Friday, October 28, 2011

More info

As we move forward, people have begun to send me info that has been not freely admited. I had said that there was 1 administrator who was having their retirement contribution picked up by their employer in Darke County. Information receved today shows that there are perhaps close to 10 who have this perk.

This shows a couple of things. First it shows that this abuse of taxpayer money has nothing to do with organized labor but with administrators and elected officials.
The second thing that it confirms is that your legislators haven't been telling you the whole truth.

You don't have to worry about the unions, you might want to check a little higher up.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Debate Tonight! Issue 2

There will again be a debate on Issue 2 this evening. It will be aired on all NBC affiliates in the state at 7:00 PM. Locally that would be Channel 2.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

About Unions

People who have never been in a union usually don't know what to think about them. If there is a union in place in the public sector, there is usually a reason for it. In the private sector the same is true but there are totally different paths.

Plumbers, pipe fitters, electricians, carpenters are skilled trades. These skilled trades have apprenticeship programs. A young guy lucky enough to get in an apprenticeship program has a progressively intense course of study along with on the job training to eventually gain his journeyman's card. This says that he has the knowledge about his trade to perform the job with little supervision. The next step is Master.

A lot of times, unions didn't start out as unions. The OEA is a good example of that. It was a professional organization for school teachers. Local groups began affiliating themselves with the OEA and soon were representing these groups in labor negotiations.

There is one thing for sure, no union is an better or worse than the best or worse person in it.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Responding to Faber's Explanation of SB 5.

On Sunday, in County News Online, Sen. Keith Faber gave his explanation of why SB 5 was a good thing. I’m not sure that he’s right so we’ll see if there is a counter point.

In the first paragraph he says that many of us contacted his office to express our opinions and our opinions were noted and he welcomed the many constructive suggestions. S B 5 is needed for the several political subdivisions to be able to deal with the realities of the 2011 economic situation.

What this really means is that anything sent to his office as a criticism wasn’t looked at very closely. He said in his speech that SB 5 is sorely needed, but never gave us hard fast reasons why it was needed. Saying its needed doesn’t make it so Keith, what particular reason prompted this legislation? Bottom line is an empty Corning plant on Martin St, a Fram plant with less than half the employment, Excello plant gone, empty manufacturing buildings in Union City, Ansonia and the rest of the county. Those are some of the reasons that we have an economic problem here in Darke County, not negotiation with public employees. But we’ll give you that one that paying government workers a fair wage is the problem.

SB 5 is about empowering government entities to better manage their workforces and control costs to live within taxpayer’s means. See the above paragraph. You and others let the manufacturing jobs go bye-bye but expect the same level of services with half the paychecks to cover them. That’s the problem, not paying government paychecks.

As for paying 15% of healthcare, that is a negotiated thing that local government subdivisions have negotiated. You’re saying that it needs to be capped. OK we’ll give you that, why didn’t you say that. We can work with that. You think that all employees should pay their share of their own pension. Well we did for years and then some rocket scientist came up with the idea that the employer could pay both sides. No one held a gun to their head; it just meant they gave us a raise without giving us a raise. Both of these tactics put more take home money in our pockets without giving use a raise, my friend. That way the next time the typical 3% raise was offered it was offered on a gross paycheck from three years ago and not what it should have been. We’ll take that too. Continue to give a 1, 2 or 3% raise each year. What you don’t understand is that the total amount of money being paid by each political subdivision will be the same no matter what. If it comes out of my pocket, it was in your pocket first. But we’ll give you that one too.

The next paragraph says that 400,000 Ohioans have lost jobs and have wages and benefits cut because of economic woes. You almost stumbled onto the problem. NO JOBS! Is it the employee’s job to keep their employer hear or yours? The problem of economic woes is NO JOBS. Does Mexico have this problem? Unfortunately the empty buildings on our streets still have to be protected, those laid off workers kids still have to be educated and the problems associated with no jobs and hot tempers during these times still have to be dealt with by law enforcement. Do we pay these folks less money because the state made it so hard for companies to do business here that they left? Not our fault. But you can put the blame on us if you want. We don’t want you guys to have to take responsibility for any of this.

