Report documents potential fall out from Lincoln prison closure – Springfield, IL – The State Journal-Register



Closing the Logan Correctional will affect 460 jobs and $73 million in economic activity, according to documents filed by the Department of Corrections.

A report, submitted to the Illinois Department of Corrections by the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory at the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois, indicates the potential indirect economic fall out from closing the prison is difficult to measure.

“…there are other impacts that have not be (sic) considered — the nature and volume of charitable contriubtions — both time and money — provided by facility employees; the impact of the closure and re-location fo facility employees and their families on school district enrolments (sic) and so forth,” the report reads.

“All of these more qualitative impacts contribute to the fabric of the local community and may be valued just as highly — even is (sic) they are more difficult to measure.”

Click here to view the report. (PDF)

via Report documents potential fall out from Lincoln prison closure – Springfield, IL – The State Journal-Register.

Northwest Herald | Union calls for slow-down on facility closures

A major union is calling for more time for public input on Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposed closure of a prison and other state facilities, saying the current schedule of public hearings will “depress turnout and stifle participation.”

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said citizens should have at least two weeks’ notice of public hearings that should take place in communities where the threatened facilities are located.

In a letter to lawmakers Monday, the union asked for a revised schedule and suggested that the meetings be held on evenings or Saturdays. The union noted that a hearing to discuss closing a Murphysboro youth detention center was scheduled to be held in nearby Carbondale.

The Commission for Government Forecasting and Accountability, or COGFA, has scheduled a series of hearings next month to take public comment. By late Tuesday afternoon, the commission had moved the hearing on the youth prison to a Murphysboro location, according to the panel’s website.

“We realize that it may not be COGFA’s intent to depress turnout or stifle participation at these public hearings, but that will certainly be the result if the hearings go forward as currently planned,” wrote AFSCME Council 31 executive director Henry Bayer.

The commission’s director, Dan Long, said the union doesn’t understand the logistics involved or the timeline required by the state law governing facility closures.

“The issue is from the time we get these recommendations we only have 35 days to schedule a hearing,” Long said. “I don’t think we’re doing these too quickly at all.”

Read more here: Northwest Herald | Union calls for slow-down on facility closures.

Legal roadblocks could halt Quinn’s closure proposal

Gov. Pat Quinn’s plan to close seven state facilities could trigger an avalanche of lawsuits, potentially delaying or even blocking the controversial proposal from getting off the ground.

Opponents of the Chicago Democrat’s push to shut down mental health centers, prisons and homes for the developmentally disabled are pointing to a number of laws that would have to be changed in order for the plan to meet legal muster.

Among the potential roadblocks is a statute designating the Chester Mental Health Center as the state’s sole facility for treating certain kinds of violence-prone residents. The governor wants to move the residents to an existing facility in Alton.

In addition, moving nearly 2,000 inmates out of the Logan Correctional Center will cause additional overcrowding in the state’s already cramped prison system, potentially opening up the state to an inmate lawsuit.

“It seems like that is an inevitability,” said John Maki, executive director of the John Howard Association, a prison watchdog group.

Quinn wants to shutter seven state facilities, including Logan, Chester, the Murphysboro youth prison, mental health centers in Rockford and Tinley Park and developmental centers in Dixon and Jacksonville.

Read more here: Legal roadblocks could halt Quinn’s closure proposal.

Report: Planned prison closure could spur crowding –

Gov. Pat Quinn’s plans to shutter a central Illinois prison means 1,500 inmates would be housed in prison gyms at 11 other lockups across the state, forcing those sites to bulk up staffing under the “evident possibility” of crowding-related lawsuits, the Illinois Department of Corrections says.

Such potential fallout of closing the medium-security Logan Correctional Center near Lincoln, as detailed in the department’s required report to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, drew immediate rebukes from the union representing most of the state’s prison workers.

“I’ve read closure documents before, but none so outrageous and irresponsible as the Logan prison plan,” Anders Lindall, a spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, told the (Springfield) State Journal-Register.

Read the full article here: Report: Planned prison closure could spur crowding –

Labor takes fight against the right into the courts » peoplesworld

Labor’s fight against the radical Right isn’t just occurring in the streets or at the ballot box. Unions are challenging the Right Wing’s schemes in court, too.

And those challenges, in Wisconsin, Indiana, Alabama, Michigan, and elsewhere, show once again that court rulings are important to workers and their allies.

The court cases in those states have split: Workers won in federal court in Alabama and state court in Michigan, lost in state court in Wisconsin but have taken the case to federal court there, and await a local court hearing date in Indiana.

