Category Archives: Union busting

Kirner Update and Charter School Follies in the Nevada Legislature

Kirner There’s a difference between stale bread and stale politics; stale bread is useful.

“Well, this: Assembly Member Randy Kirner (R-Reno) is trying hard (perhaps too hard?) to be a “play-a”. He flippantly confirmed to Riley Snyder what we’ve been reporting about him killing Senator David Parks’ (D-Paradise) sexual orientation conversion therapy ban (SB 353). He then claimed he was “worried about litigation costs”, despite the Senate removing the law suit portion of the bill. The truth came out in private later, when he told a visiting constituent he just doesn’t like Senator Parks (and he’s just too obsessed with raiding PERS & busting unions to allow LGBTQ lives to be saved).” [LTN] (emphasis added)

The first indication of threadbare banality is Assemblyman Kirner’s worry about “litigation costs” in regard to SB 353.  This is the second to last resort into which a member of the GOP will dock when a bill or policy is presented that might protect potential victims of discrimination or abuse. (The last resort is “God Says…”)

Our second clue revealing  Assemblyman Kirner’s platitudinous and unoriginal offerings is his adherence to ALEC’s talking points about public employee retirement programs and labor organizations.  It’s fairly easy to spot a Talking Point Politician – when he or she is faced with current facts and social needs, our undaunted culture warrior reverts to hackneyed and uninspired reiterations of someone else’s phrases.  “I’m worried about the costs of litigation,” applied to everything from civil rights law to equal pay for female employees. “I’m concerned about the effect this will have on the free market,” applied to everything from environmental standards to the appointment of consumer protection advocates.   This isn’t politicking, it’s sloganeering.  Real players bring something to the table for discussion – something besides personal animosities and stale talking points.

Industrial education isn’t the same thing as industrialized educationSB 509 is still alive and in the Assembly Education committee. There’s a phrase in the bill which should catch our attention, here’s the LCB analysis:

“Existing law requires an application to form a charter school to be submitted by a committee to form a charter school. (NRS 386.520, 386.525) Sections 21 and 22 of this bill authorize a charter management organization to apply to form a charter school. Section 2 of this bill defines the term “charter management organization” to mean a nonprofit organization that operates multiple charter schools. Section 21 also revises the required contents of an application to form a charter school. Sections 21 and 36 of this bill authorize a charter management organization to request a waiver of requirements concerning the composition of a governing body. Section 22 revises the manner in which a sponsor is authorized to solicit and review applications to form a charter school.” 

Let’s differentiate between EMO’s  (Educational Management Organizations) which are for-profit educational enterprises and CMO’s which are non-profits.  While there is this crucial difference, they share some corporate interests.  One of those interests is the promotion of schools – not school districts.  This becomes an important point when we’re discussing overall school administration because when comparing “successes” schools and school districts are very different creatures.

For example, KIPP (a CMO) operates individual schools in urban areas. However, KIPP doesn’t run school districts. Recently a KIPP school in New Jersey was touted for it’s high performance in Newark, but when a bit of expertise was injected from Rutgers University scholars the results were less than stellar:

“The bottom line is that KIPP schools performance on comparable measures of student growth, controlling for demography, resources, etc., are relatively average (marginally above average). Many district schools, including ones in Newark, far outperform them.” [SchoolFinance]

In other words, anecdotal evidence of high performance (without running a model of demographics across the district to see deviations)  doesn’t mean a particular charter school operation is necessarily “successful” or that its operating plan is better than that which might be achieved by a local district itself.

A few years ago, another CMO, Rocketship was supposed to be achieving “astronomical” results, and was all the rage. [WaPo]  Rocketship used an “industrial model” with lots of computers and an equally large contingent of inexperienced teachers.  Rocketship moved into San Jose, California, but a year later the San Jose Mercury News was headlining, “Rocketship we have a problem.”  It seems that corporations like Rocketship DO have to follow local zoning regulations.  More issues arose with the charter non-profit, and by May, 2014 the Alum Rock CA Board of Education rejected a Rocketship charter, saying (1) it had not made Adequate Yearly Progress, there was no assurance made to investors that the schools would make AYP in the future, students spent a large portion of their day with no licensed teacher (a violation of state law), the CMO offered misleading figures on student-teacher ratios by not including Learning Lab Students in the calculations (creating a 1:37 ratio), and while Alum Rock School District spends about 6% on overhead costs, the Rocketship school was required to set aside 15% for its corporate headquarters.  The final point in the rejection was that for all the Wonders of Technology described in the Rocketship process, the students were actually encouraged to be passive rather than active users of the technology.

A third CMO, Green Dot Schools, has had a similar rocky history.  After much initial ballyhoo, Locke High School in Watts, CA was subdivided into segments under the management of Green Dot. Two years later the segments were themselves closed – for lack of “success” – the result?

“In fact, Animo Locke II, Animo Locke III, and Animo Locke Tech all failed the 2012 WASC accreditation. forcing Green Dot to merge all of the campuses, operationally, into the one school to receive accreditation. Animo Watts will continue to operate independent of the schools located at the main Locke campus.” [Ravitch

Eli Broad and other Silicon Valley ‘reformers’ were challenged by the LA Times:

“Charters claim that their schools score far better than traditional public schools serving similar students. That’s not true. The students at Locke or any of the other at-risk high schools in LAUSD are not “similar students” when compared to those who have left the public schools and moved to the charters. What Broad, Green Dot and the others do not reveal is the scores of those charter students when they were in regular public schools. It’s our belief that those students were already outscoring their fellow students in the traditional schools before they moved into charters. Low-scoring students do not enroll in Broad’s charters. His charters have skimmed off the education-oriented kids who otherwise would be raising test scores for traditional public schools.”

Cracks were showing in 2010, when it was reported that by Parent Revolution’s own definitions 14 out of 15 Green Dot Schools weren’t reaching their promised levels of success, [examiner] and to add substance to the LA Times critique, Green Dot Schools were targeting schools for takeover which were already exceeding Green Dot results. [SeattleEd] (More at MJ 4/1/2011]

By 2013 the Green Dot experiment in Los Angeles was plagued by high teacher turnover, inadequate administration, and unstable evaluation policies.  Meanwhile, a Tacoma, WA middle school is being taken over by Green Dot Schools, but parents are advised that “space is limited.”  [TNTRib]  — not an admonition which can be pronounced by public schools.  The Seattle Times reported that most seats were already taken by April 29, 2015 — ‘lotteries were held for 6 of 8 charter schools.”  There are no “enrollment lotteries” for public schools.

