Jun 30 2015

State Budget Update: Prevailing Wage

 

 

June 29, 2015

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

 

Late this morning, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and three of his Assembly Republican colleagues held a press conference to unveil the Assembly Republicans’ proposal to weaken prevailing wage. The group released a 34-page proposal that could either be inserted into the budget or introduced as a stand-alone bill. Their clear goal is to appease their large, corporate donors, such as the Americans for Prosperity, and to throw an attack at the State Senate, which has yet to announce if and how it will weaken or eliminate prevailing wage.

 

The Assembly Republicans clearly touted the fact that their proposal will drive down wages and also stated that no study has conclusively determined that weakening or repealing the prevailing wage results in cost savings. Their proposal includes a requirement that the Department of Workforce perform a study in four years to determine whether the weakening of prevailing wage resulted in any cost savings.

 

Highlights from the Assembly Republicans’ proposal to weaken prevailing wage:

 

×          Raises the threshold to $450,000 for both single-trade and multiple-trade projects.

o   DWD will adjust threshold every four years per the Construction Cost Index, as published in the Engineering News-Record.

o   This threshold would be one of the highest thresholds in the nation.

×          Requires DWD to perform a quantitative study in 4 years that will demonstrate whether there are or are not savings.

×          Exempts from prevailing wage:

o   Any construction, demolition, remodeling, or repair for a technical college district;

o   Certain projects where the estimated cost of construction is less than $1 million and more than 50% of that cost is funded by voluntary, charitable donations;

o   Any warranty repair or service work on a vehicle or other equipment, where the work is performed on the site of a public works project and performed by an outside vendor;

o   Incidental work not exceeding 10 hours per week performed by a salaried employee by a contractor or sub-contractor;

o   Residential building work that is not more than 4 stories in height;

o   A truck driver who is employed to go to the “source of a mineral aggregate,  deliver the mineral aggregate to the site of a public works project, and deposit that material directly in a final place” and

o   A truck driver who is employed to transport excavated material away from the site of a public works project.

×          Changes the methodology for determining the prevailing wage rate.

×          Weakens the enforcement mechanism for prevailing wage projects:

o   Eliminates the requirement that a contractor file an affidavit stating that the contractor complied with the law;

o   Permits only an employee who performed work on a prevailing wage permit to request that the DWD inspect the payroll records from a contractor; and

o   Requires that if a person (not employed by the DWD or the state or local governmental unit) contacts an employee who performed work on the project for the purpose of investigating whether the contractor and state or local governmental unit complied with the law, that person must submit in writing to the employee that the person is not affiliated with the DWD or the state/local governmental unit and must disclose in writing the “principal source of funding for the investigation.”

×          Weakens the penalty for violating the law with respect to not paying the prevailing wage:

o   Eliminates the fine associated with failing to pay employee(s) the prevailing wage; and

o   Requires only back pay.

 

As currently written, the bill – except for the report and study – would go into effect on January 1, 2017.

 

Again, Speaker Vos could insist that this proposal that will seriously weaken prevailing wage be either inserted into the budget vis-à-vis the Joint Finance Committee’s deliberations or introduced and passed in the State Assembly as a stand-alone bill. To date, the Joint Finance Committee has not scheduled another hearing. They last met one month ago.

 

The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO is conducting patch through phone banks to State legislators to talk about why this proposed State Budget would be a disaster for Wisconsin.

 

If you have any questions, please contact Legislative & Research Director Teresa Mambu-Rasch, JD, either via email tmambu-rasch@wisaflcio.org or via cell (414) 418-2241.

 

 

In solidarity,

 

     

Phillip Neuenfeldt

President

 

Stephanie Bloomingdale

Secretary-Treasurer

 

 

 

 

Teresa Mambu-Rasch, J.D.

Legislative and Research Director

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO

6333 W. Bluemound Road

Milwaukee, WI 53213

 

tmambu-rasch@wisaflcio.org

office- (414) 771-0700

cell – (414) 418-2241

Jun 30 2015

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders’ Statement on President Obama’s Overtime Rule Change

For Immediate Release                                                                                              Contact: Marianne von Nordeck

June 30, 2015                                                                                                               202-429-4309

 

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders’ Statement on President Obama’s Overtime Rule Change

 

WASHINGTON – AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the Obama administration’s proposed overtime rule change:

“Americans are working harder than ever, but while corporate profits are skyrocketing, incomes are still flat-lining. So it is an encouraging sign that President Obama’s proposal to change an outdated overtime rule could give workers who make up to $50,440 a hard-earned raise. To lift incomes for all working Americans, we must also restore the traditional 40-hour work week that too many workers are now denied. But lifting the overtime threshold to protect more workers is an important step toward improving American incomes, creating new jobs and growing the middle class.”

