a key role in balancing the caucus’s proposed budget.  As of Monday, four different GOP-led proposals are awaiting votes on the House floor.  The House Liquor Control Committee just passed House Bills 975 and 1075. The former would stop Pennsylvania from wine wholesaling, and the latter–which is even broader–would take the commonwealth out of both wine and liquor sales entirely. …

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Lawmakers, union leaders want MBTA privatization reigned in

Source: Metro, October 3, 2017
 
The MBTA privatization debate may change course after lawmakers urged their colleagues Monday to start rolling back the privatization powers they granted the T after the disastrous 2015 winter.  After winter storms suspended the MBTA’s train service more than once, lawmakers gave Gov. Charlie Baker three years to fix the T without the constraints of the Taxpayer’s Protection Act, called the Pacheco law. That law requires private contractors to prove cost savings and no service reduction before any state service can be outsourced.  Since the law’s suspension, the MTA has outsourced cash handling and equipment management operations and is considering privatizing bus maintenance at three garages. …

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Quincy officials to speak against privatization of Quincy T facility
Source: Sean Philip Cotter, The Patriot Ledger, September 22, 2017

As the prospect of privatizing services at the MBTA maintenance garage in Quincy approaches, two Quincy officials plan to speak in a state Senate hearing against the prospect. State Sen. John Keenan and state Rep. Tackey Chan will speak Oct. 4 before a hearing of the Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, letting their concerns about privatizing the operations of Quincy’s and similar garages. The T’s request for proposals for contractors to take over up to three garage’s operations are due on Wednesday. If the T wishes, the contractors could begin operations around the start of the new year, according to the request for proposals the agency issued in July. …

MBTA union blasts Baker’s privatization plan
Source: Christian M. Wade, Gloucester Times, August 14, 2017
 
Union workers at the MBTA are pushing back against Gov. Charlie Baker’s plans to privatize bus maintenance, saying it will cost jobs and compromise safety.  Hundreds of workers rallied Thursday outside the MBTA’s Lynn garage, where they blasted Baker’s support for hiring private companies to take over bus maintenance.  “Gov. Baker has chosen to gamble with the taxpayers, the safety of riders and the livelihoods of these hardworking men and women,” said Michael Vartabedian, who heads the International Association of Machinists Local 264, a union representing 120 MBTA bus maintenance machinists. “We won’t let core public services like MBTA bus maintenance be dismantled and destroyed.” …

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Future of Frederick County’s mental health clinic in flux as responsibility for services changes

Source: Kate Masters, Frederick News-Post, September 30, 2017
 
When it comes to mental health and substance abuse services at the Frederick County Health Department, one thing is sure: On Oct. 2, the department’s methadone program will be handed off to Concerted Care Group, a private company based in Baltimore that provides addiction treatment services.  What’s less clear is the fate of the department’s mental health clinic, a small group of psychiatrists, social workers and counselors who together provide mental-health care to roughly 1,500 low-income clients, according to a letter drafted by employees at the clinic. … Beavan and two other staff members were also startled, she said, when representatives from their labor unions, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the American Federation of Teachers, forwarded them an email from Alex Doring, the chief of labor relations and risk management at the Maryland Department of Health. The message addressed representatives from both unions and referenced a hard shutdown date of Dec. 31, 2017, for the clinic.  “Frederick Co. Health Department has decided to close its mental health clinic on December 31, 2017,” Doring wrote. “… I would like to schedule a teleconference “to discuss 1) ‘the relative merit of a layoff versus a separation for lack of appropriation,’ and 2) ‘in an effort to develop appropriate arrangements for affected employees.’” …