Kick off summer with a union made memorial day weekend.

Memorial Day is the unofficial kickoff to the summer holiday season. While the day honors those who have given their lives defending the nation, the weekend also marks the start of grilling season. Here’s some Read more

Testimony of Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman against H.3347

Testimony of Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman, As Prepared for Delivery Regarding H. 3347: An Act for a Reliable, Sustainable Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Hearing of the Joint Committee on Transportation Monday May 11, 2015 in Gardner Read more

Hundreds Gather at State House to Support Good Jobs & Quality Public Transit

Hundreds of union members and concerned community members rallied outside of the State House on Monday to support good jobs and quality public transit prior to a legislative hearing on Governor Baker’s proposed legislation Read more

Kick off summer with a union made memorial day weekend.

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Memorial Day is the unofficial kickoff to the summer holiday season. While the day honors those who have given their lives defending the nation, the weekend also marks the start of grilling season. Here’s some union-made food and drink to get your barbecue off to a great start.

Text MADE to 235246 for more union-made-in-America product lists. 

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Testimony of Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman against H.3347

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Testimony of Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman, As Prepared for Delivery

Regarding H. 3347: An Act for a Reliable, Sustainable Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority

Hearing of the Joint Committee on Transportation

Monday May 11, 2015 in Gardner Auditorium

Thank you Chairman McGee, Chairman Straus and members of the Committee for the opportunity to testify this afternoon. For the record, my name is Steven Tolman and I am privileged to serve as the President of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. I am here today to speak on behalf of the 400,000 working families in Massachusetts that we represent – many of whom rely on the MBTA to get to work every day, and many of whom work incredibly hard at the MBTA and take great pride in keeping our public transportation system running.

The legislation being heard today, H. 3347: An Act for a Reliable, Sustainable Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, and the recommendations from the Special Panel report on which the legislation was based, properly diagnose some of the management problems and infrastructure needs that absolutely need to be addressed at the MBTA. However, the policy solutions in this legislation focus far too heavily on changes that would negatively impact workers at the T but do nothing to improve service to the public.  The men and women who make up the MBTA’s workforce want to deliver the best possible service to the public, and are dedicated to making the nation’s oldest public transportation system its best public transportation system.  This legislation, however, falls far short of giving them the tools needed to do the job, and instead puts them front and center as the source of the T’s woes by attacking their rights to collectively bargain for fair wages and benefits.

Section 20 of H.3347 seeks to eliminate the system of binding arbitration by giving a newly created fiscal management control board veto power over an arbitrator’s decision. Binding arbitration is a tenet of collective bargaining that balances the interests of both labor and management. The decision of an arbitrator is designed to be final – giving neither party the incentive to invoke the arbitration process until other options have been exhausted. To give one side – in this case management – the power to override an arbitrator’s decision disrupts that balance and incentivizes management to delay the bargaining process and drag it out through arbitration, knowing that they hold a trump card if they do not get their desired result.

This incentive for management to delay and drag out negotiations is further sweetened by another provision in Section 19 of this legislation; the elimination of retroactive awards. Retroactive pay adds nothing to the value of a contract – it simply makes workers whole following a protracted negotiation, and must be negotiated through the collective bargaining process. If this legislation is passed in its current form, it does not take a lot of imagination to envision a situation in which management will delay negotiations to their best ability, enter into arbitration, reject an arbitrator’s decision, and repeat the process – leaving workers with no possibility of a retroactive award to account for intentional delays in bargaining. To take away this established part of the bargaining process gives management the opportunity to save on the overall value of a contract by refusing to bargain in good faith.

H.3347 also provides the MBTA with an exemption from the Taxpayer Protection Act, otherwise known as the Pacheco Law, which ensures that taxpayer money is not wasted on private companies that profit off of public services by slashing workers’ wages and benefits, running up administrative costs, and cutting service – hurting both workers and the general public. There is a reason this law was passed in 1993 and it is as necessary today as it was on the day it was passed. It bears noting that the Taxpayer Protection Act has not stopped many of the services at the MBTA from being outsourced. Look no further than the commuter rail, which represents one of the largest private contracts in the nation. The law hasn’t prevented privatization; it has simply done what its name implies — protect taxpayers from bad deals while allowing privatization to move forward when it is proven to be in the public interest.

One must simply look at other cities that have privatized portions of their public transit service to see why the Taxpayer Protection Act is desperately needed. The Government Accountability Office surveyed 463 transit agencies around the country and found that the biggest factor in cost savings from privatization is through lower wages and benefits for employees. We don’t need a race to the bottom at the MBTA. We should be investing in our public transit system rather than squeezing the workers who make it run.

And I would be remiss if I did not mention the blatant disregard for workers that contributed to the bloated absenteeism statistics that went into the MBTA panel’s report. Rather than give an accurate picture of what is happening at the T, the panel attempted to create the biggest number and biggest headline possible in a “gotcha” attempt to make workers look like the real problem. It didn’t take long for Commonwealth Magazine to dig into the numbers and show that the real number of unscheduled absences is less than half of what the report cited.