 

# # #

 

 AFSCME’s 1.6 million members provide the vital services that make America happen. With members in hundreds of different occupations — from nurses to corrections officers, child care providers to sanitation workers — AFSCME advocates for fairness in the workplace, excellence in public services, and prosperity and opportunity for all working families.

 

 

Jun 30 2015

Madison Rally with Sen. Bernie Sanders on 7/1 at 7pm

Madison Rally Flyer

Jun 26 2015

King Vs Burwell

Click on Document to Enlarge . . .

20150623_Saunders_Stmnt

Jun 25 2015

Budget Phone Banks

Tthe WI Budget has hit a standstill with Republicans negotiating behind closed doors on issues such as transportation funding, the Milwaukee Bucks arena, and changes to prevailing wage.  

 

This budget is extremely destructive for Wisconsin’s working families, making massive cuts to the University of Wisconsin system, K-12 education, privatizing home care programs, eliminating night guards at state prisons, and many more attacks on working families.  

 

The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO is planning on conducting patch through phone banks out of our Madison and Milwaukee dialers starting next Monday, June 29th.  The following is the upcoming schedule for the phone banks.  We encourage you to please help recruit your members to help take a shift to call on legislators to oppose this budget that will hurt working families.  

 

Milwaukee – 6333 W. Bluemound Road, Milwaukee, WI 53213; Contact: Emily Kitchin – ekitchin@wisaflcio.org

Monday, 6/29 – 3p–7p

Tuesday, 6/30 – 3p-7p

Wednesday, 7/1 – 3p–7p

Thursday, 7/2 – 3p–7p

Monday, 7/6 – 3p–7p

Tuesday, 7/7 – 3p–7p

Wednesday, 7/8 – 3p–7p

Thursday, 7/9 – 3p–7p

 

Madison – 1602 S. Park Street #212, Madison, WI 53715; Contact: Wendy Strout – wstrout@aflcio.org

Monday, 6/29 – 3p–7p

Tuesday, 6/30 – 3p-7p

Wednesday, 7/1 – 3p–7p

Thursday, 7/2 – 3p–7p

Monday, 7/6 – 3p–7p

Tuesday, 7/7 – 3p–7p

Wednesday, 7/8 – 3p–7p

Thursday, 7/9 – 3p–7p

 

Jun 25 2015

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Statement on the King v. Burwell Decision

 

 

 

For Immediate Release                                                                   Contact: Marianne von Nordeck

June 26, 2015                                                                                                               202-429-4309

 

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Statement on the King v. Burwell Decision

 

WASHINGTON – AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s King v. Burwell decision:

“We are thrilled that the Court came down on the side of allowing millions of Americans to keep their health care. By rejecting this overtly partisan attack against existing law, the Court has preserved the health and peace of mind of the more than 8 million Americans who will now continue to rely on the law for access to quality, affordable health coverage. Any further attempts by extremists in Congress or in the states to undermine the law should be dismissed as the dangerous, out of touch, and partisan ploys that they are. We hope this decision is a signal that the Court will not stand for political attacks on existing laws that work well, especially laws that benefit everyday Americans.”
 

# # #

 

 AFSCME’s 1.6 million members provide the vital services that make America happen. With members in hundreds of different occupations — from nurses to corrections officers, child care providers to sanitation workers — AFSCME advocates for fairness in the workplace, excellence in public services, and prosperity and opportunity for all working families.

Jun 15 2015

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Statement on Presidential Endorsement Meetings

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders Statement on Presidential Endorsement Meetings

WASHINGTON – AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding AFSCME’s presidential endorsement meetings:

“AFSCME members across the country understand the deck is stacked against working people. Public service workers are looking for a president who will improve incomes, strengthen the middle class and reform government so that it works for all Americans, not just wealthy special interests. Making it easier for workers to join together in strong unions and bargain collectively must be a cornerstone of any candidate’s plan who expects to earn AFSCME’s support.

