Heat and Frost Insulators News and Events

Unions, Seniors Groups Urge Congress Not To Cut Medicare To Fund Trade Assistance

Posted by on Thu, Jun 11, 2015 @ 09:06 AM
An already difficult road for the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the House of Representatives got bumpier on Monday, as controversial Medicare cuts were brought into the mix.
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Topics: AFL-CIO, legislation

Trade Enforcement Failure

Posted by on Tue, Jun 2, 2015 @ 13:06 PM
On trade, Sen. Paul got it right for working people. He opposedFast Tracking approval of the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) through Congress. He was on the losing side of that vote, though. So the Fast Track plan for Congress to relinquish its responsibility to review and amend trade agreements awaits action this week in the U.S. House of Representatives. House Republicans who believe in supporting American workers, not just pandering to them, should join Sen. Paul in voting no on Fast Track.

From Bill Clinton to Barack Obama, Republican and Democratic presidents have pledged to workers that some new free trade scheme would protect Americans from unfair and immoral foreign competition.

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Topics: legislation

Workforce West Virginia submits new prevailing wage rules

Posted by on Tue, Jun 2, 2015 @ 09:06 AM

Calculation of prevailing wage rates will be simpler, more streamlined, and its designers hope, more accurate — under new rules submitted Monday by WorkForce West Virginia.

Under legislation passed this session revamping the way workers’ wages are to be calculated for state-funded public works projects (SB361), Monday was the deadline for WorkForce West Virginia, in conjunction with the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at West Virginia University and the Center for Business and Economic Research at Marshall, to come up with new methodology for calculating prevailing wages.

“I’m very comfortable with it,” Jeff Green, director of Research, Information and Analysis for WorkForce West Virginia, said Monday of the new system.

“It’s a complex issue,” he added. “You want to make sure you give it the best and most accurate information you can.”

Under the new law, oversight of calculation of prevailing wage scales was moved from the state Division of Labor to WorkForce West Virginia.

Critics complained that under the old system, the Division of Labor used an imprecise methodology of surveys sent to contractors and public entities, requiring that they self-report wages paid for various types of construction work by county.

Workforce West Virginia’s new system also will rely to a great extent on surveys that will be sent to some 5,250 contractors and subcontractors doing business in the state. However, WorkForce West Virginia officials expect a higher response rate and more accuracy, noting that the agency is “fully staffed with professionally trained research personnel who have extensive expertise and experience with labor market data collection and analysis.”

The process will also be streamlined — Prevailing wage rates will be calculated using the agency’s seven WorkForce Investment Area regions, rather than using county-by-county calculations.“

Many counties have limited occupational wage data, making it difficult to produce statistically reliable estimates,” the summary of the new methodology states.

The new methodology also streamlines the number of occupational categories on the surveys from 48 to 28 to make the reporting more user-friendly, asking firms for example, to “report wages for laborers broadly, as opposed to different individual classes of laborers.”

Although the original bill called for an outright repeal of the prevailing wage law, the compromise legislation retains prevailing wage for state-funded construction projects of more than $500,000, using the new calculation.

Under the law, the initial deadline for setting the new prevailing wage rates is July 1, but the law gives the legislative Joint Committee on Government and Finance authority to extend that deadline to as late as Sept. 30.

In the report, WorkForce West Virginia indicates it can meet a fall deadline for the new wage rates, noting, “WorkForce West Virginia anticipates that data collection will be complete by the end of summer 2015 with publication of revised prevailing hourly wage rates expected by early fall 2015.”

Passed during the Great Depression and modeled after the federal Davis Bacon Act, prevailing wage was designed to keep contractors from underbidding public works contracts by using low-paid, less-experienced and well-trained workers.

Critics contended that prevailing wage inflates costs for publicly financed construction projects, while proponents cited figures showing that prevailing wage projects are not more expensive, and that it is cost effective to hire highly skilled workers who have high productivity.

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Topics: legislation, Department of Labor

How can the US strengthen unions?

Posted by on Fri, May 29, 2015 @ 12:05 PM

In the US, the decline of the middle class is nearly identical to the decline of American labor union membership. What does this mean for the future of unions and the US economy?