And now to the myths:

Myth: SB 5 will hurt the middle class.

You say that SB 5 will empower the middle class by restoring the ability of local governments to control their budgets. What rock have you been living under? They’ve always had that ability, unless they gave it away. Making it sound like teachers, firefighters and police officers stand over the negotiating table with a 50 caliber machine gun sort of makes me mad. You’re trying to tell me that you can legislate intelligence into a mayor, city manager, or school board office. If that happens this will truly be a landmark piece of legislation. You say that this will give the public sector some of the same tools the private sector enjoys. That’s good, except that it will still be the public sector and you can do things in the private sector that you can’t do in the public sector.

Myth: This is a politically motivated reform that would “strip away collective bargaining.”

What kind of an answer is that? Have you ever sat in negotiations? I have and they certainly weren’t one sided. Preserving managements rights, indeed, as a matter of fact almost any union contract I’ve ever read or helped right has the first section defining management’s rights. If they didn’t have them they weren’t bright enough to keep them because they had them in the beginning. But, we’ll give you that one. There probably were some unscrupulous school teachers out there who, with the aid of that 50 caliber machine gun, took those rights away from a school board. In my town, the city pays an outside negotiator to make sure that doesn’t happen. It costs them over $100,000 per negotiation. If they lost some of their rights, I think we can see whose fault it is. (Let’s see $100,000 divided by 100 employees = $1000 raise for everyone). But, we’ll give you that one. Those folks got to make a living too don’t they?

Myth: This bill was “rammed through” and the unions and Democrats could not participate.

Since when is this a Democrat/Republican thing? I’m a registered Republican and I sure don’t feel like I had a say so in it. Because even though you were very forth coming in attending the town hall meetings, you didn’t listen to us because Kasich said he wanted it and you guys were going to deliver. You missed the boat Keith, it wasn’t supposed to be a D/R thing it was supposed to be for all Ohioans but we’ll surely give you that one. You finally called it what it was. I watched the debate on PBS and two very articulate gentlemen got up right before you and you didn’t listen to a thing that they said. Oh, that’s right they were Democrats. This wasn’t their bill anyway was it? Like I said, you got one right. We’ll give you that one.

Myth: The Senate has exempted themselves and their staff from the provisions of this bill.

No brainer, why wouldn’t you. Do as I say and not as I do. Both of my sons were pages in the house and senate. I couldn’t have given them a better education. Nuff said! You need to understand something; I worked for a school system, a municipality and the State of Ohio and paid my full share of my retirement and my hospitalization for over 35 years. Why don’t you make a list and publish it of all of these people who are getting this good deal. I’ll bet it’s a long one. Didn’t happen here in Greenville, doubt if it did in Celina either, probably on the Eastern side of the state. You know, Mark Dann, Traficant, that bunch. We’ll look for that list.

Myth: Senate Bill 5 will cut teachers’ salaries in half or lower teachers’ salaries to $17,300.

Was this myth something you dreamed up or did it actually have an author? First of all, what person would be a school teacher for that money? Second, the public already has the right to know where their money is going. It’s public money. Salaries are public record or did you not know that? Don’t tell people that they are getting something that they already have. Having intelligent negotiators to deal with multimillion dollar companies is the only thing that will allow us to have an edge in getting jobs back here. That and a legislature willing to pass laws that are industry friendly.

So here’s the deal. I’m going to keep this list real close and in four years we’ll see if it worked. Too short, OK we’ll wait 8 years. I don’t want to press you because I know how it works at Broad and High. The greatest take away I got from all of this is that I now know that you don’t understand negotiation. There was certainly none at the town hall meeting because nothing was changed when we left. But, we’ll give you that one too. No sense clouding the issue.