Public service workers are informed and engaged and will not only vote, but work tirelessly to turn out the vote in communities across this country. This week, we began our 2016 presidential endorsement process, as we met with several announced candidates for president. Endorsement questionnaires were sent to Republican and Democratic candidates, and those candidates who returned completed questionnaires were invited to meet with AFSCME’s International Executive Board. This week, members of our board met with Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, Governor Martin O’Malley, and Senator Bernie Sanders. We will continue to keep an open dialogue with candidates from both parties. Our process will be thorough and democratic, and the voices and priorities of our 1.6 million members across the country will determine the outcome.”

May 27 2015

A breaking Legislative and State Budget Update from the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.

A breaking Legislative and State Budget Update from the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.

 WAFL_PrevailingWage

Prevailing Wage: Repeal Still on the Table

 

Despite public statements last week to the contrary, efforts to repeal our State’s Prevailing Wage laws are very much alive. Early this morning, the Assembly Labor Committee released a public notice, barely within the required 24 hour window, informing the public that it will hold a hearing tomorrow morning on Assembly Bill 32, the bill that if passed without any amendments would repeal our State’s Prevailing Wage laws. An executive session, where the Labor Committee members will vote on any amendments to the bill and the bill itself, will be held immediately after the hearing. Attached to this email is a flyer with more information on the importance of a Prevailing Wage. The hearing details are as follows:

 

Wednesday, May 27

9 a.m.

411 South

 

Wisconsin State Budget: Update

 

The powerful Joint Finance Committee (JFC) began its deliberations on April 15 and is nearing the end of its deliberations. It has not yet, but will soon, deliberate on final, important components of the State Budget such as the UW System, Workers Compensation, and Transportation – in addition to combining non-budgetary policy issues like prevailing wage that Governor Walker did not include in his proposed budget. Therefore, we must continue to be vigilant as the JFC’s deliberations wind down this week and the full Legislature begins its work to approve and amend the JFC’s proposed budget.

 

 

Austere State Budget: Created by the Walker Administration’s Failed Policies

 

Governor Walker and his Republican-controlled Legislature have politically manufactured a budget crisis. You may remember that heading into this budget process, State Departments requested $2 billion more in funding than our tax revenue would allow. This does not have to be the case if the JFC made two decisions.

 

One important decision that the JFC could make is to decrease Governor Walker’s 2011 tax cut for millionaire owners, which will be fully implemented in 2016. This particular tax cut, the 2011 Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit, is costing the State more money than expected – twice as much, in fact. This tax cut for millionaires allowed factory and farm owners’ state income tax rate to fall from over 7% to 0% over 5 years. 2016 will be the final year of implementation. The loss of tax revenue due to this one tax break results in a cost of over $500 million in the next budget cycle, which is at least $275 million more than expected.

 

Another important decision that the JFC could make is to accept the federal dollars to expand our State’s Medicaid program, BadgerCare Plus. The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau projected in February that the State would save $345 million in the 2015-17 budget cycle  if it expanded BadgerCare to include more low-income adults and accept the federal Medicaid dollars. This may sound counterintuitive, but the following from the LFB shows just how much we are spending and losing, all for our Governor’s political ambitions: in the next budget cycle, our State will spend $1.12 billion on BadgerCare; if we expanded our BadgerCare to cover more adults and accepted the federal expansion dollars, we would only spend $776 million on BadgerCare. Therefore, by not accepting the federal dollars, Wisconsin will expend more tax revenue to cover less adults.

 

Of course, this decision could be reversed by JFC or the Legislature at any time, if the State wished to prudently spend state tax dollars, and lessen our borrowing obligations.

 

 

Budget Issue Update

 

As Governor Walker’s proposed budget winds its way through the Republican-controlled, JFC, a bad budget is being made worse by harmful decisions that will go to the Legislature for approval. Just last week, decisions were made to many departments, including the following:

 

  1. Schools

 

One hour before debate began, Republicans released their 29-page educational plan. The plan did not receive any public hearing and was crafted in secrecy. It continues to upend Wisconsin’s strong tradition of great public schools and commitment to local control. The 51 point plan was approved along party-lines in the dark of the night. Despite the rhetoric, the Republican plan will likely result in Wisconsin’s per pupil funding falling below the national average for the first time in history.