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Topics: Labor Unions, legislation, Union Labor

Right-to-Work Scam Gets Smackdown

Posted by on Wed, May 27, 2015 @ 10:05 AM
SPRINGFIELD, Illinois—Thanks to an energized and organized labor community in Illinois, politicians in big towns and small have taken heed that local right-to-work zones proposed by Gov. Bruce Rauner are not a popular idea. Legislators in the Illinois House let Rauner know the same, when a vote on the measure yielded zero “yes” votes of support and 72 “nos.”

This smackdown of one of the key components of the new governor’s self-dubbed “turnaround” agenda is a stinging rebuke to his anti-labor crusade. Speeches on the House floor clearly exposed the governor’s real goal in promoting right-to-work measures: trying to weaken workers’ voices.

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Topics: legislation

What Ever Happened to Antitrust?

Posted by on Tue, May 26, 2015 @ 10:05 AM
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Topics: legislation


Posted by on Thu, May 14, 2015 @ 09:05 AM

The House voted to overturn a proposed rule by EPA to expand protections to streams, ponds, wetlands and other waterways. (The Hill)

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Topics: energy efficiency, legislation

IRONY THRONE: Union Transparency Bills Pursued by ALEC Groups Operating in Complete Secrecy

Posted by on Thu, May 14, 2015 @ 09:05 AM
 A rash of “collective bargaining transparency bills” have popped up in state legislatures across the country, each being pushed by think-tanks that answer to dark money donors. Most recently in Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth Foundation pushed for the passage of a bill which would require public employers to post proposed collective bargaining agreements online at least two weeks prior to their signing. It would also require the state’s Independent Fiscal Office to analyze the cost of any collective bargaining agreement proposed for state workers. In Nevada, a similar set of bills passed the legislature last week and is currently awaiting a decision by Gov. Brian Sandoval. Pennsylvania and Nevada are only the latest states to advance such legislation, and they appear to be part of a coordinated national effort directed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). In fact, “state policy networks” in nine states have put forward collective bargaining transparency bills. Eight states already have a form of this law on the books: Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington. Each state that has passed their version of the law has a conservative think-tank that provided the misinformation needed to pass the law. Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Foundation is simply one example of the far-right’s dark money octopus that answers directly to ALEC. These state policy networks act as right-wing lobbies in plain sight, and ironically use their lack of transparency to push collective bargaining transparency bills, among other legislative detritus. Take for example this Idaho Press article, “Collective Bargaining gets more transparent.” After providing a questionable history of how unions “carved out” their right to “secret meetings” in the open meetings acts through “political pressure,” the author cites a report from the ultra-conservative Goldwater Institute to back its claims about collective bargaining transparency. There is no mention of the Goldwater Institute’s involvement in the state policy network, let alone that it answers to ALEC. The article’s author is Wayne Hoffman, Executive Director of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, which is also part of the state policy network. In Pennsylvania, the Senate approved two collective bargaining transparency bills on a 29-19 party line vote. The bills were co-sponsored by Senator Mike Folmer, who has a history of sponsoring bills that are almost word-for-word copies of ALEC model legislation. In 2011, Sen. Folmer was called out by Keystone Progress for attempting to pass off his “High-Risk Health Insurance Pool Act” as his own. The timing of the bills makes even more political sense since Gov. Tom Wolf is currently negotiating with AFSCME, UFCW, and SEIU, all of whom have contracts that expire on June 30th. As Sen. Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia) said during debate: “I’d have a heck of a lot more respect for people if you just got up and said, this is what we want to do, we want to bust up the unions. We want to make it more difficult for working men and women to get a living wage in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” Transparency in government is a righteous pursuit, but this lopsided mistreatment of unions is clearly intended to make them less efficient and curtail their power at the bargaining table. The fact that the laws are being lobbed by organizations and politicians who benefit greatly from exploiting secrecy makes them dually difficult to swallow.
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Topics: legislation, Union Labor

Politicians Try to Union-Bust Their Way to the White House

Posted by on Wed, Apr 8, 2015 @ 17:04 PM


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Topics: Construction Jobs, legislation, Union Advantage, Construction, Union Labor

À la Nevada: PA Republican Starts Slow Climb to Lowering Wages for School Construction

Posted by on Wed, Apr 8, 2015 @ 12:04 PM


Rep. Topper

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Topics: Labor Unions, Construction Jobs, legislation, Construction, Union Labor

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