Stuff No One has asked about SB 5

Joe Cogliano had an excellent article in the Dayton Business News and published here on CountyNewsOnLine. He cited some good figures that are probably pretty accurate and noted that a state of Ohio worker’s salary was about 33% higher than the average worker here in the Buckeye State.

He also talked about those guys in California making $800,000 as a city manager which is ludicrous. But I’m not so worried about that and I’ll tell you why.

Not Joe Cogliano, not John Kasich, not any senators or congressmen anywhere has asked the question, “How did that happen”? Everyone I’ve ever known has a boss of some kind. If those dudes in California, the most bankrupt state in the Union had the guts to stand up and say, “I need $800,000 to do my job”. Where was the dude or dudes or dudettes to say ----- “WHY?”

Most supervisors at the state level make between $70,000 and $80,000 a year. That’s because the state decided that it would probably be a good idea to pay them more than the labor force. Makes good sense and gives a person something to shoot for, or it would seem.

So we’re back to Kasich saying that the Unions caused the supervisors in state government to get high pay I suppose. I’ve asked this question about a 1000 times now. When is someone going to ask the Who got it, where did it happen, why did it happen, and how did it happen questions. There has been a writing frenzy about all of the money problems and a lot of people have pointed their fingers at what they thought was the problem, but till now we don’t have one solid example in Ohio of the stuff Kasich has said is happening.

And it looks like we’ll never find out because SB 5 is going to take care of the problem so there won’t be any need to dig any deeper on the subject.

As for me, I think living in California must be pretty good. If you can work in a place that doesn’t have any money and still take home $800,000, it has to be a good place. Since his town must be able to manufacture money, maybe he should have taken Arnold’s place.

Thoughts on SB 5

Jeff Bell, a Dayton Business Journal contributor, says that half of Ohio Voters disapprove of the way Gov. Kasich is handling things. Not much of a surprise! The fury that he has stirred over SB 5 has brought people together from both sides of the aisle as well as management and labor. Kasich was able to buffalo a lot of people into believing that there was a problem without ever giving anyone a shred of evidence that it actually was happening. So here we are and half of the people don’t like him. Here’s the deal. HE DOESN’T CARE! He had his mind made up long before he was even nominated, exactly what he would do if he was elected. He brought up something that he knew was a sore spot and led a bunch of otherwise good legislators down the yellow brick road. Unfortunately, if he goes down, some of them are bound to go down with him.

A whole bunch of registered voters don’t like the way the budget is being handled because it calls for deep cuts in education funding. Ever since Gov. Taft, the education governor, was in office and before, the Supreme Court has admonished the administration to get a viable way to fund schools so that all are funded equally and sufficiently. In these tough economic times it seems that this should be on the front burner. If the court ordered you or I to do something like that and three generations later it wasn’t done, I’m thinking we would probably be in line for a contempt of court proceeding. But here’s the deal. HE DOESN’T CARE.

The governor’s approval rating is a couple points higher than it was but once again, he didn’t come here to win a popularity contest. The fact that there is strong feelings about the repeal of SB 5 only says that there are a lot of people out there who are asking the same question that I’ve been asking. Where did all of this alleged bad stuff happen? People aren’t stupid even though a lot of politicians think otherwise. It makes little difference which party a person is either. The general public is getting pretty good at seeing through someone like Kasich. They just need to start doing it right before they enter the voting booth instead of six months after coming out.

These intelligent people overwhelmingly agreed that limiting collective bargaining wasn’t needed to balance the budget. One need only spend a few hours outside any state office building and ask workers leaving the building what the biggest problem is. They will overwhelmingly tell you “mismanagement” and massive boondoggles of red tape. I can’t understand why Mr. Kasich doesn’t get on Under Cover Boss. He sure could find out the real problem if he really wants to. But that might prove him wrong. Can’t have that. It’s the bad state of Ohio employees and other public employees causing the problem and that’s that.

Monday, October 17, 2011


The Final Word on SB 5/Issue 2?