It would indeed be interesting, if JUST ONCE some legislative body decided to put the kind of care, attention, concern, (and potential funding) in the hands of its public school districts as it does into the hands of privatizing and elite exclusionist interests.

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Filed under education, nevada education, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, privatization, Union busting

Round Up

Wondering about the level of taxation in Nevada?  The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council says “We’re Number Three!” (Nationally) for being all sweet and cuddly for businesses disinclined to pay taxes. [NNB] But, we are going to collect sales taxes from Amazon.com for Nevada customers. [NNB] And, all this while Governor Sandoval tells us we don’t need any more taxes since the last batch has been extended. [NNB] So, we don’t have enough taxation to make business owners and corporations howl — and we don’t need any more business taxes — but we’ll happily collect more sales taxes (which obviously have a greater impact on those with lower incomes) on online purchases from the Big A…  The Lesson: It’s Only A Tax Increase If A Special Interest Has To Pay It?

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Washoe County, Nevada is still getting some backwash from the Housing Bubble Debacle.  Short-sales are up, wherein mortgage lenders agree to sell a piece of real estate for less than what is owed.  “In Reno, short sales have been accounting for about a third of all sales in the past couple of years, according to the Greater Reno-Tahoe Real Estate Report. Short sales accounted for 116 units sold in March — 31 percent of all home sales in the area. Foreclosures posted 123 unit sales during the same period, which was 34 percent of inventory sold.”  [RGJ]   Meanwhile, back with those Wonderful People Who Brought On The Housing Bubble With Their Insatiable Appetite For MORE Mortgages —

“In case their (derivatives traders/bankers)  lobbying falls short, the industry — largely dealer banks and commodities firms — has been pushing legislation that would pre-empt the rulemaking process and tie the agencies’ hands. So far, no fewer than 10 such derivatives bills have been introduced in the House; two have passed and several more have cleared committee.

Not satisfied with that, influential lawmakers have been not so subtly warning regulators to go easy on derivatives. This is incredibly intimidating: Congress controls the agencies’ budgets, and the increase in workload mandated by Dodd-Frank leaves them woefully short on funds.

And should a derivatives rule unpalatable to the dealers somehow survive this Beltway obstacle course, the agencies face an explicit threat of a lawsuit. This has had a chilling effect. As Bart Chilton, a CFTC commissioner, told me, regulators fear there is “litigation lurking around every corner and down every hallway.”  [Lowenstein, Bloomberg]

Thus we have bankers, who having been bailed out once, have now decided that there is NO reason for any sentient human being to advocate regulation of their shadow system and their “private placement” activities — which got us into this Mess in the first place.  The only good news is that we may have found the bottom of this market. [Bloomberg]

***

The bottom of the housing market may be upon us, but the litigation lingers on.   A judge has denied AIG’s motion in the Bank of America settlement. [Reuters] A federal judge denied Bank of New York Mellon’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit by investors over the bank’s role as a trustee more mortgage backed securities  in the mess made by Countrywide.  [Reuters]

***

Maybe the Republicans do have a “health care” plan?

Health care would be “addressed” by disabling the implementation of ObamaCare, which Mitt Romney has repeatedly said he’d do on his first day in office. Even if you believe Romney and other Republicans actually have their own agenda of “health reform,” it’s mostly just a matter of replacing today’s health care deduction for employers with a tax credit for individuals, and then passing one bill allowing interstate insurance sales; the “market” (i.e., the rush of insurers to states with little or no regulation) will take care of the rest, and besides, it’s not the federal government’s job to make sure everyone has health insurance, right? [WashMon]

Yes, and with the rush to those states with little or no restraint on health insurance corporations we can reasonably expect that those corporations will not provide insurance to individuals with pre-existing conditions, not include vaccinations under basic policies, not include wellness screening for prostate, breast, or other cancers, and not include tax breaks for small businesses which provide health care plans for their employees.  It’s the Bush System on Steriods.

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Some cheese with that whine?  Presumptive nominee Mitt Romney’s saying Life’s Unfair!

“This America is fundamentally fair,” he said. “We will stop the unfairness of urban children being denied access to the good schools of their choice; we will stop the unfairness of politicians giving taxpayer money to their friends’ businesses; we will stop the unfairness of requiring union workers to contribute to politicians not of their choosing; we will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve; and we will stop the unfairness of one generation passing larger and larger debts on to the next.”  [TPM]

Translation:  We will provide vouchers for parents to subsidize private schooling for their children.  We will stop assisting manufacturing companies with research and development.  We will attack trade unions.  We will further slash pay for government employees.  We will give tax breaks to the 1% and impose austerity on the remaining 99%.  There’s a good piece about privatizing education here.   H/T to Nevada State Employee Focus, there’s another excellent article on the attacks on public employees here.

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Speaking from friends in interesting places: The Soap Opera that’s become the Nevada Republican Party continues apace, and to read the gruesome details click over to The Nevada Progressive.

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More dispatches from the War On Women in the Sin City Siren.   Meanwhile anti-abortion activists are urging a “personhood bill” for the state of Oklahoma, the New Hampshire Senate has 6 abortion bills on its agenda, and a move to defund Planned Parenthood in Ohio is on temporary hold, but could reappear at any time.   More restrictive bills are in process in Tennessee, Louisiana, and Iowa.

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Political items worth the click and read:  “The Koch Brothers Exposed,” Rolling Stone.   “Mitt Romney’s Attack Dog,” (Larry McCarthy negative ad guru), New Yorker 2/2012. “Don’t Let Business Lobbyists Kill The Post Office,” Rolling Stone.   “Campaign Tips from Cicero,” Foreign Affairs.

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Filed under Economy, financial regulation, Health Care, Heath Insurance, housing, Politics, Sandoval, Taxation, Union busting, unions, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

A Good Little Soldier in the Radical Army: Amodei’s Unsurprising Votes

If anyone was thinking that the newly elected Congressional Representative from Nevada’s 2nd District might have a mind of his own, Rep. Mark Amodei has  put paid to those musings by marching along lockstep with the House GOP leadership.

## Mr. Amodei became Representative Amodei on September 15, 2011 and prompting lined up with the NLRB bashing H.R. 2587:

“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.”

