Monday, December 19, 2016

AFL-CIO circulates petition opposing Andrew Puzder's nomination for Labor Secretary

The AFL-CIO has begun an online petition to oppose the nomination of Andrew Puzder to the post as Secretary of Labor.

 In an interview with Franchise Times titled Why CKE's Andy Puzder Thinks the Government Doesn't Understand Job Creation, Puzder, who currently serves as the CEO of restaurant chain CKE, is quoted as saying:

Government overregulation has had severe consequences for economic growth, job creation, dignity and self-respect, he said. “And restaurants may be the canary in the coal mine,” he added, referring to the sacrificial canaries used to test whether the levels of carbon monoxide in mines would kill miners.
Government, he contended, needs to get out of the way of entrepreneurs and allow economic growth to happen without the restrictions of Obamacare and mandating minimum wages and overtime, among other things. "If employers are competing for the best employees, they will pay more," he said. "You can’t order businesses to be profitable, or place restrictions on them and expect them to grow."

Here is the full message being sent out by the AFL-CIO:
There were many signs that President-elect Donald Trump would be a disaster for working families, but his choice for secretary of labor—fast food CEO Andrew Puzder—is truly horrifying.
Puzder’s anti-worker views are no secret. He’s railed against a meaningful increase in the minimum wage, opposed expanding overtime pay and advocated replacing working people with machines. Of his Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants that were investigated for labor law complaints, 60% were found to have violated the law. Most of these complaints were for failure to pay workers minimum wage or overtime.
And, while working people at his fast food chain sometimes were making below minimum wage, Puzder was taking big compensation packages. In 2012, he made 291 times as much as workers at his restaurants.
Now, he could be in charge of enforcing our nation’s labor laws—from ensuring workplace safety to investigating wage theft.
During the election, Trump made a lot of promises to create good jobs. But he’s filling his cabinet with CEOs and right-wing billionaires who have spent their lives undermining working people’s rights to come together in unions, while fighting minimum wage increases, and paid sick and family leave policies.
Puzder’s track record raises serious concerns about his qualifications. Trump will never meet his campaign promises to working people if he surrounds himself with people like Puzder, whose values are completely out of step with America’s workers.
In Solidarity,
Richard Trumka
President, AFL-CIO

Thursday, December 8, 2016

MARTA’s Keith Parker honored as 2016 Public Official of the Year; ATU Local 732 may disagree

Governing magazine has named MARTA General Manager and CEO Keith Parker as one of its 2016 Public Officials of the Year, but MARTA’s union may not agree with that assessment.

The magazine’s Publisher Mark Funkhouser writes that in the group of eight individuals honored this year, he sees some common traits:

“Among the group of eight, I see some common traits that reflect the evolution of politics and management in state and local government, such as moderation, collaboration, and a focus on smart financial management.”

Mr. Parker’s listed accomplishments include launching a safety campaign on MARTA’s trains and buses, decreased wait times, reopened bathrooms, giving employees bonuses, and finishing his first year with a $9 million surplus, instead of the $33 million deficit that was projected before he came in.

Governing bills itself as the nation's leading media platform covering politics, policy and management for state and local government leaders.

In its profile, the magazine says that Parker helped MARTA build trust with riders and the general public, which resulted in approval of a referendum in November that resulted in a $2.5 billion investment for rail expansion for MARTA.

Outsourcing Paratransit

Keith Parker’s relationship with the MARTA union has not been as smooth.

The magazine does not mention the MARTA union’s dispute with the system over the outsourcing of MARTA’s paratransit service.

In a Transformation Road Map prepared by KPMG, the consultancy has recommended that MARTA explore outsourcing its paratransit service as a means of reducing costs. Five-year savings could range from a loss of $15,390,000 to a savings of $42,940,000.

This proposal has been opposed by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 732, which has offered a cost-saving MARTA Mobility proposal, which the union claims includes a series of recommendations to help the agency achieve its cost and efficiency goals. 

In response, the MARTA Board of Commissioners voted to table their decision to privatize the federally mandated service. 

The dispute still figures prominently on the union’s web site under:

Governing writes that “Today, Parker is regarded by many as the man who saved MARTA, but he is focused on the work ahead. ‘We’re not doing any victory laps yet,’ he says.”