Monday, February 25, 2008

37th Annual Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Conference

The 37th Annual Black and Puerto Rican legislative conference took place in the state capital on February 15-17 in Albany NY with the theme of the annual caucus weekend being” embracing A United Workforce.”
Pictured: Donald Afflick, President NY Chapter CBTU; Marvin Holland, Editor, Homestation Online; Sadie Sanders; Charles Jenkins, NY Chapter CBTU/TWU-Local 100; Sally Robinson (seated).

The annual conference is one the premiere networking and education opportunities for unions and their members. This year the Home Station joined the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) at the conference. There was a buzz of excitement in the air throughout the weekend as the ultra competitive race for the Democratic presidential candidate between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton was the talk of the weekend. As many of the New York states delegates and super delegates were in attendance (many of them Clinton supporters), the conversations centered around the Obama surge and his emerging front runner status.

The other major political talk was the Democrats opportunity to take control of the Senate for the first time since 1965 (which only lasted 9 months). By gaining just two more seats in the Senate, the Democratic Party can achieve the holy trinity of NY state politics by controlling both the legislative houses and the executive branch in the state of NY. It has been over a century since the Democratic Party has controlled the senate, assembly and governors offices. Chances look good to achieve this milestone, as some long time republican strongholds in upstate have shown strong signs of going democratic in this year’s elections. The Home Station staff met with officers from CBTU NYC Chapter while in Albany to prepare for the 2009 New York City elections.

Charles Jenkins, recently elected 2nd Vice President of their NYC Chapter, and a Vice Chairman in TWU Local 100, was on hand and pointed out that 2009 is huge year for New York City politics as you have the mayor, comptroller, public advocate and four borough presidents. Then you have 36 of 51 term limited city council seats, so 2009 will be major for local politics. Over the next couple of months, we will begin to break down and analyze the races for 2009.

[UPDATE: Since this article was originally posted, the democrats have picked up another seat, and are just one seat shy of taking over the Senate majority.]

Monday, February 18, 2008

Teachers Pension Bill Passes In Less Than One Month While 20/50 Bill Continues To Sit

In less than one month, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) was able to get their pension bill A9820 from the governmental employees committee to the Governors desk.
Now I understand that their bill was part of a negotiated contact packaged that included merit pay for teachers. But one can’t help but be impressed with the speed it moved through the various phases.
Their bill arrived at the Governmental Employees Committee on January 23, 2008, and by February 11th it had passed through the Ways and Means Committee where it progressed rapidly, landing on the Governor’s desk for signature on February 15th.

The TWU 20/50 bill arrived at the Governmental Employees Committee a year ago, on February 23, 2007. SIX MONTHS LATER, in June, it was finally reported to the Ways and Means Committee. Rather than progress, however, it sat there for ANOTHER SIX MONTHS, before finally being referred BACK to the Governmental Employees Committee, on January 9th, 2008, where it continues to sit to this date.

So our 20/50 bill moved backwards while theirs moved forwards. (see comparison chart; click on image to enlarge)

Some will attempt to argue that you can not compare different union contracts and pension improvements and I would argue just the opposite. Comparing two unions in the same city and the same pension fund under the same state laws, who are both seeking pension improvements for their members at the same time is the perfect comparison.

That teachers will go from a 62/30 pension to 55/25 pension is in fact very similar to Transit workers going from a 55/25 pension to a 50/20 pension. Both the teachers and the transit workers will pick up the costs of the pension improvements; teachers will pay an additional 1.85% and transit workers will have to pay an additional 6% . HomeStation will keep of the track the 20/50 bill in what we will call the 20/50 Bill Watch.

One thing is for certain: the rapid movement of the teachers pension bill through the legislative process versus our pension bill going backwards and then virtually dying in committee is a clear indication of which union has more political muscle in New York State. It is time for Local 100 leadership to end its silly internal infighting and begin to build some real political power in this city and state.

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