Contrary to the bill’s title, this doesn’t have anything to do with protecting American jobs — in fact, the bill was exactly what Boeing Incorporated wanted.  Instead of protecting American jobs, the bill endangers them:

“Employers will be able to eliminate jobs or transfer employees or work for no purpose other than to punish employees for exercising their rights and the Board will be powerless to direct the employer to return the work regardless of the circumstances. And these employees will lose their jobs because they tried to exercise their federally protected rights.”  [AFLCIO]

Rep. Amodei voted “yea” on this union-bashing bill. [roll call 711]

## On the next major vote, September 23, 2011, Representative Amodei joined the Republican/Tea Party attack on the Environmental Protection Agency.  H.R. 2401 was introduced “To require analyses of the cumulative and incremental impacts of certain rules and actions of the Environmental Protection Agency, and for other purposes..” translation — this bill would put into statute the lovingly embraced Republican fiction that following environmental best practices costs more than it is beneficial.  We can say “fiction” because there is scant evidence that environmental regulations actually cost any real jobs, and better research indicating that the benefits outweigh the  costs.  [OMBWatch] [EPI]

Rep. Amodei voted “yea” on this legislation, near and dear to the hearts of those who inhabit corporate boardrooms. [roll call 741]

## The GOP attack on the EPA continued with H.R. 2681To provide additional time for the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to issue achievable standards for cement manufacturing facilities, and for other purposes…”  Interesting that cement manufacturers were adamant that the EPA standards could not be met [pca pdf]  when the Lehigh Hanson cement plant at Union Bridge, Maryland announced plans to meet mercury emission standards a year early (2012).  [Bloomberg]

Living proof at Union Bridge notwithstanding, Rep. Amodei voted “yea” on this EPA attack, [roll call 764] Evidently, Rep. Amodei has bought into the concept that we cannot have both jobs and modernized cleaner production facilities.  Lehigh Hanson’s example makes a mockery of this position.

## Three so-called Free Trade Agreements came to the House floor in October.  Rep. Amodei voted in favor of the Colombian FTA [roll call 781] presumably knowing full well that no one has been indicted in Colombia for the last two years for murdering labor leaders.  He voted in favor of the Panamanian FTA [roll call 782] over the misgivings of some who felt the country had not made sufficient progress dealing with its reputation as a tax haven and money laundering locale.  He voted in favor of the Korean FTA [roll call 783] over the concerns presented by American automobile manufacturers.  No one has yet made the case that Free Trade Agreements result in a net increase in American jobs — indeed NAFTA has a well earned reputation for being an American Job Killer.

## On October 13, 2011 House Republicans, Representative Amodei included, voted to pass one of the most radical assaults on women’s rights imaginable, in H.R 358.  The bill was the infamous Stupak Amendment on steroids.  Under the provisions of this bill a hospital could “choose” to allow a woman to die from pregnancy complications rather than abort the fetus to save the mother’s life.  [TPM] It does require a radical mindset to allow a woman to die, and orphan her surviving children, rather than require an emergency center to perform a medical procedure to save her life — but, Tea Party Toe The Line Representative Amodei was pleased to go along with this medieval thinking. [roll call 789]

## Also on October 13th, the House GOP was back to attacking the EPA with H.R. 2250, “To provide additional time for the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to issue achievable standards for industrial, commercial, and institutional boilers, process heaters, and incinerators, and for other purposes...”  A manufacturers laundry list of industrial standards corporations don’t want to have to follow.  Rep. Amodei was pleased to vote “yea” to all the corporate wishes. [roll call 791]

##  H.R. 2273 concerned the disposal of coal ash and “H.R. 2273 subverts public support of the EPA’s proposed federal coal ash rules by leaving coal ash pollution in the hands of states with weak or non-existent regulations. ” [AppV] There’s a reason individuals in coal mining states are concerning with coal ash disposal, “Coal ash is the nation’s second-largest waste stream after municipal garbage. Coal ash slurry — a by-product of coal-fired power plants — is highly toxic. People living near an unlined coal ash pond are at a 1-in-50 risk of cancer from arsenic, a rate that is 2,000 times greater than the acceptable level of risk.”  [AppV] (emphasis added)  High cancer rates?  No inspections for mercury, arsenic, chromium, and lead?  And no inspections to see if any of this toxic sludge is getting into the local groundwater?  All perfectly acceptable to House Republicans — and to Representative Amodei. [roll call 800]

Thus far, Representative Amodei’s been the perfect little Corporate Warrior for banking, polluting, and radical anti-choice interests.

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Filed under abortion, Amodei, ecology, employment, Nevada politics, Union busting, unions, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

Should We Call It Job De-Creation?

There are some very strange things being done these days by those vaunted Job Creators, to whom we are to give tax breaks, tax havens, tax deductions, tax subsidies, and reduced marginal taxes because — They Create Jobs!

Here’s BMW’s version of “job creation” in Ontario, California:  “Despite making record profits and receiving over $3.6 billion in taxpayer bailout loans, the German automobile giant will layoff almost all its union and non-union employees in Ontario later this summer and immediately re-open the facility the very next day with a cheaper, inexperienced work force. ” […] “BMW also received over $3.6 billion in secret low-interest loans during the 2008-2009 U.S. taxpayer bailout.”   [PRN 7/14/11] Next month almost 100 people some with long experience with the corporation will be laid off.  [AutoEv]  The Los Angeles Times called the event an “evisceration of the middle class.”

Here’s ATC’s idea of job creation in Ohio:  Move to Florida, closing the aerospace supply chain business in Butler County, and don’t specify the number of jobs that will be available in the new location. [BizJournal]   Butler County has received four notices of job losses this year.  “Butler County has had four notices of mass layoffs this year from downsizings or closings at Kmart in Hamilton, MISA Metals in Middletown and BAE Systems and CEVA Logistics in West Chester Twp. It was also announced last month that a Liz Claiborne distribution facility would close in West Chester Twp., affecting approximately 400 jobs.”  However, the news isn’t completely bleak for Butler County.  “…the county will also gain some jobs from GE Aviation, which said last week it is moving 300 employees to newly leased office space in West Chester Twp.  Business retention successes include the 185 jobs kept at ThyssenKrupp Bilstein of America Inc., in Hamilton, a manufacturer of automobile shock absorbers. ThyssenKrupp has an expansion project that could also add 60 jobs.”   [JournalNews]  Notice that GE Aviation isn’t creating new jobs, it is simply moving 300 already filled to Butler County, thus the brightest hope comes from the addition of 60 new jobs at TKB.