 

  1. Cuts to Funding Levels

 

Under the plan approved by the JFC, public schools would, at first blush, receive a freeze in funding the first year of the budget and then would receive $70 million increase (about $100 per pupil) in funding the second year of the budget. However, this scheme will not pan out as such, as the state wide voucher system will receive money directly from public school districts. Therefore, there will be at least a $48 million cut to public school districts during the budget cycle.

 

The JFC-approved expanded voucher system would allow for voucher schools to receive $7,200 for each K-8 pupil and $7,800 for each high school pupil. Again, the tuition would come from the local public school district. The first year, only 1% of the school district’s potential students could receive the voucher. However, every year thereafter for ten years, the percentage would increase by 1%. The cap would be lifted entirely the tenth year.

 

These cuts to education come at a time when the vast majority of states are increasing funding for public schools.

 

  1. Milwaukee OSPP details & impact on Madison and Racine

 

The Republican-controlled JFC secretly developed a plan to split up public schools in Milwaukee without receiving public input or giving notice to parents or taxpayers. Their plan is called “Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program” and was introduced, debated, and passed in the dark of the night. The OSPP plan for now is limited to Milwaukee, but part of the larger plan is to recreate the OSPP in Madison and Racine (districts with 15,000 or more students).

 

The OSPP calls for the Milwaukee County Executive (who is currently Chris Abele, a politician without a college degree or background in educational policy) to appoint a Commissioner who would receive funds from the Milwaukee Public School District and would generally manage three to five schools that are currently within the Milwaukee Public School District – however, he or she would select a business, nonsectarian group, or individual to operate the schools.

 

The Commissioner would fire all the staff at these schools and hire new staff or re-hire existing staff. The staff would not be school district employees under Act 10 and also would not be subject to civil service rules. The staff would be terminable at will. However, the Commissioner could only be terminated by the County Executive for cause.

 

  1. Changes to Teacher Licenses

 

Under the JFC-approved education plan, any individual could become a licensed teacher in Wisconsin if they pass a test and have experience in the technical field that s/he will teach. No bachelor’s degree or coursework in education necessary.

 

  1. Changes to Electing the Racine Unified School Board

 

In an affront to local control, the JFC approved a plan that would upend how Racine taxpayers have chosen to elect their school board. The plan dictates that nine geographical districts must be drawn from which each school board member would be elected. There is no evidence that taxpayers from Racine wanted the JFC to dismantle their way of electing their school board members.

 

  1. Any Claim that Funding to Public Education Is Increased is False

 

The JFC is touting that it restored Governor Walker’s $127 million cut to schools the first year of the budget and then provided a 1% increase in funding the second year of the budget. This is not accurate for two reasons. First, the JFC does not include the $48 million that will come out of the coffers of the public schools that are forced to pay for the increased voucher subsidy. Second, the JFC employs an accounting trick by providing schools a large payment in July 2017, which is outside of the budget and will start the next budget cycle in the red.

 

 

  1. Corrections

 

Governor Walker’s proposed budget cut 60 night tower Correctional Officer positions at every prison across the State, leaving night towers vacant at a time when prisoners are most likely to escape. The JFC accepted this dangerous proposal, with the exception of one prison in a JFC member’s district. Representative Schraa (R-Oshkosh) represents Waupun and argued in favor of keeping the night tower Correctional Officers positions at the Waupun Correctional Institution through January 2017 because the prison sits in a residential community. Clearly, all night tower Correctional Officers provide an important public safety and every prison should be fully staffed at night. However, JFC voted to eliminate all of the positions, with the exception Waupun because it is situated in one of the JFC members’ districts in the majority party.

 

 

III.             State employees’ Health Care

 

The JFC, in concert with the State’s Group Insurance Board that met the same day, approved the Governor’s plan to change State employee health care by shifting over $80 million in health care costs to employees over two years. The changes will affect state employees and their family members, who combine for total almost a quarter-million people.  The changes will result in the doubling of out-of-pocket and deductible costs and the quadrupling of prescription drug costs. This comes at a time when the vast majority of State workers will not see a raise in some time. The changes will go into effect on January 1, 2016.