Well it won’t be long and the great debate will be over. We’re going to find out exactly what people think about SB 5 and ultimately what they think of John Kasich’s way of doing things. Here in Greenville we’ll know if we’re going to get a new school and how mad people really were at some of our school board members. I’ll be happy it’s over with for sure. On the other hand this has been a learning experience for a lot of people and I hope that some have learned from it, I certainly have.

SB 5/Issue 2. The major thing that I’ve learned is how much or I guess how little people know about a lot of things. First you can’t lump all unions into the same bucket. Unions are only as good as the people who are in them, the backing they get from their parent union, and the people they work for. I was told that all union people are thugs. In my working life, I belonged to two unions, the International Association of Fire Fighters while I was a firefighter here in Greenville and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees when I worked for the State of Ohio.

I was on the committee that wrote the first contract for the Local IAFF and the City of Greenville. This was a learning experience. Even though there were over 500 union workers at Fram and Corning, we heard all the time that this wasn’t a union town. In 1970 we weren’t organized yet and were told by the city that there was no money for raises. In 1972 we were organized and recognized by the city as the bargaining agent for the firefighters. That year they had money for raises. We didn’t demand anything, we negotiated. We negotiated for ourselves. The City of Greenville, which had no money 2 years before gave us a raise and paid a company from Dayton a lot of money to do the negotiating, eventually paying them $100,000. At the time there were 100 city employees. Do the math. They could have given us a $1000 raise which would have been spent here and we all would have gone home.
At any rate, the next time you see a fire truck going down the streets see if there are any thugs in it.

After you try to explain things to people they say well I don’t like union organizers. Not sure that I do either, but that still isn’t the people who work and live in your community, police, fire, EMS, Teachers, City Maintenance. It’s not us. I’ve seen union organizers at retail establishments and it wasn’t pretty. As I said, that’s not us.
The state of Ohio has some problems and some of them are in the union, they have a whole lot more in supervision and in the hiring practices that put unqualified people in positions of authority when they are unclear what the people under them actually do. Do you think that wastes any money.

Here are the main points of SB5/Issue 2:
It allows an employee’s job performance to be considered when determining compensation, rather than just awarding automatic pay increases based only on an employee's length of service.
o Firefighters in Greenville already must take a written and a practical test before moving to the next pay range. The union asked for that a few years ago. There are 7 steps to top firefighter pay. Many cities have similar agreements with their employees. This guarantees the public of competent employees.
o We all think that this is a terrible attempt to make teachers go through a similar process. With a Master’s Degree in Education, one has to wonder what they would gain. If a teacher is deemed to be an ineffective teacher, there many ways to find this out and an equal amount of ways to deal with it. A simple clause in a union contract should handle it.
• It asks that government employees pay at least 15 percent of the cost of their health insurance premium. That's less than half of what private sector workers are currently paying.
o City employees in Greenville now pay 20% of their hospitalization. Will they get a 5% rebate? This was a negotiated benefit. In checking area fire departments all were paying more than 10% of their health care.
• It requires that government health care benefits apply equally to all government employees, whether they work in management or non-management positions. No special favors.
o This already happens here and most places. Not sure why this came up but it must be a problem in one part of the state so let’s punish everyone. If you were going to be promoted and lose all or some of your benefits, why would anyone want a promotion.
• It asks our government employees to pay their own share of a generous pension contribution, rather than forcing taxpayers to pay both the employee and employer shares.
o All public employees in the state of Ohio are mandated to belong to one of the pension funds: Police and Firemen’s Pension Fund, Public Employee’s Pension Fund, State Teachers Retirement Fund, School Employees Pension Fund, and the Highway Patrol Retirement System. This link takes you to a fact sheet on all of the funds. LINK. Most of the employee contribution in these funds is 10%. The problem that has Kasich in a snit is this:
 The only ones who don’t pay the 10% (they’ve not told you who they are) are those who have negotiated for the employer to pay the employee and employer contribution. This is called a pickup. This was never done here and in most cases where it was done, the employer offered it. You see what happens is the city would agree to pay both contributions, the employee and employer. So the employee doesn’t get a raise that year, but does get more spending money, everyone is happy. The problem arises the next time negotiations come up. Negotiating begins and the city offers a 3% raise. That 3% is figured on your base salary from three years ago because the “pick up” isn’t figured into the base pay. So now the cost of living has gone up 4% in the time that’s passed, the workers want that caught up, the city can’t afford to catch up and now everyone is mad. You’ve got pretty good employees around here, they’ve never fallen for that stunt and the city hasn’t either and never offered it.