Here’s what job creation looks like at Cisco Systems (CA):  Rumors are swirling in business circles that the company will shave anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 employees from its roster in order to increase profits.  [IBT 7/12/11]

Here’s what job creation look like in Lebanon, Tennessee:  60 employees of the Cracker Barrel are looking for other work, ranging from secretarial to management. The company saw sales drop 2.6% — fewer people are eating out these days.  [Tennessean 7/18/11]

Job creation didn’t look any better in Union City, TN:  “The United Steelworkers (USW) today said it was very disappointed to learn that Goodyear Tire issued a WARN notice to its members at Local 878L, informing them that their services would no longer be needed at the Union City, Tenn. facility scheduled for shutdown. […] The shut down affects 1,900 workers in western Tennessee and Kentucky.”  [PRN 7/11/11]

Job creation at Goldman Sachs looks like up to 230 people losing their jobs in New York.   The company, also a beneficiary of taxpayer largesse, said it was interested in reducing  “$1 billion in non-compensation expenses in the coming year.”  [BusInsider 6/29/11]

The financial sector doesn’t sound like a very happy place: “There were mass layoffs in the sector in 2008 as well, but this time the layoffs are said to be permanent. The report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas has said that the financial sector is going to be cutting 21 percent more jobs this year than in 2010. Over 11,000 jobs are expected to be cut by banks, brokers, and insurance companies. ”  [SBwire 6/27/11]

There’s no job creation for a bankrupt company in Cordova, MD:   “The first reported layoff at one of the seven Allen Family Foods facilities up for sale will take place Friday at the Cordova processing plant, where 30 of the 474 employees are expected to lose their jobs.”  [CW 7/14/11]

On Wisconsin? Except for employees of M&I Bank:  “About 475 jobs will be cut after the parent company of Harris Bank acquired Milwaukee’s M&I banking chain. Jim Kappel of BMO Harris said the layoffs would take place during the next four months throughout the company’s Midwest region. ”  [PCH 7/21/11]

Job creation hasn’t been a factor for Ford’s “Ranger” production in Minnesota:  “Still, Shropa said, “Our last date of scheduled production is Dec. 22.” Ford, which first announced its intention to close the plant in 2006, has extended its life past earlier projected shutdown dates in 2008 and 2009. It now says only that operations will end sometime this year. The company plans to build redesigned Rangers at plants in South America, Asia and Australia and sell them only in international markets.Thus will end Ford’s mixed manufacturing legacy in Minnesota, leaving behind a workforce of about 900 as well as employees of at least 17 supplier businesses who have been declared eligible for the state’s Dislocated Worker program.”  [TCDP 7/12/11]

And, the Ford Experience isn’t the only reverse Job Creation going on in Minnesota:  Boston Scientific announced 5,000 layoffs in the Land of 10,000 Lakes,  labor is so much cheaper in Costa Rica.  [BizJournals 7/11/11]

We could probably have guessed MySpace was going to practice reverse job creation:  “…MySpace gave pink slips to more than half of its base of 450 employees on Wednesday. Compare that to when MySpace employed 1,400 people as of two years ago, and its easy to picture just how steeply this company has fallen.”  [ZDnet 6/30/11] But hey! They hired Justin Timberlake?

While these situations will show up as “mass layoff events” in Department of Labor statistics, the events are described in order to drive the point home that what we are looking at are not statistics in carefully tabulated charts — they are men and women who will be filing unemployment insurance benefit claims, thus reducing their spending capacity, and joining the ranks of unemployed Americans.

OK, It’s Not All Gloom And Doom

Things could be worse in the private sector, it could be the first quarter of 2009 after the Housing Bubble splattered all over the United States of America, and there were a record 3,979 mass layoff events, as defined by the Department of Labor.  [DoL]   According to the Department of Labor, “The total number of business functions reported by employers in nonseasonal layoff events in the first quarter was 1,926, a decrease from 2,563 business functions a year earlier.” As expected the worst sector was construction, followed by administrative and clerical personnel, then “general management,” and “first line supervision.”  One year ago manufacturing accounted for 16% of all the mass layoff events, this year it accounted for 20%.  [DoL]

The Other Shoe Dropping

Just as the private sector is at least experiencing a declining level of mass layoff events — not exactly what one might expect from the Job Creators,  one could  have thought they’d “create” a few more — the other shoe is already headed toward the floor:   Lay off “events” in the public sector.  One possible harbinger of things to come is that the May 2011 DoL report concerning mass layoffs included two categories either directly related to the public sector, or to the capacity of families to assume additional employment to replace jobs lost in layoff events — workers in child day care centers filed 7,120 claims in May 2011, and colleges and universities laid off 2,095, with junior colleges adding another 1,857 unemployed.

“Education services” have already begun to hit the tabulations.  The Department of Labor looked at selected quarters and determined that during the First Quarter of 2010 887 individuals in this category were unemployed as a result of layoffs; by the Fourth Quarter of 2010 the number increased to 2,655, in the First Quarter of 2011 another 781 were added.  The First Quarter of any calendar year is not a time one would expect to see layoffs in educational services.

The numbers in “health care and social assistance” don’t look much better.  In Q1 2010 there were 5,631 recently unemployed, in Q4 there were 6,475.  There were 3,812 in Q1 2011.  If we add the Q4 unemployment in educational and health/social services, there were 4,593 people with reduced or no earnings.  It is impossible to calculate with any specificity what these layoffs cost to the economies of  local communities, but we can hypothesize for the sake of illustration that if they were earning median wages ($53,000 annually) they were contributing a total of $243,429,000 to their local economies. Since education and health sectors tend to pay less than median level wages, we might reduce this to a hypothetical $30,000 annual income, but that still might have yielded some $137,790,000 to the local economies — as well as revenue from their income, property, sales, and other taxes paid.

Teacher layoffs were narrowly avoided in New York City, those layoffs threatened 4,100 jobs. [NYT] There will be no mid-year cuts to teaching staff levels in California mid-year, but who knows what will happen after that. [LAT] Detroit Public Schools could be hard hit. [HuffPo] Intertwined with these budget gap issues, is the full-on assault on teacher unions, which is itself part of an overall union-busting agenda by Republican leaders. Even authorization for the Federal Aviation Administration is fraught with conflict over the rights of employees to organize.  [DKos 3/8/11] [DKos 7/20/11] [Politico 7/21/11] [FCW 7/21/11]

And The Losers Are?