We can’t have an honest discussion about how to improve our public transportation system if the first inclination is always to blame workers and attack their right to collectively bargain for quality wages and benefits. A real discussion about improving the MBTA should focus on increased investment to improve aging equipment and infrastructure, and a recognition of the hard work of the workers at the MBTA – particularly during this year’s historic winter.

Thank you.

Hundreds Gather at State House to Support Good Jobs & Quality Public Transit

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Hundreds of union members and concerned community members rallied outside of the State House on Monday to support good jobs and quality public transit prior to a legislative hearing on Governor Baker’s proposed legislation to reform the MBTA. Workers emphasized that they want to help turn the nation’s oldest public transportation system into its best public transit system, but as Mass. AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman noted to the crowd, the legislation falls short of giving workers the tools needed to help fix problems at the T and contains several harmful provisions that would negatively impact both workers and service to the public. Following the rally, attendees visited their Representatives and Senators to let them know that they oppose efforts to eliminate the Taxpayer Protection Act at the MBTA, as well as sections of the legislation that attempt to tip the collective bargaining process in favor of management.

Union members also packed the hearing of the Joint Committee on Transportation held yesterday afternoon in Gardner Auditorium of the State House, where Governor Baker and many others weighed in on H. 3347: An Act for a Reliable, Sustainable Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Among those who offered testimony at the hearing was State Auditor Suzanne Bump, who has been outspoken in her support of the Taxpayer Protection Act, which this legislation would eliminate at the MBTA. Please click here to read a recent op-ed from State Auditor Bump describing how the law does exactly as its name implies – protects taxpayers.

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Also testifying against Gov. Baker’s proposal to lift the Taxpayer Protection Act’s application to the MBTA. Was Senator Marc Pacheco. Here is what he wrote about his testimony on his Facebook page.

I was proud to testify against Gov. Baker’s proposal to lift the Taxpayer Protection Act’s (the so-called Pacheco Law) application to the MBTA. I told the Joint Committee on Transportation that by taking that initiative out of the governor’s MBTA legislation, they would be placing transparency back into his bill. If Gov. Baker and Secretary Pollack want to privatize MBTA services, all they must do is utilize the law’s standards that aim to promote accountability and an open comparison process when the state contracts out in-house services.

Massachusetts State Auditor Suzanne Bump also testified in favor of keeping the MBTA procurement process accountable to the public through the Taxpayer Protection Act. She has overseen the privatization of state services, including the contracting out of the UMass Dartmouth bookstore, and understands firsthand that the law works. The public can visit the Auditor’s website and see that percent of state contracts that have used the law have successfully privatized.

Managers should use the Pacheco law rather than blame it for their own failure to pursue privatization. Since the days of the Weld administration, the law has been a guardrail—not a roadblock—to privatization to prevent waste, fraud and abuse. Gov. Baker, who privatized state hospitals under Weld, is merely using the law as a scapegoat for a lack of productive management.

Contact Your Senator: Stop Privatization at the MBTA!

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Last week the House of Representatives included a provision in its budget to exempt the MBTA from the Taxpayer Protection Act, which ensures that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely by subjecting proposed privatization measures to a cost-benefit analysis performed by the State Auditor. If adopted, this proposal would result in private contractors being allowed to bid on jobs and services currently performed by union workers — with no cost-benefit analysis and no assurance that services will be upheld.

Now it’s on to the Senate. The State Senate will debate their version of the budget later this month and we need to stop this provision from being included in order to keep it from becoming law.

Contact your Senator by phone and email and urge them to reject the House’s proposal to exempt the MBTA from the Taxpayer Protection Act. To find your State Senators phone number click here if you want to call their office.
In order to address your message to the appropriate recipient, please look up and use your full nine-digit zip for the best results.
CLICK HERE TO EMAIL YOUR STATE SENATOR.

Auditor Suzanne Bump On Government Accountability

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BOSTON (CBS) — State Auditor Suzanne Bump sat down with WBZ-TV political analyst Jon Keller to talk government accountability and sexism in politics on Sunday’s Keller @ Large.

“I’m concerned that we don’t have a very good definition of accountability in government ” Bump said. “We aren’t good at setting performance metrics and holding agencies to those metrics.”

Bump is the first woman auditor of Massachusetts and one of the few women to be win statewide office. When asked to name an example of sexism in politics, she cited a fixation with a female candidate’s appearance.

“Some people think it’s complimentary to women,” Bump said. “Most women like myself find it trivializing.”

Bump also discussed her views on the Taxpayer Protection Act , and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

PART ONE:

PART TWO:

 

MASS afl-cio Rally: Stand with MBTA Workers

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Mon, 05/11/2015 – 11:00am
Location:

On Boston Common, directly across from the State House at Park St. and Beacon St.

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On Monday, May 11th, the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation will hear testimony on Governor Baker’s proposed legislation to overhaul the MBTA and make several changes that are harmful to both workers and riders of the MBTA. The workers from the twenty-plus unions that make up the MBTA are committed to making the oldest public transportation system in the nation the best public transportation system in the nation, but this legislation makes several changes that are simply not in the public interest, including suspending the Taxpayer Protection at the T.  Any members/retirees who are not scheduled to work, come stand with fellow workers at the MBTA for a solidarity rally prior to the legislative hearing.