• It keeps union bosses from protecting bad teachers and stops the outdated practice of laying off good teachers first just because they haven’t served long enough.
o As mentioned above, a simple clause in a union contract should fix that. Most union bosses know if one of the employees is sub-standard. Defending them makes the union look stupid. Avoid all of that by putting a clause in the contract that says what the expectation is of each and every employee. The old adage, last hired, first fired would apply.
• Finally, it preserves collective bargaining for government employees, but it also returns some basic control of our schools and services to the taxpayers who fund them, not the union bosses who thrive on their mismanagement.
o This is a figment of someone’s imagination. What it is actually saying is this: There are some school boards, cities, counties out there which have given up some of their rights and we don’t’ think that’s right. So we’re going to have SB 5 here so that we can correct the problem that was created by someone’s ill thought-out bargaining process. No matter how bad you think unions are remember this. The very first clause in any labor contract shows exactly what Managements Rights are. If they lost some of those rights, they gave them away. This says we’ll just allow any dimwit to be elected and when that person gives the farm away, SB 5 will get it back. That works doesn’t it?
John Kasich’s mistake: It would appear that he doesn’t know what the word negotiate means. From all indications, he is pretty set on what he feels is best for Ohio. He did balance the budget because he had to, it’s the law, not magic. In doing so, all of the problems trickled down to local government. How about we get some of the industry back that left Ohio? Unfortunately, none of the money trickled down here with the problems. You see, when there are lots of people here working, they pay taxes and when they pay taxes, each political subdivision has enough money to run its business and provide to the taxpayers the services they’ve become accustomed to. That, my friends, is the only thing that is going to fix this problem. Here in Darke County our budget is where it is because we had a lot of industry here and a low unemployment rate for years. IT’S GONE! Unfortunately our bills are not gone, they are the same. We are running a budget built on an economy from 20 years ago.
There are good union people and there are a few bad union people. Guess what? There are good politicians and there are a few bad ones. That’s just the way it is. It’s our job to sort that out. It can’t be done without the facts. SB 5 just isn’t the way to go, its bad legislation brought about by some well-meaning people who just don’t understand all the facts. Vote your conscious on Issue 2, but not until you have all the facts! Because, is not a reason.
There are now around 350,000 union workers in the state of Ohio. The petition to repeal Senate Bill 5, which has now become Issue 2 was signed by 1.3 million people. That tells me that not just firefighters, police officers and teachers think it’s bad legislation. There are two things that need to be done about the issue. The first is VOTE NO on Issue 2. The second one is to write your representative and tell them that you can see where there could be some problems and they need to figure out a reasonable way to fix the problem.