Lost in the public employee bashing rhetoric of the radical right, which claims that these are “not real jobs,” is the irrefutable fact that teachers, firefighters, police officers, aviation personnel, and other public sector employees are property owners, consumers, and taxpayers.   As property owners they saw their home values decline with all others in the aftermath of the Housing Bubble, as consumers they are seeing their disposable income eroded by inflation and give backs, as taxpayers each ‘give-back’ accepting reduced wages means that they return less back to public coffers in income tax payments, and payroll taxes if such are deducted in their various districts.

If reductions in mass layoff events in the private sector are counter-weighted by mass layoffs in the public sector, no one wins.  Certainly not the Cracker Barrel Restaurants who’ve seen 2.6% of their clientele disappear.  Certainly not tire manufacturers who depend upon customers from both the public and private sector having sufficient disposable income to purchase automobiles.  Certainly not the banks if deposits in their customers’ accounts decline.

In a race to the bottom, there are no winners.

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Filed under Economy, employment, public employees, unemployment, Union busting

House GOP Goes Union Busting: H.R. 2153 Introduced

The Nevada Rural Democratic Caucus sums up the situation in the House of Representatives as it pertains to Republican legislative interest in job creation: “They’re more interested in pillaging and waging cultural war on women, children and organized labor.  So instead of proposing bills addressing issues that would generate jobs, well, they’re going after their pet peeves instead.”

Perhaps it is time to return for a reminder about what creates JOBS.  Unless one subscribes to the Trickle-Down-Supply-Side-Hoax of the century, 5000 years of economic history says that DEMAND for goods and services creates economic growth.  It’s been stated countless times herein, in a variety of ways, that the business which bases its hiring decisions on marginal tax rates and the reduction of  regulatory oversight isn’t long for this economic world.  There is one, and only one, sane reason for hiring more employees — the company has more work to do than can be accomplished by the current work force.

Policies which exacerbate the hyper-concentration of wealth in the upper reaches of income earners is counter-productive to the stated goal of overall economic growth.  The Republican rising tide works only for the yachts,  the rowboats find themselves beached. What’s draining the water from underneath the average Americans in their row boats?

Republican War on Organized Labor:  While there are economic impacts, the GOP perspective is entirely political, GOP guru Grover Norquist has made this abundantly clear: “We plan to pick up another five seats in the Senate and hold the House through redistricting through 2012. And rather than negotiate with the teachers’ unions’ and the trial lawyers and the various leftist interest groups, we intend to break them.” [PRB]

Those “various leftist interest groups” are unions, consumer organizations, environmental advocates, and public interest groups who do not believe that allowing corporations free rein to extract maximized profits at minimal expense is the cogent way to grow an economy.  It ought to be obvious to anyone who has made it through high school economics that the less money average Americans have in their pockets, the less demand is created for goods and services.  Breaking unions which seek better wages and working conditions  for the short-term benefit of corporate America, while politically expedient is economically counter-productive.

All this is obviously lost on the Republicans in the House of Representatives.  H.R. 2153 (see more at NRDC)  “would amend the National Labor Relations Act to protect employer rights by allowing them the right to refuse to hire workers who would be sympathetic to organizing efforts.”  That’s right — a person could be refused employment based on a prospective employer’s impression that the person might hold positive views about unions.

The “findings” section of the bill is particularly unsettling for anyone who believes in individual liberty and freedom of thought and expression:

(1) An atmosphere of trust and civility in labor-management relationships is essential to a productive workplace and a healthy economy.

 (2) The tactic of using professional union organizers and agents to infiltrate a targeted employer’s workplace, a practice commonly referred to as `salting’ has evolved into an aggressive form of harassment not contemplated when the National Labor Relations Act was enacted and threatens the balance of rights which is fundamental to our system of collective bargaining.

(3) Increasingly, union organizers are seeking employment with nonunion employers not because of a desire to work for such employers but primarily to organize the employees of such employers or to inflict economic harm specifically designed to put nonunion competitors out of business, or to do both.

(4) While no employer may discriminate against employees based upon the views of employees concerning collective bargaining, an employer should have the right to expect job applicants to be primarily interested in utilizing the skills of the applicants to further the goals of the business of the employer.”

If there were ever a more blatant anti-worker anti-union statement in the annals of Congressional legislation it would be difficult to imagine what it might have been.  Civility, in the GOP context, means a nice quiet non-union workplace wherein the little drones carry out their tasks with equanimity never having the temerity to pull an Oliver Twist and say “Please, sir, more?”

Heaven forfend that someone might seek to organize the employees in these little corporate corners of paradise for the purpose of addressing problems of unpaid required overtime, discriminatory promotion practices, substandard wages, and unsafe working conditions.  In case this isn’t crystal clear, the GOP equates “trust and civility” with the early 19th century management style associated with the New England textile mills.  It doesn’t take much to turn a trusting and civil environment as imagined by the Republicans into what we would more quickly recognize as a sweat shop.

Nor do the Republicans even bother to hide their perspective in this matter, the bill states very simply: “SEC. 3. PROTECTION OF EMPLOYER RIGHTS. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as requiring an employer to employ any person who seeks or has sought employment with the employer in furtherance of other employment or agency status.”

And, how might an employer discern that a person might be seeking employment so as to promote unionization?  Good question, because the proposed statute doesn’t specify this aspect.  If previous membership in a union is considered suspect, then what is to prevent the re-imposition of good old fashioned Black Lists?  Is the applicant “suspicious” because her parents were union members?  Or, because he has siblings who are union members or leaders?  Perhaps the applicant can be refused employment because he or she personally admits to pro-union sentiments? Has participated in public discussions in which the benefits of union organizing have been debated?

The bill, for all intents and purposes, is purely and simply a license for union busting, and we already know that concern for the workers, or even concern for that “trust and civility” in the workplace isn’t the point.  Grover Norquist has already made the point for the Republicans in the U.S. Congress:

“And rather than negotiate with the teachers’ unions’ and the trial lawyers and the various leftist interest groups, we intend to break them.”

*H.R. 2153 was introduced by Representative Steve King (R-IA) with five co-sponsors:  Rep Burton, Dan [IN-5] – 6/13/2011 Rep Duncan, John J., Jr. [TN-2] – 6/13/2011 Rep Jenkins, Lynn [KS-2] – 6/13/2011 Rep Miller, Gary G. [CA-42] – 6/13/2011  Rep Ross, Dennis [FL-12] – 6/13/2011   It has been referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor.