 

 

  1. Educational Approval Board

 

The JFC voted to keep the critical Educational Approval Board as-is. The Educational Approval Board (EAB) is an important board that oversees for-profit colleges; its mission is to “protect Wisconsin’s consumers and support quality educational options.” There are almost 250 for-profit colleges in Wisconsin; combined, these institutions took in more than $350 million in tuition last year. While for-profit colleges enroll less than 10% of all higher-ed students, they account for 26% of all federal loans and almost 50% of all students who default on their loans. The EAB provides a critical role for oversight of these businesses. Governor Walker proposed to eliminate the EAB and transfer some of its functions to two different agencies; this move would surely incapacitate the State’s ability to regulate for-profit colleges. The JFC, noting the EAB’s importance, voted to reject the Governor’s proposal to eliminate the EAB.

 

 

  1. WEDC

 

Working people across the State were concerned with the Governor’s many proposals to move and merge agencies and departments for purely political reasons. However, one merger in particular was creating much consternation: the merger of the successful Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) and the failed Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). Since its creation in 2011, WEDC has been troubled by scandals and failures. Earlier this month, the Legislative Audit Bureau released a scathing report outlining even more egregious examples of the WEDC’s failure to follows laws and even its own rules, provide transparency, and an accurate accounting of the small number of jobs it has created. The criticisms of WEDC are now bipartisan: the JFC voted to reject the merger of the successful WHEDA and WEDC, and remove Governor Walker as Chairman of the WEDC Board of Directors.

 

 

Budget: Next Steps

 

The JFC’s will meet this week, on Wednesday, May 27 and Friday, May 29. It may even meet on Saturday, May 30 to finalize its deliberations. We urge you to contact your legislator and members of the Joint Finance Committee to raise our voices to reject any changes to Prevailing Wage, reject Governor Walker’s proposal to split and transfer of the Workers Compensation System, lower borrowing for Transportation, protect the UW System, and put working families first in our State in every decision that will come before the JFC and Legislature in the coming weeks.

 

 

Joint Finance Committee Members can be reached through the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-362-9472

Sen. Alberta Darling (Co-Chair) (R)

Sen. Luther Olsen (Vice-Chair) (R)

Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R)

Sen. Leah Vukmir (R)

Sen. Thomas Tiffany (R)

Sen. Howard Marklein (R)

Sen. Lena Taylor (D) Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D)

Rep. John Nygren (Co-Chair) (R)

Rep. Dale Kooyenga (Vice-Chair) (R)

Rep. Amy Loudenbeck (R)

Rep. Dean Knudson (R)

Rep. Michael Schraa (R)

Rep. Mary Czaja (R)

Rep. Chris Taylor (D)

Rep. Gordon Hintz (D)

 

 

We look forward to standing with you as we raise our voices on important issues that will affect working families across our State. If you have any questions, please contact Legislative & Research Director Teresa Mambu-Rasch, JD, either via email tmambu-rasch@wisaflcio.org or via cell (414) 418-2241.

 

In solidarity,

 

     

Phillip Neuenfeldt

President

 

Stephanie Bloomingdale

Secretary-Treasurer

 

 

Teresa Mambu-Rasch, J.D.

Legislative and Research Director

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO

6333 W. Bluemound Road

Milwaukee, WI 53213

 

tmambu-rasch@wisaflcio.org

office- (414) 771-0700

cell – (414) 418-2241

 

 

May 27 2015

Superior Federation of Labor – EMO training June 4th

EMO flier Superior

May 18 2015

3rd Annual Union Sportsmen’s Alliance – Eau Claire Area. Take Kid’s Fishing Day – Sponsored by Western WI Building and Construction Trades Council and the Greater West Central Area Labor Council.

3rd Annual Union Sportsmen’s Alliance – Eau Claire Area.  Take Kid’s Fishing Day –   Sponsored by Western WI Building and Construction Trades Council and the Greater West Central Area Labor Council.

 

DATE:    Saturday June 6, 2015 

TIIME:   9:00AM – 11:30AM. 

LOCATION:  Braun’s Bay Pavilion @ Carson Park

 

Fishing poles and bait are available on site!  Register your children by June 3rd by calling Terry Hayden 715-225-0260 or Laurie Gruber @ 715-579-3297.   Grab your camera and accompany your children (all must be parent, guardian or chaperone).   Yes, there will be picnic style lunch and door prizes

 

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