Editoral Comments on SB 5, Issue 2

Earlier this year, I wrote a lot about Senate Bill 5. I said that it was unfair and a witch-hunt by Gov. Kasich to bust public employee representation all across the state. I also said that it looked to me like a lot of good, well-meaning Republican members of the House and Senate should think for themselves and not follow the Governor down his yellow brick road because it didn’t look like there was a rainbow or pot of gold at the end of it. Hmmmmm!
Let’s see now, it’s been 6 months give or take a couple of days and what is happening now. The Columbus Dispatch reported today that the Governor, backed by the Speaker of the House and the President of the senate are “reaching out” to union leaders so that the referendum to recall SB 5 doesn’t happen. They want to negotiate! I think one other thing I said was I didn’t think that Kasich actually knew what the word negotiate meant or how the process actually worked. So after the good Governor shoved SB 5 down all of our throats, and had his lackeys shoved it through the house and senate, and after signing SB 5 into law and declaring it a great victory, John Kasich got those same people together and said, ”hey go see if they want to negotiate about this now. “ We” may have acted a little hastily.” Indeed, Governor, indeed? The governor fancies himself as a great communicator, but I’ve always been told that the greatest part of speaking is listening.
It makes very little difference to me if they were Republican or Democrat. Every single person who followed Kasich on this ill-fated journey should be ashamed of themselves. Had they been sheep, the wolves would still be licking their chops. If there was ever a show of strength, it wasn’t Kasich’s crowd of last termers who showed it. It was the good people of the state of Ohio who stood up, filed the proper petitions, got them signed and walked them to Columbus and laid them on the Statehouse steps. I don’t believe that they were all union members either. Most people, excluding politicians, can smell a bad deal when it’s shoved at them.
Negotiate? Oh sure, we’ll be right over, will there be refreshments. By the way, have a lot of ChapStick available, there are some things that need to be kissed before we get started. But that won’t be the case. Public employees in general do hold themselves to a little higher standard. The Union Bosses in Columbus, AFL-CIO, Ohio Education Association and the rest, backed by the group We Are Ohio have basically said “in your dreams baby”. The supporters of the repeal of SB 5 have less than 10 days to get it off the ballot or it gets voted on. Even if all the union bosses do decide to sit down with the Governor and his sheep, we already know that these folks don’t know the first thing about negotiations. So it’s a pretty sure bet that you are going to get to vote on it and the signs say the governor is going to loose. Read my lips Governor, it works like this, you negotiate first then come up with a plan the you act. It’s really not too hard of a concept to embrace. Because of who they are, they probably will go if for no other reason to give a good demonstration of what negotiating actually is.
At noon today on 700 WLW at Butler County Sheriff Dick Jones, a Republican, commenting on the situation said that people need to understand that public employees are people just like everyone else and that anyone in the same situation would have reacted the same way. He isn’t the only person in government management that doesn’t like the situation. Many have been vocal about it and many were Republican. When the economy moves bread from 25 cents a loaf to $1.25 a loaf, you either get paid a higher wage like your neighbors or you don’t eat bread.
What this says is that if things are this bad in Columbus that our elected representatives who have served us tirelessly for years have to tow the partisan line this hard, so hard that they don’t even know their own convictions, and won’t listen to their constituents voice without the cost of a referendum, maybe, just maybe it’s time to invite someone else to be our representatives. I feel bad about this, but after a while you can’t ignore the obvious. The Republican Party will be taking a major hit at the hands of the one person who should be its leader. The blood bath that will occur at the polls in upcoming elections will be like none other either party has ever seen. D’s you better find some good people. R’s you better screen your candidates real good and you should probably get started on finding someone to run against Kasich as soon as possible. The person you find should understand that he or she will win the primary hands down, the general election, well that might be a little tougher, but at least that person will have put Kasich back in the closet where he belongs. If the governor wants to “win” in these negotiations, he should gather up all of the good that SB 5 has already done and show how it’s saved the several political subdivisions in the State of Ohio, the tons of money it was supposed to save. Anybody got anything on that? Anybody, Anybody?
It’s amazing how the cities, villages, townships and school boards in Ohio have had to tighten their belts but the state of Ohio doesn’t seem to grasp that concept either. So here’s the deal Governor Kasich, we will give you’re a well-deserved Sliver Buckeye award on this whole mess. You and your followers have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to every high school student in a government class in this state and the rest of us, that the people do have power and that the system does work. You’ve proven that when people go to the polls and vote for a person whom they think will do a good job, all is not lost if that person comes up a bit short of their expectations. You’ve also proven once again that this government actually IS OF THE PEOPLE, B Y THE PEOPLE AND FOR THE PEOPLE. God Bless America and the Great State of Ohio. Go Bucks!