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>Continuing Questions About SB 41

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Poor little SB 41, the bill in the Nevada Legislature to eliminate collective bargaining for local public employees now seems to have been written by a ghost. SB 41 is the product of the aforementioned Bill Draft Request 23-412, from the office of then Governor Jim Gibbons, requested on September 1, 2010.  NSEF has some excellent questions, including the following observations:

The pre-filed BDR should have been something he knew about. His staff should have discussed with him and if they did not then there are deep problems there.
But then, if he knew about the bill, he was obviously holding things “close to the vest” and shows is lying about his intentions regarding ending collective bargaining rights.
He may have known about the bill but was expecting something different from someone outside of his office. But then, the Governor can propose legislation and does not have to reply on someone else except for political cover.
Though the bill was submitted by Gibbons last year, it was not withdrawn and therefore has Sandoval’s approval.”

The answer may lie in the provisions of NRS218D.585 wherein we read that “ Introduction and referral of prefiled measures upon convening of session.  Upon the convening of the next succeeding regular session of the Legislature, all prefiled bills and joint resolutions must be introduced and referred to a standing committee in the order in which they are numbered.  (Added to NRS by 1973, 1125; A 1995, 1737)—(Substituted in revision for NRS 218.279)
If Governor Sandoval was stuck with this cuckoo’s egg left over from the Gibbons Administration, then why not let members of the media know he was thus entrapped with it, and make it abundantly clear to them that not only was he “watching the progress of such bills,” but that he had directed staff to tell committee chairpersons to file SB 41 in the depths of the committee filing cabinets?

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>It’s All In The Timing? Sandoval suggested SB 41 ending collective bargaining before inauguration Updated

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The Sausage Factory makes a truly interesting point: While Nevada Governor Sandoval was denying any connection to the Koch Brothers proposals to eliminate collective bargaining for public employees, his bill SB 41 was already in the State Senate and assigned to the Legislative Operations and Elections Committee.

The bill history reports that SB 41 was pre-filed and referred to the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections on December 14, 2010.  On February 7, 2011 SB 41 was “read” and referred officially to that committee.  If the timing and the pronouncements sound a little suspicious, there’s probably a reason for that in the timeline of recent events.

September 1, 2010 Governor Gibbons files BDR 23-412, a request for the measure that will become SB 41*
November 2, 2010  Sandoval elected Governor of the State of Nevada
December 14, 2010 Sandoval’s bill to end collective bargaining for Nevada public employees sent to the State Senate, received by the Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections*
January 3, 2011 Sandoval takes the oath of office
January 24, 2011 Sandoval gives State of the State remarks, without mentioning collective bargaining legislative proposal. 
February 24, 2011 Sandoval tells Anjeanette Damon of the Las Vegas SunIn regard to collective bargaining, there may be a bill,” Sandoval said. I’ve not seen that bill. I’m watching the progress of such bills and waiting to see if they arrive here at the Capitol.”  The comments are repeated to a reporter from the Las Vegas Review Journal, on February 27, 2011.  (emphasis added) Yes, indeed, there “may be a bill” — and it was the Governor’s very own bill. This raises a question: If there was a bill eliminating collective bargaining for local employees in Nevada, and it was not seen by the Governor before being sent to the State Senate — then who wrote the bill, and why didn’t the Governor read it prior to having it transmitted?
*If we adjust the timeline, inserting the date of BDR 23-412 into the mix, then the answer to who wrote the bill is clarified, but not the question as to how the bill reached the printers and the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections.

What is perfectly clear from the recorded dates in this timeline is that Sandoval’s bill to eliminate collective bargaining for public employees was IN State Senate BEFORE Governor Sandoval had taken the oath of office, had given his State of the State Address, and well before he’d told members of the Nevada press that he’d not seen his own bill.  *If Governor Sandoval did not wish to have the measure, i.e. the result of BDR 23-412 or SB 41, as part of his legislative package, then why was it not deleted prior to the introduction of the bill into the State Senate? One possible answer is that there was a lack of communication between Governor Sandoval and the Legislative Operations and Elections Committee. Or, with Senate Republican leadership. Or, perhaps that the Governor was not aware of what staff was assembling as part of his legislative packet.  There are all manner of possible explanations, however once in the Senate, and once assigned to a committee, the bill — however much Governor Sandoval might not wish it so — becomes his.

 Update: As noted by a commenter, the question of timing might be explained by calling the bill a holdover from the Gibbons Administration, and the current Governor excused because he has asked the legislature not to consider the bill. Indeed, Bill Draft Request 23-412 was made on September 1, 2010 from the office of the Governor (which would have been Governor Gibbons at the time.)  The problem with excusing the current Governor from any and all relationship with this measure is that one glance at the BDR List shows a significant number of bills to which no bill number has been assigned; indeed there are several bill draft requests from former members of the Legislature which have not been assigned numbers, nor have final drafts been made available to the Legislature in the form of a bill. Again, the question becomes: Why did this bill, the BDR for which came from the previous administration, be introduced into the Legislature, and assigned to a committee when other bills were simply “lost?”  The easiest way to prevent a bill from being considered by the Legislature is to let it die on the bill drafter’s desk.

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>Right Wing Bills Fly Into Nevada Legislative Session: Updated

>Nevada Republican-T’puppet State Senators and Assembly members have introduced a variety of interesting bills in the 76th Session. Here’s a partial list of ones to watch:

(1) AB 186 on Eminent Domain. “… this bill allows all real property managed or controlled by the Federal Government, other than property owned by the Federal Government in accordance with the provisions of Clause 17 of Section 8 of Article I of the United States Constitution, to be taken by eminent domain if the property is used to construct and maintain a renewable energy generation project or any other project that uses renewable energy to generate and transmit electricity.”  Sounds nice, “renewable energy” and all that green stuff. However, eminent domain generally refers to PUBLIC agencies and entities. In AB 186 a corporation could move into yet another sector of the energy business. NRS 37.010 already allows for a company to use public lands for public utilities — this bill in its present form sounds very much like it would allow a corporation to use public lands for a private utility.

(2) SB 178 on Election Laws. This one is a vote-suppression-special. Individuals registering to vote must present proof of citizenship, and naturalized citizens are presumed to be illegal unless their names are cleared by a federal agency. There’s also some good old fashioned immigrant bashing in the bill as well. [SB 178 pdf]

(3) AB 104 on Election Laws. Increases the penalty for fraudulent voting…this one is a classic example of a solution in search of a problem, part of the parcel of GOP delusions about undocumented individuals voting in Nevada elections, a “terror” for which no one has ever offered any concrete examples.