But beating back the right-wing-GOP-business cabal’s scheme to strip workers of their rights isn’t the only legal battlefield workers are playing on – just the main one:

In Wisconsin, GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s law stripping 200,000 state and local government workers of their collective bargaining rights was briefly delayed by a Dane County (Madison) Circuit Court judge, who ruled the Wisconsin legislature violated its own open meetings rules in jamming the measure through.

The state Supreme Court overturned her decision, reinstating Walker’s law and prompting the state AFL-CIO, three AFSCME councils, the Service Employees, and state affiliates of the Teachers and the National Education Association to sue in federal court on June 15 to overturn Walker’s law on constitutional grounds. They said the law violated both the freedom of speech of the 1st Amendment and equal protection of the laws of the 14th.

In Alabama, federal judges have stopped the state ban on deducting union dues from any union-covered state and local worker’s paycheck if the union spends even voluntary contributions on politics. The suit, by the Fire Fighters and Teachers, is designed to prevent a crippling blow to their local unions. Again, the GOP governor pushed the ban through the GOP-dominated state legislature – with the Alabama Education Association, the state’s biggest union and a mainstay of the Democratic Party, as their target. The AEA also sued to overturn the law.

In Indiana, AFSCME Council 62 sued GOP Gov. Mitch Daniels, in Marion County (Indianapolis) Circuit Court on Aug. 26, seeking to overturn his state budget law that makes collective bargaining between the state and any union – except for the one representing state police – illegal. Daniels’ law reversed 16 years’ worth of collective bargaining rights under the prior three governors.

The council, which represents 3,600 workers, said that the budget law violates the state constitution’s separation of powers. “The executive branch of government has jurisdiction over administrative procedures and employee/employer relations – not the legislative branch, which passed the new law,” AFSCME said.

“It’s been well established that administration of state employees is the role and responsibility of the executive branch of Indiana government,” said Council 62 Executive Director David Warrick. “This law is an attempt to blindside established precedence and leave state employees with no ability to enjoy the same rights of a private employee.”.

On June 22, the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice sued to overturn the GOP-passed governmental takeover law. It sailed through the GOP-run Michigan legislature in 2011, and was signed by GOP Gov. Rick Snyder, a former corporate mogul who vigorously pushed it. The new law lets Michigan declare any local government body “financially failing,” and appoint a receiver. Under the new law, the receiver (read: “dictator”) could abolish union contracts, fire workers, cut pay, sell assets to private firms, or do anything he or she pleased.

Not surprisingly, the new law has been applied to the city of Benton Harbor, and the Detroit public schools. Both had been under state control under an old, milder law, which Granholm invoked. Both have union workforces; both are, in their majority, African-American. The receiver in Detroit fired every teacher and all school staffers – virtually all of them unionists. Benton Harbor’s czar killed union contracts.

Read the full article here: Labor takes fight against the right into the courts » peoplesworld.

Wis. doesn’t have to bargain with biggest unions – CBS News

First Wisconsin and Ohio. Let’s not let this happen in our state.

Wisconsin will no longer be obligated to bargain with its largest public employee unions after the weakened labor groups decided Thursday against seeking recertification votes in the state at the forefront of this year’s fight over union rights.

The unions representing about 50,000 workers opted not to file notice of an intention to hold the complicated and expensive votes required by Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s sweeping collective bargaining changes passed by lawmakers earlier this year. The unions still will be able to request informal talks with state agencies, but formal negotiations will go by the wayside.

Salary increases no greater than inflation was only item that even remained subject to bargaining under the state’s new law, which took effect after months of divisive political wrangling and massive protests at the state Capitol. Unions lost the power to negotiate other issues like workplace safety standards, vacations and health care benefits — all of which had been subject to collective bargaining since Wisconsin became the first state to require it in 1959.

Labor leaders and lawmakers said they still hoped informal talks would continue.

Read the full article here: Wis. doesn’t have to bargain with biggest unions – CBS News.

How could anyone be against collective bargaining? | Mansfield News Journal |

The law defines collective bargaining as: “To bargain collectively” means to perform the mutual obligation of the public employer, by its representatives, and the representatives of its employees to negotiate in good faith at reasonable times and places with respect to wages, hours, terms and other conditions of employment and the continuation, modification or deletion of an existing provision of a collective bargaining agreement, with the intention of reaching an agreement, or to resolve questions arising under the agreement. The obligation to bargain collectively does not mean that either party is compelled to agree to a proposal, nor does it require the making of a concession.

Collective bargaining is a mutually respectable negotiation method that protects both the employers and the employees, yet favors neither party. How could any reasonable person be against it?