 

Myth vs. Reality of The 1993 Taxpayer Protection Act

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Via Senator Marc Pacheco’s Facebook Page.

For those of you who had questions about the Taxpayer Protection Act, or the so-called Pacheco Law, I invite you to read the facts below.

Furthermore, on the Taxpayer Protection Act: eliminating the law’s standards would open the door for the sweetheart, insider deals that corrupted our system before this law passed. And if the law intended to bar privatization in Massachusetts, why have nearly 80 percent of the state contracts that have utilized the Taxpayer Protection Act been successfully privatized? (See the State Auditor’s website for more details).

MYTH VS. REALITY

Myth: Taxpayer Protection Act is designed to protect public employees.

Reality: Taxpayer Protection Act is a taxpayer protection act. Privatization, as we knew it in the early Weld years, promoted sweetheart deals and revolving door arrangements between government officials and the firms with which they contract. The Pacheco Law passed, in part, to require that business deals done between the state and private interests be open to the public. Since its passage, the Taxpayer Protection Act has stopped sweetheart deals and revolving door arrangements, but it has not stopped privatization, nor was it meant to do so.

Myth: By enacting the Taxpayer Protection Act, Massachusetts is the only state in the nation that has virtually outlawed privatization of public services.

Reality: The Taxpayer Protection Act in no way prevents privatization. It simply creates a standard that must be met before a private contract can displace state provided services.

Myth: Prior to the passage of the Taxpayer Protection Act, the Weld administration issued 36 privatization contracts, saving taxpayers an estimated $273 million.

Reality: No one, not the Pioneer Institute, not the Beacon Hill Institute, or any newspaper has been able to substantiate that claim. Without any documentation, we have no idea how much money was saved. In fact, the House Post Audit and Oversight Committee released a 1993 report stating the $273 million was “unsupportable and unjustified.”

Myth: “Privatization has resulted in few, if any, layoffs and public employees can actually benefit in the long term from private-sector management,” according to an October 2002 Pioneer Institute report.

Reality: You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. Only one month prior to that report, the same Pioneer Institute issued a study on the state of human services in Massachusetts decrying the high turnover, low salaries, and lack of health insurance for private sector human service workers. The Weld Administration privatized these services. Thousands of workers were laid off and then re-hired by a private company to perform their same job at 30 percent less pay and less health insurance.

Myth: The Auditor’s office is a roadblock to privatization.

Reality: The office of the State Auditor has rejected just 3 out of 15 official privatization proposals that it has reviewed or for which it has issued decisions. That means 80 percent of privatization proposals that have attempted to use the Taxpayer Protection Act have been permitted to be privatized.

Listen to the new ad

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Here is the radio ad that had been discussed at last week coalition of unions meeting at IBEW Local 103. We all were in agreement on helping the Carmen’s Union funding the ad.

images-2  Click here to listen to the new radio ad.

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Update on Bill H3400 Amendment 665

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Representative Nick Collins’ amendment #665 which was in bill H3400 and would have protected union jobs as well as keep the MABT public had gotten the support of 60 members, over 1/3 of the Houseof Representatives, but apparently was rejected by leadership.  The House then chose to vote on a consolidated amendment for transportation, so the final version did not include the amendment #665 language.

Despite this setback, we will continue to educate the legislators as the budget moves on to the Senate. We need your help now more than ever. You need to begin to engage with your State Senators to make sure our voice is heard and the truth comes out about the Taxpayer Protection Act.

We need your support in order to be successful in this critical fight against lifting the Taxpayer Protection Act from the MBTA for 5 years which will only hurt the public as well as potentially cost jobs.

Senator Marc Pacheco on the Joint Hearing with Gov. Bakers Panel

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Via Senator Marc Pacheco

It was eye-opening to sit in on the Transportation Committee oversight hearing yesterday which reviewed the administration’s panel that recommended improvements to the MBTA. Despite their recommendation to “free the MBTA from the constraints of the Pacheco Law,” panel members admitted they were unaware of any specific examples of instances in which the MBTA was thwarted from privatizing services under the law. If panel members had truly done their homework on this issue, they would’ve known that in one case, the MBTA failed to privatize bus shelter cleaning services because their bid in question lacked the correct number of shelters that would have been contracted out through the law.

The Taxpayer Protection Act has always aimed to promote good management, whether it is publicly or privately run. It is not a roadblock to privatization but a guardrail that ensures savings for taxpayers if a service is to be contracted out.  What’s more, another MBTA proposal to privatize property management and real estate development activities was done so successfully through the Taxpayer Protection Act, among the 80 percent of contracts that have used the Taxpayer Protection Act successfully. The public deserves to know the truth about the Pacheco Law instead of the same tired rhetoric that merely aims to return the state to the unfettered privatization practices that exposed the Commonwealth to waste, fraud and abuse in the system before this law passed.