(4) SB 199 on taxation of businesses and  financial institutions. The bill would allow a tax break for corporations who hire new employees. The wages for new hires could be deducted from the reporting requirements for the Modified Business Tax for one year.  And, this in a year with a “significant deficit?”

(5) SB 70 on the State Board of Education, and Superintendent of Public Instruction. Out with the old elected 10 member board of education, to be replaced by an advisory council of political appointees. Out with the Board of Education hiring the state superintendent and in with a political appointee who serves at the pleasure of the Governor. [SB 70 pdf]  See Also: SB 197. (pdf)

(6) SB 90 on school district fiscal management. Under the provisions of this bill each school district would be required to create a fiscal advisory committee. The FAC would review tentative budgets, review all expenditures made by the district and submit a report, and the reports would have to be reviewed by the Boards of School Trustees in a public meeting. Aside from the fact that this bill creates an Unfunded Mandate for local school districts, something Republicans have preached against vigilantly and with great vigor,  the bill would add “one more layer of bureaucracy” in school finance. Also an effect which in other realms is the target of Republican wrath.

(7) SB 169 on the Civil Service. The bill wipes out seniority as a consideration in the retention of employees in case of layoffs. The bill would eliminate seniority considerations in all local entities, for employees in the judicial system, and those under the authority of the University System Board of Regents. [SB 169 pdf]

(8) SB 41 on collective bargaining. SB 41 is a pre-filed bill introduced on behalf of the Governor, eliminating  mandatory collective bargaining for all local government employers. SB 78 would allow the employer to make public all proposals made by either party in the process of negotiations. In short, bargaining in the press and the court of public opinion. SB 78 was filed on behalf of the City of Reno. AB 105 (Sherwood) would require all employee organizations to open their books regarding dues, expenditures, compensation, and other financial matters.  Memo: Assemblyman Sherwood – the records are available to any member. If a privately held equity firm doesn’t have to make full disclosure to the SEC, why does a union have to make its books public to those outside its membership?

Update: Over at The Sausage Factory it’s noted that Governor Sandoval told the press he didn’t know anything about any collective bargaining bill on February 24, 2011, and denied again that he had any collective bargaining bills in the hopper on February 27, 2011 — However, HIS bill (SB 41) was introduced in the State Senate on February 7, 2011

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>Sandoval’s SB 41 Would End Collective Bargaining For NV Local Employees

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In case citizens of Nevada were thinking that what happens in Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin would stay in Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin — please see SB 41 (pdf), introduced into the Nevada State Legislature by the Legislative Committee on Operations and Elections at the request of the Governor. The LCB fiscal note reports:

“This bill  repeals, effective on June 30, 2012, all of these provisions, including mandatory collective bargaining, except the anti-strike provisions and the provision which gives local government employees the right to join or not join an employee organization at the employee’s discretion. This bill further adds a new provision setting forth that the recognition of employee organizations and engaging in collective bargaining are not mandatory, but are instead permissive under such terms and conditions as a local government employer deems desirable and in the best interests of the applicable local government.” (emphasis added)

In other words, if the local government doesn’t “deem” collective bargaining “desirable” then all bets are off and there will be no collective bargaining. Period.

The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Operations and Elections on February 7, 2011.

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>The Ultimate Game: Why Teachers and Public Employees Are Under Attack

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Suddenly (?) a group of conservative Republican governors have decided that the “real problem” with out of balance budgets is collective bargaining. The situation in Nevada is exacerbated by the lack of a solid and equitable tax base [NSEF] [Gleaner].  But, whether it’s the lack of an adequate tax base (Nevada) or the lack of political will to say “NO” to corporations and corporate executives looking to pay little or no taxes, (Wisconsin) [Forbes] the real issues are: (1) Can the top 1% of American income earners protect their income even if doing so will decimate the Middle Class? And, (2) Can Republican administrations successfully eliminate any coordinated opposition to corporate control of the U.S. economy?  This situation has been long in the making, and if the events in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana are any indication, the contest is just beginning.

A Question Of Priorities

The budget battles in states that do have a more broad and equitable tax structure than Nevada are indicative of a situation in which government spending isn’t really the problem at all, it is that they have reduced their own capacity to collect revenue. Wisconsin, again, provides an example. The GOP in Wisconsin pushed through $25 million for an economic development fund, which still has a balance of $173 million; it asked for and got another $48 million for private health savings accounts; and, it got approximately $67 million for a tax incentive plan that primarily benefits employers. [TPM] For those who would like independent corroboration for these figures, there’s the report from Legislative Fiscal Bureau of the State of Wisconsin. (pdf) If we total all three of these pro-corporate measures the sum is $140 million. Governor Walker (R-WI) is claiming there is a $137 million deficit. Either repealing or delaying the implementation of these three would quickly “solve” the Wisconsin deficit problem with $3 million to spare.  If it isn’t about the money, then what is the problem?

The situation in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio gives every appearance of being a question of whether or not a state can afford to subsidize corporations and still provide public services. If it comes down to a question of which should be preserved, then the Wisconsin exemplar means that the Republicans have decided that it is more important to preserve corporate subsidies and low taxes for the ultra-wealthy than it is to provide public services.

Subsidies for employers: The health savings accounts are indicative of this mentality. HSA’s mean that corporate employers no longer have to be concerned with offering health insurance coverage for their employees. That would be just so much less expense for corporation doing the hiring. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with HSA’s; they are a good plan for the healthy, wealthy, and young. There is something wrong when they are considered to be a substitute for employer sponsored health insurance coverage plans for those not all that healthy, wealthy, and young. When they are supposed to supplant, even in part, traditional health insurance coverage they are nothing less than a subsidy for the corporations — supported by tax payer dollars.

Subsidies for corporations: Nevada Governor Sandoval has recommended an increase of $10 million to “attract new business to the state.” [ST] The rationale appears to be that all the money Nevada tax payers have poured into “economic development” in the past has been insufficient.  Therefore, in order to create growth in the Nevada economy we must attract (or create?) more business by spending even more on “economic development.” Easier said, especially in slogan form, than done. Attracting enterprise means having at least an adequate transportation system, having a reliable source of raw materials on hand, having access to research and development institutions and services,  and having a standard of living that allows corporations to attract and retain a competent work force. Thus it would seem that for every dollar we spend trying to attract out-of-state corporations into the state we lose 25 cents for transportation and infrastructure investment, 25 cents for the promotion of solar and wind energy companies, 25 cents for research institutions like our universities, and the last 25 cents for maintaining or upgrading our educational, cultural, and related institutions. The Governor’s budget still calls for more spending on “economic development.” [Budget pdf]  The argument is often made, “Gee, we’ve poured all this money into education, and it hasn’t worked?” so, how about we turn the argument around a bit and offer that “Gee, we’ve spent all this money on economic development and we still have the worst unemployment rate in the country.”