Issue 2: Ohio Public Unions Try to Overturn SB5 at the Ballot Box – Solon, OH Patch

On Nov. 8, Ohio voters will decide on the controversial law, championed by Gov. John Kasich and originally passed by the GOP-dominated Legislature as Senate Bill 5, to dramatically restrict the collective bargaining rights of the state’s public workers.

At its core, SB5 alters collective bargaining by changing what’s open for negotiations. It puts more power in the hands of the managers by restricting what can be bargained for. For example, health care costs can’t be negotiated. Employees will pay at least 15 percent of their premiums.

Rob Nichols, a Kasich spokesman, said the governor champions the bill because it will help make Ohio more competitive and help local governments get costs under control.

“Once Ohioans understand it’s built in common sense, they will see that it’s absolutely necessary if local governments are to lower their costs and keep taxes down,” Nichols said.

Mayor Dennis Clough of Westlake has openly supported SB5, arguing that the law puts much-needed control back in the hands of local elected officials.

Voters choose their mayors and school boards, so those officials – not union lawyers and arbitrators – should have more control over how taxpayers’ money is spent, he said.

“This bill doesn’t take away collective bargaining, it just puts in some parameters,” Clough said. “I think the parameters will help resolve issues in a more expeditious fashion.”

But what SB5 proponents see as necessary and common sense, public employees see as a direct attack on the middle class. They say it will lower standards of living – and pave the way for public unions’ eventual elimination.

Harriet Applegate, head of the North Shore AFL-CIO, said it will create “chaos” and mark the end of unions’ traditional role in Ohio.

“If we lose this battle, we are sitting ducks for extinction, a union in name only,” Applegate said.

There’s some truth in that, said Green, the political scientist from Akron.

“The most important issue for unions is being able to bargain over a full range of topics, and they really believe these restrictions will cause them serious problems,” Green said. “And this strikes at public employees, the strongest part of the labor movement right now, so there’s a lot at stake.”

Union organizers say SB5 would unravel decades of battling for worker rights.

Kenny Yuko, a union organizer for 30 years and now a state representative for some of Cleveland’s East Side suburbs, said it’s all or nothing for working people.

“If this stuff gets taken away, our quality of life dies,” he said.


Read the full article here:  Issue 2: Ohio Public Unions Try to Overturn SB5 at the Ballot Box – Solon, OH Patch.

H.R. 2587 Guts the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)

Here is a summary of the bill:

Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act – Amends the National Labor Relations Act to deny the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) any power to: (1) order an employer (or seek an order against an employer) to restore or reinstate any work, product, production line, or equipment; (2) rescind any relocation, transfer, subcontracting, outsourcing, or other change regarding the location, entity, or employer who shall be engaged in production or other business operations; or (3) require any employer to make an initial or additional investment at a particular plant, facility, or location.

Applies the amendment made by this Act to any complaint for which a final adjudication by the NLRB has not been made by the date of enactment.

This bill passed the House and is now is going to the Senate.

From reading the summary it seems to me that corporate interests really don’t want to be bothered by any rules or laws so they want to strip the policing authority, in this case the NLRB, of the power to enforce the laws. Isn’t this like saying a cop has no right to pull you over and give you a speeding ticket if you’re going 100 MPH?

And the part about out-sourcing really is a job-killer! Millions of people out of work and the House wants to make it easier to ship our remaining jobs overseas.

AFSCME | AFSCME’s McEntee to Congressional Republicans: Get Out of Jail Free Card Doesn’t Create Jobs

“Instead of passing the President’s jobs plan and actually creating jobs, congressional Republicans are up to the same old politics and doing the bidding of Corporate CEOs,” stated AFSCME Pres. Gerald W. McEntee. “H.R. 2587 gives companies a get out jail free card and makes them less accountable for firing workers and shipping jobs overseas. At a time when our economy is stagnant, and millions of Americans are unemployed, we should encourage companies to hire workers, not debate legislation that will allow companies to ship jobs to other countries.”

H.R. 2587, if enacted will eliminate the only remedy provided to the National Labor Relations Board, the authority to return workers to their jobs when a company decides to fire employees or relocate a plant to punish workers or avoid their obligation to bargain with workers. Additionally, enactment of this legislation will allow companies to more easily outsource jobs, and strip the authority to return those jobs to the U.S. if a company began outsourcing in retaliation.

“It is shameful that Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor and the rest of the congressional Republicans continue to do the work of CEOs, lobbyists and campaign contributors. The members of Congress should do what they were elected to do, fight for an economic recovery that creates jobs and works for all Americans.”

via AFSCME | AFSCME’s McEntee to Congressional Republicans: Get Out of Jail Free Card Doesn’t Create Jobs.