Another way to subsidize corporations is to allow them to pay workers less than a living wage. Indeed, we’ve just witnessed the introduction of a bill in the Nevada Legislature to repeal the minimum wage. SJR 2, introduced into Nevada’s current legislative session by Senator Joe Hardy (R-Boulder City), would certainly be music to the ears of large retailers who might like nothing better than to reduce their labor expenses. Failing this kind of radical proposal, there’s always the prospect of busting unions whose negotiated contracts have set the standard for hiring in various economic sectors. Every dollar the corporation “saves” by paying less than a living wage, or paying lower wages because collective bargaining has been prohibited can be retained in the corporate coffers for paying CEO compensation packages, and dividends.

State legislatures and state administrations can also subsidize corporate bottom lines by allowing firms to shift from defined benefit retirement plans to defined contribution plans. The Department of Labor explains the defined contribution system: “A defined contribution plan, on the other hand, does not promise a specific amount of benefits at retirement. In these plans, the employee or the employer (or both) contribute to the employee’s individual account under the plan, sometimes at a set rate, such as 5 percent of earnings annually. These contributions generally are invested on the employee’s behalf. The employee will ultimately receive the balance in their account, which is based on contributions plus or minus investment gains or losses. The value of the account will fluctuate due to the changes in the value of the investments. Examples of defined contribution plans include 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, employee stock ownership plans, and profit-sharing plans.” [DoL] (emphasis added) 

However, the best way to subsidize corporations and their executives is to keep tax rates low.  Nevada has had, for all the good it has done us, a state and local “tax burden rank” between 48th and 50th since 1980. The state has no corporate, nor individual, income tax. If low taxation rates are the prime mover of economic development, Nevada — ranked 49th in 2008 — should be booming now. The conclusion is rather easy to reach: It is more important to Republicans in Nevada to keep subsidizing the business community in terms of “economic development” advertising, paying workers as little as possible, providing minimal benefits, and keeping tax rates artificially low, than it is to invest in the future of Nevada’s middle class. The question then becomes, which is more important: Keeping corporate interests satisfied, or keeping the State of Nevada sound and fiscally secure?

 Sowing the Seeds

In order to secure political “capital” toward advancing an agenda supportive of corporate interests, conservatives have launched a propaganda barrage for at least the last 31 years. According to the right wing propaganda machine, “unions” are corrupt, thuggish, unprincipled, and self serving. The fact that unions and collectively bargained contracts have created such things as “weekends,” living wages, benefit plans, child labor laws, and safer work environments aren’t mentioned in the hit pieces. The corollary argument is that “unions are things of the past, no longer needed in modern America,” to which one can quickly reply: So, why is the Governor of Wisconsin so eager to ban collective bargaining? And, why is a Nevada Senator so intent on repealing the minimum wage? 

The most crass of the right wing arguments tells listeners to right wing radio content that “teachers don’t care about kids, they just care about themselves.” This argument has been around for some time, at least since the NEA and AFT entered the political lists. The intent of the allegations is to marginalize and demonize the “unions” not necessarily the individual teacher-members. When pinned down for specifics, the anti-union people will first declare that “teachers” don’t care…then retreat to “well, the teachers are OK, it’s the union leadership that isn’t concerned with kids.  When advised that teacher union leadership is made up of …teachers… who can fire the professional staff on union payrolls, the anti-union element generally leaves the field. Blue Lyon does a nice job of eviscerating the silly argument that teachers are over-paid. Teachers aren’t the first organized group of public employees to face the wrath of pro-corporate apologists.

When in doubt, bash the bureaucrats. This line of right wing argumentation requires a conflation similar to that made with teachers. However, the conflation in this instance is augmented by the widely spread propaganda that all state workers are “bureaucrats.” This may come as something of a shock to firefighters, law enforcement officers, state highway maintenance workers, nurses in state and local hospitals, social services case workers, health inspectors, county librarians, corrections officers, fish and game officers, park rangers, building and grounds workers, accountants in state offices, secretaries, file clerks, data entry personnel, receptionists and phone system operators. 

The right wing imagery of the state worker “standing on his shovel” conflated with the equally inaccurate portrait of the state worker as over-paid under-worked desk jockey falls apart very quickly when faced with the specifics of what it takes to keep highways repaired and safe, libraries open, business licenses approved, child welfare cases monitored, health inspections current, and fish in the rivers. There is nothing quite like hearing some anti-tax, anti-government consumer of right wing propaganda complain that the wintry roads aren’t cleared fast enough to suit him. The individual obviously wasn’t the person who was on-call and ran the snow-plow up and down a lonely stretch of Nevada’s highways at midnight in the midst of a blizzard.

As for the over-paid part of the argument. It’s ludicrous.  Nevada SE Focus states what should be obvious:

State employees make less than their county counterparts and public employees, as a group, make less than the private sector when factoring in education and skills. The average state employee salary in 2007 was about $44,000 a year, hardly a princely sum.  Of course, our detractors will always see it differently because ignoring the truth is easy and to look for it, requires honesty.”  

We’ve covered this territory before, but as a reminder — the average annual median wage for a secretary or administrative assistant hired by the state of Nevada is $38,319; the average annual median wage for a state file clerk is $16,642; and, the average median household income in Nevada is $48,452.  However, it seems quite simple for simplistic minds among the anti-tax/anti-government corporate apologists to conflate a non-union, politically appointed administrative staff member with a dismally paid state file clerk.  They appear to do it all the time.

It’s probably time to ask the question: Which would stimulate the Nevada economy more quickly – keeping tax rates artificially low and government services minimal in the vague (and possibly vain) hope that Disney Inc. will relocate to Nevada? Or, pay Nevada workers living wages, invest in state infrastructure, promote new domestic industries, and maintain our governmental services such that people will actually want to do more than spend a few nights in one of our hotel rooms — they might even think about residing here? As long as some citizens are wont to confuse facts with hyperbolic propaganda, and to confuse economic realities with unconfirmed (and unconfirmable) think tank corporate proselytizing, both the question and the answers will be difficult.

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